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. End Religion

    I guess this is an extension of the Christian fear of a "War on Christianity". They may begin digging trenches and moats around the churches next, with rows of pikes to stop a cavalry charge from harming parishioners. if they don't already have a parapet, murder holes and boiling oil set up expect them to spend money on these features and others (catapult, anyone?). Of course the priests may buy extra MREs and condoms "ribbed for his pleasure" in the event their church is put under siege.

    February 6, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
  2. justme

    This just proves that somewhere deep in the subconscious, they know what dangerous people they are going to church with.

    February 6, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

      You know, if you are going to be in a room full of delusional people who believe in people who aren't there, maybe carrying a gun is a good policy.

      February 6, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Bob

      Yeah, Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, that's a very good point.

      I guess the good news here is that the whole set of people that falls into the guns-for-Jeebus, anti-abortion, Christian Taliban set (AKA the set of reality-denying, deluded idiots), is in decline and losing what power it has. They're not even "conservative" even though they've smeared and tried to own that word. Their lies and deceit are getting exposed more and more. Good riddance to them.

      February 6, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  3. Sane Person

    Guns in church? Seems really Christian. Jesus would love guns if he were here today, yeah that seems like him..

    February 6, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • USTraveler

      Obviously they don't worship my God because my God can protect me. If He decides it is time for me to come visit there will be nothing anyone can do to change it. This just goes to show you that the old saying is true. The wind blows in Oklahoma because Arkansas sucks.

      February 6, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  4. Bootyfunk


    first in obesity and last in education.
    churches in arkansas will now be full of gun-toting fat idiots.
    i'm sure that will work out great.

    February 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • truth be told

      One of your side already showed you to be a liar in your statement concerning Arkansas. Not only are you a proven liar you're not to bright ... like a dog that returns to its vomit.

      February 6, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • psych ward staff

      truth be told calling someone a liar. that is rich! LMAO.

      February 6, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Zingo

      Well, we now know truthy be mold is an obiese gun totin' Arkansas imbecile.

      Like that's a surprise.

      February 6, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • sam

      I love how, while telling someone they're not bright, TBT can't even spell basic words correctly.

      February 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  5. Donna

    I can remember watching lots of old westerns where the pastor or priest would tell the gunfighters that their weapons had no place in church. So much for traditional beliefs, I guess?

    February 6, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • sam stone

      Only if you believe that those old westerns truly represented the reality of the time.

      February 6, 2013 at 10:39 am |
  6. Chris

    Why is everyone acting shocked about this? Arkansas legislature noticed that every single mass shooting has happened in an area where people are congregated (mall, theater, school etc) and where concealed carry of firearms by licensed individuals is prohibited. They are actually acting preemptively instead of making rash decisions after a tragedy.

    February 6, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • Tom, Tom,

      They are bringing more people with guns into the situations you mentioned where mass killings tend to occur. This is preemptive...how?

      February 6, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Gordy

      Preemptive? Really? A church full of untrained gun toters getting involved in a shoot out with an attacker. Now that makes nos sense at all.

      February 6, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  7. hippypoet

    There exists no evidence to support belief in any gods. Fact! There exists plenty of evidence to support belief in evolution. Fact! Since no evidence exists of any gods, gods only exist in the mind. Through the belief in god people have created traditions on how to worship and how to live in accordance to their gods commands. People who believe in gods adhere to a mental structure built to explain and give ease to unanswerible fears such as what happens after death. Since no evidence exists for any gods all belief in them is unfounded and speaks more to the fear of death which is as alive today as it was at the founding of the belief! Perhaps the fact of having a consciousness and our very awareness of life/death screams at us to question it all. And perhaps due to a lack of answers we choose to weave a story to answer everything instead of accept the facts! This part I completely understand. It is very nice to have and in the ancient times with many unanswerable questions it was a comfort. Now however with modern science and todays knowledge of the universe and life, beliefs such as these should be a thing of ancient times not modern. It was primitive mans way of coping with a lack of knowledge. It has served its purpose but now only serves to bring us back to its primitive roots.
    To put it simply, the concept of gods bares no merit at this current stage in the evolution of the human species and it would be a betterment to the species to have the concept removed from accepted delusional realities so prevalent in todays society.

    February 6, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • Gordy

      What does your long winded statement have to do with the issue at hand? Completely out of place.

      February 6, 2013 at 11:21 am |
  8. Thoth

    Oh the irony. Not that I'm a religious person, but if I were it would seem unlikely to me that the annointed one would condone guns, much less carry them. Now his father on the other hand....he had no problems murdering anyone and everyone that didn't meet his expectations of loyalty. Women, children, infants, animals.

    February 6, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  9. Atheism is Healthy for Everyone - Kids Too!

    Different kinds of fundamentalist Christians now as much as ever are arguing with each other with as much sense and rationality as a flock of chickens. They can't support their beliefs by any reasonable means, yet they deem themselves fit to judge others from those beliefs or attempt to put others in the midst of their religious infighting. Their beliefs have a very weak foundation and are not consistent, ergo the over 30,000 different denominations.

