View Full Version : ARKANSAS church carry

January 7, 2009, 12:26 AM
I am coordinating an effort (in conjunction with the Arkansas Concealed Carry Association) to see a change made in the Arkansas CHL law which would allow churches and other religious institutions to decide whether or not to allow concealed carry on their own property. Currently Arkansas law does not allow carry in a place of worship, regardless of the preference of the local congregation.

Specifically, I need church and religious leaders who would support this change and who would be willing to express their support either in person or by letter. We have until the end of January to get it lined out- so time is crucial.

This is what I need:
Ministers- please PM me and let me know if you support this change

All Arkies- please speak to your religious leader about this and encourage their support. If they need more info, please put them in contact with me.

PM me for contact info and more details.

This is truly a grass-roots movement, so we need all the help we can get.

Thank you,

January 7, 2009, 09:50 AM
Can't a church allow concealed carry on it's own property?

We are talking about private property.

January 7, 2009, 11:08 AM
Not under Arkansas law. In fact, churches and other places of worship are named specifically in the law as Prohibited Places. That is the problem we are dealing with. If we can get this through, the right of churches will be recognized in the same way as other entities (businesses, etc.) with respect to their private property.

Until then, we are "legally" bound to be a gun-free (read easy target) zone.

Our goal is 50 religious leaders by the end of January who will write a letter in support of this change. Come on, Arkies!

January 12, 2009, 05:33 PM
First, please let me say thank again to all of you who have taken the time to
discuss this issue with me. My goal is to find 50 pastors and church leaders who will voice their support of this change within the next two weeks. That means I need your help spreading the word. Please talk to your colleagues. Make some phone calls. Send out a few e-mails. We need all the help we can get.

Concerning the actual bill- as of today, the bill has not yet been filed. I
talked to Grant Exton from the Arkansas Concealed Carry Association
(www.arkansascca.org) on Friday 1/9 and got an update. Representative Beverly Pyle has indicated that she intends to sponsor the bill. Since the Arkasnas Concealed Handgun License program is administered by the Arkansas State Police, it is a customary courtesy for lawmakers to consult with ASP before making changes that affect them. That was done last week. Barring any derailment, Mr. Exton anticipated that the bill would be filed this week. But, lawmakers do what lawmakers want to do.

This is where your involvment becomes important. If we wait until the lawmakers get their ducks in a row, we may find that it is too late to get organized and get our voices heard. This is not about a single bill, or a single lawmaker's intent. This is about the right of a local church to exercise control over its own property. We also have to understand that nobody else is going to pick up this cause for us. It is up to church leaders to speak out on this one.

Glenn E. Meyer
January 12, 2009, 05:39 PM
You might reference the change in TX law, where a strict prohibition became one where the religious location had to explicity post such a ban.

There have been no negative consequences. But you are probably are aware of this.

There are probably TX ministers, etc. who supported the change, if this helps. The TSRA might be a resource for such.

Just a thought. Good luck.

January 13, 2009, 03:57 PM
Thanks, Mr. Meyer. Texas is indeed a good example of what we are trying to do here.
Arkansas is kind of funny- if that is the correct word. I have been told by people who are a great deal more familiar with Arkansas politics than I that Arkansas lawmakers probably will not care what any other state has done. But, I do believe the example from Texas will be a good answer to anyone who argues that there is an inherent danger in allowing guns in churches.

To all- I am running low on contacts. PLEASE talk to your pastor/minister/priest/rabbi/mullah/grand potentate about this and give me some new contacts.


Larry Spencer
January 15, 2009, 06:19 PM
Good luck in your efforts.

If you are successful in Arkansas, then gun-owners in other states such as here in KY, may use your success as another example.

Guns are not allowed in churches here in KY.

My church has had the collection basket taken by an armed robber twice in the past 7 or 8 years, right in the middle of the service. I worry about a loony coming and in and just open firing.

January 27, 2009, 12:15 PM
We have a bill! HB1237

We need to get ready for this to go to committee.

January 27, 2009, 12:37 PM
Rev Nate. Good luck with this venture, I have family and fequently visit Ark. So I'll keep an eye on it. In Ks. when CCW went into effect, Churches were on the No Carry List, as well this Changed with HB2528. Now chue=rches are only off limits with a posted Gunbuster. Good Luck

January 27, 2009, 06:21 PM
HB1237 is on the agenda for the House Judiciary Committee this Thursday, January 29th. This is important because the last time a similar bill came to this committee, it died there. Even if you have already written a letter, please send an e-mail to the members of this committee. Your voice is crucial!

Send e-mails of support to the members of the committee:

Steve Harrelson, Chairperson [email protected]
Joan Cash, Vice Chairperson no e-mail indicated
Dawn Creekmore [email protected]
Lindsley Smith [email protected]
Tommy Lee Baker no e-mail indicated
David "Bubba" Powers no e-mail indicated
Johnnie J. Roebuck [email protected]
Barry Hyde no e-mail indicated
Duncan Baird [email protected]
Debra M. Hobbs [email protected]
Andrea Lea [email protected]
Butch Wilkins [email protected]
Terry Rice [email protected]
Darrin Williams [email protected]
Steve Cole no e-mail indicated
Ann V. Clemmer [email protected]
Davy Carter [email protected]
Jim Nickels [email protected]
Tiffany Rogers [email protected]
Mary L. Slinkard no e-mail indicated

January 27, 2009, 06:50 PM
The owner of the property has the right to allow any person to carry a firearm on the property. That goes for any place, at any location. It doesn't matter what the law says.

maestro pistolero
January 27, 2009, 06:58 PM
I 'd like to see authorities attempt to prosecute someone who stopped a church rampage with a weapon that was carried in spite of this legislation.

