New Bill Prohibits Concealed Carry in Churches
Bottom line up front:
This bill may not be in your state, but you can bet other states will replicate this. Even if you aren’t in CA, you need to read this to keep abreast of what can happen to you in one legislative session.
Bill Will Prohibit Security Ministries From Carrying Concealed in Church
California recently passed a concealed carry bill that will have significant impacts upon church security ministries across the state. The bill will prohibit concealed carriers from carrying in a church, unless the church follows specific guidelines. Before you dismiss this as another California stunt, keep in mind that many other states will follow their lead in prohibiting concealed carry in churches. Even if you don’t live in California, you should read this article and see how this could impact you if you are in a left leaning state.
Senate Bill 2 (SB 2), introduced in the California Legislature's 2023-2024 session, emerged in response to a significant Supreme Court decision that impacted concealed carry weapon (CCW) laws across the United States. This decision made states, like California, issue concealed carry permits. Previously, some counties in CA would only issue permits under limited conditions.
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Key Provisions of California's Senate Bill 2 (SB 2)
Enhanced Training Requirements
SB 2 introduces more rigorous training requirements for those seeking concealed carry permits. While aiming to ensure that permit holders are well-prepared, this change raises concerns among Second Amendment advocates. They argue that these heightened requirements could potentially restrict access to permits, especially for individuals who may lack the time or resources for additional training.
I have friend in California reporting that the expense of obtaining a concealed carry permit is costing north of $2,000 after meeting training requirements and paying licensing fees. These same people are reporting wait times of more than a year to meet the requirements.
Minimum Age Requirement of SB2
The bill sets the minimum age for obtaining a concealed carry permit at 21 years old. This provision aligns with other legal age requirements but has been met with criticism from young adults who are otherwise legally allowed to own firearms. Opponents of this provision view it as an unnecessary restriction on the rights of law-abiding young gun owners.
On a side note, I was carrying an M60 Machine Gun at 18. At 20, I was hired as a police officer (in California) and was carrying a handgun as a requirement to be a police officer.
Prohibition of Weapons in Sensitive Areas (Including Churches)
One of the most contentious aspects of SB 2 is the prohibition of carrying weapons in designated sensitive areas, which includes places of worship. This provision directly impacts church security teams, as it restricts their ability to carry concealed weapons, a measure previously relied upon for the protection of congregations. Church security advocates have expressed significant concerns over this restriction, fearing it could compromise the safety of churchgoers and impede their ability to respond to potential threats.
To be clear, I was a police officer for 30 years in the San Francisco Bay Area. Christians will listen to this law and comply, however, criminals will not. This law will not prohibit a bad person from entering the church with a gun and killing as many people as possible inside. Meanwhile, the state has disarmed law abiding citizens.
After 30 years, I did not see California’s strict gun laws protect the public. It only hampered the law abiding from protecting themselves and their families.
Implications for Church Security Ministries
Impact on Church Security Strategies
SB 2 does have an exemption that specifically states that concealed carriers can carry at the church if the church posts a sign that is, “Of a uniform design as prescribed by the Department of Justice and shall be at least four inches by six inches in size.” If the church does not post this sign, CCW holders will be in violation of the law.
It is imperative that each church contact California DOJ and place signs in accordance with their law. I have heard from many of you stating that your church does not want to acquiesce to allowing the church security team to carry firearms. If that is the case, all concealed carriers will be prohibited from carrying concealed at the church.
As we navigate these legal changes, it's important to remember the biblical principle of respecting and obeying our church leaders. In Hebrews 13:17 (ESV), it says, 'Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.' This scripture reminds us of the importance of supporting our church elders' decisions, including those regarding security measures and compliance with laws like SB 2.
Exploring Alternative Security Measures
With the direct impact of SB 2 on armed security strategies, churches may need to explore alternative methods if the church does not want to abide by the signage mandate. This could include increasing the presence of unarmed security personnel, enhancing surveillance systems, or investing in advanced access control systems. Additionally, churches can consider training staff and volunteers in de-escalation techniques and emergency response protocols. Collaboration with local law enforcement for regular security assessments and training could also be beneficial.
Compliance and Best Practices
The best practice, in my opinion, for church security is to have armed team members that are highly trained to watch over the flock while they worship or participate in church events. Clearly, we have seen the threat matrix change in the United States with the FBI even warning that churches are at risk of terrorism in the near future. If you are a church in California, I strongly encourage the church elders to allow the posting of the signs allowing for concealed carry.
If you are outside of California, I implore you to watch this case closely. California is leading the charge on gun control and other states are sure to follow. The best medicine is to monitor your state legislature and fight any attempt at similar legislation in your state.
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