Missouri House Committee Hears Bill to Allow Concealed Guns in Churches

Last week, the Missouri House General Laws Committee heard HB 1382, sponsored byRep. Rocky Miller (R-Lake Ozark), that would remove an existing requirement that gun owners obtain permission from their pastor before they bring their concealed weapons on church property.  

Missouri citizens are currently not authorized to carry a concealed firearm into a police station, polling place, corrections institute, courthouse, bar, airport, school, university, child care facility, riverboat gambling operation, amusement park, stadium, hospital, or a church. HB 1382 singles out churches for the change in the law.

Under the provisions of HB 1382, citizens could conceal and carry in churches unless the church has posted signage in a conspicuous place indicating that guns are prohibited. The bill effectively shifts the burden of ensuring that concealed weapons aren’t being brought into the church from the gun owner to the church.

The Missouri Catholic Conference offered written testimony against this change in the law, arguing that the proposal presupposes that having concealed weapons in our churches makes church attendees safer (a dubious assumption) and that forcing churches to place signs close to their sanctuaries is a violation of religious liberty.