Editor’s Note: Kenneth Pagano is pastor of New Bethel Church in Louisville, Ky. On Saturday, he sponsored an “open carry celebration” at his church and encourages his congregation to embrace their Second Amendment rights by coming to church armed.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/30/intv.pagano.art.jpg caption="Pastor Kenneth Pagano is a gun rights advocate who encourages his parishioners to bring their firearms to church."]
By Kenneth Pagano
Special to CNN
One year ago I began thinking of creative ways that we as a church could host events that would give us opportunities to meet some new people and create venues with which we could share our faith in Christ. All things would be considered but everything would be implemented.
However, since I have been a sport shooting enthusiasts for as long as I can remember and a certified pistol instructor I came up with the idea of an open carry celebration.
As one who has been in public ministry for almost 30 years and having obtained my doctorate, I am not unfamiliar with theology or church history. Since I know that not all Christians are pacifists and that Christian pacifism in an option not a requirement, I knew this event was not unbiblical.
Being raised in New Jersey and familiar with the American Revolution, I knew that this event was not unhistorical. Pre-Colonial America had laws that required people attending worship to bring their firearms and ammunition or face a fine.
Being a certified concealed carry deadly weapons instructor with the Commonwealth of Kentucky Department of Justice, I knew this event was not illegal.
And being a former Marine who considers himself a patriot, I knew this event was not unconstitutional. I thought everyone knew these things. Boy was I wrong.
The event had a three-fold goal: 1) Create venues with people to share our Christian faith. 2) Celebrate the independence of our nation by upholding and embracing our 2nd and 1st Amendment rights. 3) To promote responsible gun ownership and firearms safety.
The event quickly took on a new venture in that I recognized the need to promote safe and responsible NON-GUN ownership. While a person has the right to keep and bear arms one is not mandated to own them.
But as a responsible citizen of the United States I believe that one should also be educated in general firearms safety. Even if you don’t own a gun and don’t wish too, they are part of our heritage and culture and are here to stay. If you have children or even know of any, it is your responsibility to educate and protect them and you can’t pass on to them what you don’t know yourself.
Every parent tells their child not to take candy from a stranger, not to get into a car with someone they do not know or don’t play with matches. But every adult and child who lives in the country should know that any child who happens upon a gun should stop, don’t touch it, leave the area and tell an adult.
As soon as one is old enough they should know to always treat all guns as if loaded, never put your finger on the trigger until ready to fire, never point a gun at something you are not willing to destroy and always know your target, its backstop and what is beyond.
Basic stuff, but far too many supposedly educated Americans are completely ignorant of these facts.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Kenneth Pagano.