No Guns in Church

A few weeks ago, I walked in to church and saw this addition to the all of the outside doors at Resurrection.

The addition is the little sign in the lower right hand corner – no guns. It is my understanding that this is in response to a recent change in the concealed carry law in Kansas. It is legal to carried a concealed weapon in Kansas with a permit. It is my understanding that previously this law included churches as a place where a concealed weapon could not be carried even with a permit. However, this has changed and unless a sign is posted those who legally carry a concealed firearm could bring it in the building.

I am not sure what I think about the signs being up. On one hand, it does ensure that we comply with the law if we do not want those licensed to carry a concealed weapon to bring it to church. On the other hand, if someone is planning ill intentions in the church I do not think that they are not going to pay attention to the sign.

What do you think?

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40 thoughts on “No Guns in Church

  1. Dangit, this is going to impact my troubleshooting ability. After all, it’s not called trouble SHOOTING for nothing you know. Sometimes you just have to take the computers out back and put them out of your misery.

    I agree, though, someone intent on causing trouble isn’t really going to worry about the stickers on the door. After all, Virginia Tech was a Gun-Free Zone, and we all see how much good that did.

    On the other hand, knuckleheads bent on causing trouble with concealed firearms are probably not likely to have the CCW permit anyway.

  2. Don’t know why that link failed, but if you’re interested Google, “Wedgewood Baptist Church Shooting Fort Worth, TX”.

  3. For what it is worth, my guess is that the signs aren’t there so much to prevent random acts of violence or shooting rampages, but more out of a conviction that guns don’t belong in church, whether you are a responsible gun owner or not. (At least, that is the justification I would have for putting such obvious and not necessarily attractive signs up.) I am not sure why people feel compelled to carry concealed weapons, but I can definitely see that it would be very disturbing to see your neighbor worshipping next to you lift up their hands in praise to God, and you notice the handle of thier gat peeking out from under their shirt tail…

    P.S. I really wrote this response just as an excuse to use the word “gat” in an email. It makes me feel younger.

  4. Andrew,

    I didn’t realize the concel carry law was changed from last January (that one did exclude Sanctuaries). When did that happen?

    We used to have a police officer who would get off the night shift in order to come to church…in his uniform. Or sometimes take his lunch break to come to church…in his uniform. Would he have to take off his gun b/c of the signs?

  5. Ben – Wow. Thanks for sharing the news. I do not remember hearing that hit the news, and I really cannot imagine what that must have been like for those who were there. I think you are right – there is a good deal of irony in this situation.

    Kevin – I think that you are right in the conviction that guns don’t belong in church, a question that remains for me is this – would a responsible gun owner take a weapon to church? I’m not sure. Using gat in a sentence… Hmm, if that what makes you feel younger… 🙂

    Amy – I am not sure about the details here. I heard that the law expired or was renewed differently or something. I say for sure. As for the police officer – that is a great question. I have no idea. I would think that it would be okay, but I’m not sure.

  6. Andrew – Good question! To be honest, I’m not sure what would motivate someone to have a concealed weapon permit in the first place. It is not something I have any experience with, so for me it is kind of just a caricature.

  7. Wow, great discussion so far! Just to note, I was intrigued to notice Ginghamsburg has these types of signs up as well. Perhaps this is something that larger churches such as Resurrection and Ginghamsburg need to be concerned about with larger groups of people, whereas those of us in smaller churches just have bigger fish to fry.

    As to why a gun owner would want to bring it to church? We have a good friend who’s packin’ all the time, yet I asked him not to bring the gun into our home when they visit, and he respects that. (Hey, if Kevin can say “gat” then I wanted to say “packin’.”) I have no idea if he carries it in church, though I would think he doesn’t. Though we supposedly have a 70-something woman who brings “Bessie”, her handgun, when she counts money!

  8. The overwhelming majority of the individual states of our nation provide for the legal carry of concealed weapons. In these states there are very many CCW permit holders who routinely carry a concealed revolver or pistol while engaged in business, recreation, etc. It is their choice to be armed as it is the choice of others to be unarmed. I am not aware of any instance in which a CCW permit holder has used a weapon in a crime. There are many multiple instances on record when a revolver or pistol has been used by a CCW permit holder to prevent or stop a a crime in progress. Absent a armed law enforcement officer, the presence of a armed CCW permit holder is the best hope anyone has of a effective response to violent crime.

