WEST MEMPHIS, AR (abc24.com) - Sunday morning services in Arkansas may never be the same. Lawmakers are considering whether to allow guns in churches.
Arkansas is one of 10 states where concealed weapons are banned in places of worship. Local church members say extra protection may not be a bad thing.
"The world we live in today, people just don't have respect for the church," says assistant pastor John Roberts of Old St. Paul Church in West Memphis.
He supports a bill that would let churches decide if guns can be brought into their sanctuaries. "I figure if someone was authorized to carry a concealed weapon either in church or wherever they go, they should have the opportunity to do so."
The Arkansas Senate has been debating details. The proposal failed before, but there's a good chance it will pass this year in the largely Republican legislature.
"The church has always been a place of refuge, a safe haven," says Brenda Harris, who attends Old St. Paul.
The idea of guns in her church saddens her. "The church wears so many different hats. Now with security being a part of that, it just makes it sad that it has come to that."
At the same time, Harris understands arguments for the bill. "I guess if it's needed you just have to consider it. You really do," she tells abc24.com.
"I do not think that should be done," says Tony Tidwell. "That's dangerous. Someone carrying a concealed weapon in church -- if something were to go wrong and they were to pull a gun out and kill somebody in church -- that would not be good."
"It is controversial," agrees Roberts. "I feel it's necessary in this day and time."
The measure is expected to be voted on sometime next week.