Missouri Church Shooting Highlights Concealed Weapons Law
The fatal shooting of three people in a Missouri church on Sunday promises to renew the debate over concealed weapons laws.
Under the state's "conceal and carry" law enacted in 2003, Show Me State residents can bring firearms into places of worship (among other places), provided they get permission from their pastors. Whether the gunman or any of the assembled in the First Congregational Church in Neosho had received the blessing to pack heat in a house of God remains to be seen.
Among Missouri's Catholic churches, at least, such permission is unlikely. In the wake of the passage of the conceal and carry law, the Missouri Catholic Conference prescribed guidelines for churches in the state. Among its recommendations that each church should distribute a written policy to all employees and parishioners, as well as post a sign of at least 11 inches by 14 inches announcing that all weapons are prohibited within.
While the Ten Commandments and "No Weapons" doubtless grace most Missouri houses of worship, the pluses and minuses of concealed weapons within church walls will doubtless be debated. Some will argue that allowing any firearms in holy places, sites inherently provoking deep reverence and powerful emotions, is courting disaster. Others, in keeping with many gun advocates after the Virginia Tech shootings, will claim concealed weapons help innocent lives defend themselves.
Reflecting on today's killings, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt spoke for us all when he declared, "This is a terrible tragedy which was made worse by the fact that it happened in a peaceful place of faith and worship." Two years ago, Blunt signed a new statute"fixing" funding problems with administration of the 2003 gun law that the Missouri Supreme Court previously ruled unconstitutional. That September, Blunt said of the new permitting fees bill, "I think it will remove any excuses that anybody might have not to issue a permit."
As the Neosho shootings attest, maybe not all excuses.