JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi law allows for armed security teams at churches.
And in the wake of the latest church shooting in Texas, Pastor Jesse Horton at Emmanuel Missionary Baptist Church in Jackson is rethinking the security of this sacred space.
“I’ve already talked to someone this morning about coming in to do some training with some other guys,” said Pastor Horton, Sr.
When Mississippi passed the Church Protection Act, Horton immediately organized a security team to be trained. The law gives those team members the ability to open fire in defense of the church without fear of prosecution.
The main requirement to be a member of the team is to have an enhanced concealed weapon permit.
“I want the congregation to know and I want the guy to know that if he comes into 1109 Cooper Road, we are ready for him,” explained Horton.
Texas passed a similar law the year after Mississippi, but less than four months ago they expanded who could carry in places of worship.
The latest law allows licensed gun holder to carry unless their religious leaders specifically prohibit the weapons.
Back here in Mississippi, Horton doesn’t want to take it that far. In fact, there are “No Guns Allowed” signs posted at every entrance.
“I’ve encouraged them, if you have not gone through the training, we don’t want you to have a weapon on you here on Sunday morning," he said. "Good intentions but no training and they’ll wind up shooting an innocent person.”
Aside from expanding the security team, Horton is now considering another visible change.
“My guys normally be wearing just suits so no one could really just know that they was who they was," noted Horton. "But I think now I’m going to uniforms. So, if a bad guy comes in, he will know we have security.”