LUMBERTON, N.C. (WBTW) — Many North Carolina churches allow concealed carry during their services, but churches that also operate schools do not. On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed a bill that would have allowed them to permit parishioners to concealed carry as well.
“We need a way here to be able to defend ourselves,” Pastor Blake Dodd of Antioch Baptist Church in Lumberton said. “When something happens on a campus like this and we call law enforcement, there’s a window of time before they can get here.”
Dodd said they can have up to 500 worshipers at their Sunday service. His church is far enough from law enforcement that he worries they won’t make it in time to help in case of an emergency.
“It doesn’t make us any safer, I would actually be more afraid of members taking guns into the church,” Pastor Vance Haywood of St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church in Raleigh said. “Someone who may have taken a couple of classes and gotten a concealed carry, how do they respond when a situation is outbreaking and there’s an active shooter in the building?”
Haywood said he has signs at his church reminding parishioners not to concealed carry. He said many people don’t have the proper training to be able to defend themselves like they might think they can.
“This is an ill-crafted piece of legislation that is dangerous to North Carolina school children,” Becky Ceartas said. “We call on all lawmakers to sustain Governor Cooper’s veto.”
Ceartas is the executive director of North Carolinians against Gun Violence. She said the bill worries her because it could blur the line between church and school activities and expose children to weapons.
“We’re not trying to turn this into the wild west where everyone on every row is carrying a gun on their hip,” Dodd said. He said the church makes an effort to keep school and church activities separate.
The state legislature could potentially override the veto. In a statement, Cooper stressed the importance of keeping guns out of schools.