This week, the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee heard HB 282, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schnelting (R-St. Charles), that would allow concealed carry permit holders to carry a gun on public transportation and in churches, among other places. Current law requires concealed carry permit holders to obtain permission from the church pastor in order to carry a concealed weapon into a church. In this way, churches are treated in a similar fashion in law as schools, daycares, police stations, and riverboat gambling operations. If the bill were to pass, churches wishing to remain gun-free zones would have to post signs in a conspicuous place prohibiting guns.
The MCC testified in opposition to the bill, arguing that current law properly recognizes churches as gun-free zones and that churches are free to arrange for individuals or security teams to provide protection. HB 282 would force churches to take an all-or-nothing approach, where pastors must either allow anyone to carry a concealed gun into church or post a sign identifying the church as a gun-free zone, which could make the church a target of violence. The MCC also argued that requiring churches to post signs prohibiting guns on church property would infringe on the First Amendment right of churches to control their places of worship. The committee immediately voted HB 282 (along with the other bills heard that day) “Do Pass”, due to limited time remaining in the legislative session. With such a late hearing, and with limited time remaining in the session, the bill is unlikely to be heard in the Senate.