Among the many issues that have the potential to create a myriad of emotional responses, this one’s high on the list. Currently, there’s nothing in Florida’s state law that prevents a parishioner with a CCW license from carrying unless the establishment has its own restrictions. The big exceptions are churches with adjacent schools.
A bill is making its way through the state session that would allow churches in this situation to enable its parishioner's to be able to carry if they are licensed to do so. A little research and some quick math suggest that around a third of churches across the state would possibly be impacted by this legislation if it passed. Again, churches could still choose to disallow them even if it passed but for those that would prefer for the option but are blocked by state law it would make it legal.
After a series of high profile and stunning attacks on places of worship across the country and around the world, the issue has gained traction in our state. The argument is pretty much as simple as this. Parishioners are soft targets as it is and if those bent on evil are looking for the softest of targets, they would know to look for churches with schools on the property that would be certain to have parishioners that are not in a position to defend themselves.
The emotional argument is an easy one. How sad is it that we would have to think about arming ourselves to worship? What kind of message does it send? True, but then again not everyone has armed security for all services and even then, it’s not a guarantee that they would be able to protect all parishioners. What do you think? Should Florida give you the option?
As an update to this story. I was teeing this up in the expectation that the bill would be heard in the state Senate yesterday. It was denied by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is done for the 2019 legislative year. If you're interested it would be important to inform your representatives for next year.
Photo by: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images