Recommended: A letter in this week’s Times by Scott Walters, rector of Christ Episcopal Church downtown, on the question of guns in church.
He recounts an usher’s recent encounter with a potential gun-carrying congregant and comments:
Our legislature has spent time and effort on a symbolic bill repealing a ban that I’d wager has rarely if ever been enforced in Arkansas. Although I can imagine the original ban being useful to some frightened pastor who could tell an unstable parishioner that it wasn’t the pastor’s idea, but the law says you’ve just got to leave your gun at home. Confrontation mercifully averted.
The legislature’s action has already impacted our ministry at Christ Church. It’s given us one more hurdle, one more fear to deal with as we try to do our Christian duty and welcome a stranger into our midst as if he or she were Christ himself. Its impact is not hypothetical. It is real. Loving our neighbor just got a little harder.
The church concealed carry bill remains a legislative drafting disaster. The gun fanciers say you should assume guns are outlawed. If a church has decided otherwise, that’s their business. Of course, the most avid gun fanciers, after all the talk about guns in church and a general resistance to ANY sort of gun regulation, are likely to presume their guns are good to go to altar call. I’d bet plenty of communion rails have been attended by armament for many years.
One last comment on armed churches: Honesty would have been preferable. Sen. Bryan King wants more guns everywhere. The gun nuts oppose any form of limitation on guns. To say that church guns are necessary because of break-ins in rural churches makes no sense whatsoever. How is legal presence of guns in church going to deter a midnight burglary of a remote rural church? Or does Bryan King mean every church is now planning to post armed guards on premises around the clock?