|Updated: 3/10/2009 8:43 am
||Published: 3/09/2009 9:31 pm
On the heels of Sunday's church shooting in Illinois, one Arkansas state lawmaker plans to reintroduce legislation allowing guns in some churches. State Representative Beverly Pyle says the shooting is a reminder that it can happen anywhere. She wants senators who voted down her bill to change their minds. She says the safety of some Arkansans depends on it.
Churchgoer Jackie Banks said, "Carrying guns in church, I don't like the idea of that." But Banks says if someone opened fire in a service while he sat in a pew with his wife and son he'd feel differently about people with concealed weapons in the congregation. "Yeah, I'd feel a little safer that way."
"After hearing what happened in Illinois, I realized how important it was that we moved forward on our bill," says Pyle.
A Senate committee said no to Pyle's bill after it made it through the House. But now Pyle is re-wording the legislation to appeal to more people. Before, it would have allowed concealed weapons in all churches, but now it simply makes it okay for churches that want to allow it.
"The churches that want to have the options, then they can do so and it will be up to them on how they will handle it," explains Pyle.
Pyle says this isn't meant for churches that can hire their own security. "Hiring security, not all churches can afford that expense, especially your rural churches out in the country," she said. But in light of what happened Sunday, Pyle thinks this would make a big difference for some.
Jackie Banks says one way or the other he'll keep taking his family to church. "God's going to take care of you," he said.
Representative Pyle needs the support of 5 more Senators to get the bill out of the judiciary committee. She plans to re-introduce it a week from Wednesday. Governor Beebe has said he would sign the bill into law if Arkansas legislators passed it.