Lawmakers push to allow guns in church following shootings in Texas, South Carolina

Churchgoers on both side of fence

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Carrying a concealed weapon in a religious institution is illegal if the organization also operates a day care center or school, but that could soon change.

State House members said after shootings in South Carolina and Texas, churches no longer need to be gun-free zones.

Legislation passed overwhelmingly to allow guns at church, but it only applies to churches that either have a day care center or operate a school.

Some people who attend Assumption Catholic Church said they are glad to see guns at church.

"I think it brings a level of safety that isn't there otherwise," Mass attendee Edward Rice said.

"I just feel like we would have more protection if people did have a weapon, because it's hard to get to someone with a gun when they are shooting," Mass attendee Lynette Stringfield said. "To tackle them, I feel like you would need some sort of weapons."

Others said they don't think weapons are necessary.

"If someone walks in with a gun, you don't have time to react -- they are planning it out, so you don't have time to pull out a gun to try to kill them," Mass attendee Mary Schmidt said. "They are already going to be doing that to you."

Because churches will have the final say, the legislation will likely pass before lawmakers go home in March.

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