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. Lenny

    turn the other cheek – so I can shoot it!

    February 5, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  2. judith

    It figures this happened in the backwards state of Arkansas where the state legislature is controlled by a bunch of loony wing-nuts. What would Jesus say? I doubt that the Prince of Peace would much favor the intrusion of deadly weapons into His House.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      "The measure .. gives houses of worship the option of allowing concealed weapons." No one is forcing any church to go against their "prince of peace", this is completely up to the church bosses.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  3. Yamadog

    You don't have to go to church, just watch all the Televangalists on T.V. to get your fill of religion. It's much safer!

    February 5, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  4. Julian Swann

    How appropriate and predictable. When will people realize that American Christianity is a religion of violence, racism and intolerance. What could be more symbolic of church in the U$A than a bunch of Arkansas redneck mouth breathers armed to the teeth in the pews. Only in a 3rd world country like Amerikkka could something like this transpire. I, for one, am utterly ashamed to be an American.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  5. Yamadog

    Arkansas is the 2nd poorest state in the country, what do you expect. Also, that state is 98% redneck.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Bet

      Only 98%?

      February 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  6. allenwoll

    Every State should be bestowed a theme word. . For Arkansas - IDIOCY ! !
    ( Hurry - I think Arizona is after that one, too ! )

    February 5, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
  7. WeDontMatter

    Well the liberal press should have a field day with this, I can see the editorials now. Baptisms have been replaced with blood baths as parishioners shoot each other over the poor choice by the preacher for his Sunday sermon.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
  8. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    Philippians 1:21. But then, who is the Apostle Paul to tell Christians what to do?

    February 5, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
  9. tom

    why don't we just pray violence away. thought talking to the voices In our heads was supposed to solve everything.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
  10. Justin

    "Jesus said... ‘all who live by the sword will die by the sword.'”

    Luke 22:51

    February 5, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
    • sam

      Holy crap, can't wait to see how Ron Jeremy dies, then.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • Hmmmm

      Suffocated by mounds of belly fat whilst trying to felate an oversized hairy member of the rat family?

      February 5, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Justin

      Thanks @sam and @Hmmmm for perverting the meaning of my post ... what does Ron Jeremy have to do with this???

      February 5, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Hmmmm

      Anytime. The more you widen your perspective and realize that your God is false and your faith is hollow you will be able to enjoy the humor for what it is.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
    • sam

      You're welcome. Glad to help out however I can.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
  11. paul alexander

    Guns In Bibles fo sure 😉

    February 5, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
  12. Maleficent

    Arkansas – no surprise there.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  13. Rationalintn

    Aaaaannnnndd yet another reason not to go to church.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • dack maddy

      Or Arkansas........

      February 5, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
  14. hannah

    What I find to be extrordinary, the fellow who was shot at the firing range in Texas, the one who was a sniper in the Marines and shot and killed 150 people; they said he was a devout Christian. How can a person be a devote Christian and still shot and kill 150 people, even one person. The hipocracy of Christianity is incredible.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Maleficent

      Because no "Christian" really believes anything in the Bible – especially not the stuff Jesus taught (or they'd all be raging liberals). It's just a social club.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • dc

      So military service, in your view, precludes religion? What is hard to believe is that you haven't learned to use spellcheck yet.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • James

      Yes it is. And it is getting worse.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
    • tom

      or the fact he was shot after pretty much being one of the biggest bad asses this planet has seen. yet these hillbillys think they are going be john wayne because the are carrying a gun.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • Yamadog

      Amen brother!

      February 5, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Because a delusional christian president started two wars and said it was ok

      February 5, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  15. Name*penguin

    What would the Reverend Mr Black do

    February 5, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
  16. steve

    Pray to Jesus, trust your gun. Yee haw!

    February 5, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  17. Discernment

    More evidence that Christian Conservatives have greater faith in their 'Guns', than in their 'GOD'.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Maleficent

      Yes! Funny how little faith these people have in their god and baby jeebus to protect them. If you don't trust your god to protect you, then why are you worshiping it?

      February 5, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • Cindy

      You people have no clue.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Cindy

      I, however, have a giant raging clue.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Bet

      Enlighten us, Cindy.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
  18. AE Pucc

    And on the 8th Day god created Mikhail Kalashnikov....and when he passed form this life he ascended unto heaven & sat at the right hand of god, confused because god is also jesus & AKA the holy ghost, Mikhail, in fear for his non-life, stood his ground and blasted the trio with his angelic AK47, proving that even in the afterlife one should be paranoid, prepared & heavily armed.... Amen

    February 5, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  19. DBL

    Without even reading the article, I knew it had to be one of the States down south.

    February 5, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • His panic

      So... you just knew Arkansas is in the South!

      February 5, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  20. Pig in a Poke

    What would Jesus Carry?

    February 5, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • sam

      I feel like he would be a fairly small caliber kinda guy...

      February 5, 2013 at 5:58 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.