    I would not be at all concerned about seeing a CCW permit holder enter a worship service while armed. A firearm legally owned and carried is no different than a laptop computer or a bottle of wine. A bottle of wine, a laptop or a firearm, used according to law presents no cause for concerned. In the wrong hands, each has the potential for great harm.

    As far as motivation to carry a concealed weapon is concerned, consider that the vast majority of Americans do not live in gated communities with paid security officers to patrol the sidewalks and streets nor do they live in houses or apartments that have monitored electronic security systems. However many Americans are vulnerable to being victimized by criminals. About all that they can hope is a quick response by law enforcement officers to their call for help and an accurate investigation report. Hopefully they will not be physically injured. Sadly they will have to live with the emotional damage they sustain. Their case will likely not be solved. They may again be subjected to a repetition of criminal activity.

    In regard to the above I speak not as one who has a CCW permit but as one who has experienced violent crime, lived in a community where it was not unusual for neighbors to be so victimized and as one who has on four separate occasions personally used a firearm to stop a criminal from breaking into my apartment or at a later date my home.

  9. Dan – Nice use of packin’

    Bruce – Thank you for sharing your perspective. You have helped me to understand where people that carry concealed weapons are coming from. You have also communicated this very clearly and compellingly. For my part, I would respectfully disagree with you about concern for having a firearm in worship. First, I don’t think having a firearm in worship is analogous to having one in a movie theater, for example. Hopefully, Christians are doing something very different in worship than a random group of people are who are watching a movie. I don’t know if that example helps, but my feeling is that if we are worshiping the same Lord who told his disciple to put his sword away when he was arrested in Gethsemane, we should come to worship prepared to fully surrender ourselves to God, not prepared to take up arms to defend ourselves and take back control.

    I am not sure I am saying what I am trying to say very well. But basically, I think the argument for carrying concealed weapons should be different for Christians than for non-Christians. (Having said that, I have to admit that I have never personally experienced violent crime.)

  10. Pingback: Guns in Church? « deeply committed

  11. Dan – Thanks for your response. It may have something to do with size, but I’m not sure. Security is something about which we are aware and is an integral part of life at Resurrection – particularly during and around worship.

    Bruce – Thanks for your addition to the conversation. You have a great point – a handgun and many other things when possessed, carried and used legally is not a problem. I value your writing.

    Kevin – I think that you make a good point about worship being a different endeavor than other public gatherings and also appreciate the reference to Jesus in Gethsemane. Thanks.

  12. I have appreciated both sides of this conversation – particularly from Bruce and Kevin. I think I may be more ambiguous about this situation than I was previously.

    I do think that we can and should bring all of who we are before God in worship. I appreciate all comments here and am trying to think of what a middle ground might be.

    What people who come in the building who are neither CCW permit holders or those entering with an intent to cause harm with a weapon? Do you feel safer, less safe or no difference in a building that has similar signage?

  13. Bruce,
    You helped clear much of the discussion that preceded yours. People who have no knowledge of the process to become a concealed carry permit holder often jump to uninformed conclusions when they see the “no concealed carry” sign. I am a CC permit holder and I am female. I have served in the Army, and I am a naturally born citizen of the USA. Although I would not intentionally carry into a church, I don’t believe that it is wrong. Although with Kansas law I would lose my permit if I entered a posted building. I have training with guns, I am responsible, and I have a right to protect myself, my family, and my property. I am also a baptized Christian.

    My main point is that the 2nd amendment gives me the right to keep and bear arms. “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” I embrace that right. You need to keep in mind that the founders of this country knew that governments use arms against their own citizens and intended to prevent their new country from ever reaching that point. I live in a rural area where crime has increased greatly in the last few years. When I am by myself checking my ranch, many miles from anyone else, I want to have protection with me.

