Can you protect yourself or others with a firearm in church? Missouri law has a specific set of rules that apply to firearms in churches.
The general rule is this: you need permission from the governing body of the church in order to legally carry a firearm in church. The governing body of the church can grant permission and often pastors or church leaders will organize safety teams. These teams usually consist of trained individuals who work together, with a safety plan, to prepare for active shooter situations or other emergencies which may require self-defense or defense of other parishioners.
If you are a church leader and you’re in the process of putting together a safety team, I strongly recommend that you consult with someone trained in emergency situations and active shooter situations, and that your team trains together to prepare for any such situation.
Defending the Flock
There is a considerable difference between cover and concealment. If someone ducks behind a pew, they may be concealed from a shooter. However, they may not have cover. Concealment is an object that hides you from the view of an attacker, whereas cover is an object that both hides you and protects you from any projectiles headed your way. Bullets can easily penetrate pews, and it may be wise to create areas of true cover within the church.
If you are a pastor, could you protect your flock from an active shooter situation? The answer is yes; you can grant certain parishioners permission to carry firearms in church.
If you are concerned with people carrying firearms in church and prefer them not to carry, can you prohibit them from doing so? Yes. In fact, the default of the law is that people cannot carry firearms to church, giving you the authority to decide whether you want to allow firearms.
Places of Worship with Schools Attached
If a place of worship in Missouri also operates as a K-12 school, what laws apply to that church? Both laws apply. However, the laws that pertain to firearms in schools are more restrictive than those of a place of worship. The governing body of a school can grant permission for individuals to carry the same way they can with a place of worship.
If you’re putting together a safety plan or a safety team, make sure you’re familiar with, and follow the law. For any questions, please call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.