January 27, 2009, 07:45 PM
Eskimo and Maestro,
You are both indeed correct. However, we find ourselves constantly dealing with lawmakers who believe they laws define our rights, rather than understanding that laws should reflect and defend our rights. The entire RKBA movement is, essentially, an effort to reverse the denial of rights which have been redefined by legislation.

We know we are right. We just want to make sure the lawmakers understand that, too.

January 27, 2009, 08:18 PM
From the blog of the chairman of the Judiciary Committee (I'm the guy mentioned in Update #1):

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Clingin' to my guns and my religion

HB1237 has been assigned to my committee, which allows for concealed carry in churches. I'm from south Arkansas, so therefore I have guns -- a lot of 'em. Still, the thought of carrying one into the sanctuary has never crossed my mind.

I suppose it's the principle of not having control over one's own property (the most valid point), and this is obviously reactionary to the 2008 shooting at a Unitary Church in the hills of Tennessee. This'll be an interesting debate, because members on the committee know it'll be the first bill on the 2009 NRA scorecard.

Update: The first message on the bill comes from a preacher at a Fordyce Baptist Church. He's for it, he says, on the basis that each church should be able to choose for itself whether concealed carry inside the building is appropriate.
Update II: My pastor is less enthusiastic and points me to the church discipline, which prohibits firarms at events associated with the church.

posted by Steve Harrelson @ 1/27/2009 05:26:00 PM

January 28, 2009, 10:59 AM
The Judiciary Committee review of this bill has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 3rd. I need letters to carry with me, or even better, church leaders who will join me for this meeting.
This is crucial. If we do not act now, we may never see this reach the house floor.

January 28, 2009, 01:18 PM
Way to go RevNate. I am with ARCCA and work with Grant. I just wanted to say that the blog by the chairperson backs up our position without him even realizing it. His pastor says that the "church discipline prohibits firearms". Exactly, the State Legislature of Arkansas didn't say ANYTHING. I hope to meet you on Tuesday at committee.

January 28, 2009, 06:02 PM
I mean, why are they distinct from any other private property?

True, many churches are held as community property, collectively owned by the congregation, and others are the property of a diocese/synod/district/whatever, but still...

why are the lawful owners and/or their representatives (IE, those who worship there), denied by law the authority to decide this for themselves?

Just because they're churches???

That's as stupid as saying that one cannot legally carry in a donut shop. Or a -CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED- store, for that matter. Churches are clearly special in the eyes of their congregants, and may (or may not) be so in the eyes of the/a/an/none deity, (a question that nobody here on Earth is qualified to answer,) but in the eyes of the law?

Color me confused.


January 28, 2009, 06:47 PM
Thanks, Jason. You guys are doing a great job at ARCCA. See you Tuesday!

January 29, 2009, 02:46 PM
I think every one in Arkansas with a CC should join the ARCCA.Jim.

January 29, 2009, 03:34 PM
fox16.com has a poll on their homepage which stems from this bill. The question: Should you be allowed to carry a gun to church?

All "Yes" votes are greatly appreciated.

Jim, I agree. They are doing an outstanding job. They have some informative updates on the Legislative News section of their website today.
Now- everybody go join ARCCA!!!! They need it now more than ever!

January 29, 2009, 04:55 PM
Arkansas residents- please sign the petition!


January 30, 2009, 11:26 AM
Rep. Barbara Nix of Saline County (District 28) has been removed as a co-sponsor of this bill.... but the GOOD news...

Rep. Dawn Creekmore of Saline and Pulaski counties (District 27) has replaced her as one of 14 co-sponsors. Rep. Creekmore is a member of the House Judiciary Committee (that is a very good thing). This makes three members of the committee who are co-sponsors on this bill now.

February 2, 2009, 09:03 PM
Four House Judiciary Committee members are now co-sponsors on the bill. Additionally, one other member has committed to support it. The committee is made up of 20 members, so five is a long way from a majority, but I am optimistic.
Judiciary Committee review is tomorrow (Tuesday) at 10. I will be there with other pastors to speak in support of it.

Fox16, KTHV channel 11, and KATV channel 7 each featured stories on this bill in their Sunday evening local news broadcasts. The slant was not favorable to our cause. I will let everyone know what the committee does as soon as I gt home tomorrow evening.

February 2, 2009, 11:53 PM
Watch Fox and Friends on the Fox News Channel at 6:20am Central time on Tuesday morning, Feb. 3rd to see their coverage of this bill. Grant Exton from ARCCA will be speaking for the good guys.

