Fort Worth bans open carry of handguns in church


Fort Worth bans open carry of handguns in church


George Conger

The Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker has endorsed the recommendation of the diocese’s risk management committee not to permit the open carry of firearms in its 62 parishes in North Central Texas.

Earlier this year Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill changing Texas law, allowing Texas over 900,000 licensed “concealed carry” gun owners to carry pistols and revolvers in plain view in belt or shoulder holsters beginning on 1 Jan 2016. The new law does not change existing bans on guns in government buildings, sporting venues, and restaurants and bars that earn a majority of their income from the sale of alcohol. Private businesses and institutions will be allowed to ban open carry under the new law.

The pastor of the First Baptist Church of Arlington told the Wall Street Journal his church, which sees 2500 worshippers each Sunday, will allow “open carry” in church, while the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas has banned open carry.

In a policy statement distributed on 30 Dec 2015 the ACNA affiliated diocese reported the Risk Management Committee had recommended banning open carry.

It noted: “Beginning January 1, 2016, it will be legal in Texas for licensed individuals to carry concealed or unconcealed handguns. Businesses, churches, and other entities have several options, including banning all handguns (including concealed weapons), or simply allowing open or concealed carriage. The diocesan policy will follow a middle path, banning ‘open carry’ handguns on our properties.”

“This decision will mean that no one is permitted to bring an unconcealed handgun into the church, offices, classrooms, etc., at any time, including Sunday worship or weekday activities.Ushers and staff will need to be made aware of the signs and the diocesan policy.”

The diocesan statement noted that each parish “will need to buy and post signs invoking section 30.07 of the law” banning the open carry of handguns. If further noted that it was “illegal to view concealed handgun license (CHL) holders as a ‘volunteer security team’ for the parish. Anyone carrying a handgun for the purpose of protecting a body of people is considered a security guard, and anyone so doing must have the appropriate license.”