The North Carolina General Assembly passed SB 43 – Protect Religious Meeting Places with bipartisan majorities. The bill would have allowed concealed carry at churches with attached private schools outside of school and extracurricular hours. In other words, a church could have their own security team made up of church members during their church services. We have seen too many times that churches have become the targets of evil people.
Despite all the safeguards in place, Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) again vetoed a bill that would protected churches. He said in his veto statement, “For the safety of students and teachers, North Carolina should keep guns off school grounds.” According to WRAL, this was Cooper’s 55th veto since first taking office. It is important to note here again that the bill only impacted churches with private schools and that the definition of school hours was even more restrictive than the bill he vetoed in the last session of the General Assembly.
The question now becomes will the Democrats who voted for the bill decide that it is more important to stand with the governor and party or with church people. In 2020, enough Democrats thought party was more important than church people and sustained Cooper’s veto of H652. The picture above is of Riverside Independent Baptist Church and Riverside Christian Academy. It is in the district of Rep. Charles Graham (D-Robeson) who voted in favor of the bill.
Rev. Mark Creech, Executive Director of the Christian Action League, did not hold back in his criticism of the veto. He said, in part:
“The legislation the Governor vetoed provided a simple carve-out in the law for churches associated with private Christian schools. This is the second time he has vetoed such legislation. His expressed concerns for rejecting the measure, however, were respected and addressed in this bill. His veto is, therefore, simply unreasonable.
“It is quite cost-prohibitive for many of the churches associated with private Christian schools to afford to hire off-duty police officers. Without this legislation, these churches are vulnerable to some crazed soul who might walk in and want to start shooting. The threat is real and urgent!
“The Governor’s veto makes me wonder how long it’s been since he’s been to church. Surely he understands there are teachers and students in our Sunday School classes. Other churches are allowed to protect their teachers and students in Sunday Schools, but not churches connected with schools. It makes no sense.
“Is there some personal animus by the Governor toward private Christian education? Or is he operating entirely as a liberal ideologue against it? Because he has now made it abundantly clear, if a church chooses to provide a Christian education to its community, it will not be allowed to defend itself against persons with murderous intent. That will undoubtedly work to quash any growth of church-sponsored schools.
He went on to add that if a mass shooting happened at one of these churches the blood of the slain would be on Cooper’s hand.
Paul Valone, president of Grass Roots North Carolina, also reacted strongly to the veto.
“Given that North Carolina concealed handgun permit-holders have been safely carrying in many churches since 1995, there is no rational reason for Governor Cooper’s veto of SB 43. It is disappointing but by no means surprising that Governor Cooper puts politics ahead of keeping religious meeting places safe from increasingly common violent attacks.
“GRNC is calling upon legislators of both parties to over-ride the veto. If the effort fails and a church killing takes place in North Carolina as it has elsewhere, we will hold responsible both Gov. Cooper and those who support his veto.”
While calling the Democrats who voted for the bill as well as the many who just so happened to be absent the day of the vote could have impact, I suggest a different approach.
I think the churches impacted that are in the districts of these Democrats should organize a vigil or demonstration outside the home of each and every one of these legislators. I would make sure that there were a lot of elderly and young children in the crowd. They should stand their silently holding signs saying something like “Are we not worthy of protection?” I would make sure every media outlet in the region was alerted and on scene. The pastor should have a concise statement ready to give the press as well. Remember that if there is one thing politicians hate, it is being embarrassed in the media. The time for being meek and subservient is over.