Want to Carry Your Gun to Christmas Service at Church? Know the Law First!

As we celebrate this Holiday Season, there are a lot of us who will be attending Christmas services, including some late-night services. Many will want to carry their handgun for protection, and we at Texas and U.S. Law Shield want to make certain that our members understand the laws of their states with regards to carrying a handgun into a church, synagogue, or other places of worship.

To get the answers, we turned to our Independent Program Attorneys for their input. Here is what they had to say.

Texas

Texas Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Gordon Cooper provided this advice to our Texas members:

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Texas LawShield Independent Program Attorney Emily Taylor

“Under Texas law, it is completely legal to carry into a church or other place of worship, so long as you have a License to Carry.

“However, it does become prohibited if there is a posted 30.06 and/or 30.07 sign, or if you have received verbal notice not to carry a firearm within the facility.

“So, in Texas, if you want to carry your handgun with you into a service this Christmas, you may do so legally so long as you are licensed and you have not been given notice, either by the proper signage or verbally that guns are prohibited.

“One caveat is that if your church is conducting a school program as an educational institution at the time, you should avoid that section of the church if you are carrying.”

“Finally, we have a new law this year regarding carrying your ‘location-restricted knife’ into a church or other place of worship. If your carry knife has a blade of more than 5 ½ inches (from tip to guard), you MAY NOT carry it into a church. This is true with or without signage.”

“Have a safe Holiday Season.”

Colorado

douglas-richards-right-facing U.S. Law Shield of Colorado Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards
U.S. LawShield of Colorado Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards

For our Colorado members, U.S. Law Shield of Colorado Independent Program Attorney Doug Richards had this to say:

“Colorado has no specific law prohibiting an individual with a Concealed Handgun Permit from carrying their weapon into a place of worship.

“But, under the law as a private property owner, the church may prohibit firearms. You need to check with your particular church as to what their policy is towards firearms before attending a service this Christmas.

“Another question that I frequently get is ‘what if someone wants to carry a weapon into a church/synagogue/or other place of worship that has Sunday School (or other education services) on the premises?’ CO’s concealed carry law creates an exception to allow one to carry within a public school if contracted as a school security officer and performing duties pursuant to that position.  We have thus recommended that you obtain specific authorization first and then you may carry under this exception.  Colorado law does not address concealed carry with a lawful permit on private school grounds.  As such, you need to check with the property owner regarding their firearm policy.

18-12-214(3)(b) creates an exception whereby a permittee who is retained as a school security officer may carry a concealed handgun onto the property of a public school while the permittee is on duty.

A Sunday School or other educational service associated with a place of service is likely going to be a private institution.  18-12-105.5(1)(d) creates a specific exception to concealed carry with a lawful permit but then goes on to say it is still unlawful if the person is carrying in violation of 18-12-214(3).  That statute only says it is unlawful for a permittee to carry on public schools.  By omission, I take that to mean a permittee can carry on private school grounds. Federal law is generally consistent.

 

“Best wishes this Holiday Season.”

Pennsylvania

U.S. Law Shield of Pennsylvania Independent Program Attorney Justin McShane provides this input:

justin-mcshane-foto-1024x1024-halfsize, U.S. Law Shield of Pennsylvania Independent Program Attorney Justin McShane
U.S. LawShield of Pennsylvania Independent Program Attorney Justin McShane

“Law Abiding Gun Owners (LAGOs) can legally possess a firearm in church the same way they could anywhere else that is not a prohibited place. Of course, this isn’t limited to churches of a particular religion or denomination. Pennsylvania is a very gun-friendly state. As such, there are no specific laws that prohibit guns in churches. There is one notable exception and that is if the church also houses a school of any grades K-12. Even when school is not in session, if that church shares the same building as a school, some some District Attorneys, such as in Philadelphia and its suburbs, still take a strong position that firearms are prohibited.”

“Churches, like any other property owner, can prohibit firearms if they so choose. These types of private “no gun” policies do not carry the force of the law. As such, the most the church can do if you bring a firearm is ask you to leave.”

