The right to carry in Texas churches was officially clarified by Attorney General Ken Paxton, in an Opinion issued last week on December 21, 2017.
The request for clarification came from Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, who did so in the wake of last month’s shooting at a small rural church that left twenty-six congregants dead.
“Following the shooting in Sutherland Springs in November, everyone in the state was very thankful for the brave Texan who stopped the attack through the exercise of his Second Amendment rights,” stated Lt. Governor Patrick.
Two issues were addressed in the Attorney General’s Opinion:
First, a licensed gun holder is allowed to carry their handgun on the premises of a church, unless the church posts signs excluding handguns.
The Texas Penal Code makes it a criminal offense for a license holder to carry a concealed handgun, and openly carry a handgun, on property of another without consent, when the license holder has received notice forbidding carrying a handgun on the property.
Notice may be given orally or by written communication, from the owner of the property, or by someone with apparent authority to act for the owner.
The second issue involved the waiving of the private security fees for churches.
The State of Texas requires any private business that employs a commissioned security officer, to first obtain a letter of authority from the Texas Private Security Board. The fee for such is $400, with an annual renewal of $225, each subsequent year.
According to the Attorney General’s opinion, the recently passed Senate Bill 2065 removes this requirement for a person or organization that is “providing volunteer security services on the premises of a church, synagogue, or other established place of religious worship.”
“These fees were a burden, particularly on small churches,” stated Lt. Governor Patrick.
To qualify, the “volunteer security service” must be provided without compensation or remuneration, and persons providing the service may not wear a badge or uniform that give the appearance of a peace officer or security officer.
Lt. Governor Patrick thanked Attorney General Paxton for his quick response, stating “I believed our state laws provided more protections than many realized and I requested the opinion to make sure that Texans are clear about our laws, especially when it comes to church security.”