BOONE COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — There’s a new law on the books that allows licensed gun owners to carry their guns into a church or house of worship that has a school on the property.
“What this bill does, it says if you’re only in that house of worship attending a religious ceremony or worship service, you’re no longer committing a felony if there happens to be a school or day care somewhere on that same property,” attorney Guy Relford, who is president of Tactical Firearms Training, said Thursday.
For months, Relford testified in front of state lawmakers to champion the legislation.
“I think it strikes a good balance between respecting a person’s desire to be able to defend their family and themselves and their fellow worshippers with the rights of churches to set their own policy,” Relford said. “I think it’s a good law, and a lot of good thought went into it.”
Relford said the new law could save lives.
“I think it’s a deterrent,” Relford said. “I think if God forbid there would be a mass shooting in a church, then we’re more likely to bring that to a quicker conclusion and hopefully save lives in the process.”
“As a Catholic school parent, this terrifies me,” said Jennifer Haan with Moms Demand Action. “We have to trust that all civillians are going to be responsible all the time, every time they walk into a church with their weapon. That means they won’t leave it behind in a bathroom where a child could easily get a hold of this.”
Haan argued her group now has work to do.
“This is going to take a lot of manpower on our part because we’re going to have to go around to churches and educate them on this new bill,” Haan said.
Relford insisted that houses of worship with schools on their property can still create their own gun policy.
“For instance, a church still can decide for itself that it wants to prohibit firearms.” Relford said. “If it prohibits firearms. then they can ask anyone to leave who’s carrying a firearm. If a person refuses to leave, then they can be arrested for trespassing.”
What does the law say about bringing a gun into a house of worship that doesn’t have a school on property?
“There’s no law against it,” Relford said. “So, it’s not a crime. It has never been a crime in Indiana simply to take a gun into a church. It’s always been the law that any owner of private property can create their own policies. I could hang a sign here in my office door that says no guns allowed and if someone brings a gun in here and I see they have a gun, I can say, ‘You’re violating my policy, you need to leave.'”