Guns-N-Churches February 12, 2013


Well as far as I’m concerned Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe just struck a blow for church attendance nationwide. Okay, well, maybe not nationwide, but certainly in Arkansas. Beebe, a Democrat, signed into law on Monday a bill that allows concealed-carry permit holders to take their weapons into churches.

The Church Protection Act allows individual places of worship to decide whether to allow concealed handguns and who could carry them. Churches that take no action will remain off-limits to guns.

For the record, I’ve got nothing against Arkansas. I’ve been to that lovely state many a time. They have some of the best billboards in the nation in Arkansas. My favorite is one some local pitched on their property after somebody done cheated on somebody else.

I’m not sure if this is the exact billboard in Arkansas but you get the gist of it.

If you have never spent anytime in Hot Springs, Arkansas, you are missing a special sort of treat. Back in the day when Bill Clinton was running for president, I made a couple of trips to Arkansas. On one of those trips I actually indulged in a hot bath special spa. Having never been to a spa before, I had no idea what to expect. They assigned this woman to me who I think had also attended King Xerxes. She looked as though God had whittled her into a walking cane from a river birch. She was so thin I feared if she passed gas she would blow over. When she told me to get nekkid and lay face up on a table without benefit of a curtain to hide behind or a cover to crawl between, I did exactly what she told me. I’d never been to a spa before, I didn’t know what the usual routine would be. Besides, the woman was old enough to be God’s granny. I wasn’t about to not obey her. 

She took what appeared to be one of those plastic bottles they squirt barbecue sauce with down south and drizzled my entire sunnyside up with some golden nectar of the Arkansas sun. Keep in mind, this woman was built like a cane, so her head bent way over so that she was hovering over my egg yolks in what can only be called an immodest fashion. By the time she was finished with that massage there was only one small pyramid that ancient woman hadn’t touched and I was terrified the entire time that she might.

Spas, however, aren’t the only thing Arksansas has going for it. It’s home to HellMart, which if you can’t say anything nice about you can at least be thankful it employs people who used to work at the local bookstores and hardware and drug stores that have always been part of the backbone of every community until Hellmart  replaced them all with a huge parking lot.

Well, there was one bookstore in Arkansas that survived Hellmart’s plastic-on-plastic approach to marketing. If you ever get up Blytheville way you must stop into THAT BOOKSTORE. It is Mecca for authors all across this nation. That’s because Mary Gay Shipley, former owner, built an empire that paid homage to readers. I had such a wonderful visit in Blytheville thanks to the hospitality of all those lovely church people and because of Mary Gay. A new fellow named Grant is running the place now. He’s young and smart and cute as  a new puppy. I told him recently that I was looking forward to coming back to THAT BOOKSTORE with the new novel.

Last time I was in Arkansas, I not only attended church I gave the sermon. I won’t be volunteering to do that no more. Not since Governor Beebee gave gun-owners the right to carry their concealed weapons into church. 

Lord, like we don’t have enough places already where people can tote their dern guns, now they got to go and let them pack at church.

Listen, I don’t care if people fill the cupboards of their homes with guns. I don’t care if they stuff their glove boxes with pistols. I don’t care if they want to spend their Saturdays shooting each other at the shooting range. But by golly, when it comes to Sunday morning, people, lay those weapons down.

Can’t we pretend for just a couple of hours on Sunday morning that we all get along? Do we really have to resort to being suspect of everyone everywhere all the time? 



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  • Bill Dahl

    Just great…anxiety induced worship…can you point out the New Testament passage where Jesus encourages us to bring weapons into the house of worship please? Sheesh! Just added Alabama to Arizona and Texas as places NOT to visit. Once again, current day self-professed Christians shooting themselves in the foot.

    • I can’t point that out, Bill, Perhaps someone else more fluent in the God as a NRA member can?

  • Diane

    your description of the massage has me practically rolling on the floor….those are all the reasons why I don’t get massages. I can barely stand an annual pedicure.

  • Karen, I’d agree with you if the law had mandated that churchgoers bring a gun into the building. But all it did was leave that choice up to the churches, and as a true conservative, I’m all for that. The less government regulation, the better.

