In a 650-word news story, one doesn't expect a deep exploration of theological questions associated with "God and guns."
The Associated Press' report on Mississippi's new Church Protection Act certainly doesn't provide one.
But on the positive side, I was pleasantly surprised by what could have been a routine bill-signing story:
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A holstered gun sat on top of a Bible on Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant's desk Friday when he signed a law allowing guns in churches, which he said would help protect worshippers from potential attackers.
The Church Protection Act allows places of worship to designate members to undergo firearms training so they can provide armed security for their congregations. It specifies that those designated can carry guns into church buildings and gives them legal protections.
The law also loosens gun permit requirements by allowing people to carry holstered weapons without a permit, making Mississippi the ninth state with such a law, said NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter.
The Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police says that part of the bill dismantles the state's licensing system and makes it harder to check if someone with a gun is a violent criminal. Other opponents say it endangers people by putting more guns in untrained hands.
Yes, that inverted-pyramid lede qualifies as pretty conventional.
But after that, the story improves.
And here's how: The AP quotes real pastors and church members about the law:
The law strikes a chord in this Bible Belt state where many hunt and shoot for sport.
It's a difficult discussion that can get politicized and very emotional, flattening an issue with more nuance, said Pastor Pat Ward, who leads The Orchard Church in Oxford. People in his congregation see both sides; they are racially diverse, conservative and liberal, some older, some still University of Mississippi students. His church is guarded by a team of experienced law enforcement officials.
"I think in the South people have a certain familiarity with guns and are also strong in their religious beliefs," Ward said. "But we don't always think about the relationship between them. What does our familiarity with guns say about us as people who claim to be following God, who preach about peace and love?"
From there, the AP highlights an urban pastor whose church bans guns and a rural church member (a woman) who packs heat on Sundays.
Moral of the story: Resist the urge, dear journalists, to turn to the same ol' talking heads every time. Occasionally, interview actual real humans whose names readers haven't heard before. And if those sources express a bit of nuance and defy preconceived ideas, that's even better.