Following a contentious debate in the Mississippi legislature, Governor Phil Bryant signed the “Mississippi Church Protection Act” which, among its numerous provisions, will allow people to bear arms in churches.
Under the terms of the new law, churches are required to train members on the proper use of firearms and to act as security during services should a criminal act occur.
“Churches deserve protection from those who would harm worshipers,” explained Bryant in a Twitter post.
Church members participating in the security program must pass a training program and must meet gun-permit qualifications.
Included in the bill’s terms: A relaxation of concealed-carry rules, allowing gun owners to carry a weapon in a holster without a permit. The relaxation of concealed-carry rules is a broadening of a a 2015 law allowing concealed firearms in purses, bags and briefcases.
Mississippi joins eight other states to allow concealed carry.
Inspired by the June 2015 Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, a crime which claimed the lives of nine members of the congregation, the new law is not without critics.
“Mississippi law enforcement, families and faith leaders all spoke out against this reckless bill that will allow dangerous people to carry hidden, loaded handguns in public without a permit,” said Shirley Hopkins Davis, a volunteer with the Mississippi chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, in a statement.
[Reuters] [Photo courtesy ABC News]