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The 11th Commandment: Thou shalt bring guns to church

Georgia Gun Owners The Tucson shootings inspired an informal public debate over gun control laws, as such incidents typically do, with one side decrying the availability of guns to people who appear to be deranged and the other arguing that one sick man's violent rampage shouldn't have any bearing on the public's right to keep and bear arms. On Tuesday, the nonprofit gun-rights group Georgia Gun Owners took the debate one step further, calling for an end to Georgia's ban on firearms in places of worship.

I hadn't heard of the group before Tuesday, when it e-mailed me a press release touting a bill (Georgia House Bill 54) to eliminate the ban. But I have to say I admire the group's ambition. You would think that gun-rights groups would be content to play defense in the weeks after a federal judge was killed and a congresswoman critically wounded, allegedly by a Glock-wielding conspiracy theorist. That, however, would not be the M.O. of Georgia Gun Owners, whose website aligns it with the "real" right-to-carry policies in Alaska, Vermont and, yes, Arizona.

Here's the meat of the GGO's press release:

"Over the past decade, at least 20 instances have been documented throughout the country where a crazed thug enters a place of worship and shot, or attempted to shoot, the place up,” said Patrick Parsons, Executive Director, Georgia Gun Owners.

Once Church Carry is passed in Georgia, individuals will be able to defend themselves and their families against those that would do them harm while they are simply trying to worship peacefully.

I have trouble squaring what the priests at my church say about faith with the idea of parishioners returning fire on an attacker. But they're Irish Catholics, so perhaps they associate too easily with the notion of martyrdom. I'm guessing that the church Patrick Parsons attends has a somewhat different interpretation of turning the other cheek.

By the way, the GGO's main objective is to make it easier for law-abiding Georgians to carry guns anywhere by eliminating the government license, fees, background check, waiting period and fingerprinting. It has launched a petition drive to persuade state lawmakers to do away with such hurdles. The question implicit in the group's position is this: If people can legally buy guns and keep them in their homes, why shouldn't they be allowed to strap them on for self-protection when they leave the house? Here's one answer.

[UPDATE: An earlier version of this post misspelled Tucson.]


Gun regulation: A better memorial for Tucson victims

In editorial cartoons, the weapons depicted just get bigger and more powerful

-- Jon Healey


Comments () | Archives (25)

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In Arizona, open carry of weapons is allowed, and this did not stop the mmurder of oinnocent people in Tuscon. Some of the folks at the event had guns and that still did not stop the killing. if you allow folks to take guns to church they will kill each otehr there, as well. Guns kill people, and so do people kill people. Put down the guns and use dialog, perhaps that is less offensive or will not kill each other.

I am a Buddhist, and I am glad I do not go to Christian Church's if they are going to start carrying guns to church.

What would Jesus Do? Kill his parishoners for disagreeing with him. I wonder when his children kill with such ease, and lack of concern for others except self, what tyhey teach in Church nowadays.


most of the people wanting to carry guns like this would crap their pants if they got into an actual fight.
Gun ownership should be contingent upon having done military or police service.
You want a gun? joint the services and serve your country.


The following is quoted from Wikipedia article, "2007 Colorado YWAM and New Life shootings"

A shooting at New Life Church occurred when Matthew J. Murray opened fire in the foyer of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States, on Sunday, December 9, 2007. Three people were wounded and two people were killed before Murray was shot by Jeanne Assam, a church member acting as security, which stopped his attack.[5][6]
At about 1 p.m. MST (20:00 UTC), 30 minutes after the 11 a.m. service had ended at New Life Church, Murray opened fire in the church parking lot shooting the Works family and Judy Purcell, 40. Murray then entered the building's main foyer where he shot Larry Bourbonnais, 59, hitting him in the forearm. At this point, Assam opened fire on Murray with her personally owned concealed weapon. Police say that after suffering multiple hits from Assam's gun, Murray fatally shot himself.[1]

Assam later stated that "God guided me and protected me [and I] did not think for a minute to run away."[5][10][11][12]


Why is it that people of the christian faith are more likely to support our wars and own guns than any of the other religions? Are we reading the same bible? How can someone even reconcile the words of Jesus, with owning a weapon of any sort?


The following is quoted from

Assam worked as a police officer in downtown Minneapolis during the 1990s and is licensed to carry a weapon. She attends one of the morning services and then volunteers as a guard during another service.

