Churches now included in Oklahoma's 'Stand Your Ground' law
(UPDATED 5/8/18 @ 9:58 p.m.)
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed eight bills Monday, including one that expands the right to deadly force in church.
Oklahoma's Stand your Ground law says if someone unlawfully or forcefully enters your home or business, you have the right to "absolute safety."
"You do not have a duty to retreat. So if you are attacked by somebody, you can meet that force with force of your own," Local defense attorney Jason May said. "That includes potentially shooting someone if that is what's necessary to protect yourself."
And now after a bill signed into law Monday, that right is extended to churches.
"If you hit me, I can hit you back. Or if you pull a gun on me, I could shoot you back," May said. "But what this law does is codifies that, and makes it clear that if that happens in a place of worship, the person that is defending themselves cannot be prosecuted for it."
The law is a relief to local churchgoers who remember the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas late last year, where 26 were killed and another 20 were injured.
"I remember immediately afterwards, there was a lot of paranoia," Resident Jerad Wagner said. "You go to church, at a place you feel comfortable, and all of a sudden, any time the doors open in the back, everyone is turning around to look."
He says his church has made changes since then, and this new law only helps.
"We've already put in practice a lot of things to keep church members safe," Wagner said. "We've got police officers in our church, but even a lot of people I know do carry, so its encouraging to know that we can feel more safe about our decisions as a church after all."
Gov. Mary Fallin has expanded Oklahoma's so-called "Stand Your Ground" law to allow people to use deadly force in church.
House Bill 2632 was one of eight measures signed into law by the governor on Monday.
The bill adds places of worship to the list of locations where Oklahoma citizens have a "right to expect absolute safety." The list already includes a person's home and place of business.
Under the law, someone can use deadly force against anyone who enters "unlawfully or forcefully."
Fallin is still considering whether she will sign a separate gun bill allowing people to carry firearms publicly without a license or training.