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. lionlylamb

    Guns in churches? What next,, a gunfight in Jesus Central? Or one hour before noon a prophetic gunslinger mows down his flock?

    February 5, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
  2. winchester74

    what would these idiot legislators say if someone introduced a bill to allow people to carry guns into congress ???

    February 5, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
    • Yuri Pelham

      THAT would be ok

      February 5, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
  3. Phil

    Guns are one reason why, Capitalism will eventually fail!

    February 5, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • JJ

      The other reason is Talibangelical Christianity.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
  4. winchester74

    somewhere David Koresh is smiling ... now the entire state of Arkansas is Branch Davidian

    February 5, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  5. NGB4M

    The Saturday Night Special will now be known as the Altar Boy Special. Useful for warding off perverted priests (or pastors). Wonder what old JC would select for "home" defense. I can picture him going into the gun store Terminator style.
    Probably would waive the background check and waiting period for him. Don't suppose he'd need any body armor though.
    Seriously though people, where's the faith? Surely god will protect his own house and those inside. Pray and pass the ammunition I guess. And from whom are they protecting themselves? An atheist or agnostic? Doubtful. Most likely a disgruntled fellow parishioner who found out his wife is bopping the preacher or that his kid is being molested.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Bet

      I can't wait to see what happens when drunk old Billy Bob catches his baby mama Ellie Mae winkin' at Jimmy Joe over the collection plate.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • JJ

      @Bet...lol...I about peed my pants...and I'm from Arkansas.

      February 5, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • End Religion

      Acceptable tithes now include a 30-clip or scope.

      February 5, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  6. Darwin

    Hello Father, is that a Bushmaster in your pants or are you just happy to see me?

    February 5, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  7. winchester74

    and they shall beat their plowshares into assault weapons

    February 5, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  8. Father O'Blivion

    Doin'tcha be worring yerselves about this me lads and lasses, The alter boys will do all the fighten' fer us as usual!

    February 5, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  9. Andrew

    i don't think God would disapprove

    February 5, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
  10. Ken

    "he that lives by the sword dies by the sword" but don't bring a sword to a gunfight. =^)

    February 5, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
  11. Blending religions

    The wedding chapel in "Kill Bill" would have a totaly different ending if the guests were packing.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  12. God

    Praise the Lord and pass the ammo!!!

    February 5, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      You got that right,


      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 | Report abuse | Reply

      February 5, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  13. Yuri Pelham

    Just what one would expect from the ultra inbred Arkansonians. Guns in church. How utterly pathetic. It doesn't even reach the level of contempt.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
  14. Stan "The Man" Kramp

    As a gun owner and active user of my concealed weapons permit, I regularly fantasize about how I will shoot someone. I imagine how they will lurk into my home and threaten me with a pointed stick or a really dangerous looking spork. And try as they will I push them away, again and again, faster, faster, until I shoot my load.

    Gun owners spend a lot of time fantasizing about how we can legally shoot somebody. We look forward to it.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • HebrewNation

      don't let the jews take your guns, brother

      February 5, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • Yuri Pelham

      You make me smile!

      February 5, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  15. HebrewNation

    The protocols of zion ("forgery" if you're blind, deaf and retarded) mentions eventually taking away all the goyim's guns.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Yuri Pelham

      The Islamists will see to that.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  16. Apple Bush

    Guess I can add guns to the list now.

    1. The music. Who in their right mind would enjoy those awful hymns? (There are exceptions for Gospel and Gregorian chants) The lyrics are almost as painful as the music.

    2. The textures. The polyester pews, the velvet in the bottom of the collection plate and hanging from the pulpits. The carpet with its static electricity. White table cloths with coffee stains. When I walk in a church it is like finger nails on a chalk board.

    3. The smells. It smells like old people, stale coffee and ass.

    4. The décor. There is a reason so many horror movies are set in churches.

    5. Children’s bible school. Child abuse and mental anguish. You can see it on the face of every suffering child you encounter.

    6. PowerPoint. Churches still use PowerPoint and they keep getting bigger screens and monitors. This creeps me out.

    7. GUNS!!!!!!

    February 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
  17. Jay in Florida

    This is highly un-wise. Religion is the fomentor of most wars of mankind. Now we allow guns at the very source of the agitation. Congratulations Arkansas. And before you call me a liberal, I am actually Republican and own three rifles myself.

    February 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Yuri Pelham

      In the US it's not religion that is the main fomenter of evil. No. It's the Southern States. The Confederacy. Civil war resulted in 600,000 deaths. They were slave holders. Then lynchers and segregationists. Now home of the tea party. A gangrenous limb on the good ole U S A. Time for another succession.

      February 5, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  18. Phil

    Easy to prophetize the demise of mankind, when you support the propagation of guns!

    February 5, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
  19. Bob

    If everyone is allowed to carry concealed weapons why shouldn't they be allowed to carry them in church? And if they're concealed, how is anyone going to know they are carrying them in the first place? Do they search people as they enter churches in Arkansas? I mean, like, give me an aspirin. The really humorous aspect of this article is that here, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, legislators now pass laws telling people what they are allowed to do, whereas in other democracies anything that isn't specifically outlawed is considered legal. On second thought maybe it isn't humorous. Maybe it's just tragic.

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

      You don't need an aspirin. It wouldn't do any good. No brain, no headache.

      February 5, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • Yuri Pelham

      Home of the brave, but land of imbeciles .

      February 5, 2013 at 7:51 pm |

    Hey who shot first?

    February 5, 2013 at 7:40 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.