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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. Anonymous

    So after the Connecticut school shooting, several pundits said this wouldn't have happened if God was allowed in schools. Now Arkansas has passed a bill that allows concealed carries into churches, with one representative stating "churches need to be able to defend themselves." I guess Arkansas (home of the Huckabee) is pretty Godless, huh?

    February 5, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • JJ

      If they hadn't kicked prayer out of churches there would be no need for guns.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  2. Dan

    When and where is this gun madness going to end? Not in Arkansas apparently.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Yuri Pelham

      That's where it began. So what if they shoot each other. It's all about freedom and protecting our second amendment rights which is otherwise known as the retarded people's protection act!

      February 5, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
  3. I AM

    It has been determined that the entire house of representatives of Arkansas are mentally ill.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  4. mike hunt

    all the hatefull comments about church and guns make me realize the left truly is the wrong side to be on.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • bo

      that's dumb mike. if you on the left, someone on the right has to reach around their body to shoot you. if you're on the right and they right handed they just need to extend their arm. and more people are right handed.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • sam stone

      why do you think it is the left making the comments, mikey?

      February 6, 2013 at 5:32 am |
  5. quiltedthrifted

    Ecclesiastes 2:4-6 "I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves."...ahhh,... life is good right now, what can I say.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  6. God Loves Your AR-15

    Kind of makes sense. Where is gun-loon density the highest? Same place the with the babble-thumper density is the highest!

    February 5, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • HebrewNation

      I'm glad to see someone here doesn't want to roll over and die. But you do realize that every piece of gun control legislation comes from the nation-wrecking jews, right?

      February 5, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • mike hunt

      and oddly enough, these are the same areas with the least amount of gun violence. go figure.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
  7. vargvast

    I find this hilarious. They will think this is a great idea until other religious start setting up shop in their state. Then you'll see them try to limit Muslims and Pagans.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
  8. JJ

    I thought a Christian is supposed to turn the other cheek instead of blasting away at those trying to cause them harm. Also, if baby Jesus would allow harm to come to you while you are worshiping him in "his house" then why the need for a gun? Christians are so psycho.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • God Loves Your AR-15

      Run if you see big, hairy, swarthy, guys with violin cases and pin-stripe suits !!!

      February 5, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  9. blablabla

    Makes sense. At least people recognize that an imaginary god would be no more likely to protect them in his house than anywhere else.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
  10. jen

    I thought the bible is are weapon against evil!!!!!! That is what the King James Bible says!!!!!!!!!!! True christians bible believeing christians and followers are not suppose to be of this world and hated by all. Almost all the churches are EVIL leading people to HELL!!!!!!! Jesus is coming soon!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you God I am ready, but so sad a lot of people are not. Trying to tell people but not very many people want to hear the truth and give up things of this world.............

    February 5, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Bet

      Using multiple exclamation points does not make you sound any more convincing.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Athy

      Neither is using "are" instead of "our."

      February 5, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  11. bo

    If you dont have a gun I guess you could take a good knife or maybe a heavy rock to keep in your jacket. Do any churches have metal detecters?

    February 5, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • Jesus Christ with the Kung Fu Grip

      For all you who wish to be prepared against this hard and dangerous world, I have inserted the best self defense course available, much better than any concealed gun.

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piWCBOsJr-w&w=640&h=390]

      February 5, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
  12. BananaSlug

    Good idea! Now we just need a law forbidding them outside of church. All the gun/god nuts can remove themselves from the gene pool.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
  13. Nate

    What Jesus REALLY meant when he said
    "do not resist and evil person' and
    '"My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." was
    "Patriots damn well better shoot sinners and rag-heads because America is worth killing for!!"

    February 5, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • quiltedthrifted

      What Jesus REALLY meant when he said
      "do not resist and evil person' and
      '"My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." was
      "Patriots damn well better form a circle and shoot!!"

      February 5, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  14. Thinkergal

    Just as I will not fly on an airplane with an armed pilot, I will never attend a church that allows weapons.

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

      The only result of having armed pilots is that one accidentally shot a hole in the plane in flight.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
  15. byebyegop

    Arkansas. What a surprise.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
  16. ElmerGantry

    Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

    Sing it now,

    ♫♪Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
    with the cross of Jesus going on before.
    Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
    forward into battle see his banners go! ♫♪

    February 5, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Nate

      The second stanza says something about flying planes into buildings...

      February 5, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
  17. sam

    It's dark in that church so they can run for the shadows when the shooting starts.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
  18. HebrewNation

    judging by the comments it seems like the heebs trained all the lemmings in the US to hate the idea of defending themselves. "roll over and die"

    February 5, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • sam

      I like your hot dogs...but you seem to be kind of a douche.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      I wonder, do you have any thought of your own? Or do you truly think that slapping a gun into the hands of every fucking yahoo that wants one will actually solve anything?

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

      You're a traitor if you want the second amendment revoked. You also deserve capital punishment for going along to get along with the nation-wrecking heebs that have introduced every single gun control legislation.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • I AM

      This is Church they are talking about. If you don't feel safe going to church, then don't go, but don't pack heat.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Bet

      Who said anything about revoking the second amendment, you bigoted troll?

      February 5, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Wow. Looks like we need a bottle for the new poe.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
  19. Mark Pajak

    "My UZI 9mm is in the sacristy"

    I dont' know if I like the sound of that...

    February 5, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
  20. Tracy

    I am not against this because the law of the state allows for licenced concealed carry in Public. Churches can decide if the want to ban guns themselves... If later on. The state should decide to limit concealed carry, than Churches should abide by that same law as well.... Sanity prevails.

    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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.