The following is a video transcript.
A number of our members have inquired about their ability to legally carry in their place of worship, where an educational center or school is on its property.
North Carolina law prohibits the carrying of a gun on educational property. Educational property is defined as “a school building, bus, school campus, grounds, recreational area, athletic field or other property owned or used, or operated by any board of education or school board trustees, or directors for the administration of any school.”
As you can tell, the definition of educational property is quite broad. Also note that there is no time limit on what is educational property. Or said another way, educational property remains educational property, regardless of whether school is in session or not. The broadness of the statute makes giving a definitive answer to this question difficult. Also, there are no decisions in the North Carolina appellate courts addressing this issue.
SCHOOL AND HOUSE OF WORSHIP
I believe a strong argument can be made that if the school is housed in a separate building apart from the house of worship, then carrying a firearm in the church itself would be permissible. But, there is no guarantee that a judge or jury would agree with that assessment, and if they do not, you could find yourself being convicted of a felony and losing your right to possess any type of firearm.
It is much more clear-cut if the school and the sanctuary are in or a part of the same building. Under that circumstance, given the broad definition in the statute, such carry is most likely illegal.
One final issue concerns whether Sunday school is the equivalent of a public or private school. Again, there are no appellate decisions on this question, but in my opinion, the statute does not address Sunday school classes.
For more information about carrying in a facility that doubles as a house of worship and an educational center, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.