Texas Legislature Wants to Clarify Law Allowing Guns in Churches, Synagogues

guns in church texas law concealed carry

A man walks out of the memorial for the victims of a shooting at Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

After attacks on churches in Charleston and Sutherland Springs, synagogues in Pennsylvania and Poway and a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, more houses of worship are taking their security much more seriously.

poway synagogue shooting rabbi

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein speaks at a news conference at the Chabad of Poway synagogue, Sunday, April 28, 2019, in Poway, Calif. A man opened fire Saturday inside the synagogue near San Diego as worshippers celebrated the last day of a major Jewish holiday. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

In fact the shooting at the Poway, California synagogue was cut short because, after the shooter’s gun jammed, a congregant charged the shooter while an armed off duty Border Patrol agent opened fire on him. The agent had his gun because the synagogue’s rabbi, who was wounded in the attack, wanted armed protection for his congregation after the Pittsburgh shooting.

From Reuters:

“I had spoken to him in the past about coming to the synagogue armed because he’s trained, and I want trained security as much as possible,” Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein told CNN, speaking from a local hospital. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford to have an armed security officer at every service, so whenever we had extra help, we were grateful for it.”

We’ve written about armed safety strategies for churches and synagogues in the past (read John Boch’s posts here and here). But the first step is allowing armed individuals in houses of worship t o begin with.

Most states have laws treating churches like any other private property, meaning licensed carry is allowed unless specifically prohibited. According to concealedcarry.com, nine states plus the District of Columbia require prior permission to carry.

After the Sutherland Springs attack, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion that licensed concealed carriers can carry firearms in churches throughout the state unless notified that it’s prohibited. But due to some lingering confusion about current law, the legislature is trying to clarify that to ensure that those who want to be able to protect themselves and others can do so.

As the AP reports . . .

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Some Texas legislators want to make it clearer in state law that licensed handgun holders can carry weapons in churches, synagogues and other houses of worship, nearly a year and a half after a gunman killed 26 people at a small-town Texas church during a Sunday service.

The effort comes as places of worship around the world face targeted attacks by extremists, including a shooting at a California synagogue last week that left one worshipper dead and injured three others. In October 2018, a gunman killed 11 worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

The Texas bill would codify an opinion state Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a little over a month after a gunman killed more than two dozen people at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in November 2017. Paxton determined then that licensed handgun holders can legally carry in places of worship unless given “effective oral or written notice” or warning that weapons were banned from the property.

Supporters of the bill that passed the state Senate on Tuesday say it will help churches and other houses of worship determine security measures. A similar measure is expected to get a vote in the House soon.

The measure would align houses of worship with the rules covering licensed handguns on private property if they want to ban handguns, said bill author, Sen. Donna Campbell.

Gun rights advocates say the law’s current language is confusing and leaves Texans with doubts about their rights to carry if they have a license. They say tweaking the law would still allow places of worship to prohibit weapons.

“I would like to eliminate any doubt that it’s legal to carry and use a firearm to defend yourself in a church should the gravest extreme actually present itself,” longtime firearms instructor Kenneth Gibson told lawmakers when the Senate bill had a public hearing.

A large percentage of Americans say safety in churches, synagogues, mosques and other places of worship has worsened over the past two decades, according to a recent poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Sixty-one percent say religious houses have grown less safe over the last two decades.

Currently, eight states and Washington, D.C., prohibit firearms in places of worship unless officials at the religious institutions give permission, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Wyoming passed a measure last year allowing people to carry concealed weapons into houses of worship.

comments

  1. avatar Bloving says:

    “I had spoken to him in the past about coming to the synagogue armed because he’s trained, and I want trained security as much as possible,” Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein told CNN,

    Ah. I was wondering why that story wasn’t getting 24-hour news coverage from the major networks. It’s almost as if they decided to stop talking about it for some reason…
    🤠

    1. This reminds me of the Charles Bronson movies, Like Antifa in Portland the people are clay pigeons and they go to jail if they fight back. They will take away the protection of honest people and do nothing.

    2. avatar Gary Von Neida says:

      It is a hard pill to swallow;but, Our(?) Media is controlled by International Communists that have been pushing for an un-armed America since the end of World War Two. All despots require an under informed and un armed populace to force Their Nazi/Socialist/Communist/ Dictatorship upon the masses. Any story that reveals that an armed Citizen “saved the day” will never fit the AGENDA of the Communists. Only Government can assume the role of god, say they.

