State Senate passes bill allowing weapons in worship spaces

Bill passes Senate allowing guns in church

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In a narrow 21-19 vote, a bill that will allow guns inside places of worship clears the State Senate.

“Really? Guns in worship? Weapons in worship? We don’t need that, we don’t want that,” Executive Director of the Virginia Interfaith Center Kim Bobo said.

It’s a big topic across the state. Some faith leaders say they don’t want the bill to continue and get to the governor’s desk.

“We believe our congregations should be places of unity and harmony,” Bobo said.

We spoke to different faith leaders across Central Virginia, most say they say the bill does more harm than good.

“Allowing guns in houses of worship sends a completely different message of a place of peace and support for people,” Bobo said.

“We all share the same goal which is keeping our community safe, but I think there is a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it,” Rabbi Michael Knopf said.

Michael Knopf is the leader of Temple Beth-El. Knopf hopes the bill won’t make it further.

“My hope is that the house is more sensible and actually listens to the voice of faith leaders,” Knopf said.

The bill would repeal a law that charges anyone who brings weapons into houses of worship with a misdemeanor.

Many admit after the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and other churches across the country, safety concerns are growing.

“They can hire security guards, they can train their ushers. There are a lot of things they can already do under the law if there’s a concern and a need,” Bobo said.

“I shudder as a parent and as a Rabbi at the possibility that my children might encounter someone’s deadly weapon,” Knopf said.

We have reached out to Senator Richard Black for comment. We are waiting to hear back.

Knopf says this safety decision belongs to the individuals houses of worship.

“Houses of worship should have the right and the ability to take measures they need to take to protect themselves but those decisions should be in the hands of the individual’s houses of worship,” Knopf said.

If the bill does pass in the House, it will go before the governor. He will then have a chance to veto that decision.

We will keep you updated and bring you the latest.

Copyright 2019 WWBT. All rights reserved.