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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. User-301

    Most of Arkansas citizens are Hillbillies anyway – that decision was expected. Maybe they should try more UN-concealed Bibles and then they wouldn't have such a need for concealed guns.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Pete/Ark

      c'mon down for a visit...My family did 50 years ago...found a lot of surprises...if you can muster up the courage to admit you're wrong we'll discuss local busnesses like Walmart,Tyson,Nucor steel,JB Hunt,Deltic Timber,Stephens Investments..and a few local politicians like Fulbright,Mills McClellan, Clinton,etc...we could tour our many Universities...nah, you're not ready for that...

      February 5, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
  2. NOT SOON ENOUGH - HOPE THEY START KILLING EACH OTHER SOON

    Stupid Christians.

    OBVIOUSLY they have no idea of what "TURN THE OTHER CHEEK" means.

    Oh yeah – they're PRO-LIFE. SURE THEY ARE!!!!!!

    Stupid hypocrites.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • truth be told

      Poor baby. Did those bad old Christians spoil your plans. Now you won't be able to attack innocents without putting yourself at risk. POOR BABY.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:38 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

      Obviously you haven't bother to read the same bible that you quote.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
  3. jonnyboy

    Make sure you use protection! – mom hands timmy a 9 mm as she walks him to sunday school

    February 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
  4. Pete/Ark

    Having spent 50 of my 65 years in Arkansas I can only recall one incident of violence involving a Church service...an armed robbery of a 20 member congregation in an isolated part of town. Even to a guy with a concealed carry permit, this seems to be a waste of legislative effort. I actually trust that most churches will ignore the issue and say that if they want security they'll hire professionals.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
  5. GBfromOhio

    The right is involved in a lot of "red herring" laws. What are the statistics on churches in our country where worshipers have been attacked? How many congregations would approve the firing of a weapon in their place of worship?

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

      Says the guy with the red herring comment. Are court shootings statistically significant? Are you prepared to argue that court houses shouldn't have armed guards?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
  6. Ozzy

    Just like Jesus would have wanted it.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  7. Martin

    Cause nothing says "forgive and forget" like a concealed Colt 45.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  8. BoS

    Churches can be a very dangerous place to be especially at the time of the peace be with you hand shake

    February 5, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  9. Walt Bonora

    Some Americans should live in caves with their sick obsession with guns. You are friggin' barbarians

    February 5, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
  10. truth be told

    I can't control my bowels; the atheists are everywhere.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  11. Walt Bonora

    What a sick country we live in to resort to this. Pathetic. We're not much better than Somalia

    February 5, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  12. Jrad

    Guns and churches go hand in hand

    February 5, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  13. Bruning von Stauffen

    If you don't like iit, move to New York or Chicago.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Right

      Is that how they spell "iit" down in Arkansas?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
  14. AH

    “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 – CHURCHES – RISE UP AND DO NOT PERMIT THIS TO HAPPEN!

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

      If it brings in parishoners, they will embrace it.

      It's all about income.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
  15. ted

    If you need a concealed weapon just to go to church, I think you're going to the wrong church.

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

      Not true. What if you want to defend yourself against someone who HATES the people that attend your church? For example:

      http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/08/what-we-know-about-sikh-temple-shooting-wisconsin-updates

      A 'church non-member' attacked this Sikh temple. The gunman was not there to attend.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  16. donner

    Next up in Arkansas. Guns for inmates in jail. Cuz everyone needs to protect themselves.

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

      Now that's an idea because jails are full of criminals which should be allowed to protect themselves against criminals.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  17. jonnyboy

    Now they can unload their .357's in the air while they speak in tongues

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

      lol

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

      funny image right lol

      February 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • David

      HAHAHAHAHA!

      Good one!

      February 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Bellezurdog

      Or right after kissing the rattlesnake!

      February 5, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
  18. Priest_187

    Religion and violence. Together like priests and little boys since the begining of civilisation.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
  19. bb

    Maybe they think they're just speeding up heaven or hell for some people...

    February 5, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
  20. Phil

    Not a surprising statement seeing as it comes from from an individual living in the shadows of the greatest country in the history of the world.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Mr Canada

      Well P your love country is admirable, USA! USA! USA! The guns will come in handy when China comes to collect the debt.

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

      No, that was Rome. Read the Bible!

      February 5, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
    • Right

      The country of Rome. Is that like the country of Los Angeles, truthy?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:33 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.