(CN) – Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant on Friday signed a bill into law allowing church members to undergo firearms training so they can provide security for their congregations.
The law, known as the Church Protection Act, allow individuals with firearms training to carry guns into church buildings and also provides them with certain legal protections.
It also expands the rights of Mississippi’s gun owners, allowing them to carry holstered weapons without a permit.
In a tweet following the bill signing, Gov. Bryant said “Churches deserve protection from those who would harm worshippers.”
The bill was authored by state Rep. Andy Gipson, who is also a Baptist minister. He has said the law is necessary in the wake of the murder of nine parishioners during a Bible study class in Charleston, S.C. last year.
Among those who criticized the new law is the Mississippi Association of Police Chiefs, which opposes the loosened permit requirements.
The association believes the provision weakens the gun licensing system in the state and will make it harder to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals.
The National Rifle Association hailed the signing of the bill, saying that governor had “stood strong for the Second Amendment.”
“It’s a great day for law-abiding gun owners in Mississippi. This will allow them to carry firearms for personal protection in the manner that best suits their needs,” said Chris Cox, executive director, National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action.
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