In Arkansas, you may soon carry concealed guns inside churches

By an 85-8 vote, The Arkansas House of Representatives has passed a measure that allows concealed guns to be carried in churches and houses of worship. (HT: @jodyms)


  1. In South Carolina where I have my permit, you may carry in a house of worship provided you have the permission of whichever human is in charge. This must be express permission and not an assumption, but it does not have to be in writing. It’s the same as if you were to carry in someone else’s home.

        1. I wish that were true. Because then someone could write their own Holy Book claiming it to be divinely inspired and the work of Yahweh, use that to justify carrying their weapon into a church, and when the court rules against their argument, help set the precedent for legally disavowing the supposed divine nature of books of worship.

    1. It’s not really the same as if you were carrying a gun in someone else’s home… you have all those other parishioners and their desires to consider.

        1. Weapons were surrendered at the entrance.  Churches were considered sanctuaries with the Right of Asylum.

          Also, many towns and cities had specific laws governing weapons:

          27 Edward III. A.D. 1353. Letter-Book G. fol. x. (Norman French.)

          This proclamation was made on Thursday, the Feast of St. Peter’s Chains [1 August], in the 27th year of the reign of King Edward the Third etc.—

          “It is ordered that every hosteler and herbergeour, within the franchise of the City, shall cause his guests to be warned that they must leave their arms and armour in their hostels where they are lodging, in the keeping there of their hosts; and if such hosts do not give such warning, and any one shall be found bearing arms or in armour, for default of such warning, the host of such person shall be punished by imprisonment and other penalty, at the discretion of the Mayor and Aldermen.

          “Also,—that no alien shall go in armour, or shall carry sword, knife with point, or other arms, in the City, or in the suburb thereof; on pain of imprisonment, and of losing such arms and armour.”

  2. “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.”

    1) This is the public face of American Christianity these days: their first thought is money. Real Christians: your enemy is not any other religion or philosophy, it’s the people claiming to be one of you.

    2) Sounds like the proponents are not the churches themselves.  That’s like passing a state law that allows concealed carry in chgoliz’s house.

    1. I don’t know what this has to do with “authentic” Christianity.  Most Protestant churches in America on single-site operations operating on very thin margins — without the financial resources of the Catholic Church to spread out financial risks — and if a pastor isn’t paying careful attention to the insurance and every other bill hat needs attending, then he’s not doing the job he was hired to do.

  3. So, prior to this bill, concealed-carry permit holders couldn’t carry a gun into a church, even if the church expressly allowed it? That seems strange.

    1. Same as many other public gathering places like hospitals, govt. buildings, bars, etc..  Why strange?

      1. I’d say it’s strange because it defeats the purpose of concealed carry if you can only carry a concealed gun when you’re alone.  It would make sense to restrict OPEN carry in those circumstances, but not concealed carry.  But that’s just me I guess.

        1. Yup, private organizations get to refuse to allow you to bring guns on premises.  Not sure why that would be surprising. “No shirt, no shoes, no service” is ubiquitous0 and it’s the exact same principle. Has nothing to do with “being alone”.

    1. The Holy Hand Grenade, being a hand grenade, is banned by the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives, and No Other Fun Allowed At All What So Ever Thank You Very Much. 

  4. Does this mean that in Arkansas a church can’t require you to leave your gun at home?

    So freedom of religion is out the door?

    1. The opposite:  It used to be that even if the church allowed it, you couldn’t bring your gun if you were licensed to carry a concealed firearm.  This changes it so that the church can allow you if it wants.  

  5. The only way to stop bad priests molesting children is with good priests molesting children!

    It startled me the first few times I saw signs outside of banks and hospitals in Houston (around 1997) asking visitors to please not bring your firearms inside. You have to ask?? These days it’s going around the country, and they might not even have the right to ask or demand visitors not to bring weapons inside.

    1. “These days it’s going around the country, and they might not even have the right to ask or demand visitors not to bring weapons inside.”

      You always have the right to make any sort of restriction on what people may bring onto your premises even as a place of public accommodation. Stop your hand-waving!

      1. Your comment motivated me to look at current law. I’m glad to see it’s not as bad as I thought.

        Texans and others have pushed for fewer restrictions though. I’m not making this stuff up. For example: “…Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, vetoed legislation Tuesday that would have allowed gun owners with extra training to carry their concealed weapons in schools, churches, day care centers and stadiums.”

    2. Yes, you have to ask. In Tennessee, where I live, there’s been a major push to allow people to bring their guns to work. The primary argument is that people “sometimes forget” to take their guns out of their cars.

      My feeling is that if you’re that forgetful you shouldn’t have a gun in the first place, but that’s just me. 

