MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved an extension of the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law to specify that church members can use deadly force to defend themselves and fellow parishioners.

The bill by Rep. Lynn Greer, R-Rogersville, says a person is presumed justified in the use of force if they reasonably believe someone is about to seriously harm a church member either on church grounds or at a church function elsewhere.

Greer said he was asked to introduce the legislation by churches in his district. He cited church shootings, including one in South Carolina where nine people were killed, for the need for the bill.

“If one of them had a pistol, and he hadn’t been shot first, he could have probably stopped that,” Greer said.

However, Alabama’s existing self-defense law says that a “person is justified in using physical force upon another person in order to defend himself or herself or a third person from what he or she reasonably believes” is a danger.

One committee member, Rep. Paul Beckman, questioned the need for the bill since the state already has a self-defense law.

Members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America opposed the bill in a public hearing last week.

Anne Leader of the group argued then that Stand Your Ground laws embolden people to “shoot first and ask questions later.”