Bill to allow guns in churches with schools advances

March 21st, 2013. Bill to allow guns in churches with schools advances. Rob Moritz and John Lyon, Arkansas News Bureau.

“A person with a concealed handgun permit could take a weapon into a church that also operates a k-12 private school, with the church’s permission, under a bill that passed the Senate on Thursday.

Senate Bill 896 Sen. Bryan King, R-Green Forest, would add a new defense against prosecution for possession of a firearm on school property. It passed the Senate 29-4 and goes to the House.

A new law adopted earlier this year, Act 67, allows a concealed-carry permit holder to carry a gun into a place of worship if the facility allows concealed weapons inside.

King said he filed the bill after being told by lawyers with the Bureau of Legislative Research that there were some legal concerns about carrying a concealed weapon in churches that have private schools in their building.

“This just trying to clarify the language,” King said.

Sen. Stephanie Flowers, D-Pine Bluff, who opposed the original concealed handgun permit in church bill, suggested that SB 896 could place children in the private schools located in a church in danger.

She said the Legislature earlier this session approved a measure exempting the names of concealed weapon permit holders from the state Freedom of Information Act and that would make it difficult for churches to verify who has a concealed weapon permit.

“Now we have a school situation, and I thought in a school situation that you’re supposed to be able to check all of these employees of the school,” Flowers asked. “Don’t we still have standards for checking employees that teach our children in k-12, whether it’s private or public.”

King told Flowers he did not know the answer to her question and that the bill simply made it clear that concealed weapon permit holders would be allowed to carry their weapon into a church, if there is a school also located in the same building.

A related measure, House Bill 1284, was filed in response to the guns in church law to set guidelines for churches in allowing concealed weapons and to shield places of worship from liability for damages resulting from gun play. The measure was listed among deferred bills on the House Judiciary Committee agenda Thursday.”

“Also the Senate approved HB 1282 by Rep. John Edwards, D-Little Rock.

Under the bill, if the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department seeks to obtain a private property owner’s land under the right of eminent domain and the property owner files a legal challenge and wins by 10 percent or more, the state must pay the property owner’s legal costs. The bill passed 25-0 and goes to the governor.”

“HB 1503 by Rep. Justin Harris, R-West Fork, which would make it a Class D felony to provide false information to a gun dealer or private seller in order to procure a firearm or ammunition, was approved by the Senate 35-0.

Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, presented the measure on the Senate floor, saying the bill is part of the National Rifle Association’s legislative package and is designed to prevent gun-control activists from conducting sting operations not sanctioned by law enforcement. The bill now goes to the governor.”

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