February 3, 2009, 07:38 PM
The House Judiciary Committee passed HB1237 with a "do pass." There was some debate, which I may fill you in on after I get some rest.KTHV, KATV, and FOX16 were all there- along with radio station KUAR.

This is a victory, but this is only step 1 of 5.
Step 2: This bill will be considered on the House floor. This is the time for ALL ARKANSANS to contact your state representative and urge the passage of this bill.

Go to http://www.arkansas.gov/house/reps.php to find your rep and get his or her contact information. Please reference HB1237.

Thank you all for your support.

February 4, 2009, 06:02 PM
HB1237 was either "passed over" or "pulled down" today on the House floor. Exactly which procedure was followed is unclear in the information I am receiving- but either is not a bad thing yet. Please allow me to explain...

Yesterday in the House Judiciary Committee meeting, the primary objection to the bill as written was that churches which chose not to allow concealed carry would be required to post a sign to that effect at each entrance, as per Arkansas law pertaining to other private properties (with the exception of a dwelling place, of course).

Some asserted that the state would not have the right to require such a posting (see rant below)*. It was discussed that perhaps it might be more proper to remove this requirement for churches only and leave it up to the CHL holder to assertain whether or not he/she would be permitted to carry while on the property of each individual church or place of worship.

Apparently, the bill is to be ammended so as not to require churches to post the signs. The bill is still on the House calendar for tomorrow 2/5.

*Rant: How is the State overstepping its bounds by asking a church to post a sign (as per proposed bill), but not overstepping its bounds when it singles out churches and requires them to prohibit all concealed carry 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (as per current law)??!! We must have "No Smoking" signs, "Exit" signs, and the state tells us how many designated handicap parking spaces we must have... am I missing something here? Truly, I know I am not missing anything. I think this one point (signage) was all the opponents could find to oppose as a constitutional matter. All other opposition stems from emotionalism.

Glenn E. Meyer
February 4, 2009, 06:26 PM
The state might be able to regulate carry if it could show a clear and present danger to carry. However, the desire to regulate carry in churches or other locations of worship seems to be based on some psychological view of holiness and an insult to God to carry or perhaps some faith in divine intervention. Well, that doesn't seem the role of the state. Conditions of worship are not the role of the state but of the religious institution. If there is no danger that is differential, I opine that the Constitution protects religious institutions from such regulations.

The real reason as expressed by anticarry forces is to make so many restrictions that carry becomes useless or very inconvenient.

So, if atheists bought a building and decided to meet on Sunday to deny the existence of God, could the state ban carry at their meeting?

February 5, 2009, 07:43 PM
2/5/2009 2:20:47 PM Re-referred to the Committee on JUDICIARY COMMITTEE- HOUSE

The purpose of the re-referral is apparently to add an ammendment which would exclude churches from the requirement to post signs if they choose to prohibit concealed carry on their property. That was the main point of contention in the Judiciary Committee meeting on Tuesday. It is still expected to pass the house, especially with this ammendment.

I do have mixed feelings about such an ammendment and argued against it in my testimony before the committee. Two objections I have (briefly stated, short version):
First, it would require each CHL holder to inquire of the status of the weapons policy for each church.
Second, it is inconsistent with previous applications of the Establishment Clause and would require the state to impose a different standard on churches than on other private property holders. In principle, that mindset is the root of the flaw in the current law. So, it is just a matter of principle.

The ammendment should be available for viewing sometime tomorrow morning. I will reserve judgment until then.

Regardless, I will still support this bill because it is a step in the right direction. Maybe a baby step, but a step nonetheless.

February 5, 2009, 07:47 PM
Glenn, you are correct, but the issue we are dealing with here is that the Constitution (U.S. or State) hasn't been used to determine the direction of the law.

Two state reps have openly stated the reasons for their opposition to this bill:
One stated that his denominational leaders opposed it.
The other said it just didn't "feel right."

So much for the Constitution.

Jack Burton
February 5, 2009, 11:02 PM

Here's something that I wrote (http://hubpages.com/hub/CCW-and-Churches-Does-the-state-have-a-role-to-play) that may be of help to you all...

In addition... that business about the sign is a strawman and here's how to demolish it...

1) a church would ONLY NEED to post that sign for one reason and one reason only... if they desire to prosecute people carrying a gun onto their property and willfully breaking the law.

Without the sign they still have the authority and power to ask anyone to leave the property if they know he is carrying a gun. And he must or else AFTER that point he is subject to other laws concerning trespass.

The only ability that sign gives is the ability to prosecute. Period. If they don't want to prosecute... they don't need the sign.

2) Does the church desire to use the prosecutorial power of the government or would they rather use the moral suasion of being God's Sancutary? Do they wish to acknowledge the greater power of the government in keeping them safe? No church that is in a right relationship with God would even consider putting such a sign up on their entrances. It merely shows just how spiritually weak they really are.

And since they acknowledge it is the strong right arm of the Lord that is their protection... then their arguments that they don't want to put up the sign are just meaningless. That's like a Baptist church demanding that it have the right to not put up a cruxifix. It was never going to do so anyway, so a law giving them that "right" is vain and empty.

Any church that admits it needs the sign is a church that admits it is no longer under the protection of God. And since there is no MANDATORY rule that says the church MUST put one up... the whole point and argument is itself vain and empty.