Boyd said Assam was the one who suggested the church beef up its security Sunday following the Arvada shooting, which it did. The pastor credited the security plan and the extra security for preventing further bloodshed.

Boyd said there are 15 to 20 security people at the church. All are volunteers but the only ones armed are those who are licensed to carry weapons.

The security guards are members of the church who are screened and not "mercenaries that we hire to walk around our campus to provide security," Boyd said.


Nothings says hypocrisy like a christian with a colt 45.


Hey, Jno Haelye, you are propagating ingnorance when you can't even correctly spell the name of that Arizona city, and then your first commenter repeats your ignorance.

Jon Healey

Thanks, Mountainview, my bad.


Well, I can tell you, such a think will NEVER be allowed in the Eastern Orthodox Church. It's actually against canon law to bring a gun into a church!


I'm glad I'm an athiest!

David Blum

Jesus was always packing!


It's fine to have an opinion, it would be better were it supported by facts.

How about citing instances where persons licensed to carry guns committed murders. I believe that you will find very few, if any, The author's "one answer" at the end of the article seems to support the idea that citizens should be armed. It is a story of a man on the scene with a concealed weapon who made all of the right decisions. He drew his gun to defend people, and when he could not determine who was the correct target, he put his gun away.

Go read "More Guns, Less Crime" by Yale Professor John Lott. It is very enlightening.


We do have a 1st amendment which mandates seperation of church and state so any church could legally prohibit guns. The 2nd amendment doesn't override the 1st. It compliments it.


To the gun nuts: By making it easier to own guns and for anyone who wants to own one (and I mean ANYONE), you are actually enabling more and more people to go on shooting sprees. Here's a thought: so what would have happened if someone had shot back at Jared Loughner after he opened fire? Would that have prevented him from shooting the people who he shot? I would argue. People who argue making owning a gun easier is the answer to violence don't understand basic logic and common sense.



Sean Chen

I'd rather have people I know armed around me than have NOBODY I know around me armed.

Criminals tend not to choose hardened targets. They will target a church that provides less resistance.

It's YOUR church. Go by YOUR beliefs.

Some churches feel they have the right to defend themselves and their flock from the wolves and crazies of this world.

For them, great. For the ones that don't, great.

There is a risk and tradeoff to everything.


Anyone who has not been in a gun battle of any type stands to find that it is not the target range. I have been in 11, as a matter of profession, and I will be the first to tell you; nerves of steel become totally melted to molton.
The danger of bringing armed people who are not trained in this, and simply arrive by the seat of their pants when a disgruntled armed persons commits a crime, will find his or herself wounding innocents by fault, or trajectory in a crowd. If they fire. This is the NRA's silly cry for what they twist the 2nd Amendment to be. It isn't real life folks.

Mitchell Young

I was first inclined to agree that the Catholic church is pretty anti-weapon and that weapons should be kept out of churches. I suppose, like many English-speaking Catholics, I think of the murder of Thomas à Becket in Canterbury cathedral. The again, in the mission basilica San Juan Capistrano there is a wonderful portrait of its be-sandaled and tonsured namesake wielding a sword. I don't know if he de-girded before preaching in Church, but as an Islamophobe avant la lettre Giovanni da Capistrano had no problem taking up arms against the Turks.

Jon Healey

@Mitchell -- Dude was an inquisitor too. I'd like to think that such figures, although beatified, wouldn't be role models for Catholics today. But then, IANAP (I Am Not A Prelate).


The logic of the anti-gun crowd baffles me. This notion that making guns illegal will prevent crime defies common sense. That mentality suggests that someone who has already decided to rob a bank or commit murder will deviate from their intentions because possessing a gun is illegal. DUH, I’m guessing they don’t care if the gun they have is illegally possessed if they intend to kill someone with it.

If your argument is that making guns illegal will keep guns out of the hands of criminals…please refer to the laws regarding heroin, cocaine, meth, etc. Making them illegal will just give the Mexican cartels a way to diversify their smuggling business.

For those of us who are old enough to remember when the Palestinians began their war on Israel they used to ambush entire families and shoot them to death. The Israelis responded by arming themselves by the thousands. Suddenly, any jihadist that opened fire found himself to be an instant bullet magnet. One misguided lad emptied a magazine into a bus and before he could reload he had been shot by three different citizens. The fact that ambushes were no longer an effective means to kill jews gave birth to the suicide bomber.

