Praise the Lord, Pass the Ammunition? Texas AG Says It’s OK to Pack Heat in Pews
Kris Workman returned to the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Dec. 17 for the first time since he was shot and paralyzed from the waist down by Devin Kelley, who killed 26 people, including an unborn child, on Nov. 5.
The next time a crazed shooter walks into a Texas church intending to kill as many people as possible for whatever reason his fevered mind creates, he might find his victims with the means to fire back.
In response to a request for his opinion from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has made it clear that people can pack loaded guns, along with their Bibles, into Texas houses of worship as long as it is approved by the church.
Patrick requested Paxton’s opinion on the issue of guns in church “so that churches may know what legal options they have to improve security in the aftermath of the Sutherland Springs tragedy.”
On Dec. 21, Paxton said in response that it is OK for licensed handgun owners to carry loaded weapons into Texas churches as long as those houses of worship don’t have posted signs banning guns in the pews.
“If a church decides to exclude the concealed or open carrying of handguns on the premises of church property, it may provide the requisite notice, thereby making it an offense for a license holder to carry a handgun on those premises,” Paxton wrote in his opinion.
“However, churches may instead decide not to provide notice and to allow the carrying of handguns on their premises. Unless a church provides effective oral or written notice prohibiting the carrying of handguns on its property, a license holder may carry a handgun onto the premises of church property as the law allows,” Paxton added.
Paxton also said that under SB 2065, which took effect Sept. 1, churches no longer had to pay state fees to form security forces. Patrick and others who back the legislation said the fee imposed a significant burden on smaller churches, like First Baptist in Sutherland Springs.
The day of the Sutherland Springs massacre, Paxton said that if there had been other people with guns inside First Baptist Church, some of those killed by Devin Kelley might be alive today.
"All I can say is in Texas at least we have the opportunity to have conceal carry," Paxton told Fox News. "And so ... there's always the opportunity that gunman will be taken out before he has the opportunity to kill very many people.”
Barry Young, the vice president of church security ministries at Strategos International in Grandview, Mo., makes it his business to protect the safety of parishioners in churches nationwide.
Young said Strategos had conducted “intruder awareness and response training” for more than 20,000 church leaders since 2007, but demand was so overwhelming following the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church shootings the company was scheduling classes a year out.