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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. Ivanka

    Let us carry our Bibles to the church :)

    February 5, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • sam

      First person to market bulletproof bibles will make a fortune.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  2. scarf

    As the gun debate has raged, I have come to the conclusion that no "common sense" gun laws will ever be enacted because "common sense" has no place in the debate. The arguments are based less on rational thought, intelligence, or facts, and more on faith and belief, much like religious doctrine. For example, you could never convince a devout Christian (or Buddhist, etc.) to convert to Islam (or Judaism, etc.) with rational arguments. Religion doesn't work like that. So it is with one's position on guns. And to see guns and religions now going hand in hand I think brings the observation full circle.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • gager

      I'm an atheist gun owner.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • truth be told

      I'm a little teapot.

      Get right with Jesus' Truth now or get ready for the lake of fire.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • Bet

      @ tbt

      You spelled "tea bagger" wrong.

      February 5, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
  3. tom

    What are we defending ourselves for? If we get shot and go to this so called heaven wouldn't that be a good thing? or is it the religious have no idea what they are talking about and this their way of patching the flawed religious system?

    February 5, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • Assault Rifle Dude

      Jesus would want us to take out a madman trying to kill others.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • tom

      who cares lets just shoot each other and get on with this heaven thing. forget this waste of time called real life on earth.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • Bet

      @ AssHalt Dude

      Why can't Jeebus take him out? Being he's gawd and all.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  4. Assault Rifle Dude

    I think this is a good idea. Concealed carry saves lives. More guns equals less crime. If a hand full of people in service keep a 45 or 9mm handy, and some nut does act up, they can take him out before he kills 20 people. Allowed or not, I carry my 45 everywhere.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I hope you get arrested for disobeying such a law as that. How stupid and arrogant.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • Assault Rifle Dude

      Hey Moby...my right to defend myself is absolute. I will not seek permission.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah, kill any looney who starts trouble in god's house!

      The only life that matters is white unborn christian babies!!!

      February 5, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • gager

      Hey Moby, I have the freedom to be arrogant.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • george Bush

      Sources please!

      February 5, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      I really hope you live nowhere near me. People like you are the reason why we need mental health checks for all gun purchases.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • gager

      When does defend yourself equate to kill any looney. You people are pathetic.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • gager

      My reading comprehension in't so great though

      February 5, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • gager

      Hawaii, you don't want to live next to law abiding citizens? BAD

      February 5, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • Jason

      Hey ever think its possible for a guy to pull his weapon out and unload a full clip into a crowd of unprepared folks?

      February 5, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @gager

      Can you read? He said he carries it at all times, no matter where, and no matter the concealed carry law in effect. That's not law abiding, that's just gun toting idiocy.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • sam

      Righteous folk get all het up about sinners and gays and whatnot, maybe go for a little target practice right after church...

      February 5, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • More guns equals less crime

      Where?
      Afghanistan vs Sweden?
      Gaza strip vs Canada?

      February 5, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
  5. mdn

    What would Jesus do?

    February 5, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Assault Rifle Dude

      He told his disciples to go forth with swords.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Guester

      Matthew 26:52 'Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.'

      February 5, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • sam

      But ARD is a real tough guy, he doesn't want to hear about Jesus talking about peace...

      February 5, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
  6. Guester

    That's so ironic that I laughed out loud. That's some interesting belief systems they have there in Arkansas.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
  7. Spare the rod

    When guns are banned in church, sheeple become target practice.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Assault Rifle Dude

      Gun free zones....the easiest place for a mass murderer to kill efficiently and with minimal worry.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
  8. Scott Brown

    Now they are turning churches into killing fields, so sad.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Really?!

      How's that and who are "they"?

      February 5, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  9. markiejoe

    If I owned both Arkansas and hell, I'd live in hell and rent out Arkansas.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
  10. Dave

    Amen! Gun free zones just create areas where people can use guns against others. Glad to see a state with common sense.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • mdn

      Jesus would have brought a machine gun to church if he could?

      February 5, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Rationalintn

      Arkansas and common sense - that's like trying to mix oil and water.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
  11. Randall

    I don't see why this is the state's concern. Can't the churches themselves decide whether to allow guns on their premises?

    February 5, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • ryan

      That's what the state just did, they gave the right to make that decision to the Church! go Arkansas!!

      February 5, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
  12. doris

    I think it might be helpful to have something small in my purse just in case. There are some very unruly looking young men that go to the Baptist church across the street. They are always taking spaces in front of our church. I suppose I could take lessons to learn to use it, but I need something small and easy to work -I have trouble even opening the car door with my arthritis. You never know. Those hoodlums make me very nervous. Why can't someone go to church in peace anymore?

    February 5, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • george Bush

      The problem is that when you pull out your gun, the bad guy already has you in his sights and your dead. I had a friend who tried your method and died. you think it will protect you, but it backfires and gets you killed. The best thing to do is take the guns away from everyone, including criminals and would-be criminals.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  13. 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 6:50 pm |
    • Automatic Translator for Semperfi

      "If we're all armed, then when everyone is running and panicking, we can end up shooting each other and get to the Lord faster."

      February 5, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • Rationalintn

      If churches are such dangerous places, why would you even risk going into one?

      February 5, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
  14. Moby Schtick

    I have to admit it. I have special powers. Guns can't operate inside a three-mile radius directly around my person.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  15. Rationalintn

    Soon, maybe America will be just like other 3rd world countries. Go to the gas station - you'll see armed guards with AK47s. Go to the mall - armed guards carrying AK47s. Drop the kids at school - armed guards carrying AK47s. We will be so lucky to live in a paradise like that.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  16. Ronald

    We need to carry our guns everywhere to protect us from all those crazies out there.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • NSL

      All the churches where I like have a strict policy of no weapons, period.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Assault Rifle Dude

      Agreed, just conceal your gun well and don't worry about who does or doesn't "allow CCW".

      February 5, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Jason

      You can only protect yourself if you can see the guy going after you. If he takes an aim at the back of your head then all the guns you're carrying won't do you any good.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
  17. hubert39

    I bet God and his son Jesus is sad by this bill. Why has America turned from the teachings of God and Christ. Many people in the USA loved their guns more then humans and God. Sad.....

    February 5, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Forrest for the trees

      How has America "turned from the teachings of God and Christ" by allowing churches to choose whether to ban guns in their churches? I think you are confused and think this law forces guns into churches.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  18. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    Why pass a new law to negate an old law, just take it off the books. When you pass a law like this, that simply gives people their rights back (the right to carry a weapon and the right to ban such weapons), all you do is confuse people into thinking you're putting guns in churches.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  19. Tom

    You'd probably find a good selection of dild0s

    February 5, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
  20. Discernment

    Heavenly FATHER, help them. For they know not what they do.

    February 5, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Are you talking about churches, lawmakers, gun owners or the general public?

      February 5, 2013 at 6:36 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.