Guardians of the temple

August 6, 2013 

We've yet to see the system for issuing concealed carry permits emerge, and already Chicago-area lawmakers are trying to restrict them. Their newest target is to ban concealed carry in churches, an issue of particular sensitivity for our area.

Worshippers in Maryville saw their beloved pastor, the Rev. Fred Winters, gunned down in the pulpit. We saw an East St. Louis congregation robbed at gunpoint of their wedding rings and other valuables during a prayer service.

In the case of the Rev. Winters, we now know there were armed, off-duty police officers in the congregation. They couldn't stop the tragedy because they were in the pews with no clear line of fire.

What we take from that is the fact that whether you think that more armed congregants are needed, or that no armed congregants should be present to stop a madman, that the decision should be a congregational one. The state should butt out.

Churches should talk about their security needs. They should make plans. They should decide whether having armed congregants is the right way to worship.

Putting all the prohibitions on concealed carry in public places defeats the purpose of allowing people to defend themselves when threatened. Maybe you can't stop a well-armed sociopath, but maybe you can introduce some doubt in the minds of the next thugs who think about targeting the Wednesday night prayer meeting. Maybe you can limit the damage when evil comes.

Whatever your belief, we think that decision should be made with your peers at your mosque or temple or sanctuary. It should not be for Springfield or Chicago to decide.

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