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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. Ricky

    Guys, I'm really torn. I was gonna make a stupid hick joke, but I feel that's played out. I mean, there's always the "true spirit of Christianity" thing and how you should honor Jesus by not promoting violence in any way, but I dunno...

    Something about...yeah, I got nothing. Thoughts?

    February 5, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • sam

      It's ok...this joke tells itself.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • Yuppy puppy

      The meek shall inherit the . . . Glock?

      February 5, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
  2. jay tigerwood

    I do not think that weapons should be allowed in a holy place. You may keep them at home in a safe place, but NEVER at church.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • Bet

      Lest it become a holey place.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
  3. Papa Spit and Giggle

    I take my tap shoes in to church and dance fer the Lord!

    February 5, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
  4. Richie

    Seriously. Why do you even want to live in cities? You clearly don't get civilization.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
  5. samantha

    Jesus didn't protection, so why carry a gun in the Lords House. Have faith people.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
  6. Assault Rifle Dude

    If I am out and about, and need to fight off a criminal, I will use the 45 I have under my shirt. When at home or in the car, and AK 47 is my personal favorite. Either way, stay armed, and you will stay alive. It's a hard world out there, be prepared.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • sam

      ARE YOU GOn' START A MALITIA??

      February 5, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • Steve

      Wow dude you are more cynical than me. Congratulations I guess. Do you expect to come against armored targets or something? What will you need to engage with more than a .45?

      February 5, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • GaryOwen27

      You would be great citizen for a country like Somalia...in the USA you leave something to be desired.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • Mr. Aware

      Land of the free huh? Like I trust you armed to the teeth with my kids nearby. At least I'll recognize you by the tinfoil hat...

      February 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • Ricky

      Only cheaters use automatic weapons. What are you, a little woman?

      February 5, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Bet

      We get it, you think you're a badass.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Yuppy puppy

      I would think the OP is a Poe, but there really are people dumb enough to think like that.

      Hard world. Yeah right.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
  7. Rajun Cajun

    I promise you, people of Arkansas, that your legislature also gave somebody a big honkin tax break about the same time they did this PR stunt. It's a meaningless gesture meant to get your eye off what they're really doing to you. Everyone needs to forget about the Pander Bear ploys and start concentrating on what they're politicians are really doing to them.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
  8. Rob

    Shoot out at the O God coral.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
  9. Assault Rifle Dude

    REAL government assistance would be a handgun giveaway, for those who can't afford one. All good people should carry CCW when possible. Keep a good gun in your belt, and more good LONG guns at home. Second amendment forever.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah! 'cause the average American is so smart and careful, there's no way that could go wrong!

      February 5, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • Ricky

      What if the tickle monster comes after you?

      February 5, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • Bet

      What kind of gun do you keep in your panties?

      February 5, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
  10. Phil

    The NRA Gun Makers will sing praises to the Lord!

    February 5, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
  11. samantha

    I think its CRAZY. There's enough gun violence as is we do not need anymore. I just pray every night that gun control comes under CONTROL, and not allowing everyone to carry a gun as they please. We are not in the 1800's or the wild west.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
  12. julie

    I think there is something wrong with the water in Arkansas – probably related to that fracking. But there have been all those weird mass deaths of birds and fish there. I think they ought to start measuring the size of men's privates and their potency levels there. Maybe many of them have excess shrinkage in that dept and feel inadequate. Maybe that's why there is this sudden need to be heavily armed. Now I also wonder if they are selling more heavy-duty vehicles in that state for the same reason.

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

      Once I went camping in Arkansas and drank the water. I burped eggs for like two weeks.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  13. Assault Rifle Dude

    Speak softly, and carry extra magazines. Go CCW holders! Defend your church, ignore liberals!

    February 5, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  14. JustAO

    You know what other group of Americans believes in carrying firearms for security reasons...GANG MEMBERS! Believe it or not NRA GOP, they think the same way you do about guns.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
    • gager

      Gang members and law abiding citizens do not think the same way about guns.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  15. Steve

    I cant help but laugh. There will be a real bloodbath when some trigger happy vigilante all hoped up on god tries to put down a "terrorist". Once one person pulls a gun, everyone else will too and all will shoot each other...

    February 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
  16. oksunny

    I have no problem with this, as I will never set foot in an Arkansas church (or Arkansas for that matter). If they want to shoot up themselves ~ more power to them. Just going to sit back and wait to hear about some idiot's gun going off accidentally and killing some kid...sheesh...rednecks

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

      Some states already allow guns in church. A church can post a gun free zone if it does not want concealed carry.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
  17. Bob

    Shouldn't Jesus be protection enough. Com'on man, where is your faith!

    February 5, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
  18. mtbeau

    Here in Arizona a person can have a gun in a bar, so why not in church? Next we'll be changing wine into water!

    February 5, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  19. HotAirAce

    I have absolutely no need for a gun in Canada but will be traveling to the USA quite a bit over the next few years. Based on recent events and the probability of having to defend myself while in the USA, I am thinking of buying a gun the next time I'm in the USA, and am looking for recommendations on where and what to buy.

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

      Do not buy into the fear/hysteria/hype. This is not Somalia. The media blows this crap out of proportion and tugs on the heart-strings of the masses. You are pretty darn safe in the US unless you go look for trouble.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Mancy Grace

      You'll want a good assault rifle with a 30 round magazine. Plan your trip to coincide with a visit to a gun show, and you'll be able to get whatever you want, no questions asked.

      Happy hunting Ace! Er, I mean happy self-protection...

      February 5, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
  20. Assault Rifle Dude

    I keep a 45 in my belt, and an AK 47 in my car and at my nightstand. I will not seek permission to carry or own a gun, or to use it to defend my family. That is MY responsibility, not the job of the government.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Again, I hope you get arrested. You deserve to be, and your stupidity guarantees it will happen eventually. Matter of time. Think of me when it happens.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
    • tom

      your life full of paranoia and fear sounds like one I want.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • sam

      Sumbuddeh compin'-satin'.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • Assault Rifle Dude

      @Moby....carrying a CCW where there is a sign is only a fine genius.....no jail involved. Any my weapon habits have already served me perfectly for 35 years. Not going anywhere, not changing anything.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • Spidey

      Boo! Now go change your panties for the umteenth time today. You fraidy cats really need to get a grip.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • Spidey

      More than likely you're protecting your meth lab.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • Bet

      Aren't you a big bad hardass!

      February 5, 2013 at 7:20 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.