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. Roman

    And people wonder why God is so angry
    He will roar like the Lion!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Zingo

      What caliber is best for shooting lions?

      February 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  2. Jim

    Why don't these states just secede and leave normal Americans alone. Getting rid of the parsitic Confederate states would eliminate the federal deficit in one stroke.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • ME II

      According to this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_GDP) northern states are more likely to be parasites.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      @ME II

      Are you looking at the same list that shows NO southern state has a per capita GDP above the national average? What in this list supports your claim that northern states are parasites?

      February 5, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  3. abmri60

    Guns and religion do not mix together, if God only knows....

    February 5, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  4. JB

    Yet another good reason to skip church, forever.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
  5. StuporDave

    Polite company avoids discussion of politics and religion, though they represent great arenas to practice debate, because of their volatility. Guns in church will certainly put to rest the reasonable concept of agreeing to disagree. All the worse for America, sad to say.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  6. steve

    When prayer will not suffice, use a gun!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
  7. H8daright

    religion and politics, your facts arent even close to the truth. Did you read that on the NRA website? LOL bunch of toothless wonders, who have family trees that dont fork

    February 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
  8. Phil

    Seems appropriate that both Arkansas and Christianity should lead the way to a more violent America!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
  9. Dan Silagi

    Great idea. This way, more folks will get to Jesus that much quicker.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • bettyrose

      I really got a big laugh out of your comment – how appropriate. I was just going to thank God that they were allowing peaceful, loving, giving people to bring guns to church. Well, at least it will keep them off the streets and we at home can all feel safer. Praise God! Now I can be ashamed of once being Republican and going to church.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
  10. Rosslaw

    The handguns are really for when one of those rattlesnakes their juggling gets loose.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • Dippy

      They're, not their.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
  11. lynn

    Yes, the same state that is doing it's best to abolish 99% of all abortions. The Bible thumpers are fanatics, drowning out voices of reason from the majority of my fellow AR State residents.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • Dippy

      Its, not it's.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • Zingo

      Careful, Dippy. Pistol packin' southern Christians don't take kindly to people enforcing correct grammar. Especially since it is rarely spoken down there.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • Dippy

      I'm not sure they even use English down there.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  12. rosethornne

    Talk about clinging to guns and religion.....

    February 5, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  13. Babs

    Whatever happened to "turn the other cheek?" What bible do they read in Arkansas? There is nothing like having "faith" in the good lord to watch over your.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
    • H8daright

      They don't know how to read in Arkansas

      February 5, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
  14. doris

    Don't they need guns in case those Baptists across the street start parking again right in front of our Evangelical church? They've done it before, and it happens EVERY Christmas and Easter.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  15. amarjeet

    In fact God preaches to practice humility and service of God. But all good and good deeds need to be protected. It is better to have armed guards outside Church to protect worshipers than inside as anyone turning atheist or developing anti God & lack of faith inside Church making him/her angry or violent for firing on others should be stopped or killed. These proactive and positive action keeping in view recent attack on Sikh temples. Church is a place of worship not wiping out other humans with consistent teaching in nonviolence, patience, peace, coexistence and treating others as symbol of God.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  16. max

    So much for Faith in God

    February 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
  17. kfs

    ... and Jesus wept.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Just Saying....


      February 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • Choose Your Barbie Jesus' Personality!

      kfs chose "Weeping Jesus"

      February 5, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  18. Daniel in Denver

    Folks who get concealed carry permits do so because they want to have the ability to protect themselves in case of problems. Stands to reason that they should be able to do so in church as well, doesn't it?

    February 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Paulwisc

      They do so because they have an unreasonable fear of others. People with this unreasonable fear and weapons are a danger to others.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      A person with a gun is one moment of unreasoned anger, one instant of irrational breakdown, away from a murder that they'd have never done without a gun.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  19. JustSayin

    I am sure they were already pavking. This just makes it legal.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  20. Arm These People NOW!!!!!


    February 5, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • freefromtheism

      this is scary

      February 5, 2013 at 4:51 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.