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)

    I am for full body scanners be installed in every churches. And I like to do the scanning job.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • Tom

      You'd probably find a good selection of dild0s

      February 5, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • Semperfi12475

      Ask the parishioners of the Young Life Church in Colorado, what they think about being allowed to carry a concealed weapon in a church. Get over yourself people... I'm sorry but if I'm worshiping with my family and someone enters the church and starts shooting I sincerely doubt God is going to stop him or his bullets. However my Sig p226 Blackwater may have something to say about that.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • Automatic Translator for Semperfi

      "If we're all armed, we can all jump up and shoot each other and the walls, taking out the whole congregation like a bunch of idiots."

      February 5, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  2. No one

    And now a moment of gunfire.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
  3. oneSTARman

    A Machine Gun Nest in every Church Belltower

    February 5, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
  4. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    Why should there be ANY law specific to churches? Laws need to apply equally to every business, whether that business is a pawn shop, toy store or religion broker.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
  5. joe

    Satire is dead.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:28 pm |
  6. Tim Brown

    Feel free to shoot your minister if you don't like what he has to say.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  7. Patrick Greene

    This is a very good reason to stay away from church, because some stupid red neck drunk will kill everyone who's praying differently than him.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Tom

      Amen... Bang bang!!!

      February 5, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
  8. Wise1Speak

    1st Commandment: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me".
    – – – – –
    Yet, the Christian Conservative has put the gun ahead of the safety of its own children. They worship the gun as GOD. And for what, to help the gun manufactures to make more blood money.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  9. WW

    What the heck is the matter with these fools?

    February 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  10. Linda Luttrell

    First. games of chance (Bingo & raffle tickets) in houses of worship...now, guns. Not such a long stretch, now is it?

    February 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  11. Tom

    Will the priest be able to bless my 357 ?

    February 5, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
  12. ahmedhaider

    Wake up everybody that has faith ,the devil is trying to takeover the world

    February 5, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Tom

      You said this enough now... Please stop spamming this blog with your garbage.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Tim Brown

      By arming all the wingnuts?

      February 5, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • quiltedthrifted

      Your name tells us he already has you.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
  13. paul.c

    Red necks and guns sure make us proud.Jesus over turned the tables of the money changers because they were a blight on his fathers house,now we bring guns into that same house.When will the south realize that jesus wasnt a texan,and didnt grow up in America?..Please put Rambo back inside your pants!

    February 5, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • tom

      hahaha good stuff

      February 5, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  14. ahmedhaider

    Wake up everybody that has faith ,the devil is trying to takeover the world and implementing his laws and his ways,

    February 5, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  15. Hmmmm

    Well you won't catch me dead in a Church...

    February 5, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  16. ahmedhaider

    Wake up everybody that has faith ,the devil is trying to takeover the world and implementing his laws and his ways,wake up

    February 5, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  17. Rob

    Lets just make guns mandatory for all.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • Hmmmm

      Quit being so se.xist, it should be womandatory as well...

      February 5, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Charles Gannon

      I like the way think Rob

      February 5, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
  18. Reality

    Guns in worthless houses of worship!! Just another nail in the coffin lid of religion!!!

    February 5, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
  19. susan

    Another lesser publicized reason is because of the unconstutionality of the previous law restricting guns in churchs. There is an issue with separation of church & state in that the state was regulating what the church was allowed to permit.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
  20. Yamadog

    I guess Arkansas is going to replace the National Anthem with Land of Dixie. Huh?

    February 5, 2013 at 6:16 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.