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Pastor from Harrison weighs in on guns in churches

The Arkansas state senate voted to let church leaders decide whether to let people carry guns in their buildings.

January 28, 2013|by Joanna Small, KSPR News | Reporter and Photographer

HARRISON, Ark. -- Arkansas is one step closer to letting people be armed in church.  The state Senate overwhelmingly voted Monday to allow guns in churches with permission from church leadership.

Arkansas is one of ten states that prohibits firearms inside a church at any time for any reason.

"It's a little naive to think that any place is safe anymore."

Unfortunately Pastor Bob Johnson never really did.  As a kid, a lady threatened another pastor with a gun at his church in Memphis.  In the '90s, a gunman killed half a dozen people at his parents' church in Fort Worth, Texas.

"As a minister and believer in the Bible, I know sin is pretty prevalent, so, no, it's not shocking," not shocking that it still happens Monday and could happen here.

"Anybody could walk in that door and just let bullets fly, and I'd like to limit that damage as much as possible," the pastor sai.  That's why he doesn't think having a few trained and trusted people conceal and carry a fire arm at First Baptist Church in Harrison is a bad idea.

"I personally would rather have someone I know carrying around here or some way to protect us or protect our people"-- maybe even him.

"Actually my wife and I are scheduled to go through it in March together," he tells us of a conceal and carry class.  Not everyone in the Arkansas church community shares that sentiment.

"It's not something that I would, or this church would want to get involved in," said a minister with an Assemblies of God congregation in Eureka Springs, who went as far as to call the idea of guns in churches "Crazy."

"Roughly we'll have about 400 on any given Sunday," Pastor Bob sa gesturing towards his church's front entrance. 

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He says it's crazy to think those people don't need added security measures.

The church already locks all entrances except the front one once worship begins, and ushers casually patrol the lobby and sanctuary.  The pastor says a few guns in good hands is a logical next and final step.

Pastor Bob says the biggest challenge is church is still a place where people want to feel safe so, while he's keeping one eye on the door and one eye on the congregation, he doesn't want people to have to walk through a metal detector or have to get frisked when they're coming to church on a Sunday.

If the bill clears the House and is signed into law by Gov. Beebe, Arkansas would join Missouri, where people can only conceal and carry in a place of worship with permission from the proper authorities there.

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