    I should also point out that in our town, Arlington, TX, an incident which occurred, in Ft Worth, just a few miles away, is still fresh in our minds. In that case, a man did come in and start shooting people, and when it was done, many folks were wishing someone, even one person, had been packing. 7 people dead, 4 of them kids. Because a church building is like a movie theater, in the sense that you have hundreds of people in a room and nothing to hide behind, one could see how a deranged shooter might want to use it to carry out a mass shooting. So in light of that reality, coupled with our memory of Wedgewood, I have no problem with the idea of some folks being able to shoot back.

    For the record, I do not own a gun.

    • I will for the life of me never understand the argument that more guns is the answer to less violence. It certainly doesn’t seem to be all that persuasive of an argument when you take a look at the streets of Chicago. Arming more people only seems to have created more violence. But then that’s me, I guess.

      • You don’t understand it? I would get it if you had said you don’t agree with it, but I don’t get how you don’t understand it.
        When a bad guy has a gun and you don’t, he gets to do his will because he has an advantage over you. These folks believe that having access to a gun themselves is a way of neutralizing that advantage.
        You can look at Chicago as an example if you like, but there are also plenty of cases where an armed person prevented harm being done, and in some cases, multiple murders from being carried out. One could just as easily point to these as examples to argue the other side.

        • Sagrav

          If a random lunatic with an unholstered gun busts into your church, chances are that you’re dead meat even if you’re armed. In addition, in the chaos and confusion following such an attack, I don’t trust your average civilian to have the training or the mindset necessary to calmly shoot the attacker and only the attacker. More likely, our would-be hero would be spraying bullets all over his fellow parishioners.

          Also consider a situation in which, the attacker and his victims are exchanging gun fire when the police arrive. How are they going to know which of the individuals involved is the attacker? All they will see is a group of armed people and bodies littering the church. They’ll probably just end up firing on both the attacker and the civilians trying to return fire on the attacker. What a pointless mess.

          • Sagrav, I cannot speak for everyone, but in my state, a person has to go through training and testing before they can carry a concealed handgun. Also, if a church congregation had, for example, 5 people interspersed throughout the room who had guns, surely one of them will stop the gunman. There needn’t be a shootout in such situations, just a gun pointed at the guy will stop him from doing much of his damage. I’m not naive enough to think nobody would die in such a situation, but surely fewer people would die in that situation if there were a few congregants with guns than if none of them had one.

        • ymoore

          What in the world is “well-regulated” about everybody running around with a concealed — or open for that matter — weapon? I keep hearing this “I believe in the Second Amendment” from the folk who want to bear arms –and James, I realize you didn’t mention it, but that’s why they keep passing these locked and loaded laws. My question is, if everybody’s bearing arms, where’s the enforcement of “well-regulated” part of the Second Amendment, which is just as much a part of the Constitution just as much as the rest of the SENTENCE?

          Last summer in my city, a man laid off or fired from his job a year earlier went to his old job at the Empire State Building during the morning rush hour, waited outside till he saw a former co-worker, or boss ( I never got that straight) and shot him dead. However, before it was all over, 9 people had been shot and two killed. Why? Because that area of the city is heavily patrolled by TRAINED POLICE. They saw what was happening and proceeded to shoot the shooter, whom they killed — but not before they also shot and wounded 9 other people! And that’s the PROFESSIONALS!

          No, more guns do not mean more safety. They mean more deaths, injuries and mayhem while trying to figure out just who the bad guys are in a confusing situation.

          • ymoore, you can bring up anecdotes all day long, but so can the people who have drawn opposite conclusions than you have. They’ll tell you about the single murders which could have been mass shootings had not someone nearby been carrying.
            I’m not personally comfortable carrying a gun (did it daily when I was a soldier), but I understand and support those who wish to do so, for the purpose of protecting their families.

          • ymoore

            Serious question, Darren: I remember going to Sunday school and church the day the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala., was bombed and four little girls were murdered. That was a terrorist attack on the Church of Christ in the USA. My Sunday school teacher, the preacher’s sermon, all talked about loving and praying for enemies like Jesus said even at a time like that when everything in you said do something else. Darren, we both know that would NEVER have happened in a white evangelical church if a white evangelical church had been bombed and four little girls were killed in the bombing. Ever.

            My question is, how do white evangelicals understand Jesus’ teaching about loving enemies and praying for folk who use and persecute you? Do you see it as another one of Jesus’ hyperbolic sayings so you don’t pay it any mind, like plucking out your eye if you lust? If that’s where you’re coming from, why do you believe he said something so radical and counterintuitive as to love your enemy? What do you do with Jesus’ teachings about turning the other cheek, going the second mile for an abuser?

