Southside church all for proposed guns-in-church bill

    Matthews Memorial Community Church (WSET)

    PITTSYLVANIA Co., Va. (WSET) -- Virginia lawmakers are currently looking into allowing guns into churches.

    Currently, anyone who carries a gun, pistol, knife dagger or other dangerous weapon into a church, without good and sufficient reason could face a misdemeanor charge.

    Several members of the Matthews Memorial Community Church say guns should be allowed into churches, including the pastor Rusty East. He says people need to be able to defend themselves especially at churches in rural areas like this.

    Both East and his wife already carry weapons in during church services.

    "If you have been legally licensed to carry that weapon then you should be able to legally carry that into the church," he said.

    East has a concealed carry permit, and says churches far out in the country like his can be easy targets.

    "If you know there's a place where no good person could possibly have a way to defend themselves, that's where you go," he said.

    Several of the churchgoers feel the same the way including Karen Hill.

    "If someone did come in to attack, one: there's no cell phone service and if someone got out to call, it would be over before anyone got here," Hill said.

    She says guns are necessary for protection.

    "I think we should be able to take a stand and protect our own," Hill said.

    Democrats against the bill say it would make places of worship unsafe, while Republicans say individual places of worship should be able to make their own decisions about whether to allow guns on site.

    "Don't just say, from a far off place I'm going to decide that you folks over there don't get to protect yourselves," East said. "That doesn't seem to make much sense to me."

    If the bill becomes law, Hill says she would feel safer.

    "I would feel better knowing that someone would be here on our behalf to stand up for us," she said.

    East says people who do carry guns into churches need to have legal permits to do so.

    The guns-in-churches bill still has to passed in the Senate and now goes to the House.

    If it passes, it is likely to be vetoed by Democratic Governor Ralph Northam.

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