Since the Charleston, S.C. church shooting, the place of firearms in churches has been debated. Concealed weapons often are banned at church, but some, including Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, are calling for more security and more armed pastors and churchgoers, reports Time. Many pastors argue that arming congregants goes against religious teachings of non-violence and that guns have no place in a place of worship. Many states, including South Carolina, specifically prohibit guns in church. Still, churchgoers increasingly are able to pack heat in the pews if they wish. Several states have recently passed laws allowing concealed weapons in churches, including Arkansas, Louisiana, Illinois and North Dakota.
Bryan Crosswhite of 2AO, an organization that advocates for Second Amendment rights, says that about half the states allow concealed weapons in churches. After the shooting in Charleston, his group is pushing for more states to open up churches to firearms. “Churches are often gun-free zones,” he says. “That makes them a major target for those who go to worship. In most churches, the congregation has their back to the doors. People could walk right in and shoot so many people if you don't have a plan in place.” Several organizations work with churches to arm congregants who volunteer to provide security. Chuck Chadwick of the National Organization for Church Security and Safety says his group has worked with thousands of churches since 2005, offering security seminars and gun training. “We train men and women to run toward the sound of gunfire,” he says.