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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. bb

    And yet they will fight for the lives of the unborn. It's just the born again and the un-born again that they want to end the lives of.

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

      Atheists have murdered more innocent people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries. Lets see how the so called atheists like it when the intended victims can shoot back.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • truth be told

      Don't bother saying it's mostly Christians who have been doing the shooting, I know that. But I know the atheists are lurking. I see them everywhere.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Ken Margo

      Pro life and pro gun at the same time. Does that make sense to anyone?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Salero21

      Soo... tbt,

      Are you saying that atheist better beware if they go to church in AR, in the wrong state of mind?
      After all, church goers, church people and Christians sometimes, just like everyone else, do have bad days.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  2. Muddy

    As long as they require full background checks and adequate training (20-3 hours) needed to fire a gun in a crowded panic situation, it might work. Oh wait, they have extremely inadequate training for concealed carry most places.
    As long as they do not allow people to drink and legally carry a gun, I am only a little worried since the chances I will be in an Ark Church are pretty low.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • His panic

      Did you just say panic?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
  3. strangways

    this is too funny. like the Republicans, the gun nuts are wiping themselves out with stupidity. go get 'em!

    February 5, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  4. Judy Wood

    I don't believe the state has the right to allow guns in church. Only the church has that right. I would hope they would say "Hell no."

    February 5, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Alan S

      Judy: As I understand it, the State is not requiring people to carry weapons in church, or requiring that a church allow its parishoners to carry; the proposed law is just allowing the churches themselves to make that decision. The State government is not taking any authority away from the churches, rather, it is giving more authority to the churches.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
  5. calbikerman

    Swing low sweet NRA , coming for to carry me to the range. Swing Low sweet Smith and Wesson, I think we all are truly insane!...

    February 5, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  6. jonnyboy

    Ironic. These people don't believe in evolution, but natural selection will weed out their genes when they blow each other away at church.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  7. bb

    Only in God's Country....

    This just goes to show that the "christians" in Arkansas have zero faith in their god, and only a hatred ready for hot lead for their brothers and sisters.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  8. df1chicago

    well come on... we ARE only talking about arkansas... they're backwoods, backwards, and trashy... let them shoot their own damn selves...

    February 5, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  9. Maryann

    Well, this is just to much. I had gotten to where I didn't go to church because of the gloom and constant end of days talk, I won't uplifting and love at church, not death and guns.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  10. The EnergyGuy

    Onward christians soldiers...

    February 5, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
  11. Mike from Calgary

    Insurance rates are cited as a factor for the churches to consider. Since cars or guns can be lethal weapons. why not require that cars be insured to compensate the victims for their injuries, and the have the cost and risk of death and injury and the litigation costs borne by those who buy, own or operate cars ... or GUNS! Let those who get the use of these inanimate object bear the risks and cost associated with them.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • captain america

      So what part of canada is Arkansas in? Ever hear of minding your own business. Do tell US Americans about YOUR 2nd amendment rights . There's your sign

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

      @ Mike -Ignore this red-neck MF.Your comments add more to this thread than this idiot ever will.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Bet

      Apparently, Captain America doesn't believe in free speech. At least for Canadians. Asshole.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  12. Alan S

    I'm an atheist, and I have never owned a gun, but I don't see anything wrong with this law-to-be. As I understand it, the State government will allow churches to make their own rules, about whether people whom the State allows to carry guns outside churches can also carry them within those churches. I do not find this radical, or shocking. Admittedly, we normally think of Christian doctrine as being opposed to violence, but one might argue, reasonably, that by allowing weapons inside the church, the Christian community is providing a deterrent to violence. If a given congregation doesn't like that, their church can refuse to allow handguns within the church.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • A solution with no problem

      What violence is that? Shootings in churches have been extremely rare.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Alan S

      To "A solution without a problem": You make a good point. The argument would be that just because church shootings have been rare in the past does not mean they could not occur in the future.

      On the bigger question, you may be correct that the proposed law is a solution without a problem. But that cause me to worry about it. What is worrisome is not a solution without a problem; what is worrisome is a problem without a solution.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Alan S

      To "A solution": I meant to write "But that does not cause me to worry about it."

      February 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  13. Michael

    You can't buy beer in every Arkansas county but you sure can carry a firearm. Bunch of stupid redneck morons.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
  14. truth be trolled

    Even the Highlander wouldn't fight in church.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  15. oldowl

    Does is seem "odd" that churches are considered "soft targets?" Why would a church be a target at all. They used to called sanctuaries, or places of refuge. Now they are "soft" targets for gun violence? Or might there be another hidden agenda as to why pastors suddenly want to harbor armed camps in God's House? Fact is, these "churches" are not churches at all in the NT sense. They are and always have been hold outs for violent hate mongers and psychophants to the fascist agenda.

