Church reacts to The Church Protection Act

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A new law will be on the books come July 1,2016 that allows armed security in churches and allows people to carry holstered weapons without a permit.

It’s been about 10 months since members of Mt. Helm Baptist Church in Jackson gathered to pray for Charleston, South Carolina.

Nine people died in Charleston — when Dylan Roof entered Emmanuel AME Church and opened fire last June.

Since then, things at Mt. Helm are much the same.

Pastor C.J. Rhodes is still leading his congregation.

But a new law ,signed last week by Governor Phil Bryant, could change how some things are done in churches across Mississippi.

The Church Protection Act allows churches to have armed security.

Representative Andy Gipson says he proposed the bill as a response to the Charleston shooting.

Pastor Rhodes says the law doesn’t go far enough.

“Well, I think that the Charleston shooting of the Emmanuel nine was motivated by racial ideology. So, I understand just wanting to secure themselves. We secure ourselves here, this church, but for the legislature to not attend the deeper issues, for instance, the legislature did not take a vote on the state flag,” said Pastor Rhodes.

Mt. Helm already has security in place.

There are gates and fences around the buildings and parking lot and a guard monitors the property.

Pastor Rhodes says he’s not opposed to security carrying a gun.

“But, we don’t want the whole congregation carrying guns to serve us,” said Pastor Rhodes.

But, that’s exactly what The Church Protection Act allows for.

Under the new law, places of worship can designate some of their members to take firearms training and carry weapons to protect the congregation.

Pastor Rhodes is afraid it opens up deadly possibilities.

“We could see a Charleston. Not because of this bill, because of all the things surrounding other legislation and attitudes in general,” said Pastor Rhodes.

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