  2. avatar Michael says:

    My Gramps had a special ‘go to meetin’ gun. It was the same as the other guns he always carried, only nickel plated and with stag grips. He always carried it on Sundays. Not in place of, in addition to. The thought that this exercise of personal responsibility might be regulated by the state would have been beyond imagining. Wiskey, Tango, Foxtrot happened?-30-

    1. avatar Gary Von Neida says:

      Great & wise Gramp!

  3. avatar cgray says:

    Yeah but Dennis Bonnen, who is totally a conservative Republican and not a San Francisco leftist, says that all gun owners are criminals and stuff.

    And Texas is a “conservative” state.

    1. avatar Tejas223 says:

      He was initially appointed by Joe Strauss and was later elected to Speaker.
      Conservatives were trying to get rid of Strauss for a long time.
      The current speaker runs under a GOP Pro-gun ticket – but is a RINO.
      Vote out the RINO’s!
      Patriots Only!

      1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

        I got a reply from Bonnen after a mail in post card requesting his backing on the constitutional carry bill. Later he found or made up an excuse to pull the bill. I wrote him a letter urging him to put the bill forward because he is supposed to reflect Texans wishes and not to get in a tizzy and react to his own wishes. I ended the letter by saying that if the constitutional carry law did not get back on the agenda that myself and thousands of other Texans will raise and donate money to anyone of any party that wants to run against him. If a democrat gets in at least I know who the traitors are. No reply to my letter yet.

      2. avatar Michael Sarkies says:

        He may be playing politics on Republican ticket, but he is not a conservative.

        1. avatar Burt Enis says:

          Conservatives have never conserved anything

    2. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      And all I get from TSRA is pretty much , oh well maybe next time. Disgusting.

    3. avatar Gary Von Neida says:

      Without all the illegal alien votes California would be as Conservative as Texas.

  4. avatar sound awake says:

    i always carry at church
    always
    its the last place i wouldnt carry

    1. avatar Gary Von Neida says:

      Awake & Aware, indeed.

  5. avatar Minuteman says:

    It’s called concealed carry. No one knows you have it unless you tell them. I carry in all gun free zones I come across. Better to be alive than dead.

  6. avatar daveinwyo says:

    0530- pants on, gun on. 2130 pants/gun off. 2130-0530 Sig 226 on nite stand, 870 by the BR door. 870 has M4 style stock, 18″ barrel w/+2 extension. Sig has frangible ammo, 870 has buck&ball ammo. Any questions?

    1. avatar Trapped says:

      No Sir! Well done

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      You failed to specify – are any of those guns violent?

    3. avatar Freeze! Put your pants up! says:

      So, if someone were to unlawfully intrude at precisely 2130, they might catch you with your pants down, and your gun in an indeterminate state?

  7. avatar TFred says:

    Texas imitates Virginia!

    Virginia considered a bill this past session identical in function, and for the exact same reason.

    Let’s hope Texas can get their bill passed and signed into law!

  8. avatar Freedom of Religion says:

    A church IS private property. Should be up to the church to decide, not the state.

  9. avatar Kevin says:

    I still don’t understand why people are confused. It’s as clear as it is for any other property. Licensed you can carry unless 30.06/30.07 signage is posted or you’ve been verbally given notice. What’s not to understand?

    Hey, the edit button’s back!

    1. avatar Brainman says:

      Exactly. There’s nothing even remotely unclear about the law as it stands.

      Meanwhile, every other pro-gun bill is toast in the Texas legislature.

    2. avatar S R says:

      It’s the penalty. Currently if you go into a church with a 30.06 posted it is a class A misdemeanor, most other places it’s a class C misdemeanor. This bill would change it to a class C…that’s my understanding. Any lawyers out there that know?

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        In however many years, has anyone ever heard of a church prosecuting someone for violating their posted 30.06/7 signage? Has anyone ever even seen such signs at their church?

  10. avatar Stan says:

    Does this cover churches that also have schools or meet on school property?

  11. avatar Silentbrick says:

    Most churches with schools I’ve seen, here in Texas, if they have a school and don’t want you to carry in the SCHOOL building, they post. The church areas rarely are.

