Alabama lawmaker proposes church protection act

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ROGERSVILLE, Ala. – An Alabama lawmaker is pushing a bill to authorize churches to have armed security guards within their membership and provide those guards with a level of legal immunity.

It is not uncommon for Alabama churches to create security teams to have on hand at church activities. Members with gun permits could attend these activities, and they wouldn’t be breaking any laws, but the new legislation could make that even easier.

Republican State Rep. Lynn Greer has pre-filed a bill called “The Alabama Church Protection Act” or HB36.

“I never dreamed the world would get in the shape that it’s in in my lifetime but it has,” Greer told our newspartner on Tuesday. “There are crazy folks on Earth and some of them might show up at a church one Sunday.”

The bill will authorize churches to tap members of the congregation to be armed security guards, but what sets this apart from already established laws, is that it will provide those members with a level of legal protection.

WHNT News 19 Political Analyst Jess Brown explained that this bill isn’t meant for churches to arm just any of their members and let them provide a heightened level of security.

“If it so chooses, a church may decide to set up a security force that would have the blessings of state government,” explained Brown.

The members would have to have state issued pistol permits and go through an in-depth firearm training course with law enforcement.

“It says, ‘Dear church, if you want to give your people some civil liability protection, then agree to have your security members go through the training process’,” explained Brown.

That legal immunity would be in the case there actually was a shooting, and the members acted within the scope of duty as part of the church protection program.

“It brings a little bit of structure and order to church security that’s not currently available.” Brown said currently, there are no laws against guns in churches, or forming security teams.

He thinks this just comes as a response to recent church shootings, in an effort to provide some comfort to Alabama congregations.

“As to whether there’s a need for this, ultimately Representative Greer, the way he’s worded the bill, he leaves that to each individual church,” explained Brown.

As the bill reads, it would apply to any church sponsored event, not just Sunday or Wednesday services, but bible studies, church picnics, any kind of church activities.

It is important to stress that if the bill does become a law, it is optional. Churches do not have to participate in the program.

Read HB36 in its entirety here.

Do you feel that churches should start having an armed security team?  Join the conversation on WHNT News 19’s Facebook page.

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