Mississippi Senate OKs Bill Giving Church Members License To Kill Perceived Threats

Mississippi Republicans are taking a “shoot first, ask questions later” approach to preventing potential church violence with a bill that amounts to legalizing religious “security” squads tasked with killing perceived threats. This week, the state’s Republican-led senate passed the so-called “Mississippi Church Protection Act” which would militarize the state’s churches while also walking back gun regulations and stripping away oversight.

The bill would allow churches to create security programs and designate and train members to carry concealed weapons. It would provide criminal and legal protections to those serving as church security.

The bill also would allow concealed carry in a holster without a permit in Mississippi, expanding a measure passed last year that allowed concealed carry without a permit in a purse, satchel or briefcase, and another recent law that allows open carry in public.

The bill also seeks to prohibit Mississippi officials from enforcing any federal agency regulations or executive orders that would violate the state constitution — an attempt to federal gun restrictions not passed by Congress.

Mississippi church goers will now get to assign church members as “security” which can carry concealed weapons without permits and are protected from legal liability if their actions result in death based on a designation of “justifiable homicide” – the same legal standing that we afford police officers on duty.

What could go wrong?

Much of this baffling new legislation is in direct response to NRA lobbying directives to erode existing gun laws in order to create a “polite” society of heavily-armed citizens. Exploiting tragedy (and ignoring irony) the NRA has used recent mass shootings to push for more guns, not less. The narrative goes that if only churches would have access to firearms, shootings like the one in Charleston, South Carolina, could be prevented.

The premise, as tempting as it sounds for would-be vigilantes, has been thoroughly debunked both in theory and in practice. Data suggests that as the number of guns increase, the risk of someone being shot by those guns also increases. Places with a lot of “good guys with guns” tend to have higher incidences of gun injuries. Go figure. At the same time, anecdotal evidence supports these warnings as well. We’ve seen that guns in churches often lead to disastrous accidents, while at the same time not once stopping a mass shooting in a house of worship.

With the removal of even permit requirements, Mississippi is planning on handing over the power of life and death to a bunch of untrained, untested amateurs who won’t even have the risk of prosecution keeping their index finger off the trigger. A militarized church security unit assigned by the church, trained by the church, and meant to protect the church by any means necessary. If Mississippi legislators can’t see the inherent danger in this as the bill heads to the House of Representatives to be finalized, then we are in a lot of trouble.


Featured image via George Frey/Getty Images