Texas to Allow Guns in Churches Unless Expressly Forbidden


Texas concealed carriers can bring firearms into places of worship, provided it is not strictly forbidden. (Photo: Shelby Knowles/The Texas Tribune)

Anyone with a Texas concealed carry permit may bring a firearm into a house of worship unless expressly forbidden, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton ruled last week.

The ruling comes in the wake of a mass murder at Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church that saw the deaths of 25 churchgoers one Sunday last month.

“If a church decides to exclude the concealed or open carrying of handguns on the premises of church property, it may provide the requisite notice, thereby making it an offense for a license holder to carry a handgun on those premises,” Attorney General Paxton wrote in his opinion.

“However, churches may instead decide not to provide notice and to allow the carrying of handguns on their premises. Unless a church provides effective oral or written notice prohibiting the carrying of handguns on its property, a license holder may carry a handgun onto the premises of church property as the law allows,” he continued.

Rulings from the attorney general have the force of law in Texas unless the state legislature passes contrary legislation.

Earlier this month Lt. Governor Dan Patrick asked Paxton to clarify the issue as congregations and church members work to mitigate another shooting. Patrick and other state leaders have been putting a spotlight on church security in the last several weeks, according to the Texas Tribune.

“I think that Texans have a history of taking care of themselves, a history of responsibility and freedom at the same time,” former Houston City Councilman Mike Sullivan told the New York Times. Sullivan said he was considering bringing a concealed firearm to church on Sundays following the attack in Sutherland Springs. “There is no wrong place to carry a gun any more.”

SEE ALSO: Texas Hero Speaks Out About Stopping Church Shooter with AR-15

Texans who carry concealed handguns must already look out for signs posted outside businesses that ban firearms. Texas Penal Code 30.06 signs ban the possession of firearms. And Texas Penal Code 30.07 signs ban openly carried firearms. All signs must be posted conspicuously and printed with one-inch letters using the exact same language.  Which results in signs that measure roughly four square feet.

While the signs are not difficult to print or obtain, Paxton’s ruling does shift the responsibility to churches who do not want guns on their property, Ed Scruggs, vice chairman of Texas Gun Sense, told USA Today.

“Some churches might not have wanted to do that because the laws says the signs have to be a certain size and that could detract from a church’s appearance,” Scruggs continued.

Paxton’s ruling goes into effect immediately.

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 19 comments… add one }
  • ejharb January 14, 2018, 11:06 pm

    Goblins will be armed! Sign or no sign.you need to decide for yourself. Fighting chance or slim chance

  • Mitch Spence December 29, 2017, 3:16 pm

    Here’s my thought about telling us where and when to carry. Better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6.

  • Larry December 29, 2017, 2:45 pm

    There was no need for a clarification. This issue was changed some years ago relieving the burden of churches being “gun free zones” per older ordinance. The only new item recently is now church security teams are not required to be licensed security agents. Volunteer security teams in churches are free to provide armed security for churches in Texas.

  • kane December 29, 2017, 11:55 am

    The arch-diocese of Chicago needs to allow a parish for CC.

  • survivor50 December 29, 2017, 10:51 am

    Silly me !!! I always carried concealed in Church, and nobody knew…also nobody got hurt…
    If it ain’t got a “NO GUNS” sign on it, you can carry. If it has one…go somewhere else…

  • Sandy Keathley December 29, 2017, 10:14 am

    Where are you getting your info? I am an LTC instructor, and this has been the law for years. No change here. The only reason this came up is that the Lt Gov doesn’t understand the law, and after that mass murder he made a mistake in an interview in an interview and they all had to circle the wagons.

    • Mike S. December 29, 2017, 12:36 pm

      You are absolutely correct!! I asked my self the same question upon seeing the headline. In order for any church in Texas to prohibit handguns, they are required to post the exact same official signage (citing Penal code 30.06 for concealed carry or 30.07 for open carry) as any business or entity.

  • Nick M December 29, 2017, 9:37 am

    Be glad we don’t have the volume of jihadists that have entered this country like they did in the EU. Church is high on their list.

  • TX223 December 29, 2017, 8:51 am

    It’s been this way for years.
    Shows you how much our politician knows about the law.
    It was legal per TX statute without a need for a ruling. Unfortunately the ruling diluted the law.

  • Ronnie December 29, 2017, 8:50 am

    Now, Why would you ever need to have a gun in a Church?????????????

    • Mike S. December 29, 2017, 12:37 pm

      I’m guessing you don’t attend church regularly.

    • Dave January 9, 2019, 10:40 pm

      Your question”Why would you ever need to have a gun in church?’ Well,let,s see. You are sitting in church during services,when suddenly the door bangs open,and a man armedWITH A GUN bursts in.You options are: (1) Hide under a pew and pray you wont be seen. (2) Throw your bible at the shooter. (3) Turn and run and wait for the shot in your back,or ,if youi are armed,take the shooter out with three to the chest. Any more questions??

  • Roger McCown December 29, 2017, 8:23 am

    While the story about “guns in church” maybe news to a lot of people, it should not be news to Texans. The previous legislature modified the statute and this has been the law of the land in Texas for the past couple years. The principle benefit in the more recently passed open carry provision is that it removes the penalty for accidental exposure Many of us believe the value of conceal carry is the “concealed” portion of it.. I have yet to see a single instance of blatant open carry. Press on

    • Mitch Spence December 29, 2017, 3:13 pm

      Right on the money, Roger.

  • David R. Fiedeldey December 29, 2017, 7:49 am

    Sad to see that carrying can be banned at all, but, with signs or notices, we at least know which businesses, churches, etc., that we should avoid.

    • James December 29, 2017, 8:03 am

      I don’t understand why places of business or churches, or anyone else has the ability to Limit any Constitutional right…..

      • Ken December 29, 2017, 5:00 pm

        Everyone has the right to prohibit carrying of weapons on their property or place of business. That is the simple fact of the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That also gives us the right to boycott those same places. There are several businesses where I live in TX that prohibit firearms, I don’t do business with any of them. Our church goes the single step of prohibiting open carry there. That is just common sense for all the other members of the church who may not be in favour of allowing it, this way they don’t see them so they don’t think about them.

  • bbbs53 December 29, 2017, 3:49 am

    Some of us carry one to church every week and have for years, and everywhere else! Way too many wack jobs out there not to.

    • RAY BROOKS December 29, 2017, 8:04 pm

      There has been way to many clowns out there for years, now it is a whole lot worse. I’m 66 years old and have been packing for 45 years, like a mastercard don’t leave home without it. Better to have it and not need it then to need it and not have it in church or any where else.

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