JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Gov. Phil Bryant has signed into law a bill that allows some members of churches to undergo firearms training so they can provide armed security for their congregations.
The Church Protection Act specifies that those designated can carry guns into church buildings. It also allows people to carry holstered weapons without a permit.
Republican State Representative Andy Gipson of Braxton says the law gives small congregations an option to defend themselves against attack. He proposed the bill as a response to the slayings last year of nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
The Mississippi Association of Police Chiefs has opposed the portion of the bill that loosens permit requirements. The group says it dismantles Mississippi’s licensing system and makes it harder to check someone who has a gun isn’t a violent criminal.