Ark. panel approves guns in church measure

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A plan to allow concealed handguns in churches has been approved by an Arkansas House panel after pastors who testified before lawmakers split on whether it would make their sanctuaries safer.

The House Judiciary Committee endorsed legislation that would leave it up to churches and other houses of worship to decide whether to allow concealed handguns and who could carry them.

The measure, which has already passed the Arkansas Senate, now heads to the House floor for a vote next week. Gov. Mike Beebe has indicated he'll likely sign the guns-in-church bill into law if it reaches his desk.

Pastors who oppose the measure said it conflicts with the mission of churches to be sanctuaries from violence.

But supporters said houses of worship can be targeted not only during services but throughout the week, and that law enforcement may not be able to respond quickly enough to thwart an intruder.

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