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.
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.
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...
OBVIOUSLY they have no idea of what "TURN THE OTHER CHEEK" means.
Oh yeah – they're PRO-LIFE. SURE THEY ARE!!!!!!
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.
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.
Make sure you use protection! – mom hands timmy a 9 mm as she walks him to sunday school
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.
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?
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?
Just like Jesus would have wanted it.
Cause nothing says "forgive and forget" like a concealed Colt 45.
Churches can be a very dangerous place to be especially at the time of the peace be with you hand shake
Some Americans should live in caves with their sick obsession with guns. You are friggin' barbarians
I can't control my bowels; the atheists are everywhere.
What a sick country we live in to resort to this. Pathetic. We're not much better than Somalia
Guns and churches go hand in hand
If you don't like iit, move to New York or Chicago.
Is that how they spell "iit" down in Arkansas?
“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!
If it brings in parishoners, they will embrace it.
It's all about income.
If you need a concealed weapon just to go to church, I think you're going to the wrong church.
Not true. What if you want to defend yourself against someone who HATES the people that attend your church? For example:
A 'church non-member' attacked this Sikh temple. The gunman was not there to attend.
Next up in Arkansas. Guns for inmates in jail. Cuz everyone needs to protect themselves.
Now that's an idea because jails are full of criminals which should be allowed to protect themselves against criminals.
Now they can unload their .357's in the air while they speak in tongues
funny image right lol
Or right after kissing the rattlesnake!
Religion and violence. Together like priests and little boys since the begining of civilisation.
Maybe they think they're just speeding up heaven or hell for some people...
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.
Well P your love country is admirable, USA! USA! USA! The guns will come in handy when China comes to collect the debt.
No, that was Rome. Read the Bible!
The country of Rome. Is that like the country of Los Angeles, truthy?
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.