One Virginia Republican lawmaker has offered a bill in the 2019 General Assembly session to allow those attending worship services around the Commonwealth to be armed during service. The proposal comes amid a nationwide heated debate on gun violence following two high profile church shootings still in recent memory – the 2018 shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at a synagogue in which 11 were killed, and the 2015 shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, in which nine church-goers were slain.
The biggest contention with the current Virginia law prohibiting weapons in places of worship, established over 140 years ago, includes the text that a person must not carry a weapon “without good and sufficient reason.” However, Senator Dick Black (R-Loudoun) said late last year that the law is not too clear in regards to the aforementioned passage.
“Existing Virginia law is ambiguous about the use of firearms on church property,” Black said to the Loudoun Times-Mirror. “I would like to clarify that,” he added. Other lawmakers say they want to clarify the law with an amendment to include personal protection.
Senate Bill 1024, introduced by Senator Black, would repeal § 18.2-283 of the Virginia Code to allow people to carry a “dangerous weapon” into place of religious worship. The legislation will effort to:
“Repeal[s] the statutory prohibition on carrying a gun, pistol, bowie knife, dagger, or other dangerous weapon, without good and sufficient reason, to a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held at such place.”
The bill was referred to the Courts of Justice Committee last October, now still reportedly being considering by the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee.
After Democrats introduced over 80 pieces of legislation in the 2018 General Assembly session to restrict ownership of firearms, among other seemingly anti-Second Amendment proposals, the bill is likely to face strong opposition from the growing liberal faction within the state legislature and a Democratic executive branch.