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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. Shaggy

    So how many Churches in remote locations with limited access to Police services have been victims of a mass shooting? How many houses of worship in general have been attacked in a mass shooting? (I can think of one, but it was filled with brown people, so it was more of a racist than religious attack I would feel). This is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • Thad

      For the vast vast majority of people who have them, concealed weapons are a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. Very few people actually are at risk enough to need a hidden Glock.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  2. Matt

    Gov. Mike Beebe is a Democrat, FYI

    If someone could correct this story

    February 5, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  3. T/O

    Yeehaw! Keep it up Arkansas – you can pass Mississippi and Alabama to become #50 on the list of statewide education!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
  4. rev

    Thank God we can carry guns in churches! Those religious nuts are crazy and I feel the need to protect myself from their hatred, ignorance, intolerance and Honey Boo Boo fixations!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
  5. smako

    Drive through liquor stores, guns in church, abortion clinics in Jr high schools.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • You appear to be an idiot. Can you confirm please?

      The first two exist. The last one never will. What was your point?

      February 5, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
    • JUnior

      Hell yeah, GOD BLESS AMERICA!

      February 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  6. Qi

    Finally, some common sense....

    February 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
  7. jerry5555

    Nothing makes me happier than seeing a bunch of liberals and athiests upset! Well, come to think of it, watching this community orgainizer fail at presidency makes me happier. What a wonderful day.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • End Religion

      3.5 more years coming. Enjoy!

      February 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • T/O

      Sounds like poor JerrBear doesn't want his country to succeed. All because he knows, deep down, that this man-of-color is a bigger success than him in every possible fashion. Not very Christian of you, JerrBear!

      February 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • LL

      Enjoy your red state, sir! We in the "maker" states in turn will enjoy you shooting your doctors and congregants before the eyes of the Lord.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
    • sam stone

      Still, jerry, he defeated the conservatives and the born again crowd

      February 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • tlm

      Jerry.... your racism is apparent as is your lack of education.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • religion&politics

      Oh get off your "race card" high horses. I don't agree with Jerry either, but your bringing race into the discussion where he did not is ridiculous. I can disagree with Obama without being racist, Maybe it's because I don't agree with his POLICIES?! GASP!!

      Your race argument is weak, simplistic, juvenile, and just plain wrong.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • jerry5555

      Liberals say "Take guns away, they kill innocent school kids."

      The next day, liberals say "I enjoy my right to choose, now doctor, please kill my unborn baby."

      I irony is amazing!

      February 5, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
  8. peterz

    Concealed gun in churches did make confusion of the teaching failure ?

    February 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
  9. PHOTOMAN67

    I'm sure if Jesus was alive today, he would be packing heat.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Bill D.

      And he wouldn't tolerate any nonsense about limiting 30 round clips either.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • tlm

      Yes..Jesus would be carrying an AK47 as he preached to his followers. Anyone get out of line....bam!

      February 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • religion&politics

      Don't the Osama Bin Laden types preach with an AK-47 in hand? The armed Jesus imagery just got a whole lot scarier to me!

      February 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  10. Bob

    So the new motto in Arkansas, "Start shooting and let God sort 'em out!"

    February 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  11. Karen

    Guns do not belong in a church in any state!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Shaggy

      So guns are like reason and rationality then?

      February 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
  12. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    So much for "In God We Trust". Better change it now to "In God and Smith & Wesson We Trust". And of course, this "will" now "stop" someone from ever shooting up a church, right? And, maybe even by a church member who just flipped out one day, but was still a CC permit holder and who was able to easily just stroll right on in locked and loaded. Oops. Back to the drawing board...

    February 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Nathan

      Your argument is pathetic. Absolutely pointless. Do you think the fact that it USED TO BE against the law would stop a deranged (probably liberal) person from coming in to the church? Get a clue – you will NOT win this fight.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • tlm

      Nathan....the only nutjobs are you right wing paranoid freaks who thinks that every problem can be solved with a gun. Funny how you dolts think that Jesus would be happy with having guns in his house of worship.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
  13. trp48

    Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! That was the first thing I though of. I don't see it as a problem but I probably wouldn't carry one into church even if I had a CCL. I know there are members of our church that are off duty police and FBI and that they are armed so I feel safe enough. It just seem surreal that it has come to this, not only in churches but in schools and businesses.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  14. Ian

    the entering the back of the church with an AR 15 needn't worry about the concealed weapons carriers, he will be behind them shootin away while the good citizens are trying to figure out what is going on. Having a concealed weapon in church isn't going to protect anybody

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

      I don't know about you, but generally if I'm in a church I've got the added disadvantage of being very nearly asleep.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Zingo

      Not only asleep but very stupid.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
  15. zzzzzz

    more guns = freedom? Really? I'm embarrassed to be an American when I see this nonsense. The whole idea that more guns give us more freedom and allows us to protect us from an evil Kenyan president or some boogey man breaking in our houses is asinine beyond words.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Rudy

      Hear, hear!

      February 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • gager

      Where do you get "more guns"?

      February 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Name12

      ask the guy that tried to pull off a home invasion at my house how it worked out for him. Oh, wait, you can't....

      February 5, 2013 at 4:15 pm |
    • Nathan

      Don't worry – we are just as embarrassed that you are an American as well.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • keith

      @Name12
      We can't ask him because it never happened.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
  16. Indiana Alvin Glickman, Raider of the Lost Accounting!

    This is why I come to the Belief Blog. The stupidity unintentional humor that religious people are capable of knows no bounds.

    It's a guilty pleasure, I must admit, but damn Christians are funny!

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

    I thought God would peotect them! Now when someone drops a gun and it goes off all Hell will break loose!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:12 pm |
    • Name12

      They don't work that way. Haven't worked that way in about 75 years...

      February 5, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  18. Roger

    Only in the USA could so many morons get elected to office.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
  19. tribecagal

    The bill was originally sponsored by Republican state Sen. Bryan King from Green Forest, a rural town in northern Arkansas.
    Rural Arkansas........that says it all.

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

    Remember that nut job that shot up the Sikh temple and killed a bunch of people? To think no one will ever attack a church or any place of worship for that matter is just as stupid as the people who believe in God in the first place.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • tony

      He didn't have a concealed gun, he carried it out in the open like nut jobs do.

      To conceal a gun, you have to have a special permit.

      It is physically impossible to conceal a gun without a permit.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Imnotamouse

      I'm not sure that a bunch of untrained people shooting back won't just increase the body count of innocents. One of the key things in police training is knowing when NOT to shoot. Decades ago, police caused a lot of unnecessary deaths by shooting at people when others were around.

      Oh, the Sikh Temple murderer was a Christian white supremacist.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Nathan

      @Imnotamouse
      He was also a Liberal. You realize an in-depth training class is required to obtain said permit, don't you? Or, are you just the typical Liberal talking head that can't see past his own bias and hatred?

      February 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Imnotamouse

      He was a liberal? Really now. A white supremacist neo-nazi liberal.

      R i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i i ght.

      That "in-depth" training? Security guards have in-depth training too, and you don't want those idiots pulling pistols and shooting either.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:27 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.