Ken Pagano may have grown up just over the river in New Jersey, but a lot of Pennsylvania towns grappling with gun violence – Philadelphia, in particular – wouldn't give a warm welcome to the Louisville, Ky., minister.
That's because as pastor of an Assemblies of God congregation, it's Pagano’s bright idea to invite parishioners to pack the pews while packing a pistol this Saturday.
His “Open Carry Church Service" is meant to attract “Christians who are both pious and the gun-loving to ... give thanks for the right to bear arms,” reports TIME today.
Around these parts, though, the push has been to limit the scourge that handguns represent in many communities – especially illegal guns.
Philadelphia led the way last year by passing five local gun-control laws, now subject to court challenge by the National Rifle Association. In recent months, seven Pennsylvania muncipalities joined the city in passing measures requiring the reporting of lost and stolen guns – seen as an anti-trafficking stragegy. Lancaster signed on a week ago, joining Pittsburgh, Allentown, Reading, Easton, Pottsville, and Wilkinsburg.
In addition, nearly 100 mayors have signed a pledge to enact local gun-control measures – all in an effort to force Pennsylvania state lawmakers to step up and do the right thing, by passing statewide measures to combat illegal guns. In Philly, an interfaith group has been leading its own brave fight against illegal gun sales – even to the point of getting locked up for civil disobedience.
Whatever spirit moves you, goes the old saying. So no one’s questioning Pagano’s directives to his congregation. But for the sake of saving lives in Pennsylvania, it would be far better to see the populace get into the spirit of handgun control.