John Brown Unversity
Class of '80

February 5, 2009, 11:35 PM
Your logic is undeniable.
And..... that is why it most certainly would not affect our legislature! :)

Great article. I will keep it in my back pocket just in case!

February 6, 2009, 08:46 PM
The ammendment has been filed. You can read it at http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assemb.../HB1237-H2.pdf but it simply says
"Amend House Bill No. 1237 as engrossed, H2/2/09 (version: 02-02-2009 09:10):
Page 3, delete lines 18 through 24"

Those lines, to be deleted from this HB1237 by this ammendment, would have been additions to the law as the bill was originally written. So, essentially the ammendment simply leaves these proposed lines out of the bill:

18 (E) A sign posted as authorized in this subdivision
19 (a)(18) at a place of worship does not prohibit a person or entity exercising
20 lawful control over the physical location of the place of worship, from
21 allowing a licensee to carry a concealed handgun into the place of worship.
22 (b) This section does not preclude a licensee or a person with a
23 license to carry a concealed handgun recognized by § 5-73-402 from carrying a
24 concealed handgun into the parking lot or parking area of a place of worship.

Basically, these lines addressed an issue that legally did not need to be addressed since private property owners already have the power to make that discretion. (So WHY are they debating concealed carry in churches in the first place?????!!!!!)

Anyway, the bill as now proposed makes ONE change to the current law- it removes Section 1 "Prohibited Places" (a) (16) "any church or otherplace of worship.

So, as I understand the bill as ammended, churches would be removed from the list of prohibited places, and those which wished to prohibit concealed carry would still be required to post a sign to that effect.

I call this an improvement.

cold dead hands
February 6, 2009, 11:01 PM
I admire your courage and your desire to make a wrong a right. I did sign your petition. Not too many around the NWA side. Time to get the message out. Maybe (see the next line).

But, concealed means concealed and I just don't go to church.

Tell the AR politicians that they have forced faithful gun owners out of church and that just might get their attention.

Jesus didn't need a gun, but he told his apostles to arm themselves. This is the God-man speaking the truth about self defense. It is a god given right, and I don't even consider my self to be a follower of god.

Truth is that our CCW laws need a big revamping.

February 6, 2009, 11:41 PM
Truth is that our CCW laws need a big revamping.

True indeed. We are getting there one step at a time. remember when we had to have serial numbers on our permits, couldn't even carry in a resturant that served alcohol, etc.? We have seen some good changes. Including a reduction in renewal fees and permits extended from four to five years.

I say all of that to throw in another plug for the Arkansas Concealed Carry Association. They are really doing a good job, and have been instrumental in the changes which have taken place since their inception.

Not too many around the NWA side.
One of the other pastors who testified in support of this bill came all the way from Springdale. Keep getting the word out up there!

February 10, 2009, 10:24 PM
Given a "do pass" by the Judiciary Committe as ammended. On the agenda for the House on Wednesday, Feb. 11.

February 11, 2009, 12:36 PM
How's it look Rev.? Think we're gonna get it?

February 11, 2009, 02:42 PM
From what I am hearing, it will likely pass the House, though there is expected to be some significant opposition. I am optimistic nonetheless.

But that brings us to our next- and most imposing hurdle- the Senate Judiciary Committee. I do not believe it will get through this committee without some serious wrangling. And I do mean serious. I don't want to publicly "show our hand" on this- but suffice it to say that we have put the call out for some help from the Big Guns on the national scene- and I'm not talking about the NRA. More details will be available as things progress.

It seems like we have come through a big battle just to get where we are today- but the truth is that the largest hill to climb still lies ahead of us.

This is action time like never before. As soon as HB1237 gets through the House, I will post the strategy for our next step here.


February 11, 2009, 04:06 PM
HB1237 passed the House. Stay tuned!

February 12, 2009, 06:50 PM
Thanks for the updates Rev.!

February 12, 2009, 09:09 PM
Welcome to phase 3. Here is the action plan.

Our next step is to get HB1237 through the Senate Judiciary Committee. This will likely not come easily. Hearing from you will make a difference, though. Listed below are the e-mail addresses of the Senate Judiciary Committee Members. Please be firm but respectful in your communications. The swing vote in this committee will likely be Senator Robert Thompson from District 11. His district covers Clay, Greene, and Craighead counties. Please, if you are one of his constituents, make a special effort to contact him. If you know someone from his district, please ask for their help.

To get this through committee this time, we will need to focus on rights rather than need. The Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment and the Equal Protection clause of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment are on our side. Please point out that if it is wrong to carry a gun into a church, it is wrong on the basis of moral and religious standards and as such, it is the right of the church to make that determination, NOT the State. Current law is a violation of church rights. They will listen to that better than “I need my gun to protect myself.” We have to make this a constitutional and personal property rights issue.

I hope you are all sitting down for this one. The ACLU has been contacted about this and it is possible that they will be on our side. Stranger things have happened, I suppose. But this is drawing national attention already and the ACLU likes attention. It would be nice to see them on the side of the good guys for a change.

Here are the Senate Judiciary committee members. Please remember the above information and reference HB1237. Enjoy!

