BATON ROUGE (RNS) — A law that would have allowed concealed weapons in houses of worship died in the Louisiana State Senate on June 8.
A Senate judiciary committee killed the bill sponsored by Rep. Henry Burns, a Republican. The bill is dead for the session unless Burns can find a way to attach it to one of several bills still alive dealing with the state’s concealed weapons laws, a maneuver he said he is exploring.
“This was probably the least receptive committee of any in the Senate,” Burns said after the meeting. “I have a better chance of getting 20 senators on the (Senate) floor to vote for it.”
He said he may ask a colleague who is sympathetic to his bill to try to amend it on another bill already pending on the Senate floor, bypassing the Judiciary B panel.
“I hate that we did not get to have a full discussion,” Burns said. “I have heard there are a great number of other senators who are interested in this.”
Earlier this spring, the Louisiana House rejected, then approved the gun bill.
The bill would have authorized the leader of a church, synagogue, mosque or other house of worship to designate the individuals who are qualified to carry the weapons and tell parishioners about the plan either from the pulpit or in a bulletin or newsletter.
Burns’ bill also would have required those chosen to get an additional eight hours of tactical training each year to keep the security positions in their religious institutions. He said that training is in addition to the background check and other requirements they must meet to get the concealed weapons permit.
Burns said six other states have similar laws.
He said the bill is necessary to help keep the peace in houses of worship and to respond to emergencies in areas that are high-crime neighborhoods or when there is a slow response to 911 calls.
“We do live in different times,” Burns said. “I grew up in Mayberry and could ride my bike any time of the day or night. Why not be safe rather than sorry?”
— Ed Anderson / The Times-Picayune
© 2010 Religion News Service. Used with permission.
Posted June 11, 2010