Disgruntled church employee shot by pastor in Florida self-defense case

A recent incident in Florida has brought a glaring problem with Ohio's concealed carry law to light yet again.

From the Orlando Sentinel:

The pastor of a Kissimmee church shot and critically wounded an employee Tuesday morning in a shootout after he notified the man he was being fired, according to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office.

The shooting shortly after 8 a.m. was witnessed by other church workers at Living Water Fellowship on Pleasant Hill Road, said sheriff's spokeswoman Twis Lizasuain.

Benjamin Parangan Jr., a member of the maintenance crew for at least eight years, allegedly opened fire when he was told he no longer had a job, Lizasuain said.

The bullets missed Pastor Terry L. Howell Sr., 61, who drew his own pistol and critically wounded Parangan, 47, according to the Sheriff's Office.

...Church workers who saw the shooting gave similar accounts to detectives. The shooting is being investigated as a case of self-defense, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The issue of security in places of worship has been near and dear to my heart for as long as Ohio's concealed carry law has been in place. That's because, whereas all other private property owners in the State of Ohio must choose if they want to ban legal concealed carry on their property, when it comes to places of worship, legislators chose for them. (Apparently the myth known as a First Amendment separation of church and state only applies when they want it to.)

In Ohio, if a church member with a concealed handgun license brings their firearm to church as a means of protection against attack, the law calls for her to be arrested and charged with a felony of the fourth degree, and a conviction would earn her up to $5000 in fines and 18 months in prison. Worshippers in our neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky and Pennsylvania labor under no such restrictions to their First and Second Amendment liberties. (Apparently equal protection under the law also only applies when the powers-that-be want it to.)

Those who are more familiar with Ohio law are probably already preparing their emails to me, wishing to remind me that the state does offer an exception to its ban on concealed carry in places of worship for those who are able to obtain permission from the proper church/synagogue/mosque authority. But the vast majority of people I know who have attempted to obtain this permission over the years have been refused.

These denials can come for a variety of reasons, including theological ones. I'm quite familiar with that line of thinking, having been raised in a Mennonite church, and with pacifism being one of the cornerstones of that denomination.

As I grew into my Christian faith as a young adult, I carefully studied this issue, and came to believe there is strong Biblical support for bearing arms for self-defense. (For more in this subject, I recommend firearms researcher Dave Kopel's "Is the Best Defense a Good Book?" as well as the online publication entitled "The Bible and Gun Control", and more specifically Essay 2, entitled "The Bible and Guns in America". For a good book on the subject, I recommend, "Evil Invades Sanctuary: The Case for Security in Faith-Based Organizations" by Carl Chinn and "To Keep or Not to Keep" - Why Christians Should not Give Up their Guns" by Timothy Baldwin, J.D. & Charles O. "Chuck" Baldwin, D.D.

In places where theology is not a part of the equation, I've found that many have received denials because their church leaders are laboring under the mistaken impression that their insurance rates will go up. I put that myth to rest in a piece I published last year, entitled "CCW in places of worship? No more 'our insurance guy says no' excuse."

At the end of the day, though, the problem lies with the Ohio legislature. Republicans - who love to campaign on their pro-gun rights virtues - have been in charge of the entire Ohio General Assembly for nine of the past eleven years since concealed carry became law in Ohio. Bills have been introduced in several sessions to remove places of worship from the list of "no-guns" victim zones, but the bills have not been allowed hearings or a vote.

As the 131st General Assembly gets under way, Republicans have, once again, been elected (after glowing pro-gun rights campaigns) to super-majorities in both the House and Senate. While I have no doubt that legislation to deal with places of worship, college campuses and other victim zones will be introduced, I'm interested only in what gets passed.

Will Ohio's "pro-gun rights" Republicans finally act to reduce the number of places where persons with murderous intent can take a gun, having full assurance that their intended victims have been disarmed by Ohio law? Only time will tell. And it won't be long, because the sad truth is, the fate of most bills that are introduced in Columbus is known before they are ever given a number.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.

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