Does a recent change in gun laws affect churches? Yes, and no.

Does a recent change in gun laws affect churches? Yes, and no.

Lawmakers passed many laws related to guns in the last legislative session, but only one,  Senate Bill 535, directly mentioned or affects churches. Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed it into law.

While it removes places of worship from the list of sites where carrying weapons is prohibited, it does not restrict the rights of churches to prohibit licensed Texans from carrying on their premises. A church that chooses may still post signs to prohibit weapons on their premises.

This is from a Texas Tribune article:

“The legislation — Senate Bill 535 by Republican state Sen. Donna Campbell of New Braunfels — strikes a provision in current law that says handguns aren’t allowed in ‘churches, synagogues, or other places of worship.’

“To be clear, churches would still be able to prohibit licensed citizens from carrying firearms on their premises so long as they provide oral or written notice.”

The article continues, “Campbell’s bill codifies a previous opinion from Attorney General Ken Paxton sought shortly after the shooting in Sutherland Springs. In the opinion, Paxton stated that ‘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.’”

There is no diocesan policy on guns. Each congregation is responsible for making a decision about whether or not to allow people to carry guns on church property and to post and give notice appropriately based on their decision. Bishop Scott Mayer strongly encourages congregations to have conversations about this before the leadership implements any policy.

Here is a link to resources on our diocesan website from Texas Impact. This information still applies. Scroll down to the section marked Gun Laws.