“There are no laws specifically prohibiting carrying in a place of worship. Like anywhere else, however, use caution and have a safe and Merry Christmas”.

Oklahoma

U.S. Law Shield of Oklahoma Independent Program Attorney Robert Robles has this specific advice:

“My advice to USLS members who want to carry a handgun into a church/synagogue/etc. is that churches, synagogues, and places of worship are not specifically prohibited places under Oklahoma Statutes, 21 O.S. section 1277. However, the church or place of worship may prohibit the carrying of firearms on the premises, by placing appropriate signs.

“A person having a CCL, may legally carry a firearm in a church or place of worship as long as the owners of the premises do not prohibit the carrying on the premises. The question becomes a little more problematic when the church has a school on the premises.

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U.S. LawShield of Oklahoma Independent Program Attorney Robert Robles

“Oklahoma law defines schools, both public and private: generally public schools are free schools supported by public taxation, and private schools are generally defined as any privately owned, nonpublic entity that receives remuneration that is approved for a state authorization license and provides post-secondary education, or provides vocational-technical education prior to the person obtaining a high school diploma or its equivalency. There are many exceptions to the licensing requirements of a private school, most exceptions have to do with the requirement of state licensing to be a private school. Section 1277C allows a private school to set policy allowing the carrying of firearms on school property.

“But what if the church offers a Sunday school program? If a Sunday school or a religious school does not charge fees for the education and does not have to be licensed in order to teach children about the faith, then the school probably does not meet the requirement of being a school in the section 1277 sense. But if the religious school has a teaching curriculum with  the object being to meet some state standards or licensing prerequisites and charges a fee for the education, the Sunday school may be a private school according to the definition which prohibits the carrying of firearms under section 1277 of the Self Defense Act. However, the school’s governing entity through appropriate private school policy may allow the carrying of firearms on school property.

“For example, a church could decide to charter a primary school located in the church building, collect fees for teaching the children their ABC’s, hire licensed teachers, and comply with all state requirements to charter the school. What happens to the church building? It becomes a school building. One can’t carry a gun on school property on Saturday or Sunday when school is out. So, the church grounds become school grounds. The church may inadvertently become a place of worship located at a school instead of vice versa. It thus becomes very important for the school and the church to have separate physical identities and make decisions as part of school policy concerning the carrying of firearms on the school premises.

“It is generally a good policy to refrain from carrying a firearm in all schools for the simple reason that a school is a designated prohibited place and one can never know whether the private school allows the carrying of guns on the premises. Unless the school falls into one of the exceptions written in section 1277 and 1277C or the school is not a school covered by section 1277, one could get in big trouble carrying their pistol on school grounds.

“I hope this answers your question about carrying a gun into a church service.

“May you and your family have a safe and wonderful Holiday Season.”

Virginia

For our Virginia members, U.S. Law Shield of Virginia Independent Program Attorney Mitch Wells had this to say:

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U.S. LawShield of Virginia Independent Program Attorney Mitch Wells

“According to the law, a private property owner, such as any place of worship may prohibit firearms.

“If there is no private property firearms ban, then gun owners need to be aware of Va. Code § 18.2-283, which states that it is unlawful for any person to carry any gun or other dangerous weapon into a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held unless there is a good and sufficient reason. According to a Attorney General opinion dated April 8, 2011, personal protection is considered to be a good and sufficient reason to carry a firearm.

“Best wishes this Holiday Season.”

Missouri

For our members in the Show Me State, U.S. Law Shield of Missouri Independent Program Attorney John Schleiffarth had this advice:

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U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney John Schleiffarth

“Missouri law has a specific prohibition when it comes to allowing guns in places of worship. Specifically, RSMo §571.107(14) states that guns are not permitted in any church or other place of religious worship without the consent of the minister or person or persons representing the religious organization that exercises control over the place of religious worship.

“However, keeping a firearm in a vehicle in the church parking lot is not a criminal offense so long as the firearm is not removed from the vehicle or brandished while the vehicle is on the church’s property.

