The Alabama state House of Representatives introduced and passed a “Stand Your Ground” bill for churches Thursday, partly in response to the Florida school shooting.
The bill will extend coverage of Alabama’s 2006 Stand Your Ground Law not only to houses of worship but also grounds on which church or other religious institution activities are held, according to Montgomery Advertiser. Those attending religious services would, under the protections afforded by the Stand Your Ground Law, be permitted to use “deadly physical force” against anyone who tries to physically attack or kidnap attendees or against anyone who tries to gain unlawful entry to the premises.
“If you have someone coming into a church with a gun that starts shooting folks, you want to have someone that’s going to shoot back,” said state Rep. Lynn Greer, according to MA.
Alabama’s House of Representatives took up the bill one day after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., during which a gunman killed 17 students and wounded several others. Though the House reportedly gave the proposal a half-hearted reception, the bill passed 40 to 16.
Opponents of the bill, accused its supporters of capitalizing on the Parkland school shooting to pass the bill.
“We can be as irresponsible and reckless in the message we send, even when 17 people were killed in a school not too far from us,” said Dem. state Rep. Christopher England, according to MA.
England claimed that the current Stand Your Ground law already applied to houses of worship, while others voiced concerns that the use of deadly force against attackers inside a church might lead to more dead innocents.
Republican State Rep. Will Ainsworth argued otherwise, citing the threats posed to children in gun-free zones.
“Our children are sitting ducks in gun-free schools, and as the parent of three public school students, I believe we must act now in order to prevent another tragedy,” Ainsworth said in a statement.
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