Arkansas to allow concealed guns in churches
February 5th, 2013
02:00 PM ET

Arkansas to allow concealed guns in churches

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) - The Arkansas House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a measure that would allow concealed guns to be carried in churches and houses of worship, and the governor’s office says it plans to sign the bill.

The measure, which passed 85-8 on Monday, gives houses of worship the option of allowing concealed weapons.

Passed by the state Senate in an equally lopsided 28-4 vote last week, the bill states it is “immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health, and safety” because “personal security is increasingly important.”

“A person should be allowed to carry a firearm in a church that permits the carrying of a firearm for personal security,” the bill reads.

The bill was originally sponsored by Republican state Sen. Bryan King from Green Forest, a rural town in northern Arkansas. In an interview with CNN, he called churches "soft targets" that deserved to be able to protect themselves.

"In the previous law, people with a concealed carry licence could not carry in church. No carry was allowed," said King. "Now, this just allows each church to make their own individual decision."

In particular, King said, the law was important for rural communities, where "it could be thirty minutes to an hour" before police respond to a violent incident in a church.

Matt DeCample, spokesman for Democrat Gov. Mike Beebe, told CNN the governor plans “to sign the bill as written” but also wants to “continue discussions with lawmakers to address concerns raised by the faith community.”

Religious leaders were primarily concerned about any effect the law would have on insurance rates for houses of worship that choose to allow concealed weapons, but proponents downplayed the concern, saying multiple states have similar laws.

“Additional language is definitely possible,” the governor’s spokesman said.

A number of churches, including one of the state’s largest Fellowship Bible Church, told CNN they were reserving comment until the bill is signed by the governor or church leaders have decided whether to allow concealed weapons.

When the bill becomes law, Arkansas would join a small number of states that have passed legislation specifically allowing concealed weapons in houses of worship. While about 20 states allow the practice because of “right to carry” laws, only a few states have singled out houses of worship in legislation.

In April 2011, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said that bringing a concealed firearm into a house of worship for protection purposes is allowed under Virginia law.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Arkansas • Houses of worship • Violence • Virginia • Weapons

soundoff (999 Responses)
  1. sick of christian phonies

    Well, if they would REALLY test people for mental illness before they could buy a gun, none of the church goers would be allowed to have one.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • billybill

      How would such a test work? Who wold administer it?

      February 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Kip Oliver

      Paranoia is a mental illness. So for all those who are hording guns, for all those preppers, for all those who follow good ol' Alex Jones....if a mental fitness test was required, you would ALL fail.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • John B


      February 5, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
  2. nothing new here

    This will probably discourage more people from attending these churches, which that is no skin off my nose.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Larry Bob Joe Bob Glock N. Wesson

      I'm thinking that a Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Assault Rifles would do very well down south. And if it comes to pass that churches that welcome guns get big attendance numbers, others will join in for the increased revenue.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  3. OhioDoug

    Gov. of Ark. is not a Republican, he is a Democrat: http://arkdems.org/people/state/

    February 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  4. francine

    Jesus wept.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Age of Reason

      ...who was there to record in the bible that Jesus wept!? He just didn't exist at all!

      February 5, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • What is your Jesus?

      francine's Barbie Jesus is "Weeping Jesus."

      February 5, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  5. Mr. Moderate

    Yet another sign that the North actually lost the Civil War....

    February 5, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • yogi

      Amen! We are a long way away from civilization.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  6. cnnife

    This comment is for those of us who belief in the bible and the teachings of Jesus, OK?
    Guns in churches? Wow, what a new low. I thought Jesus, both in words and actions condemed killigs in any shape or form. "Return your sword to its place", he told Peter, "for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword".

    February 5, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Of course it's okay that you direct your comment to those who share your belief, it does not mean that we can't call you on it...this is a public blog where FREEDOM OF SPEECH means something. 🙂 There's no proof that your imaginary friend Jesus said anything.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • captain america

      Who do you suppose "we" is. We are Americans, you are not. Try minding your own gun control business. Tell real Americans all about YOUR 2nd amendment rights. There's your sign.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      CA: When the USA stays out of everyone's business we'll stay out of it, until then suck it up loser...we are here to stay.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • captain america

      No you ain't you are as temporary as your lifetime. America was here long before you were even thought of and will be here long after you are gone and you will not be missed. By the way tell us about your 2nd amendment rights or butt out. There's your sign.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • == o ==

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" degenerates to:
      "Taskmaster" degenerates to:
      "Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      and many other names, but of course it's the
      disgruntled ex Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. "writer".

