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Texas churches must display notices to keep weapons out

DALLAS (BP)–Any Texan licensed to carry a concealed weapon can pack a pistol at church unless there’s a sign on the church door forbidding it, Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission director Phil Strickland said at the agency’s October meeting.
The latest edition of Texas Concealed Handgun Laws, published by the Texas Department of Public Safety to reflect changes made in the 75th Texas Legislature, states churches now are required to post notice if they want to prohibit concealed handguns on their property.
While the law states a property owner or someone acting with authority on behalf of the owner must provide notice “by oral or written communication,” in practical terms it means a church must place clearly visible signs at its entrances if it wishes to ban guns in its buildings.
To declare church property a gun-free zone, a church must post in letters at least one inch high — in both English and Spanish — the following statement: “Pursuant to Section 30.06, Penal Code (trespass by holder of license to carry a concealed handgun), a person licensed under Article 4413 (29ee), Revised Statutes (concealed handgun law) may not enter this property with a concealed handgun.”
“Could other language be used? No. The law says that the notice has to be ‘identical’ to the language as stated,” Strickland said during the Texas CLC’s Oct. 9-10 meeting in Dallas.
The original law that legalized the carrying of concealed weapons made it illegal to carry any handgun — concealed or not — “on the premises of a church, synagogue or other established place of religious worship.”
However, concealed among the changes in the revised handgun law as introduced and adopted in the last legislative session was a provision that the exemptions for places of worship “do not apply if … (the person carrying a concealed handgun) was not given effective notice under Section 30.06.”
The notice must be posted “in a conspicuous manner clearly visible to the public,” according to the law.
“I think the language, unfortunately, is exceedingly clear,” Strickland said. “What they have done is to require churches to provide notice that a person is not to go on the property with a concealed handgun.”

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  • Ken Camp