      1.  I wonder how many of the big corporate NRA donors allow their employees to bring guns into work.

  6. “Smith & Wesson is my shepherd, I shall not want. Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy muzzle and thy trigger they comfort me. I anoint thy workings with oil, my ammo box runneth over. Surely law enforcement shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the firing range forever.”

    Here endeth the lesson.

  7. I think all pastors should be trained in the use of firearms. Probably the organists too. Maybe there should be little holsters concealed in the pulpits and organs. 

  8. Well, this only makes sense: Jesus has promised to return and, as anyone who actually read the New Testament knows, He was a filthy commie hippie. Gotta be ready to take Him out if He shows up and tries to change things.

    “We’re showing multiple gunshot wounds to the chest…”

    “Those are, uh, stigmata. Lots of stigmata.” 

  9. Please, don’t you remember when Jesus shot all the f***ing money changers in the Temple? Read your Bible, people.

      1. Actually the original Greek reads, “No fucking dice,” but as usual the translators are a bunch of pansies.

    1. In this case, Jesus was actually a maker!  he made his own whip to use to beat the crap out of the money changers:   “So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” John 2:15.

      He should have posted a DIY whip project!

    2. I just love when a Pharisee bring his whole crew.
      It’s just a bigger piece of matzoh for me to chew a hole through.

  10. The real question is, seeing as this is a church and all,  will bullets stop the Devil?  Does it help if they’re dipped in holy water first?  

  11. Was a lack of firepower in churches really a problem in Arkansas? 

    I’m sure Jesus would approve.  I think he mentions it in the book of SmithAndWesson 14:3

    1. I had to wonder about that, too.

      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.

      So how often did this come up, where the usual peaceful Sunday snoozefest of a sermon down at the Antioch Baptist Church was interrupted by some America-hatin’ Satanist waving an axe or somesuch (prolly with an ACLU sticker on it), and all the God-fearin’ citizens in the pews had followed the letter of the law and left their Smith-Wessons at home behind the cookie jar, or their shotguns racked in the F250, so tantalizingly close in the parking lot?  And Roscoe and Enos are clear on the other side of the county, so what can we do but pray?

      One of these days, a congregation is gonna go down in a spreading lake of blood by the hand of its own members, and as a direct result, gun sales will spike yet again.

      1. Well, among the NRA crowd, there are many (believe it or not) who actually do not approve of the recent school shootings and church shootings.  They see the idea of state-enforced total citizen disarmament as a foolish and impossible idea, doomed to failure, and they tend to be a crowd that enjoys freedom and personal resposibility and local control more than prior restraint and dictatorial proclamations from afar.  To them, allowing a church to decide for itself whether they want members to be allowed to have guns, is not a very controversial idea.

        After the shooting in Knoxville, I asked our church president if she was comfortable with the idea, and she said no, so I don’t imagine anyone’s carrying guns in my church.  I wouldn’t be afraid of them if they were, though; these are my fellow parishioners, why should I fear them?  Any one of them could do more damage with a car than a gun.

        Guess I’m gonna get flamed again…

        1. Nah, not by me.  But in celebration of my 2,000th comment (yay motormouth me!) I will say this.  My assumption is that nearly everyone with a fraction of a soul (NRA member or not) disapproves of school shootings.  Another assumption of mine is that “state-enforced total citizen disarmament” isn’t a particularly popular goal, either, even among most gun-control advocates.  It pains me no end that nobody seems to think even an assault weapons ban has any chance of making it through Congress today since ordinary civilians with no training and no connection to anything resembling a well-regulated militia apparently possess their great-great-great-grandfather’s Constitutional right to shoot a few hundred rounds per minute at anything they might consider a threat to their own fragile awesomeness.

          But why shouldn’t you fear your fellow parishioners any less than Random Q. Stranger with the odd bulge ‘neath his trenchcoat?  For a while, Adam Lanza was a student at Sandy Hook.  Harris and Klebold fired upon their own classmates at Columbine.  Ditto with Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech.  Nidal Hasan fired upon his own sworn fellow soldiers at Fort Hood.  They all had different reasons for doing what they did (and at least one of them did it on a military base where the legendary “good guy with a gun” was able to take him down within ten minutes or so, after only 42 people had been shot), but these guys at least took out their rage on the community they knew best.  Just because someone is a card-carrying and church-attending Unitarian Universalist is no guarantee that a Very Bad Day coupled with a gun or two might never lead to disaster.

          As for the damage they could do with a car?  Sure, George Weller took out 73 people as he plowed through the Farmer’s Market in his car (ostensibly without even trying), but y’know, at least he had to get a license for that.  My heretofore unstated goal is to make mass murder more (not less) inconvenient.  But if churches find it useful to allow guns within their sanctuary for the protection of the huddled multitudes within, they are certainly invited to be my guest.

