At the beginning of the month, Texas’ open-carry law went into effect and Republicans across the state rejoiced. They had finally been granted permission to openly carry their weapons into nearly everywhere — including state mental health facilities.
Politicians financially beholden to the NRA defended the law, claiming they were protecting their citizenry and upholding everyone’s Second Amendment rights. There was no thought given to the people in the state of Texas who are not comfortable with gun nuts strapping their killing machines to their waists and roaming the streets; no, these people are supposed to just deal with it.
The law has even allowed people to carry in church, the one place you’d think they wouldn’t feel the need walk into while packing. Unfortunately for one group of gun-loving Texans, their church has prohibited firearms in their houses of worship in order to make all of their flock feel safe.
El Paso Catholic Diocese Chancellor Patricia Fierro told ThinkProgress that she decided to ban guns in the church after parishioners expressed concern about sitting next to someone who was carrying a weapon while they were at mass.
“We’ve always talked about having a safe environment [in church],” she said. “We just thought that most of our parishioners would want to go to mass without fear that the person next to them is carrying a gun.”
Churches and businesses who oppose the new law are required to post signs stating such. Fierro said that she has ordered placards and they will begin putting them up at congregations, next week.
There have been a number of shootings in places of worship over the last few years — including the South Carolina massacre that killed nine — and they all seem to have been carried out by right-wing extremists. The South Carolina shooter Dylann Roof was a white supremacist with a Confederate flag fetish who wanted to start a race war after listening to violent conservative rhetoric. Fraiser Glenn Cross Jr., a former KKK leader, killed three outside of a Jewish Center in 2014. And in 2013, white supremacist Wade Michael Page killed six at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin.
Other religious organizations across the country have taken note of the recent violence and banned from carrying in their churches, as well. For instance, in 2014, after Georgia Governor Nathan Deal expanded gun laws, Episcopal churches in the state prohibited weapons in their sanctuaries.
The irony of conservatives feeling the need to carry guns inside of churches is not lost on us. They say that they have to be armed all the time because it is their right to do so; however, by insisting on this open carry law, they refuse to respect the right of everybody else to be safe; to be able to go to the grocery store or drink a beer or worship in a holy space without being worried that a tool designed to take lives might accidentally discharge itself or be suddenly turned on them. And when it comes to this question, the rights of the many must overshadow the desires of the few.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.