Law Expanding 'Stand Your Ground' To Include Places Of Worship Goes Into Effect Nov. 1

Monday, October 29th 2018, 5:24 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

A new law allowing Oklahomans to use deadly force to protect themselves or others in a place of worship will go into effect on Nov. 1.

The house bill that passed through the legislature earlier this year essentially adds places of worship to protections of the so-called "Stand Your Ground" law.

Churches across the Bible belt, once considered a haven under God's protection, are now forced to train for a worst case scenario exactly like what happened Saturday morning at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

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“I don’t see this problem becoming any less,” said Tara Koetter, who owns Sheepdog security and works with churches on protection.

HB 2632 would protect from prosecution anyone who uses defensive force to stop an intruder from committing a felony. It also allows places of worship to establish policies about bringing firearms inside. 

“A lot of churches that I’m talking with are removing those 'no weapons' signs. They’re much more open to having people there that have a heart to protect,” Koetter said.

Gun rights advocates argue such laws would deter those who think about violence. Koetter, however, advises churches to go a step further to have a designated and trained safety team.

Koetter said the most important thing is to have someone watching what's happening outside the church and be able to communicate if they see something, even if they aren't comfortable using force.