Senator Ed Wilkinson. Greenwood, AR District 6 [email protected]
Senator Ruth Whitaker. Cedarville, AR District 3 [email protected]
Senator Henry Wilkins IV. Pine Bluff, AR District 5 [email protected]
Senator Jim Luker. Wynne, AR District 17 [email protected]
Senator Sue Madison. Fayetteville, AR District 7 [email protected]
Senator Jerry Taylor. Pine Bluff, AR District 23 [email protected]
Senator Robert Thompson. Paragould, AR District [email protected]
Senator David Johnson. Little Rock, AR District 32
[email protected]

And for the ease of cutting and pasting:
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

Please note that HB1237 is not on the Senate Judiciary Agenda yet, but it is not too early to get started.

February 17, 2009, 05:58 PM
HB1237, the “church carry bill,” will be reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Feb. 25th at 10 am.
First- let me encourage those who are pastors, if at all possible, to be present for this meeting. I learned from the House Judiciary Committee meeting on this bill that our presence speaks much more loudly than our e-mails. We have almost succeeded in getting this through, but it probably will not happen without one very strong, final push. If there is any way possible, please plan to attend and let me know if you will be able to be there.
Our only hope of success is if we focus on HB1237 as the solution to a 1st Amendment Establishment Clause (so-called “separation of church and state”) issue. We need to be unified in this message: it is not the State’s place to single out churches and place a restriction on us because the State does not have the authority to decide moral issues for the church.
I will be getting more updates to you soon. Please let me know if you can attend this meeting.
Thank you,
Nathan Petty

Glenn E. Meyer
February 17, 2009, 06:42 PM
Good luck! At least you made the NY Times!

I think the church/state argument is irrefutable. The state cannot impose conditions of worship unless there is a clear and present danger - which is not the case in church carrry allowed by the religious institution.

Or, as I said before, carry should be banned at official atheist meetings - propose that as an amendment to the current law!

February 17, 2009, 08:36 PM
I intend to use your "atheist" argument in my testimony before the Juduciary Committee. Maybe they will put THAT in the NY Times!

cold dead hands
February 20, 2009, 10:16 PM
Email of support (and yes, I was very polite and logical) sent to my district rep.

Would love to be there in person, but it is very far away for me and I doubt they want to listen a regular anti-overreaching-government guy like myself.

Good luck.

February 23, 2009, 02:49 PM
Three swing votes to concentrate on before the Feb.25th Committee meeting:

Senator Robert Thompson. Paragould, AR District [email protected]
Senator Sue Madison. Fayetteville, AR District 7 [email protected]
Senator Jim Luker. Wynne, AR District 17 [email protected]

Looking for a pastor in Luker and Thompson's districts who supports HB1237. PM me.


February 25, 2009, 03:41 PM
The Senate Judiciary committee failed to pass HB1237. The vote appeared to be 3 to 4. Those in favor: Taylor, Whitaker, Thompson.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Beverly Pyle, intends to work with a couple of opponents and work out an amendment which would satisfy their objections to the signage issue.
So, the bill is still alive. We just have to wait to see what amendment may be offered and go from there. Two more votes on the committee will do it.

Following are the notes from my testimony:

I speak to you today not only as a pastor, but also in behalf of four dozen other pastors, ministers, and religious leaders who believe strongly that the passage of HB1237 is necessary to correct a serious violation of rights which are guaranteed to us and our congregations by the Constitution of the United States.

The question before you today is not whether it is right for a law-abiding citizen to carry a handgun into a church building, but rather WHOSE right it is to say whether it is right or wrong. As much as I would stand beside any Pastor who does not want law abiding citizens to bring a handgun into their church building, the truth is that any law which makes that decision on behalf of a church denies every church the right to make a free choice on a moral and religious issue. In the end, the state has made a moral and religious judgment for all churches and not all churches agree with it.

The commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” is often misunderstood. More correctly translated, “Do not murder” this commandment from God does not mean that believers are not to use necessary means to defend themselves against those who would kill them. In fact, in addition to meaning that we are not to cause willful harm to others, inherent in this command is also our God-ordained duty to protect others from harm.

Even Jesus told his disciples on the night He was arrested that if any did not have a sword, he should sell his coat and buy one to protect themselves. It was on that same night that Peter misused his sword and was severely reprimanded by Jesus for it. It was there that Jesus said, “those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” Jesus himself made a distinction there. Where we are never to use a weapon offensively or to do harm to an innocent person, it is our duty to provide for self-defense and for the protection of innocent human life. To do anything less is to violate God's law. It is absurd to assume that God's law ends when we enter the church doors.

This is where the current law oversteps the sovereignty of the local congregation. Every daycare in Arkansas can choose to allow or prohibit concealed carry. Every hospital, every nursing home, every bank, even Chuckee Cheese has that right and it is appalling that religious institutions have been singled out and denied that right with no just cause, which is in itself a violation of the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution- but where many have opposed this bill because they believe the current law is necessary to maintain the sanctity of the church, it is not the role of the state to preserve the sanctity of the church and it is not the role of the state to impose religious judgment calls on the churches.