“If you have a concealed carry license or endorsement, carrying a gun into a church is not a criminal act but you may be denied access to the premises and possibly removed from the premises. If you refuse to leave and a peace officer is summoned, you may be issued a citation for up to one hundred dollars for the first offense. If a second citation for a similar violation occurs within a six-month period, you can be fined up to two hundred dollars and have your permit, and, if applicable, endorsement to carry concealed firearms suspended for a period of one year. If a third citation for a similar violation is issued within one year of the first citation, you can be fined up to five hundred dollars and have your concealed carry permit, and, if applicable, endorsement revoked and you will not be eligible for a concealed carry permit for a period of three years.

“The law further states that anyone carrying a firearm or any other weapon readily capable of lethal use into any church or place where people have assembled for worship without a carry permit or endorsement commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons, a class B misdemeanor.  (RSMo §571.030. 1.(8) and RSMo §571.030. 8.(2))

“So if you plan on attending a Christmas service, leave your firearm locked in your car in the parking lot.

“Have a wonderful Holiday Season. Merry Christmas.”

Florida

We turned to James Phillips, Independent Program Attorney for U.S. Law Shield of Florida, for the law in his state.

“A person is allowed to carry at church so long as there is not a school, daycare or preschool on the church property.  Under Florida Law a firearm is not allowed on school premises regardless if the school is open or closed. Therefore, even if the school is not open during church services or the school is located in a separate building than where the church service is being held, an individual will be prohibited from carrying a firearm on their person, even if he or she possesses a concealed weapon’s license.

 

James D. Phillips, Independent Program Attorney for U.S. LawShield of Florida

“Furthermore, if a church does not have a school, daycare or preschool on its property but has “No Gun” signs posted, then an individual is still not allowed to carry on the property.  “No Gun” signs posted on the property gives an individual notice that he is not invited onto the property if he is in possession of a firearm and if he or she decides to ignore the sign then he or she is committing an armed trespass, which is a third-degree felony.

“So, before you decide to carry to church you need to answer two questions

  1.  Does my church have a school, preschool or daycare on the property?
  2. Have I been informed either by posted “No Gun” signs or other means that guns are not allowed on the property?

“If your answer is ‘no’ to both questions, carry on, but if you answer ‘yes’ to either of these questions, then leave your firearm at home.

“Best wishes this Holiday Season from our families at Katz & Phillips, P.A., to yours.”

Georgia

Matt Kilgo, Independent Program Attorney for U.S. Law Shield of Georgia had this advice for our members in the Peach Tree State:

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Matt Kilgo, Independent Program Attorney for U.S. LawShield of Georgia

“As many of you will be attending religious services this Holiday Season, you should be aware of the impact the recently passed Safe Carry Protection Act has on places of worship.

“Basically, the law DOES prohibit carrying weapons into a place of worship, UNLESS the governing body or authority of the church explicitly grants permission to holders of a weapons carry license to carry their gun in the church. Therefore, if a church does not “opt-in” or vote to permit weapons on its property, then weapons are not allowed.

“Without that “okay” expressly given, no person may carry into a place of worship.  That also means if the church officials do nothing, that is the same thing as not granting permission, so no weapons will be permitted on church property.

“There is an exception for licensed individuals who notify church security or management of their weapon and follow management’s direction “for removing, securing, storing, or temporarily surrendering such weapon”, as well as for a license holder who possesses a weapon in his or her car, or secures the weapon in a locked compartment of the vehicle in a parking facility owned or operated by the place of worship.

“If you violate the law but have a carry license, you will not be arrested but you will be cited and fined up to $100 and could have your carry license revoked.  If you possess a weapon in the church without a carry license you are subject to being arrested and charged with a misdemeanor.

“Another important thing to remember is that if the church has a school on its property, Georgia law prohibits carrying guns onto any property owned or leased for a public or private elementary or secondary school. Therefore, arguably, a church with a school cannot grant permission for anyone to carry a weapon on their property, except for law enforcement or school security officers.

“So if you plan on going to a place of worship, make certain you know the church’s policy on guns and whether there is a school on church property.

“Enjoy this Christmas Season with your family and have a safe new year.”

