Local rector discusses church safety after Senate bill aims to allow guns in places of worship

NORFOLK Va. - Tuesday a measure was approved that repealed a state law prohibiting weapons in a place of worship during a religious service.

“Our thoughts are, are we going to end up like schools where kids go through shut down drills on and on and on. No one wants to come to church and go through that kind of experience," said Rector Keith Emerson.

In 2011 an attorney general said a gun could be carried in a church if they were carrying it for self -defense.

Republican Senator Ben Chafin said the legislature needs to be clearly written.

Emerson says he is in favor of the legislation, but that he doesn’t believe his church will opt to have guns inside their church as security.

“I don’t know that for us having a security team with members having concealed weapons is what’s right for us but that’s a conversation we may end up having," Emerson said

Emerson says the church started discussing safety 8 years ago.

A suspicious person entered the back of the church during service and ended up in the nursery.

They brought the topic up again after the church shooting in Texas.

“To give congregations the opportunity to make a decision I think healthy congregations will have healthy conversations about this issue and will be safer places no matter what they decide," Emerson said.

Emerson says there are four churches on the same block in downtown Suffolk, he says since the Texas shooting all of them have implemented some type of new security policy.

For now, he says his church will continue to talk about the issue.

“Where we come to have our spiritual needs addresses. Where we live in a world where somehow God is engaged with us. Those are things that are bigger questions for us than who is going to carry a gun on Sunday morning," Emerson said.


While governor decries gun violence, Senate OKs guns in church