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.