Pastors speak out about guns in churches after deadly Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

Pastors speak out about guns in churches after deadly Pittsburgh synagogue shooting
Source: WLBT

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The debate over guns in churches has heated up again, after 11 people were shot and killed inside a Pittsburgh synagogue over the weekend.

Right now, Mississippi has a law on its books that allows designated trained parishioners to carry guns to protect the church.

Pastor Dwayne Pickett of New Jerusalem Church in Jackson says he was disturbed to hear that someone would walk into a synagogue Saturday and open fire on innocent people.

“That kind of hate completely devastated me,” said Pickett.

Pickett pastors three locations in Jackson and has more than 7,000 members.

“I think we have to have reasonable protection for the time that we live," he said. "We have had guns in our church for a long time. Undercover people carrying weapons for the just in case and Thank God nothing has happened.”

Currently, the state allows churches and places of worship to carry guns as part of the Mississippi Church Protections Act.

The law allows churches to setup security programs and designate church members to go through training to be armed in religious buildings.

Pastor Jay Barfield of the Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Clinton agrees with law.

“Every individual has the right to protect themselves and the person in charge has to do what they can to ensure the safety of the people congregants,” said Barfield.

There are some who are divided on the issue. Opponents say guns won't solve the problem of violence in the world.

While both pastors say every attack cannot be prevented, churches should have the option provide security and worship without the worry of being targeted.

“I don’t think it stops everybody from coming in and hurting someone," said Pickett. “I think you can limit the amount of damage that can happen when you have trained people. We also have a camera system, we have different things here, but you have trained people.”

“The constitution gives us the right to worship in peace, and when they are threatened, we are threatened,” said Barfield.

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