States are now grappling with the idea of more guns in church after the Sutherland shooting.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) views the deadliest mass shooting in his state’s history as evidence that more church parishioners should carry guns for self-protection.
“This is going to happen again,” Paxton told Fox News on Sunday, since “you can’t necessarily keep guns out of the hands of people who are going to violate the law.”
Pastor Jaime Chapa of El Faro Bible Church in Sullivan City, Texas agrees with Paxton and said he will be armed when he preaches to his small congregation of 50, and so will a few of his parishioners.
“There will be three armed [licensed] persons at all times at every service,” Chapa told ABC affiliate KRGV on Monday. “Nobody needs to know who they are, but our church will be protected.”
“What happened in Sutherland will not ever happen in our church,” Chapa said. “This was not supposed to happen.”
Other churches in the southern Texas area said they also planned to increase security in the aftermath of the shooting.
The McAllen First Baptist Church, located about four hours south of Sutherland Springs, said it would implement new procedures for church members with concealed handgun licenses to make each other aware of who is carrying.
“We are putting that into place so our concealed-carry people know each other, but we are also setting things up to where they’re located strategically throughout the auditorium in the services that we have,” the church’s pastor, Shannon Talley, told KRGV earlier this week.
The debate has also moved outside of Texas. Some states like Florida, already allow guns in church, but are considering updated legislation.
Detective Tracey Schofield of the Brooksville Police Department said, “If they go to church, they’re legally allowed to carry it (a gun). There are no restrictions in the state of Florida.”
Florida State Statute 790.06 lists places you are not allowed to bring a concealed carry, if you have a permit. That list includes: Schools, government buildings, law enforcement agencies, professional sporting events, airports, and anywhere that serves alcohol.
Meanwhile the Republican-led Michigan Senate, days after the Texas church massacre has backed a bill that would allow guns in Schools, government buildings, law enforcement agencies, professional sporting events, airports, and anywhere that serves alcohol.
That bill was sent to the GOP-led House for consideration next. They face an uncertain future because Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, vetoed a similar plan in 2012 following the mass shooting of elementary schoolchildren in Connecticut.
The sponsor, GOP Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof of West Olive, said the recent mass shootings in Texas and Las Vegas highlight the need to act.
“I believe citizens have the right to be free and safe and secure and to defend themselves and their loved ones,” he said. “Responsible, well-trained, licensed gun owners may be one of those deterrents to those individuals who seek out gun-free zones as opportunities to commit heinous crimes.”