New Jersey

Evan Nappen, the Independent Program Attorney for U.S. Law Shield of New Jersey, offered this advice for people who live in or may be visiting the Garden State:

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Evan Nappen, Independent Program Attorney for U.S. LawShield of New Jersey

“As almost all gun-owners know, New Jersey has some of the most strict gun laws and regulations in the nation. New Jersey generally prohibits the knowing possession of a handgun in any place other than one’s own property or place of business without a permit to carry a handgun. Carry is so limited in NJ that there are no specific gun laws regarding private property. If there is a sign prohibiting carry and someone violates it, then arguably they are a trespasser.

“If you are able to successfully navigate the daunting tasks the State makes you endure in order to obtain a permit to carry a handgun and actually get a permit, then you may legally carry your gun into a church.

“So, there you have it. You need a permit to carry a handgun in order to carry one in a church.

“Have a safe and wonderful Holiday Season.”

 

 

Missouri: Casino Carry

 

 

Is it legal to carry a firearm into or around a Missouri casino? In this video, U.S. Law Shield of Missouri Independent Program Attorney Michael P. Shea answers questions Members raise a lot: Can a person carrying a firearm take it into gaming establishments or into parking lots around casinos? Watch the video to get the answers.

Oklahoma: Casino Carry

Is it legal to carry a firearm into an Oklahoma casino? In this video, U.S. Law Shield of Oklahoma Independent Program Attorney Robert Robles answers a question he hears frequently from Members. Can a person carrying a firearm take it into gaming establishments, which are private property? Watch the video to get the answer.

Levi's CEO: ‘You don’t need a gun to try on a pair of jeans’

 

Last week, Levi Strauss Chief Executive Chip Bergh posted an open letter on LinkedIn asking the company’s customers not to bring weapons into the company’s stores. Does Bergh’s statement raise legal problems for LTC permit holders in Texas?

From Bergh’s statement:

“Providing a safe environment to work and shop is a top priority for us at Levi Strauss & Co. That imperative is quickly challenged, however, when a weapon is carried into one of our stores. Recently, we had an incident in one of our stores where a gun inadvertently went off, injuring the customer who was carrying it.

levi's, carry handgun, holster
Levi Strauss Chief Executive Chip Bergh has asked customers not to bring weapons into the company’s stores. Is that effective notice for LTC permit holders in Texas?

“So, while we understand the heartfelt and strongly-held opinions on both sides of the gun debate, it is with the safety and security of our employees and customers in mind that we respectfully ask people not to bring firearms into our stores, offices or facilities, even in states where it’s permitted by law. Of course, authorized members of law enforcement are an exception.”

“It’s not an anti-Second Amendment thing,” Bergh told Fortune magazine. The denim apparel maker stopped short of issuing an outright ban on firearms. Bergh, 59, is a former U.S. Army captain and claimed he is currently not a gun owner.

“You don’t need a gun to try on a pair of jeans and it’s really out of respect for the safety of our employees and consumers shopping in our stores,” Bergh told Fortune.

Texas & U.S. Law Shield commenters on our Facebook pages pointed out, however, that it is necessary to bring your carry handgun if you’re trying on pants, otherwise, “How do you know the jeans will fit over your IWB holster?” said Chris W. The positioning of belt loops on the waistband can also affect where OWB is most comfortable, others mentioned. And the cut and size of pockets affects pocket carry, commenters said.

The legal issue for Texas Law Shield Members is, does Bergh’s statement constitute legal notice under the state’s 30.06 and 30.07 statutes?

Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington, of the Houston-based Walker & Byington law firm and a contributing legal editor for Texas Law Shield’s blog, said, “Do his statements give LTC holders proper notice to prohibit them from carrying into a Levi’s store? Nope.”

She added, “We’ve seen these sorts of statements before from Target and Starbuck’s executives, but they have no legal bearing on Texas LTC holders. In order to prohibit an LTC holder from carrying into a store, there are three ways to give effective notice.”

