Bill allowing guns in church is approved by House

| May 13, 2010

Guns should be allowed in houses of worship as a way to protect congregants from attacks, if the pastor or head of the religious body approves, lawmakers said Wednesday.

The House voted 74-18 for House Bill 68 by Rep. Henry Burns, R-Haughton, sending it to the Senate for debate.

The bill was heard last week and received a 45-39 vote, eight votes short of the 53 needed to pass in the lower chamber.

Burns said the bill is "a matter of choice" and leaves it up to each synagogue, mosque or church to decide whether to implement it.

"Every church in Louisiana will (still) be gun-free" as state law now dictates, unless a house of worship decides to allow certain members qualified to carry concealed weapons to bring them to church as part of its security plan, Burns said.

The bill was amended last week to mandate that members tapped for security duty have eight hours of tactical training. It also was amended to ban houses of worship on school campuses from allowing armed parishioners.

The bill would require church leaders to tell worshippers verbally or in bulletins or newsletters that it will have armed security in the congregation.

"If God is looking down on us today I don't think he is happy with us discussing how we can carry our guns to church," Rep. Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport, a major opponent of the bill, said. "The church is a place of peace. I don't think God said it was OK to carry a gun in the house of the Lord.

"Nowhere does it say (in Scripture) the Lord said you have to have a gun in church. If you need to have a gun in church, you need to go to another church."

"This bill is very permissive," said Rep. Ernest Wooton, R-Belle Chasse, a backer of the bill. "I want to see in the Bible where it says you can't bring a gun to church."


How New Orleans area House members voted on House Bill 69 to allow concealed handguns inside churches, synagogues or mosques. The bill passed 74-18 and now goes to the Senate.

YES: Abramson, D-New Orleans; Arnold, D-Algiers; Billiot, D-Westwego; Brossett, D-New Orleans; Burns, R-Mandeville; Connick, R-Harvey; Gisclair, D-Larose; Henderson, D-Violet; Henry, R-Jefferson; Hines, D-New Orleans; Hutter, R-Chalmette; Jackson, D-Marrero; LaBruzzo, R-Metairie; LaFonta, D-New Orleans; Leger, D-New Orleans; Ligi, R-Metairie; Lopinto, R-Metairie; Lorusso, R-New Orleans; Monica, R-LaPlace; Pearson, R-Slidell; Pugh, R-Ponchatoula; Richmond, D-New Orleans; Schroder, R-Covington; Simon, R-Abita Springs; Smith, D-Norco; Talbot, R-River Ridge; Templet, R-Gretna; Willmott, R-Kenner; Wooton, R-Belle Chasse.

NO: Badon, D-New Orleans; Ritchie, D-Franklinton; Stiaes, D-New Orleans.

NOT VOTING: Aubert, D-Vacherie; Cromer, R-Slidell; Tucker, R-Algiers

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Category: Church Security