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Published: Thursday, 1/27/2011

Guns in church?

Mike Green is a farmer, retired tool and die worker, and new Michigan state senator. He makes furniture, plays with his many grandchildren - and loves guns.

He thinks it is outrageous that Michigan citizens can't take their concealed weapons to church, a tavern, or just about anyplace else. He asks: "Why do you need to give your constitutional right away when you go to some places?"

Senator Green's views were evidently unswayed by the tragedy that befell U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D., Ariz.) and other victims this month in Tucson. On taking his oath of office, he promptly introduced a bill to allow people with concealed-carry permits to take their weapons into churches, bars, and other gun-free zones.

Mr. Green thinks lawmakers made a mistake a decade ago when they banned gun owners from taking their weapons into some public places. "People feared a good, honest, law-abiding citizen would use it in a way that would hurt or harm other people," he told a radio interviewer. "But the fact is … there's not been hardly anything that happened like that."

Last week, a man walked into a Detroit police station with a hidden shotgun and started blazing away, badly wounding four officers before he was killed. Under Mr. Green's legislation, Ms. Giffords' alleged assailant could have legally followed her to her synagogue with his Glock semiautomatic pistol, and begun firing there.

It isn't clear why Senator Green thinks allowing concealed weapons in church is a good idea. It isn't - nor is it, as he mistakenly asserts, a constitutional right.

In the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 2008 ruling that individuals have the right to keep and bear arms, Justice Antonin Scalia - one of the high court's most pro-gun members - wrote that "nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places … or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."

Mr. Green is, by all accounts, an expert on agriculture and family-farm issues. He would be better advised to direct his legislative efforts in those directions.

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