    My current church isn’t posted and given the small town feel and mostly rural area, I suspect any church attacker would die in a truly impressive hail of gunfire.

  12. avatar S R says:

    It’s the penalty. Currently if you go into a church with a 30.06 posted it is a class A misdemeanor, most other places it’s a class C misdemeanor. This bill would change it to a class C…that’s my understanding. Any lawyers out there that know?

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      And there’s another bill on the way to remove all criminal liability for violating 06/07 so long as the person leaves immediately when confronted by staff/owners. We all know in practice that said staff/owners will rapidly get tired of bothering in all but the most anti-gun establishments. Tee-hee, it would make for some awesome “walk-in” open carry protests, too (one after another, all day long, being told to leave over & over again, lol)

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        I prefer the idea of carrying under a jacket, then removing the jacket while eating dessert. “Oh! I have to leave? OK, Bye!” and walking out with my wallet in my pocket after a good and free steak dinner. Hey, either I have to leave or I don’t.

        1. avatar Mason says:

          You’re rotten. I suppose you’d stiff the waitress’ tip, too.

  13. avatar barnbwt says:

    We should pass a bill to change the 30.06/30.07 signage to an FDA-cigarettes-style health warning.

    “30.06 – THE TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL HAS DETERMINED THAT PREMISES WHICH LEGALLY BAN THE CONCEALED OR OPEN CARRY OF HANDGUNS ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO MASS SHOOTINGS. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SAFE SPACE WITHOUT ARMED RESPONSE AS A DETERRENT.”

    Maybe also include some aftermath-pictures from mass shootings, or close-ups of exit wounds, like how they tried to do with cancerous lungs & stuff on the cigarettes at one time, lol

    1. avatar Lon J Loren says:

      That’s a great idea. You take a great risk going into a gun free zone.
      When I went to high school there was always a cop on duty while school was in session.
      I don’t understand how the guns get in the schools when metal detectors are available.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        Metal detector is no help for anything unless operated by armed person with body armor. Why put your gun into the detector instead of simply shooting the operator dead? Next time you go into an airport, look around at all the guns. That’s why it works.

      2. avatar Ed Schrade says:

        Also add that properties with this sign posted are liable for damages to unarmed citizens on these premises .

  14. avatar Gordon in MO says:

    Bonnen is an example of many politicians of the left who register and run as a conservative.

    This is growing more common in conservative areas with intent to subvert.

    Diligently research the background of every politician, you might be surprised what you find. Even if the switched parties twenty years ago they may still be RINOs.

    The left is determined to overthrow the constitution and this is one of many ways they are working on it.

    1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      We need to recall these wolfs in sheeps clothing.

    2. avatar Mason says:

      Yessir. And John Cornyn is at the top of the RHINO heap. The only thing keeping him in office is that he runs against complete jerks (can you say Beto?) on the Dem side. I trust Ted Cruz far and away more than Cornyn.

  15. avatar Paul Hurst says:

    Not sure what needs to be clarified. The law is clear, no 30.06/07 notice, no problem, carry away.

    “Paxton determined then that licensed handgun holders can legally carry in places of worship unless given “effective oral or written notice” or warning that weapons were banned from the property.”

    That is what the law already says. So they want to pass a new law to say the same thing current law says? How about

  16. avatar Ross Bonny says:

    Gun-free zones are actually zones for unprotected people and mass shootings.

  17. avatar Keith Clark says:

    Carry every day, everywhere.
    If you don’t, you die.
    Your loved ones die.
    Never Open Carry. Be the surprise the Savages are not ready for.
    It is your duty no matter what unconstitutional laws are written.

  18. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    The christian progressive and the Atheist both agree. The government must tell the church what it can and can’t dont on church property.

  19. avatar Mad says:

    I carry a Glock 21 in church. The pastor Carrie’s a 380 on his ankle two others carry we try to sit with some tactical advantage.which is difficult the way church buildings are designed.we plan on cameras at the entrance monitoring on phones iPads etc.a church makes a great killing field as everyone has their backs to the main entrance

    1. avatar Perry says:

      Just served as Lead Watch at church (5/5). The official crew was 3 other concealed carriers, with an untold number of “In Worship” volunteers, some on-the-record, some off.

      The Scripture reading for today was Jesus telling Peter, “Take care of my sheep.” I just smiled.

      1. avatar Mad says:

        Could not have said it better brother

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