For those of you who want to believe that Jesus was against arming yourself I suggest you read your Bible. Jesus commanded his own disciples to sell their purse and their cloak and buy a sword. We know that at least one of his disciples was carrying a sword for self defense when Jesus was arrested because one of them drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of the guards. Jesus told him to put it away but he was never chastised for possessing it.

I also saw a post that says gun ownership should be based on military service or prior police service. I’m both and I’m currently in my 20th year in one of the top ten largest departments in the country and I was a military policeman for 8 years prior. It is a myth that cops are anti-gun / anti-2nd Amendment. The cops you see on TV touting gun control are political appointees or those aspiring to be political appointees and they are saying what their politician bosses are telling them to say. 99.9 percent of all the patrol cops I’ve worked with over the last 28 years firmly believe that law abiding citizens should have the right to carry a firearm for their own defense. We get sick and tired of seeing decent citizens brutally victimized. We know best that it is a rare occasion when we can get there in time to help, especially in rural areas (most of the country). I don’t know any cops that ever shed a tear when a law abiding citizen defends themselves and the bad guy loses. Also, I shoot in competitions with non-law enforcement citizens. I feel comfortable saying that many of the non-LE people that I shoot with are more tactical, better trained and take shooting more seriously than many of the police officers I know. So to whomever posted that most people who are carrying a gun would crap their pants if they ever got into a gunfight I would say, with confidence, that you would be surprised.

Lastly, if you think you’re safe at church think again. I’ve documented 49 incidents of shootings that occurred at a church where the violence was directed at someone attending the function at the church. Shootings happen in church parking lots so frequently that I don’t even try to document them all because my theory is that most of them are drug dealers taking advantage of spots that are usually vacant during most days of the week.

If people want to create laws to control crime I say we start with plea bargain and parole control. If we would actually start treating criminals like criminals maybe we could get somewhere.


More B.S. coming out for gun control using language in the article like::: "eliminating the government license, fees, background check, waiting period and fingerprinting". L.A. Times like alot of the other newpapers will "not " print the whole truth..The laws are specific about gun purchases in all states which include fees, background check, waiting period and sometimes fingerprinting". L.A. Times like alot of the other newpapers are anti gun and will never tell the readers the whole story, just the part that they want for their own liberal views..

Dave Freeman

"I'm guessing that the church Patrick Parsons attends has a somewhat different interpretation of turning the other cheek."

Does the author really believe that "turning the other cheek" means that you should stand by and watch your family and friends executed? Do you really believe that is the intent of that phrase?

I've been carrying a concealed weapon for over twenty years while shopping, when I go out mountain bike riding, and yes...even in church. So far, thank God, I have never had to use it. I hope I never do.

John, if you really believe that the bible teaches you to meekly stand by and allow a disturbed madman to shoot you and your family, maybe you should spend a little more time readin it.

Jon Healey

@Dave -- IANAT (I am not a theologian), but let me refer you to Matthew 5:39 -- "But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."

Howling Winds

Anyone who has not been in a gun battle of any type stands to find that it is not the target range. I have been in 11, as a matter of profession, and I will be the first to tell you; nerves of steel become totally melted to molton.
"The danger of bringing armed people who are not trained in this, and simply arrive by the seat of their pants when a disgruntled armed persons commits a crime, will find his or herself wounding innocents by fault, or trajectory in a crowd. If they fire. This is the NRA's silly cry for what they twist the 2nd Amendment to be. It isn't real life folks."

Posted by: StJoseph | January 26, 2011 at 05:29 AM

My guess is the overwhelming majority of those who have used a firearm in self-defense have very little, if any, formal training in the correct use of firearms. Also, you are in no position at all in which to properly judge the "nerves" of anyone else in a firefight other than yourself, and even then, people do not always react the same in similar situations. "Real life" you say? Real life is simply the realization that you should stay out of the lives of others, especially when it comes to self-defense.


"Love toward ones self remains the fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on repect for one's own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow" (Catechism §2264).

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword"--Jesus (Mat 10:34).

"But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one."--Jesus (Luk 22:36).



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