RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) – A new bill filed this week by Virginia lawmakers could allow weapons, including firearms, within places of worship.
House Bill 373 would repeal section 18.2-283 of the Code of Virginia, which prohibits any person to carry any gun, pistol, bowie knife, dagger, or other dangerous weapon to a place of worship while meeting for religious purposes. Those found guilty can be charged with a Class 4 misdemeanor, a fine of no more than $250.
This proposed bill comes six days after a man shot and killed two people during a church service in White Settlement, Texas, on Dec. 29.
The attack came two years after the Texas legislature passed a law that authorized anyone with a concealed-carry license to bring their weapon into houses of worship. That law was a response to the 2017 attack on a church in Sutherland Springs that left 26 people dead before a local resident shot the gunman outside the building and forced him to flee.
Other instances where gun violence has occurred at places of worship include:
- In October, 11 were killed and seven injured in a mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- In January 2017, a mass shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City left six dead and 17 injured.
This is the second time that this bill will make it’s way to the General Assembly. Senate Bill 1024, introduced by Sen. Richard Black, R-Loudoun, passed the Senate along party lines, 21-19, but died in the House Rules Committee. The bill sought to repeal a law on the books since the 1950s.
Members of Virginia’s General Assembly are set to convene on Jan. 8, 2020.