I am proud to have been invited to speak at a local suburban church, where they are considering posting the “No Legal Guns” sign on their doors. Due to church politics, that invitation has been delayed/cancelled, however if my speech could be of assistance to anyone else, please read below…
Thank you for taking a minute to hear me out. I think we all want the same thing, especially the Peace and Justice Committee. We all want to be safe, however there is a difference between feeling safe and actually being safe. Placing the “No Legal Guns” sign actually could potentially have the opposite effect of creating a safe environment to worship.
As well as the opposite effect of safety, I want to point out the irony of the decision to consider posting of the “No Legal Guns” sign. This is ironic because we wouldn’t even have the ability to legally carry concealed firearms in Illinois if not for Mary Shepard. Mary was attacked at her place of work in September of 2009, which happened to be a church. The attacker was charged with attempted murder due to the beating that Mary and two of her co-workers endured, with Mary herself suffering skull and facial fractures from the attack and untold mental trauma as well.
While you may be thinking this is a fluke case or random act of violence, it is not. According to a study by the Crime Prevention Institute in 2016, 98% of mass shootings actually happen in supposed “gun free zones”. More specifically, churches and other places of worship are common targets for violence. There is a national database of Christian church shootings and upon examining this database, we see during the years of 1980 and 2005 there were 139 Church shootings in the United States. This created 185 needless deaths, including children. This data does not include any other attacks, such as arson, bombings or attacks on non-Christian places of worship, such as the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin in 2012 or the attack on the Muslim mosque in Canada just a few weeks ago.
We also know that in December 2016, ISIS called for the attack of Christian churches in the United States. While people may think a gun free zone will keep them safe, it’s not likely ISIS or any other attacker intent on causing harm will obey the “No Legal Guns” sign or any sign for that matter.
While it’s not likely a criminal will obey the sign, who will? The law abiding gun owners who have gone about the legal process of getting trained, background checked, and carry their firearm in accordance with the law. The people who will obey the sign have no ill will and are members of your church.
Attackers will not disarm. The idea that an attacker will disarm is akin to the idea that a speeder will slow down based on the posted speed limit. The speed limit signs are spaced approximately 1,000-2,000 feet apart, yet are ignored by people who are intent on breaking the law: by speeding.
In other words, we are disarming the good guys but not the bad guys. How do we know they are the good guys? Well, a study in 2016 by the Crime Prevention Institute shows that those who are licensed to carry concealed firearms are actually THE most law abiding demographic in the entire United States, even more so than the police officers who are sworn to uphold the law.
In Illinois, to obtain a concealed carry license, the applicant has to achieve sixteen hours of training, which includes the safe operation of a firearm as well as having knowledge of gun laws. They must meet the following qualifications:
- No warrants
- Fewer than 2 DUIs
- No violent convictions of any kind
- No illegal drugs or narcotics
- Not a danger to self or others
- Zero felonies
- Never been judged a mental defective
- No mental health issues
- No history of domestic violence
This is a very high standard to meet! These are the people you will be keeping out of your church when you post the sign. So you know, these people are upstanding and honest citizens; the best of the best. What do you know about everyone else walking through those doors though?
There is also further data to support that people whom are legally carrying firearms have actually stopped attacks on churches. A law-abiding, legally-armed citizen stopped an attack on the New Life church in December of 2007, Freewill Baptist Church in March 2012, and the New Destiny Church in Aurora Colorado in 2012. This does not include the dozens of other mass shootings stopped by legally-armed civilians in non-church settings. Good guys with guns CAN stop bad guys with guns, and have proven to do so.
Remember, you’re not considering posting a “No Guns” sign, but a “No LEGAL Guns” sign. I hope that you will consider whom you will actually be keeping out of your building by posting these signs and hope that you actually consider whom you may actually be inviting.
Be good shepherds. Don’t invite the wolves into your flock.
Under current law, churches are not on the statutory gun free zone list, though in the past, bills have been submitted in the legislature to include places of worship. Those bills failed for the reasons mentioned above.
Any church with the “No Legal Guns” sign has posted voluntarily, or been forced through committee.