The Arkansas state Senate voted Monday by a margin of 28-4 to pass a bill that would allow concealed guns in churches, reports ABC local affiliate KATV.
The bill, called the Church Protection Act of 2013 (SB 71), was authored by Arkansas state Sen. Bryan King (R-Green Forest) and would repeal the current ban on concealed handguns in churches or other places of worship.
From the bill:
It is found and determined by the General Assembly of the State of Arkansas that personal security is increasingly important; that the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States ensures a person's right to bear arms; and that this act is immediately necessary because a person should be allowed to carry a firearm in a church that permits the carrying of a firearm for personal security.
If the bill becomes law, only those with a permit for concealed carry would be allowed to bring a gun inside Arkansas' churches. And even so, individual churches will have the freedom to decide for themselves whether or not to allow firearms inside their doors.
"I can't imagine the need to bring a gun into a church. I just think thats unnecessary, and I think it sends a terrible message," said Rev. Walter Van Zandt Windsor, pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church in Pine Bluff, Ark., during a phone interview with The Huffington Post. "Religion can be an emotional thing in people's lives. I would hate to see guns present when people's emotions are running high."
Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat, has indicated he'll sign the bill into law if given the chance, according to the Associated Press. Before passing to Beebe, the bill must proceed through the House of Representatives.
Sen. King tried to pass similar legislation in 2011, but the measure was defeated by the state Senate. Similarly, in 2009, a bill sponsored by a different Arkansas representative sought to allow guns in churches but was defeated in the Senate after passing the House.
State Sen. Bryan King did not immediately return a request for comment.