Regardless of what policy any church may adopt when this bill becomes law, only after it becomes law will they be able to do it knowing that they got to follow their conscience, and not submit to a state-imposed religious mandate.
If there were 500 or 5,000 pastors speaking out against this bill and not a single one here to support it, I hope you would still see that the issue before you is not a matter of public policy preference. This bill might not win a popularity contest, but it does correct a wrong which has stood uncorrected for way too long. This is not a matter of public policy. This is a matter of constitutional right. The purpose of the constitution has never been to confirm the preference of the majority, but to protect the rights of all citizens- even a single citizen- and even to do so against the preference of the majority.

For anyone to assume that any religious institution is served favorably by the current law, I assert, is a naïve assumption. I concur with the statement by Dr. DiPippa (Dean of the UALR Bowen School of Law), that “religion can not be free if we protect only those people and groups with which we agree. Rather, the test of freedom is whether we are willing to extend its protections to those with whom we disagree.” Every pastor who does not want to allow concealed carry by law-abiding citizens in the building where they serve has the constitutional right to follow that conviction, but no right to impose that conviction upon others. For those of us who hold the opposite conviction, our rights are just as real and just as sacred.

Today each of you hold within the power of your respective votes the ability to make a choice- a choice concur with the preference of some, or to restore the rights of all. I trust your decision will be governed by the principles of freedom and religious liberty.

February 25, 2009, 06:59 PM
Good stuff Rev. . Thanks for all you're doing..

February 25, 2009, 08:11 PM
Thanks for your work on this Rev. I personally brought this up with a senator last week and he's supportive.

cold dead hands
February 26, 2009, 02:30 AM
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Beverly Pyle, intends to work with a couple of opponents and work out an amendment which would satisfy their objections to the signage issue.

Can you elaborate please? Regarding the signage issue.

February 26, 2009, 09:55 AM
As proposed, the bill would simply remove "any church or place of worship" from the list of prohibited places.
Any entity not included in that list can still prohibit concealed carry by posting a sign, or signs- as specified in Act 419 of 1995. So, if churches were removed from the list, they would fall under that provision by default.
One issue which the opposition has held onto is that the state could not compel speech (i.e. require the posting of a sign) on the part of churches which do not wish to allow concealed carry.
Some have suggested requiring churches to "opt-in"- that is, post signs which indicate concealed carry is allowed. That won't fly either.
The bill was written with the intent of removing any mention of "church" from the current law. Apparently that did not sit well with some. So, the solution would be to make an exception for churches- to allow them to decide their own policy, but not require them to publicly notify. That means the onus would be on each CHCL holder to find out the policy of a church before carrying. I have mixed feelings about that. But, in the end I will support any change which allows churches to set their own policy. It's all "baby steps."
The state tells us to post exit signs, no-smoking signs, and how many handicap parking spots we have to designate. So, really the whole "sign" issue is a distraction.
It is ridiculous to think that the state has the authority to impose a moral judgment on the churches (i.e. guns don't belong in churches), but does not have the authority to require posting a sign. It's a double-standard.
I anticipate that making a special exception for churches would cause this bill to lose some votes when it comes back to the house, but it may likely gain a few on the other side. It will be close, no matter what.

cold dead hands
February 27, 2009, 03:29 AM
Any entity not included in that list can still prohibit concealed carry by posting a sign, or signs- as specified in Act 419 of 1995. So, if churches were removed from the list, they would fall under that provision by default.

Dang. I was hoping we could get something like Texas has. Signage letters of a minimum size and font with Act 419 wording...or something to that effect.

These **** ant little stickers with a slash through a gun within ten feet of an entrance being legal here really **** me off.

You have no idea how many times I have carried into a place because I didn't see that tiny sticker until I have been there a few times.

Act 419 needs lots of work.

February 27, 2009, 06:56 AM
Church guns could be the next barbeque rigs if people would open their minds a bit, just look at womens church hats...its anything goes. Have never understood the church prohibitions.

February 27, 2009, 12:01 PM
A few people have contacted me over the last couple of days asking about the status of HB1237. I just want to reassure you all that it is not dead- but the hill may now be a bit steeper to climb thanks in part to a single religious group. More details below- but I have had new people calling, e-mailing, and messaging me over the last couple of days. They were expressing shock that the bill was not passed. If we can get together better next time, I think we can overcome this.

I'll start with the general info:
The bill was not passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but it has a second chance. With an amendment, this bill can be presented again. An amendment has been drafted which I believe will satisfy some concerns without compromising the rights of any church or CHCL holder. I will provide the specifics of this amendment when it is made public, as I do not want to do so before it is appropriate.

Now, to the specifics. Whitaker, Taylor, and Thompson supported the bill. Johnson was not present, but he is a strong opponent. Luker and Wilkins are also probably hopeless but we don’t need to letup on them. The remaining members, Chairman Wilkinson and Sue Madison are the ones we hope will help tip the scales on the next vote.

Chairman Wilkinson made a point of recognizing his pastor and a colleague who was there to speak in opposition to the bill as "special guests." When debate for the bill came up, he noted that he was a Presbyterian and he had checked and found that four other members of the committee were Presbyterian, too. Religious liberty died right there.