      February 5, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • fred

      Truth Prevails ; (
      Talk about denial, you are really throwing up some big walls around you to protect a godless heart.
      In short, all the writers of the Bible were part of some conspiracy to save your soul. Now, that really sounds like something worth dying for. Tell me again why they all made this stuff up and were tortured then killed or just burned alive for refusing to say ok ok …………..I made it all up to save your soul?

      February 5, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      CA: You're such an idiot. Why do you bother being on this site? You are aware that a) it is international b) it supports everything you are against-gays, freedom of speech, women's rights, etc c) it has in its employ at least 2 Canadian's...right?
      Seems to me a better site for your delusions would be FOX...at least there they might agree with you. 🙂

      February 5, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      fred: First off provide the evidence proving a soul exists. This is your delusion, not mine.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • fred

      Truth Prevails ; (
      I am not arguing about the existence or delusion of soul I am taking issue with your statement ;” There's no proof that your imaginary friend Jesus said anything.”
      I am certain that Jesus said something and no one of character would doubt Jesus existed. Even the worst skeptic would agree there was a man named Christos or Jesus that was a Jew and rabble rouser. Most secular scholars would even agree he was as described by John the Baptist and crucified by Pontius Pilate. So exactly what part of that which Jesus purported to say do you take issue with?

      February 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      I'm an atheist – and I've no problem with you discussing this in terms of your beliefs, and calling fellow believers on contradictions with your shared beliefs. Just like I'm sure you don't agree with all of those who are 'christians' here, I don't agree with all of those here who are atheists.

      Just say what you want to say, and don't pay attention to those whose comments have no value.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      fred: Everything written about Jesus was done so some 30 years after his death, thus everything he potentially might have said can't be taken literally. I'm not arguing with you because it is purely pointless...nothing I can find points to evidence he said any of the stuff he is purported to have said and you only see it from your belief's perspective and are not likely to see it from mine.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • billybill

      Read the old testament and try again.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • fred

      Truth Prevails ; (
      James the brother of Jesus wrote 15-20 years after his death and the accounts of John the Baptist is found in all extant manuscripts of the Jewish Antiquities. We could add the writing of Saul of Tarsus to the list which is well accepted and authored within 30 years of Jesus resurrection. Your perspective suggests a conspiracy to grand in scale and without sound cause. When we find the need to even reject the writings accepted for all other historic purposes as to antiquity and apply different standards we do ourselves a disservice.
      In the same manner we would need to toss the books of Moses and set our standards such that only secular evidence is acceptable.

      I understand the godless perspective very well and you do not fit the profile. You have staged a great attempt to be atheist yet there is something that gnaws at you regarding the possibility of eternity. As in: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."
      Bottom line is that you have erected a wall to safeguard something; do I understand your perspective?

      February 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Mr. N.

      He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.”
      —Luke 22:36, NIV

      If you're going to speak in behalf of Jesus, at least get it right.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Ricky

      I blame Paul. Sucker had a dark side.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
  7. michael bourque

    Yee-ha, shotgun weddings are back in style!!!

    February 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  8. MrBeenThere

    Let the shoot out begin........... because everyone knows you need a gun to Praise the Lord............

    February 5, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
  9. Age of Reason

    ..Yes, but this JESUS never existed!

    February 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  10. Klaxon

    What is with the desire to carry a concealed gun anyway? The vast majority of people who do it really have no legitimate need for it. In California, the counties with the highest rate of concealed weapon permits had the lowest rates of crime (by far) before concealed permits were generally allowed.

    Is it paranoia? Is it some adolescent tough-guy fantasy? It's just weird.

    Carry your gun into church? People who believe in invisible superfriends in the sky really shouldn't be toting guns.

    February 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • What is your Jesus?

      Did you ever notice that Jesus is exactly like Barbie? Just as you have Ballerina Barbie and Malibu Barbie, there are:

      Concealed Weapon Jesus

      Huggy Buddy Jesus

      Gonna Torture People You Don't Like Jesus

      Vote Republican Jesus

      Send Me Money Jesus

      The Old Testament No Longer Applies Jesus

      The Old Testament Does Apply Jesus

      The Parts Of The Old Testament That You Want To Apply Applies Jesus

      Homophobic Jesus

      Divorce Is Okay Even Though I Said It Was An Abomination Jesus

      It's Okay To Be Rich Even Though I Said It Wasn't Jesus

      Turn America Into Jesustan Jesus

      Disasters Are My Punishment Jesus

      I Can't Help People Because Of Free Will Jesus

      I Can Help People With Miracles Jesus

      You Don't Have To Obey They Bible, You Just Have To Say You Are Christian Jesus

      The list is endless.

