The guns-OK-in-church bill finally was debated in House Judiciary Committee this morning, but the meeting had to recess for the regular House session before a vote. The debate will resume after House adjournment this afternoon.

UPDATE: Lock and load, parson: The legislation got a do-pass from the committee with only one audible “no,” from Rep. David “Bubba” Powers, who said he’d heard from constituents. Powers said there hadn’t been any evidence of a need for such legislation. The sponsor promised work on a possible amendment to allow churches to bar guns without posting a public sign.

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A Ray Smith Award to Rep. Powers (here’s one who earned it Speaker Wills with a vote likely contrary to his politcal fortunes). From his blog: “Though I straddled the fence on this at first, I’m pretty convinced that this is an over-reaction to some horrible tragedies.”

Gerard Matthews reports that testimony earlier included strong words from John Phillips, pastor of Central Church of Christ, who told legislators he was shot twice during a church service 23 years ago and still has a bullet in his spine to show for it. He opposed the legislation.

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“Do we really want to surrender to the idea that the only way to feel safe is to come packing heat in the pews?” Phillips asked. He described the bill as a “kneejerk reaction to a societal problem that will not be cured by introducing guns into a church environment.”

Pulaski legislators Jim Nickels and Darrin Williams asked whether the state would be getting too much into church affairs by requiring them to post a no-guns sign on the building if they choose to exempt themselves from the law.

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It will be tacky won’t it, if this law passes and forces all the little dying mainline churches to post a no-guns sign for their aging congregations? Here’s a compromise: Let churches allow concealed weapons. But only those that post a sign specifically allowing it. Something on the order of: “This church protected by Smith and Wesson and we’ll give them up when you can pry them from our cold dead fingers.”

Lots of time had to be spent first in committee this morning on the bill, ultimately pulled down, to allow anyone to see the criminal record of elected officials, candidates for office and state agency directors. The attorney general and State Police, among others, objected.