Under current Arkansas law, holders of concealed weapons permits can take their guns anywhere they want except bars and houses of worship. A bill in the state Senate would let churches decide for themselves whether weapons should be allowed.Uh, right.
"I believe it would disturb the sanctity and tranquility of church" said Pastor John Phillips, a bill opponent who was shot twice in the back as he finished a service 23 years ago. If a church opts out, "Do you want ushers to stop you at the door and frisk you?"
The bill's supporters say the issue isn't gun rights but a constitutionally protected right for churches to set their own rules. Opponents say worshippers should be allowed to pray without worrying whether the person next to them is armed.
Grant Exton, the executive director of the Arkansas Concealed Carry Association, who said allowing concealed weapons in churches would not make churches more likely to have volatile situations _ but adds that that is not his point.
"It's a problem of (the government) telling churches what to do in an area of moral issue, where that should be none of their business," Exton said. Of 48 states that allow concealed carry, 42 let churches make the decision, Exton said.
"We have the government in an area that it shouldn't be," he said.
Here’s what’s going on; it’s a lot harder to sue “the government” for not allowing someone to have the right to bring a gun into church than it is to sue the church itself. So, when a church ends up posting a sign saying that guns aren’t allowed if a church wisely chooses to keep them out (which would have to take place if the law were passed), the church would be sued and, in all probability, cave because the church wouldn’t have the funds to fight such a suit in court.
And as The Raw Story tells us here…
The bill's strongest opponents appear to be the pastors themselves, One minister, Ken Burton, suggested there were political motivations behind the legislation, telling the Baxter Bulletin that "he’s aware of staunch political affiliations between candidates for public office, elected officials and the National Rifle Association’s pro-gun platform."And The Raw Story also tells us that law enforcement is certainly allowed to bring weapons into church already.
Several ministers are concerned about the negative effect that concealed guns could have on the peace and tranquility of church services. Pastor Ron Rector suggested, "Some places still need to be sacred, and that is one place I hope would remain sacred."
Rev. Mark Lenneville similarly noted, "It’s not in line with what we believe theologically and has not been the tradition for Christianity through the centuries. Often, the church is viewed as a sanctuary where the government does not have power and authority, a place where people could seek sanctuary from the government and other outsiders."
Oh, and just for the record, this news story tells us that Arkansas gun sales increased last year after Obama’s election.
Were it not for the potential harm that could be inflicted on innocent bystanders, it would be fine with me if all of the gun nuts in this state joined together and accidentally shot themselves in “celebration” of the relaxation of common-sense rules of gun safety. It would serve them right.
Update 3/17/09: Kudos to Eric Boehlert for this.
Update 4/6/09: Cause, meet effect.