      And the really cool part of Jesus is that you can change him whenever and wherever you want. You can give him whatever personality you want, just like little girls do with Barbie. And just as there are as many different personalities for Barbie as there are girls with Barbies, there are really 2,200,000,000 versions of Jesus on this planet. Because Jesus is just a Barbie that you are making "real" with your imagination.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Tommy

      Sounds more like a Mr. Potato Head than a Barbie to me.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
  11. End Religion

    Can you imagine this, combined with the dwindling of religion? Soon we'll have a concentration of only the craziest nutters all in one little church together packing heat. They may make themselves extinct.

    February 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • End Freedom

      Aw, concentration camps, the good ol' days of ending religion, eh?

      February 5, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • End Religion

      I'm sad to hear that is your position on the matter. I, on the other hand, do not condone concentration camps. The good news for you though is that God is purported to be on your side - he is reported to have his own concentration camp tucked away somewhere in the swirling molten iron core of the planet.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  12. sam


    February 5, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
  13. HotAirAce

    I hope that if there is shoot out in a church that that cult's god intervenes to prevent the killing of innocent children. And it will be interesting to watch the god and gun nutters justify any such collateral damage from friendly fire.

    February 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • captain america

      And what part of canada do you think Arkansas is in you moron. Not one real American has any use for your bs opinion. There's your sign

      February 5, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Oh look it's cappie the useless bigoted tool with no worth in life to the point that he needs to try and insult canadians all day long. Poor deluded fool. Tell me cappie, why don't you go and get yourself laid or something. Get yourself a friend.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • captain america

      Oh hawaii what part of canada do YOU think Arkansas is in? You butt kissing moron. There's your sign.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I am thankful neither Arkansas nor Captain Azzhole are in Canada.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Hawaii: Don't wish that upon another human.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • captain america

      Point is you are sticking your snotty nose in where it don't belong and some bogus wanna be is wiping it. There's your sign.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Continue to show your desperate need for attention. Continue to show your own uselessness.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • == o ==

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" degenerates to:
      "Taskmaster" degenerates to:
      "Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to:
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      and many other names, but of course I prefer to refer to this idiot as
      the disgruntled ex Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. "writer".

      February 5, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • IAMBeowolf

      Wow. That Capt America is a really d-bag, huh?

      February 5, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • FormulaOne

      Thankfully, this 'Captain' doesn't represent us normal and honorable Americans. Since I've actually served my country as an infantryman in the Marines, I'll go ahead and say that I'm sorry you guys from other countries have to interact with the social degenerates of our society. Did I mention that this law is absolute absurdity? If radical hate destroys this country, hopefully some of you from other countries would accept those of us who are worth anything.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
  14. Susan StoHelit

    Somehow, I'm hearing an echo of moneychangers in the temples.....

    February 5, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Ricky

      One of the only times I really liked Jesus was when he flipped the hell out on those guys.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  15. sam stone

    i am anticipating hearing about a blessed shootout in arkansas

    February 5, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  16. halbot

    I thought that said "Akira to allow concealed guns in churches"...

    I thought "Oh no. What is he going to do, THIS TIME."

    I also have dementia.

    February 5, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • Akira

      He is a she.
      As for the rest of your post...que??

      February 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Pray without ceasing in 2013
    Prayer changes things

    February 5, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your repeated assertions regarding atheism are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your repeated unfounded assertions may represent truths is: "EPIC FAIL". Perhaps the following book can help you cope with the problem of repeating unfounded assertions:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      February 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      February 5, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  18. OTOH

    Has anyone seen "Beach Blanket Babylon"? That Sikh man ^^^ would fit right in!

    February 5, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • OTOH

      Oops... wrong article!

      February 5, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  19. ¿¿lol

    Ah yes, now in Arkansas, you'll be able to call your future son-in-law and tell him "there's going to be a wedding today – I'll see you at church".

    February 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Akira

      Making the term "shot gun wedding" literally true...

      February 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
  20. Cheese-Us of Nazareth

    Jesus and guns in the same place . . . Arkansas is toothless redneck paradise.

    February 5, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.