        2. Guess I’m gonna get flamed again…

          Only trolls ever say that.  You can spend the rest of the day in the corner.

        3. they tend to be a crowd that enjoys freedom and personal resposibility and local control more than prior restraint and dictatorial proclamations from afar.

          That’s not really the impression I get.  That’s what they say but it’s really not the impression I get.

          Who’s pushing for constitutional amendments banning gay marriage?  “Prior restraint and dictatorial proclamations from afar” indeed.

      2. Since you ask:

        February 14, 2010 – Richmond, California – Three hooded men walk into Gethsemane Church of God in Christ and opened fire and then fled the scene, as the singing of the choir was replaced by frightened screams. The two victims, a 14- year-old boy and a 19-year-old man, were hospitalized.

        March 8, 2009 – Maryville, Illinois – Suspect Terry Joe Sedlacek, 27, of Troy, walks into the First Baptist Church, and shoots pastor Fred Winters dead, point blank. Several church members are injured by a knife in the struggle to capture after the attack, The suspect also had stabbed himself, but survived, when his gun jams.

        July 27, 2008 – Knoxville, Tennessee – A gunman opens fire in a church during a youth performance, killing two people and injuring seven.

        Dec. 9, 2007 – Colorado – Three people are killed and five wounded in two shooting rampages, one at a missionary school in suburban Denver and one at a church in Colorado Springs. The gunman in the second incident is killed by a guard.

        May 20, 2007 – Moscow, Idaho – A standoff between police and a suspect in the shootings of three people in a Presbyterian Church ended with three dead, including one police officer.

        Aug. 12, 2007 – Neosho, Missouri – First Congregational Church – 3 killed – Eiken Elam Saimon shot and killed the pastor and two deacons and wounded five others.

        May 21, 2006 – Baton Rouge, Louisiana – The Ministry of Jesus Christ Church – 4 killed – The four at the church who were shot were members of Erica Bell’s family; she was abducted and murdered elsewhere; Bell’s mother, church pastor Claudia Brown, was seriously wounded – Anthony Bell, 25, was the shooter.

        Feb. 26, 2006 – Detroit, Michigan – Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church – 2 killed + shooter – Kevin L. Collins, who reportedly went to the church looking for his girlfriend, later killed himself.

        April 9, 2005 – College Park, Georgia – A 27-year-old airman died after being shot at a church, where he had once worked as a security guard.

        March 12, 2005 – Brookfield, Wisconsin – Living Church of God – 7 killed + shooter – Terry Ratzmann opened fire on the congregation, killing seven and wounding four before taking his own life.

        July 30, 2005 – College Park, Georgia – World Changers Church International – shooter killed – Air Force Staff Sgt. John Givens was shot five times by a police officer after charging the officer, following violent behavior.

        Dec. 17, 2004, Garden Grove, Calif.: A veteran musician at the Crystal Cathedral shoots himself to death after a nine-hour standoff.

        Oct. 5, 2003 – Atlanta, Georgia – Turner Monumental AME Church – 2 killed + shooter – Shelia Wilson walked into the church while preparations are being made for service and shot the pastor, her mother and then herself.

        June 10, 2002 – Conception, Missouri – Benedictine monastery – 2 killed + shooter – Lloyd Robert Jeffress shot four monks in the monastery killing two and wounding two, before killing himself.

        March 12, 2002 – Lynbrook, New York – Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church – 2 killed – Peter Troy, a former mental patient, opens fire during Mass, killing the priest and a parishioner. He later receives a life sentence.

        May 18, 2001 – Hopkinsville, Kentucky – Greater Oak Missionary Baptist Church – 2 killed – Frederick Radford stood up in the middle of a revival service and began shooting at his estranged wife, Nicole Radford, killing her and a woman trying to help her.

        Sept. 15, 1999 – Fort Worth, Texas – Wedgewood Baptist Church – 7 killed + shooter – Larry Gene Ashbrook shot dead seven people and injured a further seven at a concert by Christian rock group Forty Days in Fort Worth, Texas before killing himself.

        April 15, 1999 – Salt Lake City, Utah – LDS Church Family History Library – 2 killed + shooter – Sergei Babarin, 70, with a history of mental illness, entered the library, killed two people and wounded four others before he was gunned down by police.

        1. See, guns don’t kill people.  Church pastors who piss off people with guns kill people.   Anyway, sort of puts an end to “God watches over this holy place” crap, donchathink?

