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2017-12-07

Alice Tripp, legislative director for the Texas State Rifle Association, responds

Contributed

Carrying in Church, Penal Code 30.06
Since the Sutherland Springs tragedy, Texans with a handgun license are asking for reassurance, “Can licensees carry in a church?” The easy answer is: “Yes.” State law does not prohibit you and has not since 1997, however your church might!
The Back Story
In 1995 when CHL law finally passed, the answer to the Church Question was: “No.” Initially churches were a prohibited location.
Then in 1997, when the language to Penal Code 30.06 passed creating the sign familiar to licensees, one line was added to PC 46.035. It is located in law at PC 46.035 (i). Check out line (i) on the link to the bill.
The addition of that one line (i) treats churches as other private property. Churches and church property were longer prohibited unless the sign is posted.
In 1999, there was another attempt to make churches prohibited locations again. The committee refused to vote and the bill died.
My minister testified: “The Peace of God is not disturbed by law-abiding citizens exercising their constitutional rights. In addition, our country was founded on the separation of church and state and I do not need the state of Texas telling my people how to manage their property.”
Should PC 46.035 be clarified?
Well of course, but it was the best that could be passed in 1997 and has worked well for 20 years.
If your church decides to allow those with a handgun license to carry, but doesn't want to see a handgun, it's possible to either post PC 30.07 or to give effective notice which can mean a "cover up, please" card.
Posting both 30.06 and PC 30.07 is required to fully prohibit handgun licensees.
Consider this: Are licensees a bigger concern for the church than criminals? Signs do not stop criminals.
Volunteer Church Security
Churches have not been allowed by statute to organize a security committee. The problem has been with the Occupation Code and with the private security industry. The language problem was finally corrected in the last session.
Now, any church can organize volunteers to participate in church security. The volunteer church members may carry if they have a license to carry, but they must not appear to be law enforcement or appear to be security guards. This means their physical appearance. Don't make shirts or provide badges, and remind your volunteers often that they are not security guards or law enforcement. My suggestion is to include the women of your church. See the details of the bill below and click on the link.
The language of HB421 by Representative Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving): Relating to the exemption from the application of the Private Security Act of certain persons who provide security services on a volunteer basis at a place of religious worship.
House Bill 421 didn’t make it, but the language was added as an amendment to the bill listed below. SB2065 by Senator Kelly Hancock (R-N. Richland Hills). See the amendment on page 51 of the bill.
Threats to Texas Gun Owners
During the week following Sutherland Springs, four Texas House Democrats and their anti-gun friends laid out a wish list during a press conference. The threat includes: a rifle license for the “carrying of a rifle,” universal background checks, another layer of protective orders, and more. See press conference link above.
I hesitate to mention of the name of the North Dallas Republican State Rep or the editorial carried in the Dallas News. Similar off the cuff comments cost him an endorsement by TSRA two years ago. Such comments are not missed and not forgotten.
In Conclusion
Be thankful for family and friends, be thankful for a country where discussion and even disagreements are required and make all of us stronger and more determined.
Thank you for 99 years of membership and your gifts to the Texas State Rifle Association and the TSRA-PAC.
God bless and Keep the Faith!
Alice Tripp
Legislative director, TSRA