          • ymoore, what a horrible thing to say.
            For one thing, you’ve already been proven wrong: On Sept 15, 1999, a deranged man walked into Wedgwood Baptist church, into the sanctuary full of white evangelicals, and started shooting. He killed several adults and three kids. The response of that church in the aftermath, starting with the comments from pastor Al Meredith, were exactly what you say wouldn’t ever happen in a white evangelical church.
            Moreover, I am convinced that many other churches would respond similarly. White and black Christians alike have access to the Holy Spirit, who gives us all the grace to act like Jesus would want us to act. I’m stunned by your comment, which reeks of prejudice and judgmentalism.

          • ymoore

            James, the Wedgewood Baptist Church shooting was not by an enemy; it was by a mentally deranged man. The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was a coordinated terrorist attack on purpose by “sane” enemies. Both were horrible, but they’re not the same, and we both know this. I stand by my statement. Much of the white evangelical church has a very openly stated embrace of weaponry.That’s not prejudice or judgmental — that’s what white evangelical church spokesperson say about guns– SBC, AOG, etc. It’s like it’s a part of the religion. I want to know why? I want to know how you reconcile that with the Gospel. Yes, the Holy Spirit is there to empower all believers to follow Christ’s instructions. I want to know why some parts of the church are instructed to pray and believe and other parts are instructed to lock and load.

  • On an unrelated note, your description of the massage/spa just weirded me out. 🙂

  • Tyra Bendick

    I dare the leaders let people have a choice. we should always place an elected official above GOD for he gave each of us a choice.if 1200000 a year lives can end with no chance do to choice people should have the right to protect themselves

    • I have a thought!! Let’s arm the unborn. That ought to fix both the abortion problem and make the gun-rights advocates happy happy.

  • Will

    Our culture relies on fear to market its ideas to a mass audience. The current gun fever is built on fear of a nebulous, gun-grabbing federal dictatorship that some people worry will come to dominate us after it disarms us. This helps gun manufacturers sell guns and ammo (look up recent sales figures if you doubt me) and keeps contributions flowing to industry lobbyists. Repeating the messages that your kids are in danger at school, you’re in danger at church, on the street, and at home, and guns are the only means of preserving your safety and personal freedom which may be taken from you AT ANY SECOND…well, that’s basically the whole point of the gun lobby. Nobody who realizes exactly how safe we are in our modern world is going to go running out to purchase an arsenal, or want to go armed to church. That’s a problem if you make your money selling guns or pushing legislation to help firearms companies.

    If you keep people scared enough, they’re willing to buy whatever you’re selling, whether it’s eternal life or extended magazines.

  • Steve T

    Hmmmmm … lets see … “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you …” Naaaaah, he didn’t really mean it.

  • Karen, as a member of and AOG church we have many members that carry. Most are ex/current military or ex/current law enforcement. We also have a security team at our church which most carry also. The safety of our members and especially our children is our #1 top priority. We have had drug dealers, meth heads and thefts at our church, but now with a security team, the thefts have STOPPED! If you research how many church shootings their has been in the last so many years … … you’ll find that the media doesn’t report on them like other stories. The “gun” paranoia is just another lie by the enemy to get people to stay away. Just think, the enemy wants to trash anything and everything that could draw someone closer to God, don’t you think the enemy would like to see churches become unsafe? Or inflame some people that wants to ban guns anyways? You talk about “getting along”… does Satan care about what you say?

    • Darren, I can understand if your church is in a high crime area that you might want to have heavy security. I wonder how many churches REALLY need members to carry. This “gun” paranoia is not paranoia. Do you really think that armed members without special training will create a deterrent or a hazard? Shooting is a high pressure situation requires training that most gun owners don’t get (if they get any training at all). Why is it that those who support concealed carry anyplace don’t want to admit that shooting during an emergency is a specialized skill?

