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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. Ken Margo

    More paranoid gun lovers. If you need a gun at church? Time to find another church! I guess the members don't have that much belief in god protecting them. I've said it before. WE ARE A SPECIES OF ANIMAL. We are no different than lions, tigers and bears. Laws like this prove it.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Dorothy

      Oh my!

      February 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Mr. N.

      No, they're doing this because of intolerant bigots. I'm sure you can relate. You do know that people have shot up churches and temples in the past, right?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • truth be told

      Atheists are a very small minority but one can cause a lot of grief by attacking innocents. The so called atheist cowards will think twice if their actions could be turned back on them.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Mr N. They shoot EVERYWHERE. More profits for the gun industry, Hooray! This country has more gun violence than any other civilized country. Shouldn't we limit the guns?

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

      @Mr. N

      Then post your sources of any statistically significant number of church, temple, mosque, etc. shootings that were done because the person shooting was "anti-religion" instead of say, "a christian who was anti-muslim, shikh, hindu, buddhist" or any combination thereof.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • sam

      Mr. N has his favorite response ready to copy-paste.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Mr. N Where do you see bigotry in my statements?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • truth be told

      I am terrified of atheists, I'm convinced I see them everywhere.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • sam

      (Protip: Mr. N apparently sees bigotry everywhere)

      February 5, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Shuffler

      I am amazed at folks who think crime does not happen at church or any other public areas.....

      February 5, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      I don't see how anyone can visit any state (ex. Florida) that has loose gun laws. How can you visit states like that? If the state is so safe, why all the guns? You wouldn't live in a bad neighborhood, so why would you visit a bad state?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Dorothy.....................Are you off to see the wizard? :)

      February 5, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Toto

      Hey, what about me?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Toto...........Are you packin' heat? Based on the church c'mon in.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Mr. N.

      hawaiianguest,

      Again, look up "non-sequitur." Google statistically significant shootings in court houses and then get back to me. What, no statistically-significant data? Using your own logic, are you ready to argue that court houses shouldn't be protected, either?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      @Mr. N...............I would be afraid to be your neighbor. I can imagine the weaponry you have stocked up waiting for the boogy man to knock down your door.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • truth be told

      Mr. N....I want to show you my butt.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Mr. N

      Am I making a claim that only christians shoot up other religious places of worship? No I'm not. I'm challenging your flat assertion that this is because of anti-religion people going around doing the shootings (which I'm wondering if, in your mind, is a synonym for atheist). The fact that you've had to throw out Straw Men to cover it up is very telling.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  2. Saboth

    On one hand, it makes sense. A killer knows he can walk into a church and shoot it up,and the law requires everyone inside to be unarmed, so he is safe. On the other hand, do you really want 50 people in a church struggling to stay awake with loaded sidearms? One of those falls out of a purse or holster and goes off and there's about a 99% chance it's going to hit *someone*, probably a child.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • sam

      And if someone does show up and decide to shoot the place up...well, the righteous will jump up and all shoot at once, mostly killing each other.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Slovestra

      you just found an incentive to stay awake

      February 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      What if one of the church members does the shooting? You'll have a bunch of people at close range shooting each other. Does that make you feel safe? There is no guarantee the "good guy" will get the "bad guy". The bad guys do win sometimes.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  3. Seth

    Turn the other cheek...wait...WWJD?

    February 5, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  4. William Miller

    Follow the money trail. Who benefits the most directly from all this? The gun industry. Another year of record profits in the books. They're laughing all the way to the bank.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Shuffler

      Profits are pushed up any time the folks who know nothing of guns start yapping about gun bans.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
  5. Slovestra

    In other news "Arkansas will require carrying bibles to all shooting ranges"

    February 5, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • ibabs

      That was good....

      February 5, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Zingo

      Bibles make great targets.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • I wonder

      Yes, then you get holey Bibles.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • Shuffler

      :) Nice

      February 5, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Saboth

      The holey bible was great.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
  6. Chris

    As a veteran of Viet Nam and a gun owner all I can say is that we as a nation have lost our friggin minds. Are we so afraid of each other the only responce is to carry a bigger gun then the other guy? I refurse to live my life in fear. Give me beer, God and a gun and my life is complete. What a sad commentry on American life.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • truth be told

      Better to let some wacko atheist come in and murder innocents?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • truth be told

      I mean, even though it's mostly been good God-fearing Christians that have done all the shooting so far...I just figure we should blame the next one on the atheists.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • CosmicC

      Seriously? Check recent history and you'll find that the wackos with guns are more likely to be religious than atheist.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Michelle

      Thank you for your service, Chris...I am sorry that this is what you were fighting for. This country is becoming so divided, it's ignorant!

      February 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  7. Po Boy

    But only law abiding citizens go to church, so why would you need to carry a weapon there? (Before you ask that is sarcasm)

    February 5, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  8. Al

    Freeze Jesus! Hands in the air! He's going for the cross, shoot him.

    This is so hysterical as well as pitiful. Are they afraid of each other? God? Jesus? Other gun nuts? Or are they there to worship the guns.

    That's it, they worship the gun. Idolators!

    February 5, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • sam

      Oh, they're afraid of muslims, atheists, brown people, gays, loose women; you name it.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Mr. N.

