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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Proposed Law Would Allow Guns in Churches

Little Rock, AR - Should you be able to carry a gun to church? It's a question state lawmakers will be taking up next week when they debate a bill that's kicked up a little controversy. The bill being discussed would let churches decide on their own to post a sign to ban guns inside, but opponents say it should not even be an option.

Grant Exton is a gun owner and president of the state's Concealed Carry Association. He's been working with lawmakers on a bill that would allow people licensed to carry a concealed handgun to take their guns to church. Exton says the proposed law's less about guns and more about property rights.

(Grant Exton, Concealed Carry Association) "Businesses, homes here in Arkansas are able to make the decision on whether they want to have people carrying on their premise, and we're just trying to give that right to churches as well."
It's also about personal protection. Exton cites the 2007 shooting that killed one person and injured four others in a Colorado church, where a gun-carrying church security worker stopped the shooter.

(Exton) "She was able to stop them at the door, while 7,000 congregants were seated in the pews and the Colorado Springs police said she probably saved a couple hundred lives."

Little Rock pastor John Phillips, now at Central Church of Christ, has first-hand experience with guns in the sanctuary. In 1986, while working at a different church, across town, he was gunned down in the pulpit.

(John Phillips, Little Rock Pastor) "A gentleman came into the church. He was mentally deranged, and at the end of the sermon, pulled out a gun and shouted something about baptism and proceeded to shoot me in the back a couple of times. I still carry one of the bullets embedded in my spine."

Phillips says philosophically, a sanctuary is a place of peace and should be gun free. As for protection, despite what he's been through, he says he feels safer in a church with no guns.

(Phillips) "We really believe God provides and protects his own and that it wouldn't be in the best interest of what the church stands for to have people armed and packing on Sunday morning."

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