    A church or a business is given the opportunity to post the no concealed carry sign if they wish to prevent legal permit holders from entering. The sign, by law, has nothing to do with anyone else possessing a gun—it does not say “no guns” but instead “no legal concealed carry”. You will never prevent people with intent from entering a building whether or not they see the no concealed carry sign.
    Your worries are against responsible, highly-vetted permit holders. I person with intent to harm you does not need a gun to do it.

    Mare

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  15. Interesting post in the wake of recent events. Two things – One Bonded Peace Officers are exempt from the carry and conceal rules, they are licensed in a totally different manner, and in some states they are actually required to carry their weapon at all times – even when not on duty. Also their weapons are often not concealed. Given recent events, I sure hope our security folks carry….Its good to know we have an FBI guy and several retired police officers around.

    My sense of the stickers – is that Gun Safe zones are actually counter productive – Ive never heard of an instance when a licensed to carry person went on a rampage – rather I think the signs tend to say to people – come on in, there is nobody here to stop you.

    Call it the Texan in me, but id rather have 100 people of honor carrying so that if this happens near me – someone can and will respond with stopping power.

  16. Chuck – I did not know the distinction with a bonded peace officer. Thanks for sharing that information. I believe that there are members of the security team at Resurrection that are armed. A true Texan – thanks for your comment. 🙂

  17. Considering what happened at the church in Colorado Springs, I would hope those signs will come down. It was a regular citizen **with a legally concealed handgun ** who prevented the criminal from killing many more people. If that church in CO had banned concealed carry in their building, she would have been unarmed and unable to stop the killer.

    There have been multiple shootings at churches (Neosho, MO anyone). If someone is so depraved that they’re going to shoot up a church, the criminal won’t care if the church is posted or not. It just advertises that they won’t meet any resistance.

  18. I am very sorry to see that CORE has been posted. It means that I will not be able to visit your wonderful church, about which I have heard so much.

    A “No Weapons Allowed” sign only prevents law-abiding citizens who have passed rigorous background checks and a special course of training on the law and safe, proper handling of concealed weapons from carrying their concealed defensive weapon. It does nothing to stop predators or other evil-doers from bringing their offensive weapons into whatever place is posted. This has been shockingly proven by what happened in the Omaha mall, the Ward Parkway mall, and–most relevantly–in Colorado. Indeed, in Colorado, it was ONLY because a law-abiding and properly licensed person was carrying a defensive weapon that more bloodshed did not occur.

    While posting CORE as “No Weapons Allowed” is certainly within the church’s legal rights, it is a very serious mistake in judgment and, in my opinion, verges on immoral, in that it effectively prevents law-abiding citizens who have proven their responsibility in order to be licensed to carry concealed defensive weapons from being able to defend themselves, their loved ones, or others from criminals intent on harming them; while doing absolutely nothing at all to prevent the criminals from carrying out their intentions.

  19. Patrick – Thanks for your comment. I agree that it is important for the people of the congregation be safe and also that someone who is planning harm in a context will not necessarily be deterred by the sign.

    Mark – I am sorry that you will not be able to visit the congregation. I think that you do make a valid point that there are times when someone with a weapon who is able to act in a defensive way could be an effective way to prevent more violence from happening.

  20. “The original KS bill excluded many places for concealed weapons. For example; schools, churches, places of assembly like arenas were off limits to concealed weapons.

    However, in time, the bill was modified that cast doubt on whether concealed weapons could or could notbe brought to achurch in Kansas.”

    THIS CHANGE WAS MADE DUE TO PROTEST FROM MANEY CHURCH GROUPS.

  21. Andrew:

    In the link to the Senior Pastors “e-note” the following statement from a trustee(?) was cited:

    “Unfortunately, these are times we live. Missouri has a similar law and virtually every commercial business in KC has these signs. They are showing up in businesses and schools in Kansas too.”

    As an initial matter, the statement is simply false–“virtually every commercial business in KC” does NOT have the signs. In fact, as business owners are becoming more educated about the law and what it means to be a concealed-carry licensee, we see these signs being REMOVED by businesses that previously posted them based on bad information and/or ignorance.

