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Arkansas Lawmakers Approve Guns in Church Bill, Governor Plans to Sign

By a vote of 85 to 8, the State House of Representatives approved the bill, which allows churches to choose whether to allow handguns in their sanctuary.
Arkansas lawmakers Monday approved a bill that would allow firearms in churches, and now Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe will have the final say.

By a vote of 85 to 8, the State House of Representatives approved the bill, which allows churches to choose whether to allow handguns in their sanctuary.

The State Senate gave the proposal its stamp of approval last week.

If a church gives members the go ahead, the new laws would only allow people with carry conceal permits to arm themselves in the Lord's house.

Supporters says the legislation allows churches to protect themselves without having to pay for private security.

The bill now goes to the governor, who is expected to sign it.

Here in Northwest Arkansas, some Pastors aren't sure what the "Church Protection Act" would mean inside their sanctuaries.

"A church should be a place of peace and safety and security," says Steve Abbott, the lead pastor at First Baptist Church in Siloam Springs.

But an Arkansas bill is inching closer to putting God and guns in the same room.

"I sense it's kind of a reaction to what happened in Connecticut and people probably feel like we need to do something," says Abbott.

At First Baptist Church in Siloam Springs, the tragedy hasn't made Pastors like Steve Abbott press the right to bear arms.

"Everyone took very seriously what happened in Newtown and it's like we're addressing that more in terms of keeping our entrances secure."

Even still, weapons during worship has been a casual conversation around the water cooler.

"There might be some parents that might be a little concerned to know 'Hey somebody has a handgun here and I don't know who it is.' That would be something we'd talk through as a church before we made our independent decision."

If the bill does become a reality, Pastor Abbott would take the issue to the congregation.

"Do you take a survey: 'How many of you have a concealed carry permit?' And are you going to check your guns at the door like at the saloon in an old western? I mean I don't know," says Abbott.

Click here to watch this report.
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