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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. Chris

    Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe is a Democrat. Please CNN, do better reporting.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Eric of Reseda

      "Matt DeCample, spokesman for Democrat Gov. Mike Beebe, told CNN the governor..." You might try better reading.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
  2. EEEhawww!

    Pistol Packin' Padres ! I can't wait for the movie. In all the excitement, I can't remember if I loaded ... on 2nd thought,
    yeah I did. Your luck's run out, p-unk, Pow, Pow and that's for damaging the stained glass.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
  3. cd

    Now,now,liberal crap news missed the Drone attack on USA "tax payers" with no trial by jury,or review by Congress. Can't you spell something fish-E even with head up Obama's @ ss !

    February 5, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • ted

      Yo find that article and whine. this article is about something totally different.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Spidey

      I saw that story on the liberal news. Maybe you ought to watch it.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
  4. Hugganoak

    After all, Jesus was known as the "Prince of Guns".

    February 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Rationalintn

      Or was it Prince of "Piece"?

      February 5, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
  5. Ixion

    Now you can kill 2 birds with one stone. You go go pray that you'll never get shot in the US and you can carry a gun to be sure you wont be shot while praying you'll never get shot.

    This type of law is one proof that a citizens arms race is coming. I should also point out that the weapons that people start caring in the near future will not be limited to projectile weapons. Some truly scary stuff coming down the line.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • JJ

      Guns in churches. Sigh. Isn't that kinda missing the point?

      February 5, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  6. John the Historian

    The old Confederacy needs to remember they lost. Why they keep voting Republican when blue states have a higher standard of living than red states. The second amendment calles for a "well-regulated militia". Well lets start regulating. How many guns would Jesus Christ own ? Swords in plowshares.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • smartaz

      I believe it depends on your definition of "higher standard of living". Some people love cities like LA and New York. I'll take a little farm in the midwest over that in a heartbeat.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Rosemary

      Doesn't Jesus say in Luke:22:36....If you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one?

      February 5, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Rationalintn

      Yes, Rosemary, we know Jesus was all about weapons and killing. Are you sure you're not reading the Koran?

      February 5, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  7. A Buddhist

    WWJD...?

    February 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  8. Juls1314

    Nothin' says Jesus like guns.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  9. Bolin

    The Godless are so angry.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • Klaxon

      Religious people are such liars.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • dirkk03

      You're silly. No YOU'RE silly.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  10. Joe

    Something wrong if you need to carry a gun into church.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • ForGoodReason

      There may be good reason for it. Some large churches pass the offering plate and collect quite a bit. They could be protecting that money. I know of at least one church that was robbed during the offering that way.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • TCIM

      Let's see....not safe in the Mall, School, World Trade Center, Federal Building, School Bus....Government building, Business buildings, transportation, school or shopping. Where else do we get together....oh yeah, church. I'll turn the other cheek for the first shot but only to prevent a second. Live by the gun, die by the gun. That choice was made long ago in America, shoot, it's how we became a nation.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  11. svscnn

    Guns in church? Too funny.

    Oh, ye of little faith...

    February 5, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
  12. Jo-Ann S

    I can tell you if my church allowed that – or I found out people were doing it – I would transfer my membership elsewhere.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • Tundra

      You mine as well not go outside then. Many of us always have a gun on them, the fact it is concealed means you are not aware of it. Just on Odds alone everytime you go to one of your big box stores you are surrounded by them.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • ted

      Don't try to argue, they get mad, Personaly if I need to pack everywhere I go I need to move!!

      February 5, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
  13. Tom

    Let's put a gun on the alter and worship it.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Joe

      Sadly, many people in the USA worship their guns more than they worship God or respect society.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • Check

      Many already do that.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Rationalintn

      What was that famous quote ; "They cling to their guns and their religion..." Spot on I'd say.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
  14. Steph

    Wow... needing to go to church for self-protection? No wonder atheism is growing! Religious worship is increasingly lethal.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  15. Asher

    They are already in the church in many states. My old and new church both had guys that carried in the services. You can tell you need it with the crazies above – Romans 2:8. Churches do not advertise it and sure aren't going to tell you but protection is provided in many churches – believe it. Praise the Lord and pass the bullets.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Jo-Ann S

      And you are a total idiot.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • Wondering

      Asher's Barbie Jesus doll is Shoot First And Ask Questions Later Jesus

      February 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  16. Gregory L. Faith

    If I need to carry into a church, I'd move.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • myVu

      Yes, please tell me where you can move where no nut cases exist. I'd like to move there too, if such a place exists.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • Jon

      It's the people that are missing a few screws that concerns me. The freedom to attend church of choice wouldn't exist if it weren't for guns. Nothing against you or the British freeloaders like Peirs Morgan who think a gunless country is what's best for the USA. I suggest you study your history and learn why you have the freedoms you do.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • sixin

      The average person has no idea if they would need a gun or not. To assume one way or the other could mean life or death.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
  17. What Would Jesus carry?

    9 mm or .4, .44 or .45 cal? Sig Sauer or Glock or a 1911? Maybe a .50 cal Desert Eagle?

    February 5, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  18. Randy, San Francisco

    Sad that Arkansas fallen so quickly into dystopia.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Wondering

      Was Arkansas ever not a dystopia?

      February 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  19. Sam Yaza

    good for them, their still hypocrites though

    Matthew 26:52-54
    Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”

    or are they

    Luke 22:36
    He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • KJM

      Luke was not an eyewitness of the life of Christ. He was a companion of Paul who also was not an eyewitness of Christ's life.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Brian

      Nice job cherrypicking parts of the gospel there. Luke 22:36 also goes on to say "...The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That’s enough!” he replied"

      February 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • pscyclepath

      True, dat... But Representative King and his TEAparty homies only wave their Bibles, they don't ever read them.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  20. sick of christian phonies

    Jesus would roll over in his grave, if he were only real.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Age of Reason

      ...you have a scientific mind! Do not believe in fairytales- ony science! "God" is some intelligent design, who created the universe for reasons we don't know and as for "JESUS" well........as Thom' Jefferson & Paine, Napoleon, Sir Edward Gibbon, Bertrand Russell et al., all stated that he didn't exist, therefore, JESUS DID NOT EXIST! Don' t believe it?...well then pray to this character as he claimed he would answer all prayers! I haven't ONE prayer answered in my whole life, and I am 75 years old!
      I don't like to be deceived by someone I trusted my whole life!

      February 5, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Pat

      If he is real, he wouldn't be in a grave to start with. Nice try at trolling though.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:38 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.