It makes me scratch my head in wonder every time I hear of any legislature which passes a law stating that I either can, or cannot, carry a firearm in a house of worship. Or doing anything else in a church for that matter.
Are they kidding? Who gave the legislature the authority to determine what I can and cannot do in a church? Isn't there this little "seperation of church and state" thingie in the constitution? Wouldn't that apply here?
What next? Restricting what I can say in church? Telling me who I can and cannot pray to?
I would be interested to hear what others have to say about whether the legislature has any authority to dictate such policy.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof
To me, to make such a law would be to prohibit me from my free exercise of religion. If I feel I have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms, and therefore choose to exercise that right, then I am not permitted to attend church.
See? The legislature gets a twofer here. I am either prohibited from keeping and bearing arms, or from attending church. One or the other.
"Restaurants that serve alcohol" are just as privately owned as churches are, and the GA doesn't seem to have any trouble regulating carry there.
Plus, if my foggy memory is serving me correctly, churches are, or at least one time were, considered to be wards of the state, at least where some legal matters are concerned, which, if true, would give them an easier time thinking they had more say-so in such things. Maybe someone who knows more than I (not hard to find) can clarify that, or tell me I'm crazy.
Personally, I do not feel that the state has a compelling reason to prohibit the carrying of firearms in establishments that serve alcohol, unless they can somehow establish the fact that ALL those who enter such an establishment engage in alcohol abuse. I do not drink, but I am forbidden from carrying my firearms into these restaurants. For me, one is no different than another. Alcohol served, or no alcohol served. However, I do believe that the state DOES have a compelling interest in preventing those who are under the influence of alcohol from carrying firerms. But they just cannot seem to understand the distinction.
But I am perfectly willing to concede that if the church is licensed to serve alcohol, AND all of it's members thus imbibe, then perhaps we cannot carry there. But what about the ones that do not serve alcohol???
I'm sorry. I am just kidding. I couldn't resist.
But the apples to oranges...It is not the same.
Last edited by redreed; 05-01-2011 at 12:45 AM.
Same for voting--by denying the basic human right to self-defense in schools that do double-duty as polling stations one day every two years when the kids are kept home from school. Well, same except for the freedom of assembly part.
Actually, Congress and the individual the states (before and after the 14th Amendment incorporated the 1st against the States) can and historically have passed many laws regulating what can or cannot be done in a church. As a few examples: laws regulating the number of wives one may have at any one time, prohibiting the taking of female virginity by church representatives, the sacrifice of either currently living or formerly living human beings, and the ritual slaughter of animals in ways/by means considered inhumane. On the other hand, neither Congress nor the individual states seem very interested in enforcing the existing laws on civil insurrection, incitement to riot, nor sedition with regard to the preachings of various and sundry church leaders.
Further, the civil restriction on where a church can locate itself, the hours during which it may ring it's bells, the size and location of it's parking lot, and the manner in which it resolves internal operational disputes (among other issues) have all been upheld by SCOTUS.
Virginia, fortunately, has a long and rich history of rather limited state involvement with the operation of churches and current law allows the carry of firearms during religious services so long as one has "good and sufficient reason", whatever that means. Our current Attorney General has recently opined that self protection is a "good and sufficient" reason - especially in light of the fact that there is no case law to guide the interpretation of that phrase.
So, Redreed - where did you get the notion that it was illegal to carry in church? Especially in Virginia? Or were you confusing the private desires of some specific church to control the activities of its members and guests with state action?
I think that it IS illegal to carry in church in Virginia, unless you have a "good and sufficient reason". The fact that the Attorney General has stated that self-defence is a good and sufficient reason is irrelevant. What happens when the next political appointee issues a ruling saying that it is no longer sufficient? Or worse, not good? I will answer that. It is the same thing that happened before the "Opinion" was released; A large number of people either did not carry to church, or they did not attend (guess which one I was). After all..."good and sufficient" implies that both "goodness" and "sufficiency" must BOTH be present (hence the word "And"). Clearly, it was the intent of the law to prohibit us from carrying in church. And now that the Attorney General has submitted his finding, you can rest assured that the anti-gunners will attempt to "clarify" their intent in the upcoming legislative session if they can get away with it.
And so that brings me to my particular canundrum. It is bad enough that my church was the ONLY church in my former state that chose to prohibit firearms in church (I quit going as a result, praise the Brothers who visit my home and pray and teach). But when a government recognizes an opportunity to block my attendance through legislation, well that is just wrong. And in my opinion, unconstitutional.
By the way, I do not believe that the law against the ritual slaying of animals stood the test. It failed constitutional muster because it was not applied equally across the board. There was a provision that allowed the Jews to do it (Kosher), but other faiths could not. And certainly I agree that the government is within it's authority to apply zoning laws, but watch and see what haapens when someplace somewhere says "No churches allowed here!!!". It also has quite a compelling interest in not allowing physical injury to take place ANYWHERE. They can do so because the law is applied evenly across the board. But HERE, the government says that "Yes junior, you MAY carry anywhere you want to, except for that little building over there with the cross on top of it. Carring over there is immoral (after all...why would anyone need to carry in church???) and therefore verbotten". And in truth, I can think of no other excuse to try to prohibit carry in church, other than the possibility that it might be immoral (Again I ask the favorite sheeple question..."Why would ANYBODY need to carry in church?). (I guess that if somebody attacks a church, we can all put our head in a circle and defend ourselves by firing bolts of rightiousness out of our backsides. But, of course, who would ever attack a church. That would be immorral!!!)
