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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. Bill

    Jesus is very pleased. Nothing says love thy neighbors like carrying concealed weapons.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
  2. Mike,Albany

    It's great to see that Christian values are alive and well!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
  3. ER

    Bahahahahahhaa. I love it. This is just too funny. I am glad i live in a part of the country that doesn't tolerate nonsense like this.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
  4. efsullyjr

    Who would Jesus shoot?

    February 5, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
  5. TheVoice2

    It's silly to me to hear guns and church go together. But then I am not surprised.

    What we are failing to recognize is that guns are actually taking away our true American freedom. The NRA believes every person at a school, shopping mall, street corner, should have a gun. So we will all be brainwashed to own a gun or you will be killed. We will live in fear that a person next to me will shoot me at anytime and any place. That's when I know I lost my freedom, because I can no longer walk a street without fear.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • FalseVoice

      You are making false statements, NRA is making no demands upon you. The NRA is clearly stating should you want a gun you should be able to lawfully get one as the Supreme Court has ruled. We are talking about guns, NOT tanks, RPG's, thermonuclear devices or anything else. Why are you so afraid of law abiding citizens?

      February 5, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • your telling fibs

      You are making false statements, NRA does not believe everyone should have a gun they do believe that should you want a gun you should be able to lawfully get one as the Supreme Court has ruled. We are talking about guns, NOT tanks, RPG's, thermonuclear devices or anything else. Why are you so afraid of law abiding citizens?

      February 5, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
    • abmri60

      Church is supposed to be a safe house.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  6. SnakeChurch

    This is a long time coming. Many a time I wish I had a gun in church, specially in Arkansas to protect against the out of hand snakes in the pews.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
  7. telhasteezee@gmail.com

    I could not help but comment on this one. Just like in the old days, Jesus traveled with armed disciples and body guards, 12 of them. I do not think any religion is safe. I am very impressed with Arkansas' ability to produce sane people like Bill Clinton. Oh well, live long and shoot someone in church.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Enea

      Yea he also told them to put their swords away when the romans came for him, and said "He who lives by the sword, shall fall by the sword." For some reason these gun nuts always forget this part. Also, remember this one? "If someone slaps i say to you do not hit them back, instead offer them the other cheek." thats another one these modern hypocrite christians in this country. The devil is the ultimate deceiver, who do you really serve?

      February 5, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  8. jrbryner

    Uh, in Tennessee this has been allowed for a while. And recently when a local person was making threats to churches in the area, it seemed even more sensible.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  9. ironman59

    This is absolutely hilarious. The place that is supposed to be all about forgiveness, turn the other cheek, the glory of the life beyond – is armed to the teeth. Let's not forget that you also have children in the sanctuary that can cause an accident climbing on a parent with an unsecured weapon.

    This is why the far right is so comical. They have no true belief in anything they spout. If they truly believed their religious nonsense, there is no better place to die than in church under the "glory of gawd". Besides if they are in church isn't "gawd' watching them to begin with?

    It is amazing the double standard in values that exists today on the far right.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
  10. Ed

    When people start going on about how guns don't belong in church, I am reminded of this quote from "House":

    "You can have all the faith you want in spirits, and the afterlife, and heaven and hell, but when it comes to this world, don't be an idiot. Cause you can tell me you put your faith in God to get you through the day, but when it comes time to cross the street, I know you look both ways."

    February 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • TheVoice2

      This is awesome!!

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

      House for president!! Thirteen for first lady!

      February 5, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  11. reldra

    In Arkansas? Not really surprised...They should next ask for federal funding for gene therapy and money for special medical centers for the interbred.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
  12. blakefross

    Not that it really matters, but Governor Beebe is a Democrat, the article calls him a Republican Governor.. Just so the record is clear.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  13. calamity jane

    I think guns should be allowed in yoga class too. it would look super cool to do Warrior 2 with the gun in your hand. Or maybe one gun in each hand. Now that would be great. Then I believe that you should be able to carry a concealed weapon to the dentist's office – no need to explain the reason. In fact, since you can now pack a weapon in church, let's all take them down to the river for the baptism ceremony.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  14. Dave-0

    Faith and fear...it's a winning combination.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  15. Henry

    WWJP = What Would Jesus Pack?

    February 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  16. Name*yuipelham

    I approve. In Massachusetts we don't have need for guns and as a result gun deaths are near lowest in nation. Arkansas may suffer from the effects of inbreeding in qualities which make us human. Nice we we can go to church instead of a zoo to observe wild life.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  17. Roman

    My House is a house of prayer. Wicked evil people!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
  18. Foreseen

    God bless Arkansas!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
  19. clinky

    This law is so preposterous, I don't know where to begin. The law only invites a gun nut to try out a new venue and take the permissive gun culture to a new level, shooting up a church. No doubt, there will be irony in whatever the sermon of the day is when it happens.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • religion&politics

      Your post is so preposterous it's hard to know where to begin. Maybe start with the fact that legal concealed carry holders are the least likely people on earth to commit crimes with their guns (urls not allowed here, but look it up), and then continue with the fact that "gun nuts" who want to shoot up churches are already carrying because they don't respect the laws (Sikh Temple shooting in Wisconsin ring any bells?). This law eliminates a type of gun-free zone, and levels the playing field for law-abiding citizens. The fact that people like you reject this very basic logic is extremely worrisome to me. Please, I'd like to hear: how do you explain your rejection of this logic?

      February 5, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  20. Phil

    Silly Americans, more fearful of each other every day!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:21 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.