Dangers of S.B. 43, The Protect Religious Meeting Places Act

Dangers of S.B. 43, The Protect Religious Meeting Places Act

To protect children, state law prohibits concealed firearms at all schools, including places of worship that have an associated school. S.B. 43 would remove this protection, needlessly putting school children at increased risk. While the bill states that “firearms are not allowed during curricular or extracurricular activities” at a place of worship, children would still be at much greater risk because of the increased likelihood that this distinction would not be understood and guns would be prevalent. It would also increase the potential for guns to be mistakenly left behind on school property. North Carolinians Against Gun Violence strongly opposes S.B. 43.

The Risks of Enacting S.B. 43

  • Increases risk of serious injury to school children. There are many documented instances of firearms owners accidentally leaving their firearms behind on school grounds in restrooms, classrooms, and gymnasiums.[1]

  • Legitimizes further expansion of weapons at schools by chipping away at the prohibition of guns on school property. It would effectively set a precedent for private schools unaffiliated with religious places of worship to argue that they also should be exempt from the firearms prohibition. (NCGV opposes guns in all K-12 schools.)

Guns in Religious Places of Worship

  • Allowing worshippers to carry guns in religious places of worship does not reduce the risk of tragedy, it increases it. In fact, worshippers are made less safe by the presence of firearms, which may fire accidentally; [2, 3, 4] be used in a chaotic shootout;[5] or, in the case of a January 3, 2021 church shooting, a gun owner may be disarmed by another, who then uses it on the gun owner and others.[6]

  • An FBI study of 160 active shooter incidents from 2000 to 2013 found that only one was stopped by an individual with a valid firearm permit. In contrast, 21 incidents were stopped by unarmed civilians.[7]

  • The “good guy with a gun will protect you from a bad guy with a gun” myth has been debunked by multiple studies, including a 2017 National Bureau of Economic Research study that showed Right-to-Carry laws actually increase rates of violent crime.[8] Also, a 2019 literature review of Right-to-Carry studies showed that a majority of studies published after 2005 find that RTC laws increase violent crime.[9]

  • Carrying a concealed weapon at a religious place of worship could impair the ability of law enforcement to distinguish between credible threats to public safety and legal concealed carry, impeding their ability to protect civilians. As Dallas police senior corporal Terrance Hopkins put it, “Law enforcement is still troubled because when we show up on the scene, we don’t exactly know who the good guy is, right?…But things can happen very fast when people have guns out. We may possibly shoot the good guy because, again, we don’t know.”[10]

  • Firearms are rarely used successfully in self-defense: individuals successfully defend themselves with a gun in less than 1% of crimes.[11]

[1] Drane K. Every incident of mishandled guns in schools. March 2, 2020. https://bit.ly/3dXVex2

[2] Shapiro E. During discussion about guns in church, man accidentally shoots himself, wife: Police. November 17, 2017. http://abcn.ws/39FfhkL

[3] Jorgensen M. Church security guard injured in Lancaster County after another guard’s gun was ‘unintentionally discharged. February 10, 2020.
http://bit.ly/3rhCIa0

[4] Reavy P. Gun goes off in Provo church, sending bullet into classroom of teens. September 17, 2018. http://bit.ly/3arTsEv.

[5] Price M. ‘Brazen’ shootout at church funeral service leaves 18-year-old dead, NC police say. November 11, 2020.
http://bit.ly/39DGfcG

[6] Madani D, Kesslen B, Stelloh T. Pastor killed, two other people injured in Texas church shooting. Jan 3, 2021
http://nbcnews.to/3oIRNiU

[7] Defilippis E., Hughes D. Commentary: Gun-Rights advocates say places that ban guns attract mass shooters. The data says they’re wrong. June 18, 2015.
https://bit.ly/2NWkvgy

[8] Donohue J., Aneja A., Weber K. Right-to-Carry Laws and violent crime: a comprehensive assessment using panel data and a state-level synthetic control analysis. National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper Series, November, 2018.
https://bit.ly/38zLwQ8

[9] Hughes D. Report: Concealed Carry Literature Review. GVPedia. February 27, 2019.
https://www.gvpedia.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/GVPedia-Concealed-Carry-Literature-Review.pdf

[10] Choate T. Texas gun laws: What happens when ‘good guys’ have guns? October 24, 2019.
http://bit.ly/3jKfgQh

[11] Hemenway D and Solnick SJ, The epidemiology of self-defense gun use: evidence from the National Crime Victimization Surveys 2007–2011. Preventive Medicine 79, (October 2015): pp. 22–27.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.03.029