Following the mass shooting on November 5th I have received many questions about people wanting to carry in church. Many ask what are the legal requirements, logistics, who should, etc. Let's first address the legal aspect, keeping in mind I am an instructor for firearms, not a lawyer. Please seek your own legal council before you commit to taking on the responsibility of not only your own protection but that of you fellow church members.
First is it even legal to carry in church with a Texas LTC (handgun permit)? Well, yes and no.
Sec. 46.035. UNLAWFUL CARRYING OF HANDGUN BY LICENSE HOLDER. (a) A license holder commits an offense if the license holder carries a handgun on or about the license holder's person under the authority of Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, and intentionally displays the handgun in plain view of another person in a public place. It is an exception to the application of this subsection that the handgun was partially or wholly visible but was carried in a shoulder or belt holster by the license holder.
(6) on the premises of a church, synagogue, or other established place of religious worship.
(i) Subsections (b)(4), (b)(5), (b)(6), and (c) do not apply if the actor was not given effective notice under Section 30.06 or 30.07.
So, if you are not given notice under 30.06 or 30.07, you can carry in church. What are those?
Sec. 30.06. TRESPASS BY LICENSE HOLDER WITH A CONCEALED HANDGUN. (a) A license holder commits an offense if the license holder:
(1) carries a concealed handgun under the authority of Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, on property of another without effective consent; and
(2) received notice that entry on the property by a license holder with a concealed handgun was forbidden.
(b) For purposes of this section, a person receives notice if the owner of the property or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner provides notice to the person by oral or written communication.
(c) In this section:
(1) "Entry" has the meaning assigned by Section 30.05(b).
(2) "License holder" has the meaning assigned by Section 46.035(f).
(3) "Written communication" means:
(A) a card or other document on which is written language identical to the following: "Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by license holder with a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code (handgun licensing law), may not enter this property with a concealed handgun"; or
(B) a sign posted on the property that:
(i) includes the language described by Paragraph (A) in both English and Spanish;
(ii) appears in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height; and
(iii) is displayed in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public.
(d) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $200, except that the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if it is shown on the trial of the offense that, after entering the property, the license holder was personally given the notice by oral communication described by Subsection (b) and subsequently failed to depart.
(e) It is an exception to the application of this section that the property on which the license holder carries a handgun is owned or leased by a governmental entity and is not a premises or other place on which the license holder is prohibited from carrying the handgun under Section 46.03 or 46.035.
Sec. 30.07. TRESPASS BY LICENSE HOLDER WITH AN OPENLY CARRIED HANDGUN. .
For our purposes, this is the same except that Concealed changes to Open.
Ok, in English...if someone that appears to have authority tells you not to carry, DON'T! If you are handed something read it, if might have the written notice you are looking for telling you not to carry. Finally, and the easiest, look for the 30.06 sign (no concealed carry) or the 30.07 sign, (no open carry).
Next blog, can a church have a security team?