When Church and State Collide: Can You Carry In a Texas Dual Purpose Facility?

The following is a video transcript.

Today we’re going to review the rules on firearm possession on the premises of schools, religious organizations, and “mixed-use” buildings in Texas.

PREMISES VS. GROUNDS

Generally, the law prohibits firearms on the premises of public and private schools, or on the grounds where school-sponsored activities are taking place. So, what does the term “premises” mean under the Texas Penal Code? “Premises” is defined as a building or portion of a building. Further, the term does not include any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk, walkway, parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area. Grounds, on the other hand, include any property used during the course of a school-sponsored activity.

Therefore, with your Texas LTC (License to Carry), you can carry a firearm outside of a school building, so long as a school-sponsored activity is not taking place in that area. For example: the marching band rehearsing in the parking lot or outdoor homecoming festivities.

HOUSES OF WORSHIP

Next, when it comes to churches, synagogues, mosques, or other places of religious worship, it is legal for an LTC holder to carry a handgun into the building, unless there is an effective Section 30.06 or Section 30.07 criminal trespass notice provided.

DUAL PURPOSE FACILITIES

A more complicated situation arises when there are buildings or areas where both religious and school activities may be held.

If the building is owned by a public school district or a private school enterprise, the building is off limits for firearms, regardless of whether the activity being held inside is related to religious worship or a school function.

If the building is not owned by a school, then the legality of firearm possession would be determined by the activity being conducted. If the building or grounds are being used for any school function or school activity, then firearms are prohibited. If the building or grounds are being used exclusively as a church or other place of religious worship, carrying a firearm is legal, so long as the religious organization has not provided effective criminal trespass notice. Because this is a gray area, the best practice is to obtain written authorization from the head of the institution stating where you can carry, if at all.

If you have any questions regarding these locations, please call Texas LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

Get Gunowner Identity Theft Coverage NOW

Comment section

4 comments on “When Church and State Collide: Can You Carry In a Texas Dual Purpose Facility?

  1. Our school has a driveway that states “school buses only”. Is it legal to walk on this driveway while carrying ? The school is on one side of the driveway and the playground is on the other .

    • Thank you for your question. Please see the following response from a Texas Independent Program Attorney:

      “Karl, the definition of premises specifically excludes all parking lots, driveways and walkways, therefore, generally it is legal for an LTC holder to walk in these areas. However, a word of warning, if the LTC holder is present with a handgun while the school buses are loading or unloading, they run the risk of be accused of having a firearm on the grounds of a school sponsored activity. The Texas Legislature has had the opportunity to clarify this particular situation, but has failed to do so.”

  2. how does the state determine the difference between a college and a school. since it is now legal to carry at all state colleges. I can see this turning into a can of worms if suddenly someone claims a college or university is a school.

    • Thank you for your question. Please see the following response from a Texas Independent Program Attorney:

      “Robert, the Texas Education Code has defined what is an ‘Institution of Higher Education’ as any public technical institute, public junior college, public senior college or university, medical or dental unit, public state college, or other agency of higher education as defined in this section. If an institution meets this definition, it is covered by Texas Penal Code 46.035, regardless of the ages of the students who attend there. For example, a community college that offers college courses to high school students is still an Institution of Higher Education.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.