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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. Smeagel4T

    Can't wait until they start shooting the devil out of people...

    February 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
  2. Funny Americans

    As a believer in Christ, I find it humurous these whole cultural relationship between guns and our faith (when saying cultural, it looks more like a 'southern' idea.) Before the fall (Garden of eden) there was no need for guns. When Christ walked this earth, there was no need for guns, just His word and His conviction. Where we are going for eternity, no need for guns. Are you getting the theme here? This 'act' of approving guns in church was NOT a faith stance, but just a regular human cultural choice. Nothing more.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
    • Mr. N.

      He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.”
      —Luke 22:36, NIV

      If you're going to speak in behalf of Jesus, at least get it right.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Gitter Dun

      "Before the fall (Garden of eden) there was no need for guns."

      That's right, Adam was riding that T-Rex so all the terrifying carnivores flying around 10,000 years ago would have been no threat to him...

      February 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Madtown

      True, guns are our cultural choice. But, so is religion. If you had been born in Egypt, you'd see religion entirely differently than you do now.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • freefromtheism

      Mr. N, thank you for showing us once more the true nature of Christianity

      February 5, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • Michelle

      @freefromtheism...i was thinking the exact same thing. who would want to be a part of that hateful group of people.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  3. Zeb

    Do they have mosques in Arkansas? So they will be allowed to carry guns into their house of worship?

    February 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Gitter Dun

      Shor we got um, them mosque eeters u'll eatcha neck fat iferin ya aint carfull ta slap on sum kero seen in tha mornin for ya head downs to da crick...

      February 5, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Kip Oliver

      It's a good thing for them! More attacks on Mosques in the US than Christian Churchs.

      February 5, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  4. SFRich

    Ahhh... somewhere for all those "good guys with a gun" to go when they're not marching down the corridors of their local schools.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  5. The EnergyGuy

    Don't worry. If anyone gets shot Elmer Gantry can heal them with a laying on of the hands.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
  6. EAFD

    Did anyone else notice that the article refers to Governor Mike Beebe as a Republican? Obviously CNN believes that there's no way a Democratic governor could possibly sign off on a gun rights bill. Way to check your facts CNN. In case you were wondering, Mike Beebe is a democrat and has been since at least 1982.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  7. bill dunn

    Shoes and teeth are optional.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  8. Susan StoHelit

    Voting to allow the moneychangers into the temple.... guess that's what religion means to them down there. God and guns.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  9. Snowy

    Seems like a good law. Now Moslems will be able to arm themselves in their mosques in case of attack by fundamentalist Christians. Or am I confused about the purpose of this law.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
  10. Jack

    Ok. Remind me not to attend church in Arkansas. Next thing you know these Christians will be shooting rapid fire rifles in the air like some muslims in the middle east. Seems like civilization is going backwards. The earth must have passed thru a time warp. Beware of fundamentalists of any stripe.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  11. Balls McGhee

    Peace be with you, and on you!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • ME II

      Peace be with you... or else.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  12. Daniel Greco

    It's about time everyone else caught up! The Episcopal Church has had Canons in cathedrals for centuries.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  13. DustyOnes

    Good move!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  14. Bruce

    This is why I don't go to church anymore!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  15. Phil

    And the rest of the Civilized World watches in amazement at the self-inflicted demise of America!

    February 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  16. N2it

    This is wunnerful nooz.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
  17. Michelle

    So many people are going to get injured. Hell, most of them are still hungover from Saturday night.

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

    Won't be going to Arkansas anytime soon.

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

      Not much reason to. Like much of the South, Arkansas is very poorly educated with the second lowest percentage of college graduates (http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/education/educational_attainment.html), has the second lowest average income (http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/statemedian/) over the last three years, is the 9th fattest (http://www.businessinsider.com/fattest-states-in-america-2011-7?op=1), and is tied for 9th for fewest times winning Miss America! So the state is poor, dumb, fat and ugly, like the rest of the south.

      But they are the 5th most religious state! So like the rest of the south, they love God. And he responds by blessing them with more dumb, fat, uneducated, ugly kids!

      February 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
  19. boredatwork

    I think swords where allowed when they where the weapon of the time.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Woody HILLIARD

      Where in scripture can you prove that statement. Peter had a sword with him the night Jesus was betrayed and cut off the ear of the high priest's servant. What was Jesus' reaction? He told Peter to put his sword away and healed the man's severed ear. Even then, they were not in a Christian church assembly......the church had not even been established when that event took place.

      February 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
  20. Honey Badger Dont Care

    Maybe those snake handlers can now start putting guns in their mouths and have Jebus save them.

    February 5, 2013 at 4:42 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.