    With regard to the “these are the times we live [in]” statement–that is the very point: We live in times when maniacs are targeting innocent people in places like malls and churches. These times demand the moral response from law-abiding citizens that they will not stand by and permit these criminals to carry out their evil intentions without the ability to intervene and defend against them. The moral response is to arm one’s self and be prepared to defend the innocent against the evil.

    I cannot, in good conscience, bring my wife and children to a place that, in order to visit there, I must surrender my means of effectively defending them from harm or death at the hands of a criminal. The “No Weapons” signs result ONLY in disarming law-abiding, trained, qualified citizens. They have zero effectiveness when it comes to disarming/stopping criminals–after all, if they are willing to commit a crime with a gun, who in the world would reasonably believe that a sign on a door would stop them? In fact, a reasonable argument can be made that, by establishing CORE as a “Gun Free Zone” the signs actually INVITE criminals to target the church, because they can rest assured that the law-abiding citizens there will NOT be armed and therefore likely are incapable of mounting a sufficient defense.

    In light of what happened in Colorado, I think that it is sad that CORE has chosen to take this irrational course of action.

  22. Mark – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I do want to know more about your thoughts about concealed handguns. I want to be able to enter into a deeper dialogue than what is reasonable via comments on this post – look for an email from me with the same title as this blog post.

    Nick – I am not going to be able to share someone else’s contact information in this public setting. I do however also want to be in dialogue with you via email, same as Mark – look for an email from me with the same title as this blog post.

    Thanks!

  23. I think it is interesting that the tone of this conversation has turned so strongly in arguing for a personal right to bring a gun into a place of worship with the intent to use it in the event that there is a perceived threat to one’s safety. Honestly, I am shocked by Mark’s comment that COR’s decision to not allow concealed weapons in church is immoral. I would guess that there would be a high percentage of people who would be very uncomfortable with the knowledge that there was someone sitting in the sanctuary with a loaded firearm, at least I would be.

    My concern is that I perceive the foundation for most of these arguments to be something other than allegiance to Jesus Christ. For the one the church proclaims as Lord was born into the world vulnerable and defenseless, and he laid down his life when threatened. I found it ironic and sad to hear the pastor at the church in Colorado celebrating the fact that a member of his church shot someone with the intent to kill them. I just don’t see precedent for that in the teachings or example of Jesus Christ. When our instinct is to insist on my right to defend myself when attacked, I would argue that we are thinking like the world has taught us to and not like our faith teaches us to.

    In my opinion it would be a sad day (and an unfaithful day) if the church were to decide to appeal to its members to carry concealed weapons into worship so that they could kill visitors who threaten their security.

    I have already said too much, but I do want to say that I believe that those of you who carry concealed weapons are responsible and law abiding citizens. I appreciate your desire to protect your own life and the lives of others you love. However, if you are a Christian, I would ask you to prayerfully consider if there is something deeper at stake in life than safety and security? To me it feels like we are in danger of entering into an us versus them mentality that is not Scriptural. Is it not hard to love our enemy if we are carrying a gun for the purpose of harming them if they try to harm us?

  24. Kevin:

    I respect your point of view, but I also respectfully–and very strongly–disagree with it. Do you really believe that Jesus would have us standby, powerless, while an evil-doer kills an innocent person? Do you really believe it would have been better in the Colorado incident if the armed security guard had not intervened? Do you really believe it was a good thing that none of the professors or students at Virginia Tech were armed a capable of defending themselves against the madman that killed 30+ of them?

    What kind of theology says that we should keep ourselves vulnerable to evil-doers and not resist them as best we can? Moreover, your analogy to Jesus limps–Jesus came to earth for the very purpose of dying at the hands of evil for our sins. But that in no way suggests that we should just lay down and allow ourselves to be killed by some crazed criminal without defending ourselves–our blood is not a required sacrifice.

    Indeed, to suggest that Jesus wants us to not be armed and prepared to defend ourselves is counter-scriptural. In Luke 22:36, Jesus instructed his disciples: “[I]f you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” If Jesus wanted his disciples to be defenseless sheep, why would he have instructed them to arm themselves in this way?