She described those methods: “The most popular is by posting a 30.06 sign to prohibit concealed carry or a 30.07 sign to prohibit open carry. Second, a person with apparent authority may approach a person to specifically tell them guns are not allowed on the premises. Finally, giving a written communication to a person with the proper 30.06 or 30.07 language will suffice as effective notice.”

“If Mr. Bergh wants to prohibit LTC holders from carrying into his stores, he must follow the law as it is laid out by Texas Penal Code sections 30.06 and 30.07 like the rest of us,” Byington said.

The incident that precipitated Bergh’s statement, he said, was when a customer carrying a handgun accidentally shot himself inside a Levi’s store in Commerce, Georgia. He suffered a non-life threatening injury.

Here is the text of Bergh’s open letter to customers:

An Open Letter to Customers: Our Weapons Policy

November 30, 2016

Dear Customers,

The debate in the U.S. over gun safety and gun rights is as complex as it is divisive. As a former army officer, a father and business leader, I’ve heard the arguments from all sides. And, as CEO of a 163-year-old company whose products and presence rest at the intersection of culture and community in more than 110 countries around the world, I feel a tremendous responsibility to share our position on the issue, now, at a time when clarity is paramount.

With stores in Paris, Nice and Orlando, and the company’s European headquarters in Brussels, I’ve thought more about safety in the past year than in the previous three decades of my career because of how ‘close to home’ so many incidents with guns have come to impacting people working for this company.

We operate in hundreds of stores across every state in the U.S., and laws are different in each one. We know that the presence of firearms in our stores creates an unsettling environment for many of our employees and customers. We also know that trying to enforce a ban could potentially undermine the purpose of the ban itself: safety. With that in mind we’ve made this decision as a business – a request not a mandate – and we sincerely hope responsible gun owners will respect our position.

It boils down to this: you shouldn’t have to be concerned about your safety while shopping for clothes or trying on a pair of jeans. Simply put, firearms don’t belong in either of those settings. In the end, I believe we have an obligation to our employees and customers to ensure a safe environment and keeping firearms out of our stores and offices will get us one step closer to achieving that reality.

Sincerely,

Chip Bergh

President and Chief Executive Officer, Levi Strauss & Co.

 

by Texas Law Shield Staff

New Jersey Legislator Introduces Bill Requiring Photos on All Gun Permits

NJ permit

As reported by the Politico New Jersey website, State Senator Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) has introduced a bill, S2496, which would require a color photo of the applicant on all firearms identification cards, permits to purchase a handgun, and permits to carry a handgun.

New Jersey requires a person wanting to buy a firearm to obtain a Firearms Purchaser Identification Card and/or a Permit to Purchase a Handgun.

Then, to purchase a rifle or shotgun (or a bb or pellet rifle), the individual must present the Firearms Purchaser Identification card along with a photo ID and a completed Certificate of Eligibility that gets submitted to the State.

To buy a handgun (or bb or pellet handgun), the purchaser has to present a Permit to Purchase a Handgun along with one other form of identification. The permit does not have a photo of the purchaser.

Nonetheless, federal law already requires those wanting to purchase a firearm to produce a photo identification prior to the sale.

And New Jersey’s permit to carry a concealed firearm already has a photo of the individual on it.

So the question becomes “Why?”

Sen. Ruiz is reported to have said “I think it’s just an extra measure of security in the event the card gets in the wrong hands.”

Based on Governor Chris Christie’s recent veto of two gun measures that further restricted gun rights, it is highly likely that he would also veto this bill should both houses of the State Legislature pass the proposed bill and send it on to him for consideration.

As of this writing, the bill has been referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.

We will continue to follow this piece of legislation and keep you informed as to its progress.

Most Expensive Single Gun Ever Auctioned Draws $1.265 Million

A Model 1886 Winchester rifle presented to Henry Ware Lawton is now the most expensive single firearm ever sold at auction, according to Rock Island Auction Company. Photo courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company.
A Model 1886 Winchester rifle presented to Henry Ware Lawton is now the most expensive single firearm ever sold at auction, according to Rock Island Auction Company. Photo courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company.