The Presbyterian group opposing the bill is PC USA (READ THIS) (http://www.pcusa.org/101/101-gun.htm) . They are not mainstream Presbyterians and certainly do not speak for all Presbyterians, as I was assured by a very vocal supporter who is a Presbyterian.

I am personally troubled that the influence of a single religious group had that much power in swaying the decision of the panel. The only way to counter this will be with a room full of supporters when this comes up again. I was the only pastor there to speak in support of the bill. One other came in, but arrived too late to testify due to work obligations. Others had planned to attend, but were prevented from doing so for various reasons. It happens. Our schedules are very unpredictable, but next time around we need everyone who can to make a point of being there so that if we do lose a few, we won't be left in the same situation again.

Again, thank you all for your support. By the way- most of the pastors supporting this are not CHCL holders, but they do believe in the right of a church to make its own decision on this matter.

Nathan Petty

March 2, 2009, 05:22 PM
Hey guys, I am an instructor here in Arkansas and with ARCCA. I was reading the posts and wanted to clarify the current sign issue because I read that someone was obeying the ghostbuster sign. Current law states that the sign per 5-73-306 (19)(A) must be "clearly readable at a distance of not less than ten feet that "carrying a handgun is prohibited"." Since there are quotes around the verbage, the sign must say exactly that. The Arkansas State Police and ARCCA's legal counsel both agree to that interpretation. Therefore, ghostbuster signs and other "no weapons allowed" signs are invalid in Arkansas. Just remember concealed means concealed.

March 4, 2009, 11:51 PM
It looks like a majority of the Senate Judiciary committee members have banded together to kill this bill.
This is a good time for them to hear from the citizens of Arkansas. The only reason churches are on the list of prohibited places is because the state made a religious judgment call in behalf of all the churches of Arkansas- assuming that a church was no place for a firearm. There is no public safety concern applicable to churches which is not also applicable to other places which are not on the list- such as daycares, nursing homes, hospitals, banks, or funeral homes.
The only reason this has stalled is because some liberal lawmakers have branded it a gun issue rather than a private property rights issue. It is troubling enough that calling it a "gun issue" somehow makes it okay to kill the bill- as if the Second Amendment was in some way a less than desireable law- but to see them deny the rights of private property owners (churches) just because they want to restrict law-abiding gun owners is outright shameful.
Yes, I am mad. I wish I could tell the whole story here and you would understand why I am angry. These anti-gun members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have failed the people of Arkansas, failed the US Constitution, and failed to keep their oath to uphold the Constitution. I hope those who have stalled it find themselves looking for work after the next election.
Taylor, Whitaker, and Thompson are your friends, citizens of Arkansas.
Wilkinson, Wilkins, Luker, Madison, and Johnson would rather see you unarmed and defenseless in a place where only criminals will carry guns.

March 8, 2009, 02:05 PM
I would like to urge every arkansas resident to let the Senate Judiciary committee know about the following incidents:



Two church shootings in the past three Sundays. And one occurred while off-duty police officers were on guard.
Tragic stories. Both victims dead. But at least someone was there to catch the bad guys after they had murdered.

For your conveneince:
[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]


March 10, 2009, 08:28 AM
Rep. Pyle will be running HB1237 again. This means this is our LAST chance to get our voices heard on this. I will let you know as soon as I find out when this will happen.

Please see the story here. Some good details:

This is obviously a response to the murder of Pastor Fred Winters in Illinois
this past Sunday. That makes two church murders in the U.S. since this bill was sent to the Senate (the other, Patricia Ann Kelly, was murdered by her estranged husband at a church where three off-duty police officers were on guard on Feb. 22 in Maryland).
It is a shame that something less than dead bodies would not catch the attention of the Judiciary Committee members.


March 10, 2009, 09:10 AM
Rev nate, I continue to follow your plight on Ark. Carry. It is unfortunate that this continues to be an issue, and that the killings are the only way to further this issue. I will continue to monitor the situation and wish you luck.

March 10, 2009, 05:59 PM
HB1237, the “church carry bill” is on the agenda for the Senate Judiciary Committee TOMORROW, Wednesday, March 11. Right now I am waiting on a confirmation as to whether or not the bill will actually be run tomorrow. But, since it is such short notice, I wanted to give everyone a big heads up on this. I will send out another message later this evening to confirm this agenda, but right now it looks like 10 am tomorrow.
Please do not think that HB1237 is going to pass easily. We still need your physical presence and your vocal support in this meeting. It will still be very close.
Thank you,
Nathan Petty

March 11, 2009, 09:38 AM
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear HB1237 on Wednesday, March 18 at 10am- that is one week from today.
I think we were all caught off guard when HB1237 was not passed by this committee last time. But this is our second chance- a chance to do it right. The sentiment of some committee members is beginning to sway towards supporting this bill. A strong show of support next Wednesday will undoubtedly help tip the scales in our favor.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet in room 171. Enter the Capitol building on either the east or west side. If entering the east, go under the stairs and enter through the glass doors. Room 171 is in the south wing of the Capitol. When you reach the stairs on the south end, look to your left and there you will see room 171.
I have found that some folks have been reluctant to attend these meetings because it sounds intimidating: big granite building filled with worsted wool and super-egos. But don’t be intimidated. That’s your building and those people are there to listen to you.
Please let me know if you plan to attend so that we can get an idea on where we will stand with supporters. Regardless of which way this goes, this will be the last chance any of us have to make our voices heard on HB1237. I am optimistic, but cautiously so.

