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. Keith G. Kondrich

    . . . .because nothing says "faith in God" like Smith & Wesson!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
  2. Woof

    You know, if there was a Darwin Award for Decision Most Likely To Remove Morons From The Gene Pool, this would be one hell of a candidate.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  3. Spencer kimori

    Funny how religiours people are hypocrates. Teach wine drink water. Crazy!!!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  4. Ray

    those silly fundaMENTALists....Guns and God!!!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  5. abe@abe.com

    How come all the states who favor things like this have the highest rates of poverty, obesity, and inbreeding?

    Really is being poor, fat, and genetically inferior really working out well for you people?

    February 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  6. LightningStruck

    Now THATS paranoia.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  7. Sweet

    Is that a roll of quarters in your pocket or are you......

    February 5, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  8. daftman

    What kind of gun would Jesus carry??

    February 5, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
  9. Joe

    So, the churches' main concern is not safety but that their insurance rates might go up? Classy.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  10. michael

    f.ck arkansaw loser state

    February 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Billy

      Aw come on the Clintons and Derek Fisher are from AK. Oh wait.. A to the mother fing K

      February 5, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • LOLOL

      BIlly, go look at a map. AK is Alaska. Arkansas is AR.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
  11. Southwillsink

    That is not very surprising considering the current climate in the conservative community. It is only a matter of time before some stressed out person unloads a Glock on some poor church goers. NRA rhetoric will be responsible for creating all the panic in the conservative community. To all who will be affected, I am sorry in advance for your loss.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Chris Thunig


      February 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  12. Tom

    I just do no think this half of America will ever learn.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Billy

      Thank god it's just under half...

      February 5, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
  13. MikeinNM

    Over 100,000 Americans will have taken a bullet this year (75,000 injuries, 31,000 deaths, a third by suicide), one every 5 minutes. Since the Newtown tragedy just 53 days ago, already 13,000 of us took a bullet, killing 4,000. I don't want to hear arguments about "rights." Tell it to the parents, children, and spouses of those 100,000. Or, for starters, tell your legislators to restrict access to guns.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Edward C.

      They can't even keep convicted drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel again! MUCH bigger problem, and MUCH, MUCH higher death toll!!!!!

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

      Sources or it's all fake.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  14. daftman

    Nuns with guns!!

    February 5, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  15. Biff

    Isn't it one of the psalms that you are supposed to "Spray and Pray" and "Kill 'em all – Let God Sort 'em out"? I think that was in the book of Glock.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  16. Jim Hahn

    Welcome to Arkansas, the land of dumb and dumber.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • Edward C.

      You should fit in nicely then!

      February 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  17. Jeff Cox

    Believe what I'm preaching ... or I'll kill you!

    February 5, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
  18. Gregg

    I wonder why it wasn't up to the individual church whether to allow concealed weapons, or not?

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

      It is

      February 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
  19. Thomas

    "Matt DeCample, spokesman for Republican Gov. Mike Beebe". You seem to got the wrong party. Mike Beebe is a democrat. You may want to correct it.

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

      News companies always switch parties to create a sense of hate for the other guy... It's interesting how deliberate these errors can be.

      February 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  20. Jim

    so much for turning the other cheek

    February 5, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • lydia61

      turning the other cheeck is just for thos liberal sissified christians. In Arkansas they still believe in administering hellfire immediately. These people are NUTS.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • jadefalcon

      Well Jim if you've just had both cheeks and most of your guts blown away by some crazed lunatic, how are you going to turn anything the other way. Get shot in the cheek the way you make it sound your supposed to turn the other cheek to them and say here take this cheek along with the other one. I believe scriptures also teaches an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:12 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.