Mississippi Bill Dismantles Gun Control – Could Unleash ‘God’s Army’ On State

Mississippi’s Republican Governor Phil Bryant has on his desk a bill called the Church Protection Act which, if he signed it, would allow churches in Mississippi to train armed guards to protect congregations. Piggybacked on the bill is a movement to legalize concealed carry of a firearm in a holster throughout the state. It would also prohibit state officials from enforcing federal gun regulations that are not passed by Congress.

The bill is intended to allow members of the church to act as security guards. The author of the bill, Republican state Rep. Andy Gipson, referenced last year’s massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina to emphasize the necessity of the bill. He said, according to the Daily Beast:

“Church should be a safe place, and by having a security team in place churches may be able to prevent senseless killing of innocent worshipers by those with evil motives…I wish we lived in a world where [the bill] were not necessary, but last year’s tragic church shooting should teach us the necessity of church security.”

If one of such security guards were to use their weapon under the law, they would be exempt from legal action. A clause in the bill states that the person would not be prosecuted when using a weapon in church if:

“the action in question occurs during the reasonable exercise of and within the course and scope of the member’s official duties as a member of the security program for the church or place of worship.”

The Secular Coalition for America has named the bill “the worst bill in America.” Executive director Larry T. Decker said that the legislation would embolden extremists within churches by “creating a means for radical preachers to enlist their congregants into ‘God’s army.’”

Ken Winter, the executive director of the Mississippi Police Chiefs Association, denounced the Church Protection Act because it would dismantle the gun licensing system in Mississippi. He is afraid that the law would block officers who stop an armed suspect from confirming that he is a violent criminal or someone who is mentally ill. He said that the bill would put Mississippi’s police force and all of its citizens in harm’s way.

Featured image via Ken Wilcox on Flickr, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs license.