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. Cat Holic

    Great test for the thou shall not kill commandment soon

    February 5, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • saggyroy

      And what reason will they give when some tragedy happens as a result of this? "Because they took god out of church"?

      February 6, 2013 at 6:20 am |
  2. truth be told

    All so called atheists are liars. Now when the self deluded atheist plans to attack the innocent it will pass by the church for fear of its own hide. The self deluded atheist has always proved to be a cowardly type and unwilling to take any risk that would bring harm to itself. Now they can fear both God and man.

    February 5, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
    • Bet

      All so called christians are liars. Now when the self deluded christians plans to attack the innocent it will go into the church with its gun. The self deluded christians has always proved to be a cowardly type and unwilling to think for itself. Now they can fear both God and man in their own cult dens.

      February 5, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
    • bobk52

      TBT – Run as fast as your fat ass can & Buy The Beatles album – Let It Be. Keep listening till u will understand!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      February 6, 2013 at 1:15 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      TBT: You're a proven liar and idiot.

      February 6, 2013 at 7:22 am |
  3. saggyroy

    Guns in church to protect themselves. Those churches probably also have lightning rods in case they get hit by lightening. I guess they aren't taking any chances when god is too busy helping actors win awards, and athletes win games, and telling presidents to invade other countries.

    February 5, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • breathe deep

      Roy, I could not have laughed harder when I read that. As somebody who has to figure out grounding grids at utility areas, this could not have struck closer to home. Thank you.

      February 5, 2013 at 11:59 pm |
  4. Leigh

    Man has risen above his creator to the extent that he has to protect God's chuch God appears incapable of protecting His church. So the Government has to give the members guns to protect themselves while praying to God. I remember a story about 3 Hebrew boys whom a king decided to convert to ashes in an oven because they would not bow down to him. They told this king that even if their god (who was watching) refused to deliver them, they would not bow down to him. God heard them and rescued them. This was a long time. I guess He is blind with old age now or may be, these churches dont belong to Him, and the govrnment knows it, so it has to give them guns so they can live longer to pay more taxes.

    February 5, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son


      February 5, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • Bet

      Drank some of the bad moonshine, I see.

      February 5, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • End Religion

      Leigh, this is important - i have cross-referenced your post with a medical dictionary and I am pretty sure you've been bitten by a rattlesnake. Seek immediate medical attention and advise attendants to look for a swollen red area in your pelvic region.

      February 5, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • Akira

      Good grief, that's the story about King Nebuchadnezzar...I'm FAR from a Biblical scholar, and even I know that...

      February 5, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • Bet

      @ Akira

      You still probably know the bible better than most xtians.

      February 5, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Akira

      Bet, I hope there's no quiz, lol...

      February 5, 2013 at 11:34 pm |

    what are the chances God fearing, gun toting folks shooting folks from churches of different denominations?

    February 5, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
  6. Seyedibar

    Anyone spending their sunday in church service has a screw loose, but they still have the right to defend their lives. There have been a couple of mass slayings in southern churches by congregation members this year, so their paranoia could be considered justifiable.

    February 5, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  7. Poltergeist

    Gun shooting and crowds never mix. It get worst as you add more. This will probably cause a tragedy eventually if anything at all. How will church goers figure out which gunman is bad when you have a bunch sprinkled through the crowd?

    February 5, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • saggyroy

      Our Lord Jesus Christ will point out the bad guys, then we will fill them full of holes.

      February 5, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  8. ZiggEStarDust

    I'm sure I'll be reading about this on Drew Curtis's FARK.COM page, It may be enough to earn Arkansas its own state tag (like Florida). I have one question though: Can I bring my street sweeper to church too? It makes me feel so much more secure shouldering that as opposed to hiding my little Sig Sauer P229.

    February 5, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  9. God

    About time altar boys had some protection from priests.

    February 5, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • Proud Atheist

      Trust me, God, it will be the priests who are the ones packing heat. They don't like it when the alter boys show resistance.

      They like alter boys to be nice, obedient, and submissive. What better way to convince the alter boys to cooperate than by holding a gun to their heads while the priests force them to be obedient so that they may receive God's blessings. God works in mysterious ways. :/

      February 5, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      That was graphic. It almost sounded personal.

      February 5, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
  10. Proud Atheist

    This article reminds me of The Family Guy clip where Jesus is packing two pistols and says "Crucify this!"

    February 5, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  11. End Religion

    Having guns in Church is "just like a picnic"


    February 5, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  12. Earl Shumaker

    I am trying to visualize Christ wearing a gun as he is giving his "Sermon on the Mount"

    February 5, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • truth be told

      Then visualize that same Christ on His return to judge this world.

      February 5, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • End Religion

      Who is this Christ person?

      February 5, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • Austin

      he is the creator referred to in John and the plurality in Genesis 1:1

      February 5, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Bet

      @ tbt

      Visualize whirled peas.

      February 5, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bet, that will go right over turd be trolled's pointy little noggin.

      February 5, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • End Religion

      You're saying a person is a plurality? How is that possible? Maybe I'm confused but that sounds like fantasy.

      February 5, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
    • Bet

      @ Tom Tom

      I know, but I want to see what it says.

      February 5, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • breathe deep

      Ok truth, I will keep waiting here by this mountain for that, meanwhile you have to promise not go shooting up any locations alright?

      February 6, 2013 at 12:02 am |
  13. kilroy

    So now there will be snake and gun worship in southern churches.

    February 5, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • JJ

      Lookie here...that devil serpent bit brother Jim Bob...blam...blam...blam..

      February 5, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  14. Pan

    Puts new meaning to the phrase "Praise God and pass the ammunition"

    February 5, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  15. Ezo

    Yep. Cause you never know when you have to start cappin' when the sermon goes bad!

    February 5, 2013 at 8:06 pm |

    is that guy in the picture praying or keeping his eye on people with guns?

    February 5, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Bet

      He's scoping out the new crop of altar boys.

      February 5, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
  17. Proud Atheist

    Perhaps the fundaMENTALists can use their guns to coerce the non-believers in church to start believing. That's how God convinces people to believe in Him: "Believe in me, or BURN!"

    If that concept is not equivalent to God holding a gun to our heads, then I don't know what is. Coercion does not equate to free will.

    February 5, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • breathe deep

      Free will only applies to the suspect/perp, not to any of the victims remember?

      February 6, 2013 at 12:05 am |
  18. John

    Yep, that;s where you need to be packin,' you betcha!

    February 5, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  19. Shadow

    I'd disagree with this being a good idea, but since I skip on churches and religions and it gets old hearing or reading all the preaching on line from the zealot religious types and gun fanatics...I'll play naive on this one: Hey, have it. What could possibly go wrong?

    February 5, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
  20. dofacc

    And we claim to be followers of "The Lamb of God."

    February 5, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • truth be told

      Would that be the same"lamb" that brought down Sodom and the cities of the plains?

      February 5, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • Bet

      Lamb is tasty, tasty meat.

      February 5, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • fintastic

      god likes the smell of burning flesh... it's in the babble

      February 6, 2013 at 11:32 am |
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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.