Virginia Senate passes bill to allow guns in churches

Source: Associated Press

By ALAN SUDERMAN

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Senate has passed legislation aimed at allowing guns in church in response to a deadly church shooting in Texas.

The Republican-controlled chamber voted along party lines Tuesday to approve the measure, which would repeal a state law prohibiting weapons in a place of worship during a religious service. The state House still has to approve the bill, which Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam opposes and has indicated he would veto.

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Supporters say Virginia’s prohibition on carrying a “gun, pistol, bowie knife, dagger,” or other dangerous weapons into churches during worship service is an archaic remnant of the state’s “blue laws” enacted in the 1800s to prohibit certain activities on Sundays.

A state Attorney General’s opinion from 2011 says current law already allows Virginians to carry guns in churches, subject to a church’s permission. But GOP Sen. Ben Chafin, the bill’s sponsor, said the legislature needed to clarify and cement the right to carry a gun in church into law if a church allows it.

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