Texas House Approves Bill Allowing Licensed Handgun Owners to Carry Weapons in Church

NEWFOUNDLAND, PA – FEBRUARY 28: A man holds a pistol during a ceremony at the World Peace and Unification Sanctuary in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania on February 28, 2018 in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania. The controversial church, which is led by the son of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon, believes the AR-15 symbolizes the “rod of iron” in the biblical book of Revelation, and it has encouraged couples to bring the weapons to a “commitment ceremony” or “Perfection Stage Book of Life Registration Blessing”. Officials in the rural area in the Pocono Mountains have reportedly told elementary school parents that their children will be relocated on Wednesday to accommodate the AR-15 ceremony. The semiautomatic rifles are similar to the weapons used in a Florida high school shooting two weeks earlier. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

More than a year after a gunman killed 26 in a Sutherland Springs church, the Texas House gave preliminary approval Monday to a bill that would allow licensed handgun owners to legally carry their weapons in places of worship.

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.

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.”

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SOURCE: The Texas Tribune, Alex Samuels