It is sufficient that the law allows any church to post firearms as off limits if they choose to do so. That is their right, and I very strongly support that.
Sorry, I am not a writer and I tend to ramble and try to cover all points, but I really feel that the government should not be allowed to pass legislation that restricts my freedom to worship as I please. And again I would like to point out that when such laws exist, then people like me (those gun nuts over there...Why does he need to carry that thing in here anyway?) are placed in the position that I am forced to choose between giving up my first amendment right to worship freely, or my 2A right to bear arms.
I guess I was talkng like that guy on T.V with the big vanishing boulder....kinda just saying...
The political winds blow in so many directions that it is hard to decide if things are legal or not on any given day.
Last edited by redreed; 05-01-2011 at 09:48 AM.
Here is a silly question that just sorta popped into my head...
What if you are sitting in the pew with your pretty nickel plated 1911 strapped to your hip, and suddenly sombeody attacks you and viciously maims you, and you could have used your firearm in self-defence , but for some reason chose not to do so....(do you see where this is heading?).
Can you now be arrested for carrying in church without good an sufficient reason?
I am sorry but my mind is a graveyard of impertinent facts and loony ideas and questions.
§ 18.2-283. Carrying dangerous weapon to place of religious worship.
If any person carry any 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 he shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.
This prohibition of weapons carry basically has two conditions: One is where (place of religious worship) and the other is when (while a meeting for religious purposes is being held). Note that this isn't limited to participants in such a meeting.
While the place is a piece of property upon or within which certain activities or features (building codes, parking, hours of operation, occupancy limits, etc) can be regulated by the state, the statute clearly specifies that this prohibition only applies during certain activities, which are of a religious nature.
The exception ("good and sufficient reason"), is very vague. If a community meeting or a pot luck supper is being held, is it OK for everyone to be armed? Absent the AG's opinion, to whom and when would one express their "reason"? Could LE enter the church (without a warrant) during religious services to enforce the carry prohibition? Or wait for the particpants to exit and search them? If your place of worship happens to be considered unusual in a given community, are you more at risk of being found in violation of the law?
This statute needs to be stricken!
ETA: What the hell is a "religious service" anyway? If the pastor says grace before the pot luck supper, does this event quailify?
Last edited by 2a4all; 05-01-2011 at 11:03 AM.
A law-abiding citizen should be able to carry his personal protection firearm anywhere that an armed criminal might go.
Member VCDL, NRA
Attorney General's opinion notwithstanding, I don't know anyone who seriously thinks that the law as it is currently written would allow for an ultimately successful prosecution of a person who was simply carrying a sidearm for self-defense.
Most speculation on this law surrounds the fact that it is vague beyond the point of unenforceable.
IMHO, the AG opinion just helped to remove all doubt.
Redreed - thanks for the new name.
You are right - it is illegal to carry at a church while a religious service is taking place unless you have a good and sufficient reason. It says so plainly and clearly right there in the law about it.
Fortunately, Virginia is generally not saddled with the reality of "The political winds blow in so many directions that it is hard to decide if things are legal or not on any given day". We go by what the words are in the law, or with the fact that there is no law saying we cannot do A, or B, or C. We also generally go by the common understanding of what the words and phrases used to make up the law mean. Yes, there have been some exceptions - but not so many as to make folks say it is as you describe. And when those exceptions take place there is an effort made to fix the situation.
I don't know, or care, where you came from. Welcome to Virginia, a part of Free America. Hope you find the place a better one than what you left. If not, let us know what you think needs attention. Just be prepared to do some heavy lifting of your own to share in getting it taken care of.
As for the rest of your concerns - I think you may be overthinking the matter(s). Try to relax and give the place a chance.
I would never carry without good and sufficient reason.
I have "good and sufficient reason" every day I leave the house with my Kimber on my hip and LCR-357 somewhere else on my person. I have Good and Sufficient Reason to carry my Friends everywhere it is legal to do so and that includes a House of Worship while services are being conducted. If questioned by an LEO about why I may be carrying there, I plan to say "Just do an Internet search for Church Shootings and you can find many pages of "Good and Sufficient Reason" to carry a firearm for self-defense. I've actually duscussed this exact law with LEOs in my area (York County) and those I've spoken to are in complete agreement with my assessment.
I'm sorry you're from some awful place where you feel it necessary to wipe your backside after using the bathroom facilities. Welcome to Virginia were Common Sense seems to be much more common than other places.
Welcome to OCDO!
"If I know that I am headed for a fight, I want something larger with more power, preferably crew-served.
However, like most of us, as I go through my daily life, I carry something a bit more compact, with a lot less power."
Remington 1911 R1 (Back to Basics)
SERPA retention or concealed...
"Those who hammer their guns into plows will plow for those who do not." ~Thomas Jefferson
(Borrowed from "The Perfect Day" by LTC Dave Grossman)
Last edited by buster81; 05-02-2011 at 02:38 AM.