March 11, 2009, 02:52 PM
Amendendment filed to the bill.
As amended, it would now read:
"(16) Any church or place of worship unless otherwise permitted
by the church or place of worship;"
This will completely remove the debate over signs and will allow each church to set its own policy.

March 17, 2009, 04:48 PM
HB1237 has been amended again and as it now stands would read, “"(16) Any church or place of worship except that this subdivision (16) does not apply to a church or place of worship if the church or place of worship has specifically authorized a licensee to carry a concealed handgun into the church or place of worship;”
I will be honest and say that I am not totally happy with this wording, but I will still support it. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Pyle, has tried every imaginable option to formulate wording that will get this bill out of this committee. As it stands now, this wording should pass.
I am very unhappy about the letter of the law in this bill, but I support it because in the end it will allow a church to make its own decision. As it was explained to me, a church would simply have to say “we will not prosecute anyone who lawfully carries or uses a concealed weapon” without actually authorizing anyone to carry.
This bill will go before the Senate Judiciary Committee again tomorrow (March 18th) at 10 am in room 171.

March 17, 2009, 10:02 PM
Change of plans. Rep. Pyle has decided NOT to run the bill on Wednesday due to an unavoidable circumstance. I apologize for the late notice.
I will post an update when something changes.

March 17, 2009, 11:05 PM
Should this not pass, would having a state senator friendly to the idea ask for an AG opinion as to the constitutionality of the existing law be a good idea? This must be given if requested by a legislator. In the past, AG opinions where statute was opined as unconstitutional resulted in swift action.

March 18, 2009, 09:34 PM
Rev. thanks for the updates....

March 18, 2009, 10:37 PM
I think an AG opinion would be the next logical step. I do not know if it would do us any good, but I believe it would be illogical not to try.
And I don't think we would have a problem finding a Senator who would do that.

March 19, 2009, 04:08 AM
I'll bet that the pastor that was recently shot and killed would have liked to had the opportunity to defend himself with a handgun. It's too bad that some stupid law forbids such a logical thing from occuring legally. Again... only the criminal can prevail in such a situation. What good is such a limited right to a law abiding citizen?

Any one ever heard of pastor Murry I believe his name is? I know my wife listens to him a lot and apparently he carries a gun and has been known to have it handy on several occasions. He's also a marine that served his active duty a good while back.


March 24, 2009, 02:51 PM
HB1237 is slated to be run before the Senate Judiciary Committee TOMORROW Wednesday March 25 at 10 am.
Here is the situation: We have 4 solid votes and one who is “iffy.” Five are needed to pass this bill. Discussions are taking place this afternoon to solidify the 5 needed votes. The one on the fence is Hank Wilkins. He has stated that his decision may come down to testimony offered in the meeting tomorrow.
The people behind this bill have contacted me and asked if we (pastors, supporters) could be on standby if we are needed tomorrow. I will know sometime this evening- though it may be late- if there is a need for us to be there.
I'm just giving everyone a heads-up. If you are able, please make tentative plans to attend this meeting and speak in support of HB1237. I will send out another update this evening as soon as I receive word on whether our presence will be necessary.
Again- the sponsor DOES plan to run the bill tomorrow, and it MAY come down to how many supporters vs. opponents are in the room.

March 24, 2009, 04:04 PM
HB1237 will be run tomorrow and we DO need to be there. The final decision will likely come down to the testimony given during this meeting.
Sen. Hank Wilkins, the swing vote, is a minister. It would likely be helpful to address the issue of church rights and the state's error in overstepping its bounds to make a religious decision.
Meeting is 10 am in room 171. We especially need pastors who will support this to be present. All support is welcomed and will be beneficial, but in the end it will probably be the voice of the pastors which will speak most loudly to the committee.

March 25, 2009, 02:41 PM
Rev. , thanks for the updates.

March 25, 2009, 02:55 PM
You can read the story here:

Hopeully an AG opinion will fix this problem.

March 25, 2009, 03:01 PM
Wow, the guy just walked out and skipped the whole thing? Methinks somebody is just begging not to get reelected.

March 25, 2009, 07:47 PM
Nah. He will get re-elected at least- if not also cheered by his constituents. But, the fact remains that he acted in a very unproffessional manner and did it without any regard to the citizens of Arkansas.

Al Norris
March 30, 2009, 07:59 AM
This thread has a specific topic.

Personal rants about the subject State, and responses to that rant, are off topic and have been removed.

March 30, 2009, 08:20 AM
Rev, I cannot fathom this bill dieing in lieu of the blatant stats on church shootings!:mad: I am appalled that it got so close with needed revisions etc. just to fail. How can those politicians sleep at night knowing they helped keep churches safe for the nut jobs and not the parishioners?
I hope ya'll finally get it thru!

March 30, 2009, 09:50 AM
Sorry 'bout that Al.....