        2. Now that’s an awfully strong argument in support of guns in church. Or guns in general.  Yeah, arm everyone.  Then we have to worry about the numbskulls in the neighboring pews trying to draw a bead on the bad guy, as well as the bad guy himself.

          Oh, you say this will serve a preventive function, like the death penalty scaring bad guys away from perpetrating murders in the first place?

          I feel safer already.

        3. Yes but those criminals arn’t going to follow the law anyway. They will carry guns in regradless. Now that other can to, we can have a bit shoot out and no one will get hurt!

  12. OK, from someone who has a concealed carry permit:

    Why, exactly, is this a problem?

    This isn’t really anything to do with people expecting to need a gun during communion (though there have been mass shootings in churches, which an armed congregation member might have stopped).

    It’s practicality. CCW is legal; and some people (the weak, the elderly, many women) feel that carrying gives them a chance to survive when confronted with a larger, stronger attacker. But when is an attack likely to happen? Not during the service, no, but walking to/from church, or to/from their car, both at church and at home.

    Banning carry in the church means that the parishioners have to go unprotected, either for the entire trip, or at least leave their sidearm in their car. That would not only leave them vulerable, but also makes car break-ins more tempting.

    It’s not as if there’s a rash of people lawfully carrying guns in church (which they can in most places), engaging in gunplay.

    In the absence of any actual problem, why not let people lawfully and discretely exercise their Constitutional rights? You won’t even know they’re doing so.

    To repeat, why do you have a problem with that?


      1.  It means that I’m exposed to the practicalities of carrying. The presence of (for example) a Post Office in my day’s schedule leads to a great deal of inconvenience and difficulty.

        1. Are you Matt Dillon?  What is your day like, that driving between various errands means you always have to have a gun ready to draw?

        2. …brought on yourself by your essentially unnecessary personal choice to carry a weapon.

          “This 80 lb boulder I carry around everywhere really leads to a great deal of inconvenience and difficulty.”

    1. When is an attack likely to happen?  Never.  Arkansas is not a war zone, nor a post-apocalyptic dystopia.  Every kind of violence is so rare, it makes the headlines.  In fact, nowhere in America is anybody likely to be attacked, with the possible exception of peaceful demonstrators.  We do not need guns to protect ourselves.  That’s what the police are for.

    2. WOW. Such insight into the paranoid mind of an American gun nut. In Canada, we’re not afraid of being attacked on the way to or from or in church. We’re thinking more, like “what will the sermon be and will there be good soup after.”

      1. on a per-capita basis, canada’s violent crime rates are much lower than those of the united states. (this is true for all categories of violent crime, not just gun homicides.) an american would be justified in expecting a higher risk of violence than a canadian.

        1. Justifications aside, think of what the mindset of a Canadian must be when watching this. I live in a country where I don’t have to fear leaving my house and walking somewhere after dark. I don’t know if you’re American or what nationality you are, but it’s mind-boggling to live in one of the best nations in the world (Canada is consistently ranked in or around the top 10, depending on who’s counting, of the best nations to live in) and be next to a gun-paranoid country full of people who rely on their constitutional right to own life-ending firearms.

          See also: The #nosehillparkgentlemen incident.

          Yes, I understand not all Americans are extremist gun nuts. And, yes, not all gun owners are extremist nutcakes. And, yes, not all Canadians are alike, and there are gun nutjobs here. They’re just not as numerous as America’s gun nutjobs.

        2.  …if that American lives in a city.  You should try taking a look at crime rate broken geographically.

          For the record, pgt seems pretty paranoid even by US standards.

    3. But when is an attack likely to happen? Not during the service, no, but walking to/from church, or to/from their car, both at church and at home.

      Uh, hi.  I live in a city.  Despite the relatively high crime rate in cities, I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve been the least bit worried about being “unprotected” by a gun.  I’ve never seen anyone else in such a situation either.  I think no matter what you have to acknowledge that it’s unlikely to happen pretty much anywhere, and even then in most cases it’s better to just give over your wallet and flee than to try to quick draw your way out of trouble.

      If you want to make the gun control issue about threats to life and limb then this is simple: all the evidence points to guns putting their owners in more danger, not less.  “Oh, but I am especially well-trained and competent.”  Yes, and 90% of US drivers are above average.  The statistics say what they say.  Even assuming you are that competent that just means there’s that many more idiots out there dragging your numbers down in which case I’d prefer they didn’t have guns.

  13. If you’re of the “shoot ’em all and let God sort ’em out” mindset then I suppose that locale just makes sense.

  14. Matthew 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

    Silly Jesus, you don’t bring a sword to a gun fight.

  15. I am beginning to understand. They need the guns to protect themselves from each other. Who are the shooters on that long list of church shootings? Not innercity youth, I bet.

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