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Oklahoma Expands ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law to Churches

Oklahoma State Capitol (Jon Herskovitz/Reuters)

Oklahoma has added churches to the list of places where a citizen may use deadly force against a violent intruder.

The state already allows deadly force against anyone who attempts to “unlawfully or forcefully” enter a person’s home, occupied car, or place of business, or anyone who forcibly tries to remove another person not in their custody from those places. And after Governor Mary Fallin signed an expansion of the policy into law on Monday, places of worship are now among the locations where Oklahomans have a “right to expect absolute safety.”

The Republican Fallin is considering another bill that would allow citizens to carry firearms in public without a gun license or training.

Oklahoma has stepped up its active-shooter training in churches since November, when a gunman opened fire on a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 and wounding at least 20 more. The gunman, who had a history of domestic violence, claimed as victims many elderly and children, including the preacher’s daughter.

The number of Oklahoma churches putting congregants through active-shooter drills has spiked over 500 percent since that attack, which followed hot on the heels of the Las Vegas massacre of October 1. There, shooter Stephen Paddock used semi-automatic rifles modified to fire at a rate similar to automatics, gunning down 58 people enjoying a country-music concert at a site below his hotel-room window.

Oklahoma’s approach runs counter to the response to the Parkland, Fla. school shooting in February. Students from around the nation called for more gun control and fewer guns on the streets in the aftermath of the Parkland attack, rather than advocating that more guns be put into the hands of those who could respond to an active-shooter situation, as another Oklahoma bill proposes doing.

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