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Louisiana Governor Signs
Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed into law a bill that allows guns to be carried into Louisiana houses of worship.
The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Henry Burns, authorizes people with concealed weapons permits to bring firearms to churches, mosques, synagogues or other houses of worship as part of an approved security force.
The pastor or head of the religious institution must announce verbally or in weekly newsletters or bulletins that there will be individuals armed and designated as members of the security force. Participants have to undergo eight hours of tactical training each year.
Burns' original bill was killed by a state Senate committee, but was later tacked on to a related gun-rights bill. Burns contended that religious institutions in crime-ridden or "declining neighborhoods" need the added protection to ward off thieves and muggers.
The bill also allows a house of worship to hire off-duty police or security guards to protect congregants.
Opponents of the measure said that churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship should remain free of guns and violence and should focus on worship. The bill is scheduled to take effect Aug. 15.