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House Passes Bill to Let Oklahomans "Stand Their Ground" at Church

The Oklahoma House passed a measure Tuesday extending the state's "stand your ground" law protections to places of worship.

House Bill 2632 applies to buildings, structures and office spaces used for religious activities and services, and it grants criminal and civil immunity to people who shoot someone in self-defense there.

Several lawmakers questioned Rep. Greg Babinec whether there’s a need for such a law.

"So, let’s talk about need. Did Rosa Parks have a need to ride in the front of the bus? In a free country, you do not have to prove a need to exercise your God-given right," Babinec said.

Rep. John Bennett said scripture allows and perhaps commands Christians to defend themselves.

"Luke 22:36, 'Then said he unto them, "But now, he that hath a purse let him take it, and likewise his script. And he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one."' It clearly states over and over in the Bible you should defend yourself, you have a responsibility to do it, and that includes in church," Bennett said.

Babinec said he wants to protect churches from being sued, but the law offers protection to the person using defensive force. Rep. Cory Williams said as the bill is written, it creates a problem in the case of a good guy with a gun missing the bad guy with the gun.

"And they hit your child, your daughter, your son, your wife, my wife— who’s a minister — I can’t pursue that person in a court of law. That’s what this bill says," Williams said.

The House voted 62–21 on the bill, sending it to the Senate.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.