Mar 28, 2023Call to Action – Guns in Churches Vote in Missouri House

Call to Action – Guns in Churches Vote in Missouri House

Tara Bennett Six-minute read.   Resources

Bishop Bruce thanks Tara Bennett, a member of Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral and the Chair of the Peace and Justice Committee of The Diocese of West Missouri for this call to action and for the work she and committee members have done via the Be SMART program and their ongoing witness to the crisis in gun violence we have been and continue to experience.

Please see her part of a news report yesterday on another senseless killing in a school. 

Bishop Bruce supports responsible gun ownership but draws the line on bringing any firearm — especially a concealed weapon — onto church property.

The Emerging Issues Committee of the Missouri House of Representatives will vote tomorrow (Wednesday, March 29, 2023) on whether to pass out of committee HB 485, which will force churches to allow concealed carry in the church building unless very large signage is posted at every entrance banning guns. This is a clear violation of the separation of church and state and is dangerous for all of us. It is opposed by almost all religious organizations in Missouri, including the Episcopal Diocese of West Missouri and The Diocese of Missouri, and received vigorous opposition testimony last week in a hearing from faith leaders from across our state. Despite this, it has a very real chance of passing.

We need urgent action now before the committee meets at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29, urging committee members to vote Do Not Pass on HB 485.  Our best chance to stop this bill is in committee, and many committee members are people of faith who will listen to constituents of faith. I am urging you to call every member of the Emerging Issues Committee before the hearing to ask the Representative on the committee to vote No before the vote is taken.  Calls are far more effective than emails. 

If you haven’t called legislators before now, don’t be worried. The phone will likely be answered by the legislative assistant, most of whom are very friendly.  Identify yourself as a Missourian, identify your city, especially if you are a constituent of the lawmaker, identify yourself as an Episcopalian and regular church attendee (especially if you hold a leadership position within your church), and then explain in your words why this is very problematic to you. You may also get voicemail and can leave this in a message.  Below are two quotes from written testimony last week to get you started, along with the list of the committee members and their phone numbers. If you only have limited time, I recommend focusing first on Republican members who may be receiving pressure to pass this bill.

Thank you for taking this action, and please share this post.

If you want to be informed about urgent issues, calls to action, legislative alerts, and ongoing gun violence prevention work with The Diocese of West Missouri, please complete our form.

Contact Tara Bennett at

Tara Bennett is chair of the Peace and Justice Committee. A member of Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, she is also an active volunteer with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Missouri law currently automatically bans concealed weapons from houses of worship unless an individual receives “the consent of the minister or person or persons representing the religious organization that exercises control over the place of religious worship.” This is important to me as a minister who has responsibility for my congregation. A religious community should be able to decide for itself if they desire for individuals to bring guns into their holy place. But HB 485 would make the carry of a concealed weapon in my church setting the default. Individuals with a concealed carry endorsement or permit could automatically bring a firearm into a house of worship unless that religious group posted significant signs at every entry. A church, synagogue, mosque, or other house of worship would not be able to determine its own policy regarding concealed guns without either accepting weapons or posting government-mandated signs on their sacred space. HB 485 clearly crosses the line of separation of church and state. Our constitution protects citizens’ right to practice their religion as they please, so long as the practice does not run afoul of a “public morals” or a “compelling” governmental interest. This bill takes away the right of clergy and religious communities to determine how they will worship in their private spaces.Government control has no place in our houses of worship. Please oppose HB 485”. The Rev. Mary Haggerty, Missioner for Gun Violence, Episcopal Diocese of Missouri.

Under current Missouri law, gun owners with a concealed carry permit are prohibited from carrying a weapon into a church without permission of their pastor. Missouri properly recognizes that churches are spaces in which guns have no place as a matter of public policy. They are appropriately considered gun-free zones, because they are spaces where we meet for worship. HB 485 changes this paradigm. It makes churches places gun owners can lawfully carry, rather than recognizing them in law as gun free spaces. Churches wishing to remain gun-free would be required to post signage in a conspicuous place. In the case of churches, this signage would likely have to be posted near the sacred space of worship. The MCC views this as an inappropriate and unnecessary intrusion upon religious freedom, which is guaranteed under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.The MCC recognizes that we now live in a society where legally recognized gun-free zones will not always protect innocent people from gun violence. Churches are free under current law, however, to address these situations by establishing security protocols tailored to meet their situation. The MCC believes this is a more appropriate way to address the current proliferation of gun violence than removing churches from the list of places guns are not permitted. The Missouri Catholic Conference urges you to vote HB 485 “DO NOT PASS.”  Jamie Morris, Missouri Catholic Conference.”

Emerging Issue Committee, Missouri House of Representatives

Rep. Bill HardwickRepublicanWaynesville573-751-3834Chair
Rep. Dane DiehlRepublicanButler573-751-4065Vice-Chair
Rep. Ashley AuneDemocratKansas City573-751-3618Ranking Minority Member
Rep. Bishop DavidsonRepublicanRepublic573-751-2381
Rep. Jeff FarnanRepublicanStanberry573-751-9465
Rep. Sherri GallickRepublicanBelton573-751-1344
Rep. Mike HaffnerRepublicanPleasant Hill573-751-3783
Rep. Dave HinmanRepublicanO’Fallon573-751-2176
Rep. Josh HurlbertRepublicanSmithville573-751-0246
Rep. Jamie JohnsonDemocratParkville573-751-9760
Rep. Holly JonesRepublicanEureka573-751-7535
Rep. Doug MannDemocratColumbia573-751-2134
Rep. Adam SchneltingRepublicanSt. Charles573-751-5365
Rep. David Tyson SmithDemocratColumbia573-751-9753


  • 05-05-2023. Link to an email sign-up form added, and Peace and Justice Chair Tara Bennett’s email address updated.

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