Mississippi Governor Arms Churches, Axes Gun Permits And Limits Abortion

Mississippi governor Phil Bryant signed a law into effect on Friday which will allow churches to designate an armed security guard for their congregation. The bill will also eliminate the necessity of gun permits in the state for those carrying a holstered weapon.

Additionally, Bryant signed HB15, a bill which prohibits dismemberment abortion unless there is a “serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.”

In the case of the guns in church bill, Bryant explained that his support came out of concern for the citizens of Mississippi. As more and more mass shooting situations have occurred in common meeting points, Bryant believes that it is essential for them to be able to protect themselves.

At least some Mississippi pastors agree with this statement. Pastor Ervin Ricks of the Greater Bethlehem Temple in Jackson told the Associated Press that he finds bullets burrowed into the church’s exterior around 9 times a year. Still, Ricks isn’t convinced that guns in the church are the answer; in fact his own congregation has a strict leave-them-at-the-door policy.

“I don’t know that there’s a more dangerous community in Mississippi to live in. But we want to help lift it up and show folks the right way to live. It’s incumbent on us to say we’re Christians and show what that looks like.”

Others, like Baptist preacher and state representative Andy Gipson, who sponsored the bill, think that now is the time to arm the church. Even he lamented that such a move was, in his opinion, required.

“I wish we lived in a world where this bill wouldn’t be necessary.”

Religious affiliation either way doesn’t seem to be a deciding factor for supporters of the Mississippi Church Protection Act. One of the most spirited arguments against the bill came from Mississippi Democratic Rep. Hillman Frazier, who showed up to speak with a large sword in hand, spitting Bible verses at his opponents to discourage affirmative votes, reported the Clarion-Ledger.

“We don’t need to pimp the church for political purposes. If you want to pass gun laws, do that, but don’t use the church.”

Not to be overshadowed by the guns in the church debate, the Mississippi governor also dealt divisive change to the state’s abortion laws. Women may no longer procure a dismemberment abortion, in which the fetus is torn apart and pulled out, piece by piece, from the uterus. It is also known as the dilation and evacuation, or D&E, method. The practice is used in an estimated 95 percent of second-term abortions, which means Mississippi women will no longer be able to abort after 14 weeks in most cases, reported the Guardian.

That chilling effect will even further hamper the process of getting an abortion in Mississippi. Currently, the state has just one abortion clinic — Jackson Women’s Health, also known as “the Little Pink House.” Diane Derzis, who runs the clinic, says the state is just setting itself up for a hefty lawsuit on the issue — courts in Kansas and Oklahoma have knocked down similar measures, reported WKRG.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, was among the many outspoken critics of this measure in Mississippi, reported ABC News.

“This bill is not based in medicine. Governor Bryant just signed a clear attack on women’s health care as part of a plan to ban abortion across the board. Planned Parenthood will continue to fight to protect the rights of our patients and their access to safe medical care, no matter what.”

What do you think of the Mississippi governor arming church members while cutting gun permits and abortion?

[Photo by Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images]

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