Bill allowing concealed guns in church dies in Arkansas Senate committee

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A bill that would allow people to carry concealed handguns into Arkansas churches has been rejected by the state's Senate Judiciary Committee.

The measure would have removed churches and other houses of worship from the list of places where concealed handguns are banned in Arkansas. The list is a short one. Only churches and bars are on it.

The state House approved the measure earlier this month and Gov. Mike Beebe has said he would sign the bill if it reaches him.

The bill's sponsor told the panel after the vote that she may try again to get it passed. Rep. Beverly Pyle maintains it's "not a gun question," but rather "a question of religious freedom."

Some church officials say they should have the right to decide what's allowed in their churches. But one Little Rock pastor says removing the ban on concealed guns would turn churches from "places of safety, peace and openness" into places of fear and suspicion.

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