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Will concealed carry mean guns in church?

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

If you went to a church, a synagogue or a mosque this weekend, you probably did not see a sign banning guns. However, those signs could be popping up soon.

Even with a concealed carry permit, gun owners in Illinois will be prohibited from bringing their guns into casinos, airports, schools, hospitals and courthouses.

But there is no ban on bringing them into houses of worship.

Five years ago, a gunman opened fire at a pastor inside a downstate church. The pastor deflected several bullets with a bible, but was eventually killed. Gun advocates say that if a congregant or the pastor himself was armed, the outcome might have been different.

"He came into the church loaded with a forty five caliber semi-automatic glock handgun, with thirty rounds of ammunition," said Madison County State's Attorney William Mudge.

"There's no reason not to protect yourself everywhere you can, and if everyone who thinks he's a bad guy thinks that the guys he's coming up against might be carrying, he's going to think twice about doing something stupid," said Fred Lutger of Freddie Bear Sports.

Some ministers have suggested that smaller churches can't afford to hire security, so allowing licensed congregants and clergy to carry weapons makes sense. Father Michael Pfleger, an opponent of concealed carry, disagrees.

"We've got to change the mentality and not just surrender to it, that "you've got this gun, so I have to have this gun," said Pfleger.

Church leaders at Saint Sabina recently voted unanimously to ban guns, and have now posted signs at church entrances; signs that are even larger than the standard state police warnings.

"We want to set an example, not just for our church, but for our children, so in our gym building, in our school building, in our employment center, in our social service center, in our church, we said, no guns," said Pfleger.

Religious institutions all over Illinois will be tackling this issue soon. The first concealed carry permits are expected to be issued in April.

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