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. The Truth

    Massachusetts has an old law on the books that states: All men must carry a rifle to church on Sunday.

    More proof history is cyclical.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  2. Howard

    Why won't the government allow guns inside the state house that way we can shoot them for allowing such a stupid idea

    February 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
  3. jamison


    February 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  4. Barney

    Gov. Mike Beebee is a Democrat; not a Republican as reported in the article on Arkansas Church Carry.


    February 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  5. Dsculpin

    Are you a true Republican? Take the six part test to see if you are.

    A Republican is characterized by the deficit of social emotions such as love, guilt, shame or remorse. According to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, the Republican lacks "a sense of moral responsibility and social conscience." Republicans often scheme to manipulate others without regard to consequences of inflicting harm. It is the cold-hearted way the Republican reacts to his victims that illustrates his lack of moral compass and detachment from other human beings.

    Steps to determine if a person is a Republican

     Step 1 of 6
    Observe the person in his day-to-day life to assess her interactions with others. Republicans may be charming, but their actions are calculated to manipulate others. Common behaviors include scams, fraud and deception and may include feigned emotions to appeal to the victim's emotions. (Reference 1)

     Step 2 of 6
    Watch for indications that the individual pursues anything they want at the expense of others. According to Austin Peay State University, the Republican's life revolves around meeting his own needs without regards to others. (Reference 2)

     Step 3 of 6
    Verify stories and information provided by the suspected Republican. Republicans typically concoct elaborate backgrounds, inflate their worth and experience and simply lie to convince others to give them what they want.

     Step 4 of 6
    Look for lack of expression of guilt or remorse for wrongful actions towards others. Lack of emotion and failure to express remorse typically signals Republican tendencies. Republicans convicted of violent crimes typically remain expressionless and exhibit a cold exterior.

     Step 5 of 6
    Assess whether the individual has the mental capability to understand their actions. Republicans typically understand their actions and know they are wrong or socially unacceptable but simply don't care. 

     Step 6 of 6
    Arrange for psychological testing to determine the stability of the individual. Children may exhibit Republican traits in the early teens. Lying, stealing and violating laws may signal the onset of Republican personalities. Psychological testing rules out other psychological issues that may present with similar traits.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Bill

      Funny, I could take out the word Republican and insert liberal and pretty much all these would fit. Except number 4. That would need to be changed to false outrage over situation X, then demands everyone change to accommodate their perception.

      Liberal through and through.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  6. gladiatorgrl

    so much for Jesus saves... just lost their minds

    February 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Dan

      It's Jesus loves all ... his guns

      February 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  7. Jo

    Thank GOD I do not live in Arkansas!!!!!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Diggerdude

      I thank god you dont live in Arkansas either!

      February 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
  8. cricket

    In the winter when wearing a long coat, you can have your AK47 concealed.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  9. Dan

    Hey punks! Do you feel religious today? Make my day and welcome Jesus, or else I will take my AK assault rifle and shoot everyone in the room. NDA paradise!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  10. Name12

    If you don't like it, stay up north!!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Jo

      I will stay away from Arkansas!!!

      February 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • cricket

      Exactly what I intend to do. TYVM!

      February 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  11. tony

    turn the other cheek, while firing back a quick 100 rounds, then change the magazine for a second burst.. Who cares about the 6th commandment, or the 9th, in the Great Red states.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Bill

      I don't recall Jesus saying you had to give up your life to a murder.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Whacko

      Shocking! Shocking. Another reason not to move or visit that state.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • tony

      Actually that's exactly what he said (and did). Remember what the cross stands for?

      February 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • wingsofthedragons

      Jesus not only gave up his own life to a murderer, but he sat with the murderer and had dinner, invited him to eat his flesh and drink his blood, called him one of his elect, and kissed him.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
  12. ted

    Churches are one of the few places, concealed weapons make sense.

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

      especially after that Christian murdered "Tiller the killer" in his

      February 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Dan

      Sure. Sure. Also put traps, and have the grenades, mines, gas and zappers ready! In every Church, school, and stadium in the good old South. When there is talk about mental health issues, huge number of NRA supporters should be examined.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  13. Jerry

    and the idiocy continues

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

      What a goofy, scared country this whole place is becoming.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  14. Howard

    Wow! "Hellfire" could take on a whole new meaning. When was the last time there was a gunfight in a church?

    Arkansas is just "nuckin' futz!"

    February 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  15. CNNnSJ

    Didn't Jesus chastise an apostle for cutting off someone's ear? Doesn't the 10 C forbid killing? I presume Pro Life is against killing an already born individual also; if so, where are the protests?

    The church or state that allows this to happen does not understand spiriutality.

    I once talked to a pro life person about gun control. He told me he would rather die than shoot someone else; why: he knows he would go to heaven, but if the other person remained alive, the gun person might later repent.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Check it out

      Read the last supper again. Jesus ordered his disciples to arm themselves.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
    • Bill

      The 10 C condemns murder, not killing.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • ted

      Jesus packed heat. Read your Bible.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  16. DON

    The South is full of crazies, guns in bars, Churches, Parks, etc.. these rednecks are paranoid idiots

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

      The world is a dangerous place and not dangerous because of law abiding citizens.

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

      And strangely enough, they have much higher crime rates down there.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Bill

      The world is full of generalizations too. I would argue those are more dangerous.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • Diggerdude

      At least im not from Chicago where over 500 people a year are killed, with the toughest gun laws are any where in the U.S.
      You stay in your blue state , Ill stay in mine!

      February 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  17. End Religion

    Hold on to your collection plates!


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

      Awesome. Looks like a training manual for the not so distant future.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • religion&politics

      This is how I imagine Scientology meetings going...LOL!

      February 5, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
  18. Pancho

    Funny how some read this bill.... Here's how I see it! This bill is intended to help Jews & Muslims protect their places of worship from crazy Christians, who want to finish the Crusades, here in the south. This bill isn't to protect Christians... its to protect us religious minoroties FROM Christians.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  19. EricIndiana

    This country is doomed.

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

      Not doomed unless you think having more freedom is wrong.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
      • EricIndiana

        I'd like the freedom to worship without being surrounded by guns.

        February 5, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • tony

      In a free country can only have as much freedom as someone (and everyone) else. So that means you have to share rights, not try to control others to get more of yours. Childrens' rights to grow up (pro-life) shouldn't be put at risk so granny can have 6 AK47's lying in the coffee table for any nutty grandkid to pick up.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  20. Andy Daniel

    The problem isn't concealed weapons in churches – there's nothing inherently different about a church than any other place where people congtregate – the question is whether carrying a firearm at populated places (malls, schools, stadiums, churches, etc) is in the public interest.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:01 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.