Video: House Okays Armed Security In Churches
WEST POINT, Miss. (WCBI) – A new act, aiming at keeping churches safe, passes through the House and heads to the Senate.
House Bill 786 is the Mississippi Church Protection Act, which allows churches to legally have armed security if they choose to.
The bill was written by State Representative and church pastor, Andy Gipson.
He credits the Charleston church shooting as the reason behind Bill 786.
The bill states that any church or place of worship can establish a security program, where members or law enforcement are allowed to carry firearms for protection.
Tim Brinkley is the Police Chief in West Point but he also serves as the pastor of Mt Hermon M.B. Church.
He says security in churches is necessary.
“Attacks against the church are beginning to be somewhat normal,” said Brinkley.
Brinkley says because of today’s society, his church has already taken steps to ramp up their church security.
“There is always at least one officer here and sometimes it’s an officer who’s already on duty, who comes by if the volume of calls is low, they’ll come by and sit in the sanctuary and have worship with us. There is somewhat a security station here,” said Brinkley.
The Mississippi Church Protection Act says that a handgun can be carried in a sheath, belt holster or shoulder holster.
The bill also requires all participants to have a firearms permit and complete an instructional course.
“That’s a huge issue. You don’t want to just put a gun in anybody’s hand and a shirt on them that says security. That’s why we’re somewhat very fortunate here because the officers that do attend church here, they are fully trained, certified law enforcement officers who have been through law enforcement academy. So they know how to handle firearms, they know how to engage,” said Brinkley.
Brinkley says recently, he has had several local pastors call him about hiring security.
He says it’s certainly an issue for every pastor to consider.
“Security is important, if you don’t have an armed security guard, I think that probably every pastor in this country is thinking about security in this day and time,” said Brinkley.
If the bill passes the Senate, it will go into effect after July 1,2016.
Once passed, it will provide the same kind of immunity from prosecution that state law gives to those with a gun protecting their own homes, businesses or vehicles.