    Finally, I credit Mr. Ron Rhodes for the following, from “The Complete Book of Bible Answers”. It is eminently reasonable and states my morality on the issue better than I can:

    “Theologians J. P. Moreland and Norman Geisler say that ‘to permit murder when one could have prevented it is morally wrong. To allow a rape when one could have hindered it is an evil. To watch an act of cruelty to children without trying to intervene is morally inexcusable. In brief, not resisting evil is an evil of omission, and an evil of omission can be just as evil as an evil of commission. Any man who refuses to protect his wife and children against a violent intruder fails them morally.’

  25. Sorry–one further thought that I forgot to include in my last post. Kevin states: “I would guess that there would be a high percentage of people who would be very uncomfortable with the knowledge that there was someone sitting in the sanctuary with a loaded firearm, at least I would be.”

    Can I ask why? How is my sitting next to you in church anything to worry about? Do you feel uncomfortable in the presence of a police officer with his/her weapon? What are the assumptions underlying your concern? What if that police officer happens to be off-duty and is carrying concealed in plain clothes? Would that make a difference? And would your theological position apply to him/her intervening in the event that a criminal attacked the people in the church, as happened in Colorado? Thanks for your input.

  26. Andrew:

    One point that I have heard from others before about carrying concealed in church is that they view the church as a sanctuary and a place of peace, and that carrying concealed there just goes against that. In a very quick (it took maybe two minutes) “Google” search, I found these examples—just a small handful of what actually are an alarmingly high number—of shootings in churches.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/03/14/national/main679823.shtml

    http://www.religionnewsblog.com/11980/church-shooting-a-mystery

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/law/july-dec99/shooting_9-16.html

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-08-13-church-shooting_N.htm

    Add to this the tragedy that occurred in Colorado, and it is readily apparent that you are NOT safe from attack in church, despite its intended purpose as a sanctuary. In fact, as in the Colorado incident, you may be targeted in your place of worship precisely BECAUSE it is a church.

    This is why I do my best to always be prepared to defend my family and other innocents from the depraved actions of some lunatic—even in church. And the only way to be effectively prepared to mount such a defense is to be sufficiently armed to stop that threat should it arise. Therefore, I carry concealed. I pray that I never will have to employ my weapon, and that is will turn to rust before it is ever used to shoot somebody. But in the event it is needed, it will be there. And in that event, I pray that God will steady my hand and make me his tool to protect other innocents from evil.

  27. We live in dangerous times. Security is a huge issue
    in public places. I support having means to protect
    our congregation!

  28. Michelle:

    To the point of this discussion, which approach do you believe best provides a means to protect the congregation and why do you think so–the “No Concealed Carry” signs or permitting concealed carry license holders to carry their handguns concealed? I’m interested to know your thoughts. Thanks.

  29. Mark is on point. It is not a gun sitting next to you in church, it is a concerned and prepared citizen. I carry and I am a woman. I would in no way hesitate to carry into a church, if allowed. But I also think in the same manner that Mark does. I will not worship in a church building that posts against concealed carry. I will not be required to lay down my means of protection. Kevin, I think you might be the best example of someone who has been indoctrinated by society to believe that weapons are evil. Remember, it is a person who commits a crime, not a weapon. As I stated earlier, anyone with intent doesn’t need a gun to harm you. A criminal could walk into church with a bomb strapped to himself. It happens in other places in the world, it is only a matter of time until that happens here. I personally do not do business with any type of establishment that posts a no concealed carry sign. It is really not a “no weapons allowed” post. It only pertains to those of us who are licensed to carry concealed. It is somewhat amusing (but sadly so) that some people would think that a sign could prevent a person with intent from doing harm. This new signage only speaks to those of us with training. And, as Mark says, I will pray that I never have to employ my weapon, but I will be willing to protect myself, those who I love, and my property against evil. What a powerful quote that Mark posted! It is evil not to prevent evil from happening. And, more to the point, the persons who prevent me from protecting myself and others because they are afraid of “guns” are guilty, in some part, of this. This society has succeeded in placing the blame on the inanimate—guns, SUVs, etc.—instead of requiring people to be responsible for what they do.