      • Steve, we are close to a freeway and get transients, we have a huge meth problem around here and like I said before, many church shootings or assaults simply do not get reported. We decided to have a “proactive” response than a “reactive”. We aren’t going to wait for some nut to hurt one of our kids or members. When bad stuff happens at churches, people stand around and say “I can’t believe this happened”. Well, do you believe that Satan will attack a church? Send criminals in there posing as good people to harm a child? Why wait for bad to happen? I think it is “paranoia, You assume that just because someone carries, they have a huge ego, think they are in the wild west or some actin hero. Did you read what I said about who carries at our church? Current/ex military, current/ex law enforcement……. Who would buy a car without learning how to drive? train is important! I don’t know Anyone who’s ever bought a firearm, not go shoot it to get comfortable with it. What’s the ratio of bystanders being shot by someone with a CCW and to the criminals that shoot people that are unarmed? Is being in a situation like that nerve racking? YES! But I believe God will look over those doing Good in his house rather than Bad. I am totally comfortable with Gods children carrying where ever they go, even church

    • ymoore

      Where is your church? Baghdad? Better yet, our faith? Why are you so afraid? I’ve gone to church in Brooklyn, NY, most of my life– and that includes the crime crazed 70s and crack induced 80s. Yes, we’ve been robbed before. Thieves broke in and took the sound system on more than one occasion. That was the only thing of value they found and we kept replacing it. So we installed AN ALARM SYSTEM. Are the people of God really ready to shoot and kill somebody Jesus loved so much he came to earth to live, die and resurrect for so they can save the church’s SOUND SYSTEM? If the answer to that question is yes, we’d do better to just close the church and turn it into a roller skating rink. That’s something that’s wholesome and useful.

      My favorite memory re: this is walking down Lenox Avenue near 130 Street in Harlem in the 80s and watching a holiness woman pastor w/a white doily on her head pull the riot gates over her storefront and secure them w/a padlock. But before she walked away, she waved her hand over the doors and said something “in tongues.” When she saw me looking at her she just smiled. I smiled back.

      Now, if you’re a mega church business and pulling in more money than a casino every week, I guess you do need Las Vegas-style security. But for most churches, that’s not the case. And most robbers don’t want to hurt you, they just want your stuff.

      • You assume that because we protect our children and members, that WE are “afraid”? I don’t understand where, as a christian, we are supposed to roll over and let the enemy have his way with the church. Assaults, murders and violence against children in churches have skyrocketed in the past few years, but yet some people still want to ignore the truth. Did you know many of the disciples wore swords? would you ask them “they were afraid of”. It’s really too bad that just because people carry, they get labeled as a nut and get judged. But I suppose these are the same people that would want to disarm law enforcement and the military.

  • MatthewS

    Your descriptions of this lady are wonderful and hilarious!

    I would have agreed with you more strongly, except that I also feel assaulted (ha!) from the Left-ish side of those who believe that the church is a necessary place to preach against guns and gun ownership. I would object to this political message in church but it’s done by those who see the church as our politic and therefore feel that this issue must must must be addressed in church. That being the situation, it makes it harder for me to squint at someone who wants to exercise the opposite viewpoint. If the gun control side feels a WWJD compulsion to decry gun ownership from behind the “sacred desk” then I guess I’m less upset with those who express a God-given right to disagree while sitting in front of said desk.

    Nevertheless, I have never carried a weapon to church and as far as I’m aware, no one at our church does so either. I’d prefer they not. Moving the piano more than 6 inches at a time or changing the style of worship too drastically could conceivably cause those itchy trigger fingers to start scratching!

  • AFRoger

    For every specific instance put forth as a general argument pro or con, there is another just as convincing for the opposite view. In a local discussion, a commentor put forth some numbers that are startling. In neighboring Washington State, the number of gun deaths now exceeds the number of motor vehicle deaths by a significant margin.
    Having a gun in the home of the Newtown, CT, shooter did not keep that young man’s mother safe. She was killed with her own gun. Oscar Pistorius’ girlfriend, as the allegations now stand, wasn’t safer because her lover had a gun in the home–although to be fair, I don’t know how many would-be home invaders Mr. Pistorius may have fought off with that gun in the past. Three a day? Any at all?
    I always wonder… would the (alleged) killers in either of the above cases have killed the women, would depressed and angry fathers have murdered their wives and their own children, if they’d had to actually touch them, hold them down long enough to shove the knife blade in several times. Does that few feet of remoteness, that powerful extension of self and self-will afforded by firearms make any difference? Does it make all the difference in the world? Does it make the difference between life and death?
    I think so, and the numbers of suicides by firearm among males tells a story of its own. It’s quick. It’s powerful. It’s nearly always 100% effective…. before there is time to reconsider… Before there is time to feel something.
    Even if we had not one firearm related death in this country for the next decade, the sirens of alarm should have our ears endlessly ringing. Why is it that we are failing to socialize so many young males into mature, stable, strong yet empathetic adults capable of taking care of themselves and offering by their character and lives, a human being capable of sustaining a relationship, facing and meeting challenges, husbanding and fathering families?
    How many lives are “lost” to us this way because they are still living and breathing on the outside but coming apart or never put together on the inside?
    How DO we make better, safer people? What DOES Christ call us to do? What DOES Christ empower us to do? For one look, and since it’s Black History Month, we might look at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1967 book: Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? That’s a legitimate question. I hear a lot of answers being put forward today, but I don’t hear nearly enough questions. I have never known worthwhile answers to come in the absence of meaningful questions.

