On Thursday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released an opinion that it is now legal to carry a loaded gun into a church so long as there are no signs banning weapons. After the November mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which left 26 people killed and 20 others injured, the issue became a topic of debate. After the tragedy, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick requested the legal opinion so as to allow churches and places of worship to evaluate their options for improved security.
In his opinion, Paxton wrote: “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.” Paxton added, “However, churches may instead decide not to provide notice and to allow the carrying of handguns on their premises.”
In Texas this year, the state legislature passed a bill to exempt churches from having to pay fees to have their own security personnel. Paxton opined that imposing the fees posed a financial hardship on small congregations. In Texas, other private institutions pay fees to the state for security teams.