    Mare

  30. I was going to stay out of the rest of this conversation. Folks on both sides of the issue have raised valid points, particularly the point that a sign on a door is not going to deter anyone truly wishing to do harm. And the quote on not preventing evil being just as evil as committing it certainly is thought provoking. Yet I feel compelled to respond once more.

    I, as a pastor, and as a committed follower of Jesus Christ who laid down his life for me and you and in doing so set us an example of the greatest act of love, do not agree that Kevin nor anyone who might share his point of view are a “best example of someone who has been indoctrinated by society to believe that weapons are evil.” Rather, I would assert that we might be an example, not the best, of someone who believes that there is an alternative way to protect our families than to carry a concealed weapon, and that is to place our total trust and faith in God, and to pray unceasingly for his protection and even mercy on those who might wish to do us harm. In a previous post, Mark quotes Jesus instructing the disciples to buy swords. Yet if we look at the context of that one verse, we read it right after Jesus tells Peter that he will deny him three times, that his faith will be lacking. Then Jesus reminds the disciples that when he already sent them out previously, they lacked absolutely nothing even though they carried nothing, even means to protect themselves. Yet, in these few verses leading up to Jesus’ trial and death, it seems that Jesus might have known that when the going gets tough, self-preservation would be the natural instinct for even those who called themselves his followers, thus his instruction for buying the swords. (Kind of a, “I know you’re going to do it, so go ahead.”)

    Yet, throughout the gospels, I read many more instances of Jesus calling his disciples and the crowds of onlookers not to self-preservation, but to self-denial, to acts of sacrificial love. Particularly the passage most relevant to me is in the section at the very center of the gospel of Mark, where he says, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

    Naturally, I want to protect myself and my family. This means, of course, that I will lock all our doors, maybe even install an alarm system, and remain as vigilant as I can, especially in the part of town in which we live. However, just as with a sign on a church door, I don’t even think these things will stop someone who truly might wish to harm me and mine. Would I engage an attacker in hand to hand combat or by some other means in order to disarm them to prevent them from doing harm? Absolutely. But for me, especially as I interpret scripture, the greatest act of love that I can give my family is not to take someone out with a bullet, but for me to take a bullet intended for them. This is something I would do for my congregation as well.

    Here’s the point to my post. Jesus gives us a high calling… the path of non-violence, paths that lead to life as God intended it to be, where everyone is sacred, even our enemies. This calling and commandment from Christ to deny ourselves and lay down our lives for others goes against everything in our human nature, and especially against everything we seem to believe as Americans today. I thank God to live in this country where we can have this discussion in an open format such as this, and you have your right to disagree with me and to carry a weapon legally. But instead of society indoctrinating Kevin and myself that weapons are evil, might we allow that society has indoctrinated all of us that protecting ourselves, our loved ones, and our property, above all else, truncates the path of discipleship that leads to life for all? I think this goes beyond carrying a gun. It happens when we place more faith in our bank accounts than we do God. It happens when we place more faith in technology. It happens when we consume more food than we really need. It happens all too often.

    Anyone is welcome to worship in the church that I pastor, even if you carry a gun legally. But if there is one place in this whole entire world where you could lay aside your means of self-preservation and completely and totally rely on God’s grace and protection, or to stand for your faith in him to the point of death, shouldn’t it be in a sanctuary?

  31. The discussion is wonderful, it shows how much we hold our beliefs tacitly. I would love to see someone with the time, do some analysis and enumerate the points that have been made using the same data (scripture) to support totally opposite viewpoints. Its almost Abelardian — I would love to raise the challenge of “Sic et Non” as we enjoy discussing the church’s teaching about our responsibility to care for those we love and who have been entrusted to our care and protection. Should we bear arms or should we open our arms in the face of danger?

  32. A question: Was Jesus totally and exclusively nonviolent? Did he throw the moneychangers out of the Temple in a passive and loving manner, opening His arms in acceptance? I would also sacrifice my life for my family, but first I would try to preserve their lives and mine. George has a good point: scripture can be used to present both sides of any discussion, not just one on concealed carry. I will stand by my comment that political correctness makes guns, and not the criminal, guilty. I apologize if that is not the direction from which Kevin and Dan’s comments come.

    Mare

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