A Model 1886 Winchester rifle presented to Henry Ware Lawton, who as a U.S. Army captain is widely credited with capturing Apache leader Geronimo, is now the most expensive single firearm ever sold at auction after drawing $1.26 million at Rock Island Auction Company’s April auction.

According to Rock Island Auction Company (RIAC), other guns have sold higher as a pair, but no other single firearm surpasses this new world record.

U.S. Law Shield has no financial connection to RIAC, and we don’t endorse RIAC’s auctions. We report the sale of this one-of-a-kind rifle solely as an item of general firearms interest.

The Winchester Model 1886 Sporting Rifle (serial number 1) was presented to Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Capt. Henry W. Lawton by fellow Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, friend and influential firearms designer and noted friend of the Browning family Lieut. George E. Albee. The rifle and a gold pocket watch were presented to Capt. Lawton by the “Cattlemen of Central New Mexico” as a token of their appreciation for his service in the capture of the Apache Indian Chief Geronimo and his band in 1886.

“It is an honor to be entrusted with an American treasure,” said Rock Island Auction Company President Kevin Hogan. “Being serial number one and possessing such outstanding condition would alone be enough to draw six figures at auction. When you add one of the most famous names in the history of the Old West you have a huge crossover appeal and set the stage for something special to happen.”

In the summer of 1886, a force under the command of Capt. Lawton and Capt. Charles Gatewood pursued Geronimo and other hostile Chiricahua Apaches into Mexico and the Arizona territory. In September 1886, Gatewood and Lawton found Geronimo and negotiated the surrender of the last band of hostile Apaches to the U.S. Army.

Albee, a friend of Lawton’s from the Civil War, worked for Winchester and was able to secure serial number “1” of the company’s newest rifle design in 1886. He presented it to his old war buddy to commemorate Lawton’s remarkable achievement.

Lawton had strong connections with several other Law Shield states, first during his career as a Union soldier in the Civil War and then later in the U.S. Army on several deployments:

Virginia: In April 1861, he signed up for service in Company E of the 9th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment, and served with this unit in western Virginia, including the July 1861 skirmish at Carrick’s Ford on the Cheat River near Parsons.

Georgia: On August 3, 1864, during the Union forces campaign outside Atlanta, Lawton led Company A against enemy rifle pits and then “stubbornly and successfully” held it against two counterattacks. For these actions in the Civil War, Lawton was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1893.

Texas: Joining the 41st Infantry Regiment under the command of Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie in 1866, Lieutenant Lawton fought in most of the major Indian campaigns in Texas and other parts of the southwest, including the Fourth Cavalry’s victory at the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon in 1874.

Colorado: As Inspector General of the Army, he was based in Denver from 1894–1895. In December 1894, he persuaded about 400 Southern Utes to return to their Colorado reservation from eastern Utah, where they had moved for the winter without getting the approval of the U.S. government.

Florida: Based for a time in Tampa, Lawton would participate in several battles in the Spanish-American War in Cuba in 1898.

Oklahoma: Lawton, Oklahoma, incorporated 1901, was named for General Lawton. The city is near Fort Sill, U.S. Army Field Artillery Center, where Apache Chief Geronimo is buried and where he spent his last years as a prisoner.

Watch the video below for more about this remarkable rifle. Or click on the links below to read a detailed account of the men involved with the rifle. Fighting in The Philippine War, Lawton died on the outskirts of San Mateo on December 19, 1899.

Illinois-based Rock Island Auction Company was founded in 1993 by its current CEO, Patrick Hogan. The 86,000-square-foot facility hosts eight auctions a year. The company actively seeks consignments, be it a single weapon or a collection of hundreds.

Watch the video below for more about this remarkable rifle. Or click on the links below to read a detailed account of the men involved with the rifle.

The Capture of Geronimo, Part I

The Capture of Geronimo, Part II

Illinois-based Rock Island Auction Company was founded in 1993 by its current CEO, Patrick Hogan. The 86,000-square-foot facility hosts eight auctions a year. Though Law Shield doesn’t endorse RIAC, our members might be interested to know that the company actively seeks consignments, be it a single weapon or a collection of hundreds.