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. Biff

    Let us prey...

    February 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  2. Denise

    Guns for God – is that the motto of religions now? As this conversation goes on, it makes me wonder all the more about the kool-aid being served in churches, houses of worship, places for peace and love. Well, if you're packing heat, there must not be too much love, peace or worship going on. Ye of no faith, Arkansas churchgoers and any other church allowing the carrying of guns in a church. For shame.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  3. Sweet

    Christians having the ability to blow their fellow christians away if they get pis sed off, church rage, gotta love it.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  4. seigell

    PRAY, or else !! (or is that "prey" ??)

    February 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  5. jlaylor

    WWJC? (What would Jesus carry?)

    February 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  6. Doobie

    Can't buy beer on Sunday, but you can pack heat in church. These are the priorities of Christians.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  7. Mohammad A Dar

    why do these Church goers need guns to protect themselves in Church? Jesus is there to protect them !! Hey don't they say Evil Walks In, God Walks Out !!!

    February 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • Dan Spagone

      THe church my family goes to was assaulted and burglarized by a man with a gun while they were there. Gun Free zones are not just silly, they are down right retarded and ineffective. It is probably one of the most useless gun control efforts in practice. As a concealed carrier that has not intention of shooting up anywhere, all gun free zones do is inconvenience me and leave me from being able to defend myself if a potential criminal decides he wants to attack a gun free zone. Universal background checks, makes sense, don't know how it's going to be enforced, but if it makes people feel better then great. Magazine limits are also retarded. It's completely objective and does nothing to inhibit armed assailants attacking an unarmed population (as proved by VA tech and Columbine). The best law to "add" would be to require reporting lost or stolen firearms. This would provide actual accountability and help deter straw purchases. And as far as concealed carry goes, the gun is concealed, you're not supposed to be able to see it. So more than likely you wouldn't even know if someone was carrying such as all the people around me.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  8. ann

    It's good to have a gun in case the devil appears around the corner.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      ya but I hope they don't leave the silver bullets home !

      February 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  9. boocat

    And the devolution of men continues.......

    February 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • sixin

      Then perhaps you should stop contributing to the process.

      February 5, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  10. yogi


    February 5, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
  11. It's about time...

    People would be surprised how many guns are already in churches. Maybe they should do a bible check when people enter the church ; )

    February 5, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • HotArroganceAce


      February 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  12. Kevin

    Good for them. If that's what Arkansas wants, then that's fine with me. Arkansas is a whole lot different than New York

    February 5, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Kevin's logic

      Lynching and segregation: If that's what Arkansas wants, then that's fine with me. Arkansas is a whole lot different than New York

      February 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • rediranch

      Good point, maybe the criminal element in Arkansas would not abide by Gun Free Zone signs or only be able to kill 7 people since they are not allowed to carry more bullets than that.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
  13. cd

    Thank goodness for Romney that the election wasn't close Obama might have had a DRONE take him out since OBAMA now thing he's god !

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

      English is a difficult language isn't it?

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

      Honestly, do you REALLY believe Obama thinks or acts like he is a god? Come on. Really? Because if you do, my heart goes out to you and I wish you education and intelligence this year. I hope learning and thinking are not new concepts to you, but your comment indicates both are lacking. Good luck.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  14. Alias

    Paragould Arkansas, a town with the population of 26,000 has enacted martial law. They are cancelling town hall meetings citing “public safety concerns”. According to the Arkansas Times, the mayor said patrolling police would not “constantly” be carrying assault rifles (AR-15s). Although announced to begin in January, no SWAT patrols have begun in Paragould yet.

    It seems only fair to let God fearing folks have a gun too. It would be nice if the MSM would report all of the news...

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

      Okay, their police are so incompetent that they cannot get their crime under control, so the mayor's solution is to give the incompetent police assault rifles and the ability to harass?

      Yeah, that'll work.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  15. Wondering

    People seem to forget that Jesus ordered his disciples to arm themselves at the last supper. I do wonder if that was the real reason he was arrested, that Judas realized that Jesus was about to do a David Koresh, and he reported Jesus.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  16. Not All That Bad

    Immediate Last Rites for the would be attacker.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
  17. Locker

    Gun nuts don't care about reality. They don't care about actual statistics. They don't care that a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to be used in a completed or attempted suicide (11x), criminal assault or homicide (7x), or unintentional shooting death or injury (4x) than to be used in a self-defense shooting (Kellermann, p. 263).

    They only care about their paranoid fantasies and having as much potential death as possible at their finger tips.. just in case someone drops dog poop on their porch, or plays loud music in their car, or is walking home with a soda or is trying to sell you some steak and shrimp.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Just an observation...

      You expect that it is somebody else’s responsibility to protect you in your home, don't you?

      I have a game I play with my brother-in-law… I forward comments like yours to him and he always responds the same: Idiot.

      My brother-in-law is a sheriff deputy. He would tell you that not having a gun in your home makes you a victim. He tells me that is typical response time is over four minutes AFTER he gets the call.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • sixin

      "Gun nuts don't care about reality" Come on now, it's the anti-gun nut folks that think "Gun-free zones" will actually keep guns out of those areas. How is that based on any kind of sane reality?

      February 5, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  18. DavidInWashingtonState

    Christians are without a doubt some of the most violence-loving people I've ever encountered. This action by Arkansas is no surprise to me.

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

      Unfortunately, churches are not exempt from criminal attacks. People have a right to defend themselves no matter where they are.

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

      lol how true. I pary for salvation to christ and to my glock.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • rcroeder

      if christ has a glock he would not have been crusified..

      February 5, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Doobie

      Rick – horse Po0. Religion is all about the propaganda of fear. Fear of burning for eternity in the fires of hell, or fear of being in church without a gun to shoot a demon. Same thing. Fear begets fear, and you sir, have swallowed the bait hook, line and sinker.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • ThinkAgain

      Going to church no more makes you a Christian than sleeping in a garage makes you a car.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Ladokguy

      And I guess if you hit an innocent fellow churchgoer while spraying bullets in a crowded church in at attempt to stop a bad guy, well, that's just collateral damage.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  19. Joe

    What is happening to the once great American society? We are becoming a nation ruled by guns rather than laws. Some states have now made it legal to carry guns in bars. That's really clever, and truly invites trouble. Of course, the NRA would say it's perfectly safe.

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

      This law doesn't change the way America has been. It's shutting the door to those who want to change America into Europe. People have the God-given right to self defense, even in church. Our founders could have rolled over for the British back in 1776 but they chose to fight. Were they bad for revolting? People today have the right to resist criminal attack also, and guns are the great equalizer.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Please stay in your home and stock up for the end times. Don't subject yourself on others.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  20. Look at the pic

    The guy in the orange shirt definitely has a gun.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • End Religion

      That is me, and that is my tallywhacker.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
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About this blog

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.