House OKs guns during church services at religious schools

Posted March 27, 2017 7:31 p.m. EDT

— The state House voted 82-34 Monday night in favor of legislation allowing concealed weapons at schools that are used for religious services after tweaking it to exempt public schools.

Guns are prohibited on school grounds unless they are secured in a locked vehicle, but House Bill 174 aims to carve out an exception for "educational property [that] is the location of both a school and a building that is a place of religious worship."

Sponsor Rep. Rena Turner, R-Iredell, said a church in her district "felt particularly vulnerable" after the 2015 Charleston, S.C., church massacre and wants its security team to be able to be armed to protect the congregation if needed. The bill would let concealed carry permit holders take their guns with them to religious services if it was "outside the operating hours of the school."

During a committee hearing last week, Reps. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, and Graig Meyer, D-Orange, said the proposal might cause problems for public schools that rent out space on evenings or weekends for church services.

So, Turner amended her bill on the House floor Monday night to exclude "property owned by a local board of education or county commission."

The amendment passed 114-1, and there was no debate on the bill itself, which now heads to the Senate.