    They parallel the rise of the armed militia camps scattered across the nation, as insurrectionists and malcontents stockpile weapons and ammunition, manufacturing their own propaganda to make people think that they are harmless and kind.

    Why do they need guns, we ask, when they are not so dumb as to think they can outgun the U.S. armed forces, etc. Believe me, they are far, far, far from dumb. They are razor sharp, in fact. They won't need or use guns to take on the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines. What they will do, is when they are ready to pull the trigger on their agenda, they will have "sympathizers" all across the nation, that they have worked up into a froth of fear, that socialism and communism are dwelling in our midst and they must be eradicated. Therefore, they will take their guns and ammo, and target houses of innocent people who happen not to agree with them politically (leftists, democrats=the enemy to these jerks), gays are poisoning our culture, and they are the enemy, welfare recipients (the poor, disabled, and elderly) are ripe for the picking too, b/c they live off the fat of the land, which these criminals insist is all theirs. So they go to a neighborhood, shoot up a few pre-targeted houses, and wipe them out with their guns and ammo. Then, as quickly, they leave, so that when the police arrive, there's no sign of them, just a bunch of human carnage for the newspapers to report on. Their goal is to first destabilize the people with propaganda spewing 24/7, then with strategic violence that the people can not defend themselves from, nor look to the police to defend them from, so they will start identifying with the perpetrators, swallowing their propaganda and demonizing of others whole, turning against their neighbors, and their own law enforcement, which will be powerless to put out all of the little fires that the militias start. Next they will take on the police and county sheriffs who they are sizing up right now by surveying them to find out who would join with them or which of the law enforcement officers would in fact stand up against them to maintain the law of the land. These "pledges" like the Grover Norquist pledges, recruit those law enforcement officers who are weak, or wavering, or who outright fear the uprising of these militias. They are required to sign an oath of loyalty to the militias, so that when the militias start the overthrow, they willl know where the law is weak and take it over, and where it is strong, in which case they will muster their forces to overthrow the law. Now with the militias controlling local law enforcement rendering it useless, and terrorizing the people so that they lose confidence in their government and identify with the perpetrators, their last stage of destruction will be to occupy the Kongress and the White House, so that they will now be able to impose their own iron rule through fascist totalitarianism. No more voting, no more "free" elections where they tend to lose, to more listening to the voice of reason, as they willl take over all media, t.v., radio, newspapers, and he internet to spew mindless propaganda, as they now do only through Rush Limmbaugh and Faux Noise. Then, their FEMA camps, their ubiquitous surveillance society, their police state of neo Nazis, their extermination programs designed for their enemies: everyone and any one who isn't one of them marching in lockstep, such as Baptists, Catholics, and Mormons, the KKK, White Aryan Nation–hate groups all of them.

    Now you can sit back, laugh, and say that can never happen here; that can never happen to me, OR you can get ready for when it does happen. And it will.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  16. Spartacus

    How lost exactly is America? Can Someone quantify it for me, because quite frankly, after this story....I'd say... and with 100% certainty...

    America is doomed !
    :-(

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

      We once thought we were a very great people.
      -The United States of America

      February 5, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • His panic

      You may have missed but not the rest of the world. If you go back to the books and check very, very carefully all over again. You'll discover to your amazement that it was doomed from the beginning.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
  17. jonnyboy

    I'm glad our lawmakers are doing what we pay them to do, tackling the nation's most pressing issues. It is a sad state of affairs when resources are wasted on laws like this, and it's doubly sad that a law like this gets passed.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  18. End Religion

    It seems that now the pedophile priests won't be the only ones packing heat.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Mike from Calgary

      What a rude ignorant bigot, with a limited ability to focus on a subject. Must admit though that you are humourous ... so long as the humour is not at your expense.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
    • truth be told

      Shut up Mike, you are ignorant. read the Bible.

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

      Shut up turd be trolled. Read a science book.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
  19. Dana

    Buahaha! Of course, Arkansas. LOL

    February 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
  20. Mr Canada

    That's one heck of a Country you got going on there!

    February 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • End Religion

      Parishioners are just trying to protect themselves from the priests who molest and mug them any chance they get.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • His panic

      That's right Canada is the heck of a country they're having down here!

      People are spending thousands of dollars arming themselves to go to church out of Love. Now, if that's the church people we can't even begin to imagine what the rest who are usually ten times worst, are doing. But recent events nationwide can probably provide a hint of what may happen someday.

      Sad, sad, really sad to see such a great civilization as this, going down like that. Shooting each other till there's no one left. Well, maybe the Military and some Law enforcement people might be left!

      February 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
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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.