    • I live in Wa. state. The stats you cite include suicides. These from the very liberal “Violence Policy Center” that has an obvious agenda. In 2009, the FBI list the actual homicide from firearms as 101. Much different that what the liberal Violence Policy Center said. So please don’t mislead people by including suicide as gun violence. The guns didn’t kill these people by themselves. The point is, God’s love was not shown to these people that commited suicide. And to be fair, their were 68 people killed with knives, bats, fists etc…in the same year.

      • AFRoger

        Thanks for the feedback on the WA stats. I consider suicide to be no less a form of homicidal violence than murder. It is self-inflicted but no less lethal, no less final than murder. And no less tragic. It changes nothing about the questions I asked above.
        “God’s love was not shown to these people…” If only it were that simple. Knowing what severe depression can do, I understand how darkness can overcome a person so completely that it becomes impossible to see light. Depression is no less lethal a killer than cancer. And trauma such as TBI and PTSD, combined with something like depression or self-medication to relieve the constant pain and torment, can bring a person to the point that they are literally unable to help themselves. An Iraq War vet friend is in that maelstrom now. I hope and pray that he never has a weapon at his disposal when he has one of his periodic stumbles. He knows all about the love of God, but at times he is too ill to know what that means. It would be like asking a comatose person to read an eye chart. At the time, they simply cannot see.

        • AFRoger

          Pastor Gary Kinnaman’s book Seeing in the Dark is a good read. This pastor, and his physician friend who co-wrote, know all about the love of God–and the monstrous demonic foe that depression is. Not to mention other forms of mental illness.

  • wordenjohn4

    Gun-totin’ church-goers has been around for a long time. My son has been assigned to be a gun-totin’ protector at his church for at least a couple of years. It appears to be a reaction(over?) to some shootings which have taken place inside churches during services. Welcome to the 21st century Christian’s world!

  • Greg

    The historic problem with “gun free zones” like schools and churches is that the unbalanced know that they can enter them and wreak havoc with near impunity for a while. You don’t see these people running into the nearest National Guard Armory for their last stand even though they know how it’s going to end. They all want their pound of flesh and their 15 minutes of infamy. Allowing properly trained CCW holders to carry at church does nothing to cause concern for the congregation but it might make someone intent of committing an act of violence on the congregation to rethink his plan. I’ve carried a weapon for 30 years and thank God never had to use it. I teach people how to properly carry, maintain and use their weapons. You do not carry a weapon to kill people. You carry a weapon so that you can protect yourself and people around you from people who would kill them.

  • Beady Blossom

    My father was a peaceful and peace loving person and a pastor. In his day the police told him to carry a concealed weapon and gladly gave him the permit. His first church was in a very dangerous area but we didn’t realize it and went to church in peace but had plenty of panhandlers and drunks coming in but amazinly we were never frightened as kids. 50 years later I am in a church that is near a freeway where banks between us and the freeway have been robbed even though we live in one of the safest cities in California. We are blessed to have enough policemen in the congregation that they rotate walking the parking lot (because of previous incidents). We all know that they always carry a gun, they are true born again Christians and very sensible, not hot headed, and we trust them and don’t give it a second thought. We would all love to live where it is always safe and sane, where everyone can be trusted but that isn’t to be so in this world of today.

  • beady blossom

    I come from a family of pastor/evangelist/missionary types of people. My great grandfather and his family were on their way to church one Sunday evening when an angry, jealous farmer shot Grandpa Will and killed him because the farmer’s wife had been going to church! The town not only lost a father and pastor but also their town doctor. Lives were changed but but there was no hysteria because in an agrarian society a rifle/shotgun was needed in every day living.