Gun owners could bring weapons to church services held at school buildings under a bill that passed the N.C. House Monday night.
House Bill 174 would allow guns at K-12 schools used for church services – but only when no school-related activities are being held, and only for people with concealed handgun permits.
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Rena Turner of Iredell County, successfully added an amendment to the bill Monday saying guns still wouldn’t be allowed at public school facilities “owned by a local board of education or county commission,” even if they were rented for a church service. Turner did not respond to an inquiry about the amendment Tuesday. She explained Monday her amendment would “clarify that if a school has posted that they don’t want guns on their property, they would follow that.”
Turner said a church in her district requested the legislation.
“They’re a very welcoming church – no snakes, no funny business going on,” but some of its overseas missions make members worry the church might become a target for terrorists, Turner said. “They feel particularly vulnerable at their services. They want their security team to be able to protect their parishioners if there should be an emergency.”
Current law bans guns from all school properties but does allow legal gun owners to store their weapons inside parked cars.
The bill passed in an 82-34 vote, with all Republicans supporting the change and most Democrats opposing it. Rep. Susan Fisher, an Asheville Democrat, said she finds the proposal troubling.
“In general, I am opposed to gun proliferation especially around neighborhoods,” she said. “I think that it really presents a danger. The more guns we have, the more dangerous it is. ... This opens the door to all kinds of risks as I see it.”
The bill now goes to the Senate.