      No, they're afraid of intolerant bigots. I'm sure you can relate. You do know that people have shot up churches and temples in the past, right?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • sam

      Mr N, are your jimmies rustled? Maybe some Chik-Fil-A will settle you down.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • jaketinback

      Google church shootings in the past 10 years and then try another moronic post.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Chris

      Yes, these bible belters have a new god and its guns. Goes to show you they all are lying about there belief in a highher power. Only if its Colt 45; AK 47; M15. We have a lot of men in this country with some serious issues on there manhood. My gun is bigger than yours!

      February 5, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • truth be told

      jaket, you are ignorant. Read the Bible.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Shuffler

      Said like a true participant in idiocracy.
      You consider folks who carry to be gun nuts. Truely sad as they choose to protect themselves and their family and you don't. No reason to attack them for that. They/ we do not call you names simply because you choose not to protect you and yours.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
  9. Jacksjus

    Wow the world is truly coming to an end. C'mon guns in the church?

    February 5, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
  10. Brian

    Same OPTION should be given to schools, bars, and theaters/places where admission is charged.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Michelle

      Bars? really? lol

      February 5, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  11. Bob

    NRA and Arkansas are thier own worst enemies. More and more laws making guns readily accessable just makes the gun violence go higher and higher. Go back to the gun laws of 1960's and 1970's where the only time you carried guns was when you went hunting or pleasure shooting at gun range or picnics. You did not have the gun violence you have today.To many people out there with short fuses that will pull a gun at a moments notice and try to shoot it out with someone.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Mr. Right

      Except in the 60 and 70's there were NO background checks. Gun violence has gone down since that time as well. MAss shooting have gone up. Go throw your nonsense out to people who are weak and feeble minded.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
  12. HugACanadian

    What guns did Jesus have?

    February 5, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • Bucko

      My guess is Jesus packed an MG-42, the baddest (German WWII machine gun) ever made. For concealed carry, he probably either had a snub nosed .44 or 9mm. For personal protection, I would say a sawed off 12 gauge pump shotgun.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • truth be told

      Legions of angels adequately armed so as to be able to destroy Sodom and the cities of the plains. Sounds like nuclear capability.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Mr. N.

      None, but his disciples sometimes carried swords. Read the bible.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • truth be told

      Mr. N, YOU read the Bible. I doubt you know Jesus' Truth.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Mr. N.

      truth be told,

      Stick to the topic. Did the disciples sometimes carry swords, or not?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • truth be told

      Mr. N, you are not walking right with Jesus.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
  13. Snorkle

    Guns in a church--folks can't ever agree on what should be said in a church--churches don't agree with each other on interpretations of the bible (or the teachings of the spaghetti monster)-–what could possibly go wrong???

    February 5, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  14. Kukush

    I guess it's one way to ensure short sermons...

    February 5, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  15. Buck

    @Jack
    I cracked up at your use of the word "right" twice. I definitely agree with your point thought.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
  16. Austin

    why fill the church with guns, why not have a security guard with a gun or a concealed gun, but this seems like something that is going to attract a terrorist and back fire!

    this is stupid.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • Austin

      red necks can be idiots

      February 5, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • not-fishing

      Go back a Millennium to Scandinavian churches and you will find the entry stones are grooved by the parishioners sharpening their swords and battle axes while waiting for the service.

      Also you have the history of the Powder and ball (otherwise known as Ammo) hidden in Churches during the US Revolutionary War.

      Just a couple of Inconvenient Truths.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Austin

      ok that is truly neat history, but no one is going to get scalped on the way to church and we arent at war. so since this isnt the crusades we are to turn the cheek and present love and put on the armor of God. Christs kingdom is not an earthly kingdom or he and his disciples would have fought.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
  17. Church of Suicidal

    "Praise the lord and pass the ammunition!" Better keep them Hatfields and McCoys separated at the picnic...

    February 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
  18. vatoloke

    If you are soo afraid as to feel like you have to carry to church, why even bother going to church? Just turn on your TV or radio on Sunday mornings.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Shuffler

      Church is a public place. Is this too hard for you to understand?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  19. sass2u

    II was curious to see which red-neck/hillbilly state it was. It's Arkansas. What do you expect? We're talking about the capital of butt-ugly we're-stupid-and-proud-of-it it ignorance.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • vatoloke

      Aaaaa-men!!!

      February 5, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • Mr. N.

      sass2u is the perfect example of the kind of intolerant bigots that have shot up churches and temples in the past.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Patrick

      I am actually FROM Arkansas and I agree with you completely.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Mr. Right

      A lot insults you threw out there against people that have never done anything to you. Unless you got your a$$ kicked by someone from there? That's probably it

      February 5, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Mr. Right

      And if you read the article completely, you would see that other states have already passed legislation on this. Again, sorry to ruin your Anti-Arkansas rant. I know you have some personal vendetta against these ugly Americans. Let's strip them of all of their rights of citizenship so they will move!!

      February 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
  20. Peter

    If you feel the need to carry a gun to church, maybe it is time to consider finding a new church.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
    • Jack Daniels

      Right, because insane people only shoot up schools right?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • Brian

      This is dumb. It's like saying if you need to carry on school grounds you should find a new school. The problem is not your classmates, it's anyone coming from anywhere. Whenever there is a gun free zone, there is a state sanctioned hunting ground for criminal who looks for the highest concentration of easy targets.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • Shuffler

      You mean like a private church that can keep out blacks, mexicans, whites, asians? What more would you like to limit.... women? Men? Old folks? Kids? Religion?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
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