    Thomas Jefferson (POTUS #3, principle author of the Declaration of Independence)

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    John Adams (POTUS #2, Patriot of the American Revolution)

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    James Madison (POTUS #4, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights)

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    Thomas Paine (Patriot of the American Revolution)

    I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church. All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    February 6, 2013 at 8:30 am |
  10. Donna

    I heard what kind of scu.mballs, I mean "sinners", go to churches regularly so I can see why people would want their guns handy.

    February 6, 2013 at 8:29 am |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Pray without ceasing in 2013
    Prayer changes things.

    February 6, 2013 at 7:24 am |
    • Falling Star

      Makes wishes without ceasing in 2013
      Making wishes changes things.

      February 6, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      February 6, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      prayer wastes valuable time. go outside and put those hands to use helping others instead.

      February 6, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  12. Reality

    Guns in worthless houses of worship!! Just another nail in the coffin lid of religion!!!


    February 6, 2013 at 7:19 am |
    • efowlkes

      what happen to thou shell not kill?. just another sign to let me know God is coming soon God Bless America and yet its people is leaving God out of everything. think about it. Guns in church What happen to in God we trust is that just a saying these day? why go to church at all if you must carry a gun what you are saying is that you do not trust God to protect you.

      February 6, 2013 at 8:34 am |
  13. WASP

    i am here to proclaim GEORGE CARLIN IS A PROPHET!
    he prophesized this great event in the coming times; meaning weapons in church.
    however just as the "good book" it doesn't end well for the church folks..................................so
    i'll be staying at home watching the football game. lmfao

    February 6, 2013 at 7:09 am |
  14. Carlos Murphy

    Does this mean that Dr. Tiller would still be alive?

    February 6, 2013 at 5:01 am |
  15. Bootyfunk

    way to stay classy, Arkansas!

    also #1 in obesity and last in education!

    stay classy!

    February 6, 2013 at 4:23 am |
    • Reality


      "The report also ranks states: Maryland bested all others for the fifth year in a row, scoring a B-plus. Maryland was closely followed by Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia, which received B's. Completing the top 10 were Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, West Virginia, and Kentucky. On the other end were seven states that came in at C-minus: Arizona, Montana, D.C., Nebraska, Alaska, Mississippi, Idaho, and Nevada. California, which educates one-eighth of the nation's students, came in at a C. South Dakota came in dead last, getting D-plus."

      February 6, 2013 at 7:24 am |
    • Reality

      Here are the CDC's state-by-state obesity levels, listed in order of obesity:

      1 Mississippi 34.9
      2 Louisiana 33.4
      3 West Virginia 32.4
      4 Alabama 32.0
      5 Michigan 31.3
      6 Oklahoma 31.1
      7 Arkansas 30.9
      8 Indiana 30.8
      8 South Carolina 30.8
      9 Kentucky 30.4
      9 Texas 30.4
      10 Missouri 30.3
      11 Kansas 29.6
      11 Ohio 29.6
      12 Tennessee 29.2
      12 Virginia 29.2
      13 North Carolina 29.1
      14 Iowa 29.0
      15 Delaware 28.8
      16 Pennsylvania 28.6
      17 Nebraska 28.4
      18 Maryland 28.3
      19 South Dakota 28.1
      20 Georgia 28.0

      February 6, 2013 at 7:27 am |
    • truth be told

      What a surprise battyfink is proved a liar ...again.

      February 6, 2013 at 8:08 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      you're right, they've been number one in the past, but now they're number seven! that's quite an accomplishment. should have said ALWAYS in the top ten fattest states, but not always number one. LOL.

      February 6, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Reality

      Again, Arkansas ranked in the top ten educationally. And obesity level is apparently not that much different from state to state e.g. 34.9% to 28% from #1 to # 20. See also the confidence level in the statistics at http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html.

      February 6, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  16. marc

    Interesting to see how the guns are going to pan out with the snake handlers. Get bit or shoot the snake? A new twist for crackpots.

    February 6, 2013 at 1:24 am |
    • Science

      Maybe they will take out the talking snake aye

      February 6, 2013 at 7:01 am |
  17. aaron

    I would not want to be around when a fanatic decides that it's God's will that everyone else in the church is sinful and needs to be fatally punished.

    February 6, 2013 at 12:51 am |
    • WASP

      @aaron: nah it will be the disgruntled worshipper that didn't get his wish..................opps i mean prayer answered.

      February 6, 2013 at 7:11 am |
  18. Kev

    Granted I could see how for many they would see bringing a gun to church would give a sense of security from some unstable individual who might show up and started shooting, but I do not think that bringing guns to church would not be conducive to having a good spiritual experience in church, which I believe is absolutely necessary to have in church, so I don't think it is a good idea to bring a gun to church. I would rather find some other solution even if that would mean armed security at least I think that would be a better option than merely making it legal to carry a weapon to church.

    February 6, 2013 at 12:22 am |
  19. Niknak

    I say bring it.
    Hopefully all the fundies will shot themselves in the head while getting down to some jeebus.

    February 6, 2013 at 12:07 am |
  20. Chees-Us of Nazareth

    The best argument against guns is a conversation with gun owners about what they really like about guns. The best argument against religion is a conversation with religious people on what they truly believe.

    February 5, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • Kev

      Just how effective is it in either case?

      February 6, 2013 at 12:02 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.