Gun control might be all the rage at the federal level, but states appear to be less willing to play along. As Exhibit A, this Monday, the Arkansas State Senate okayed a law that would allow Arkansas residents to carry their guns in church. The bill still has to be approved by the House and singed into law, but it’s cleared its first hurdle.
The Huffington Post reports:
The Arkansas state Senate voted Monday by a margin of 28-4 to pass a bill that would allow concealed guns in churches, reports ABC local affiliate KATV.
The bill, called the Church Protection Act of 2013 (SB 71), was authored by Arkansas state Sen. Bryan King (R-Green Forest) and would repeal the current ban on concealed handguns in churches or other places of worship.[…]
If the bill becomes law, only those with a permit for concealed carry would be allowed to bring a gun inside Arkansas’ churches. And even so, individual churches will have the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not to allow firearms inside their doors.
“I can’t imagine the need to bring a gun into a church. I just think thats unnecessary, and I think it sends a terrible message,” said Rev. Walter Van Zandt Windsor, pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church in Pine Bluff, Ark., during a phone interview with The Huffington Post. “Religion can be an emotional thing in people’s lives. I would hate to see guns present when people’s emotions are running high.”
USA Today has more on reaction to the bill:
State Sen. Bryan King, a Republican, said the “The Church Protection Act” would provide each church “an individual decision on what they want to do for security,” according to Arkansas Online.
Sen. Linda Chesterfield, a Democrat, said she was “trying to wrap my head around how we get Jesus Christ being nonviolent and churches as a house of prayer.”
“If there was one person who was antiviolent, it was my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” said Chesterfield, who opposed the measure.
However, for all the fuss, this sort of law is not unheard of, though it is relatively uncommon. Colorado, Louisiana, Kentucky and Virginia also support the practice, and public support for it has been a point of religious activists at organizations like the Family Research Council for a while. In other words, Arkansas would join a small, but by no means insignificant group of states by legalizing the practice.
No evidence presently exists to suggest that any of these states have suffered an increased amount of church-related gun violence.