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Concealed Carry in Churches

Updated: 11/5/17

Concealed Carry at Church_011117

After the country mourned over the lives lost in the Charleston SC shooting in 2015 and again with the Texas shooting in November 2017, the laws and politics surrounding guns in churches and gun free zones were cast once again into the spotlight.

The Christian Argument for Firearm Self-Defense

christian self defense scripturesThere are long articles and books out there about this topic. Consider 2 things from scripture that are consistent and repeated:

First, God expects us to watch over his flock and be a “keeper” of our brother. It is each individual's duty to watch over and protect each of God's children. We are to defend His sheep and gather those who are scattered and watch over them. After all, “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his brothers.” (Psalm 23, Luke 12:37, John 15:13, Acts 20:28, Titus 1:8)

Second, scriptures continually support self-defense by force. In Luke, Christ tells his disciples to sell their garments to buy a sword, and in Ezekiel the word of the Lord tells us that he will hold each of us responsible to take up our own sword and protect ourselves. In 1 Chronicles we are told that watchmen were set over the entrance of the tabernacle. (Luke 22: 35-36, Ezekiel 33:1-6, 1 Chronicles 9:19)

Are Churches As Dangerous as the Media Suggests?

In a 2016 Active Shooter training I attended, put on by the Department of Homeland Security, they shared that almost 4% of active shooter situations in the US take place in churches and houses of worship. An active shooter situation is more than something beyond a simple violent attack or shooting. 4% may not seem like a lot… and I was curious so I had our research team do a little digging.

I asked our team to find every church shooting from the years 2005 to 2015 in the United States and provide me with a link to the news story. They were able to find 87.

Currently Most State Laws Allow For Concealed Carry In Churches

As seen below in the map, most states treat churches and houses of worship like any other private property, allowing that unless prohibited by the property owner, those with concealed carry permits or the legal authority to carry concealed may do so in a house of worship.

Blue: Churches act like any other private property and may restrict on a church by church basis
Red: Concealed Carry NOT allowed in churches
Yellow: Concealed Carry allowed only with permission from church leader

Should You Ask Permission?

If you live in a state where churches are not off limits, and assuming your church doesn't outwardly prohibit it, should you ask permission? No, you shouldn't ask, but it may be a good idea to ask if there is a security team in place or volunteer to start one.

You should never feel obligated to ask permission to carry your firearm anywhere you have a legal right to have it. With that said, it is common for churches to form a security team of volunteers who are positioned, organized, and often trained to response in an emergency. Your contribution to your own security and that of others will be far greater if you are a part of that organized response.

RESOURCE: CONCEALED CARRY TECHNIQUE WITH SHIRT AND TIE

Tactical Response Considerations for Houses of Worship

Is There An Organized Response Team and Plan?

As mentioned above; I can not overemphasize the importance of finding out if your church has an organized security team or response plan. Acting as a lone wolf when there are organized responders will not only make it more difficult to be effective but could inhibit those who are most prepared from doing their job. Ask your church leader if they are aware of any team or organization that is in place. If not would they be open to you organizing some volunteers? Beyond that conversation, if you still decide to proceed against the wishes of your leader that is up to you but at least you have clarified if there is already a plan in place and how you can best participate.

Positioning in the Building or Chapel

If you intend to take action position yourself as close to an entrance as you can. This will empower you to be a first line of defense while also putting you in the best place to observe the entrance and behavior of each attendee.

Familiarity and Behavior Observation is Critical

If you are going to experience a threat during your church worship it will most likely come from an outsider and not from a regular attendee. Work hard to recognize faces so you are able to pick out strangers and new attendees. When someone new does attend take the opportunity to introduce yourself, welcome them, and observe their behavior. This is not only tactical its only very Christian. Trust your gut. If someone's behavior seems off or alarming consider sitting close to them, perhaps directly behind them so you can more closely watch their movements while also offering friendship.

Large Crowds Make For Really Bad Shooting Backstops

Churches are really bad places to shoot a firearm. Innocent people are everywhere and a firearm should be thought of as a last resort after any other potential response has been used or eliminated. To clarify; I'm not suggesting that if you have an active shooter you first try throwing bibles before you decide to shoot. Act decisively to save lives but leave that firearm holstered until it is abundantly clear that more lives will be lost if you don't act.

RESOURCE: How to Respond to Threats In Large Crowds

Schools in Churches

Many States Have Laws that specifically address schools that are within churches. In states where there is no specific legislation concealed carry holders need to be careful when carrying in churches in which there is a school in the building particularly during the week when the school is in use. Check with your local attorney and get clarity with the potential legal implications in your state.

A Message for Pastors and Church Leaders

concealed carry in churchYou need to ask yourself what you are doing to protect your flock. The people who come to your church to worship expect a safe and spiritual environment. Ensuring their security is part of the greater effort you must have to create that environment.

  1. Find out what your state laws say (the above map is a good starting point)
  2. If possible recruit and train (or recommend training) for a security team that is able and ready to respond
  3. Communicate to your regular attendees what you have done to help them feel safe and communicate what policy if any you have in place for those who are not part of that security team.

In Conclusion:

Are you ready to take action? Get your permit (online course here or take an in-person class here) and get involved with your church's security team today!

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78 Responses to Concealed Carry in Churches

  1. Mr.Adams April 5, 2016 at 8:27 am #

    what if i live in a state that does not permit you to carry in a church
    but the pastor of the church appoints you as security and gives you permission
    to carry

    • Jacob Paulsen April 5, 2016 at 8:37 am #

      Mr Adams, if you are referring to one of the states shown in Red on our map then the Pastor and the gun owner are both probably in violation of the law. Not saying I’m for or against that action, only that the law makes it clear you can’t carry concealed in a church. If you are referring to one of the yellow states on our map then the Pastor’s permission is all that is required to remove the legal restriction.

      • Gary June 13, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

        Louisiana is the only state in red, and the only state where there would be a problem.

        • Al November 6, 2017 at 2:06 pm #

          Nebraska….

          • Jay November 6, 2017 at 4:55 pm #

            Nebraska? Hah! A very pro CCW state and should NOT be a problem! Be sure to take advantage of the great defense courses offered by Tactical88 just off the
            Gretna exit in Omaha-they mean business and no, I don’t work for them!

      • Len Hodges November 7, 2017 at 10:57 pm #

        In Louisiana if you have a conceal carry permit you can attend an additional 8 hour class and be certified to carry in church with church approval. Hope this helps.

    • Wes Bomar November 6, 2017 at 5:41 pm #

      But don’t forget there has to be a list of those allowed to carry. There are both legal and insurance reason for that. Remember this is still the only country that gives more rights to the criminal than the innocent.
      Even if it is a good shoot as they say, the criminal or his family can sue you for having and using your weapon even if you have it legally. I personally know a case where they sued and won. Claimed because a gun owner killed the robber and stopped the robbery the family said he was only there to rob the place and that is not a reason for him to be killed. They claimed if the police had been there (which they weren’t) they would have arrested him and not killed him. So understand where and what can happen since we have a nation full of liberal hack judges

  2. Charles Cherry April 5, 2016 at 10:46 am #

    As of Jan 1 2016 Churches are no longer gun free zones in Texas unless they post the appropriate signage.

    • Jacob Paulsen April 5, 2016 at 11:00 am #

      Thanks Charles, somehow I missed that churches were part of the new legislation down there. Map above has been updated.

  3. Sammy Henson April 5, 2016 at 10:47 am #

    Texas allows carry in churches unless they post a 30.06 or 30.07 sign. when the concealed law was initially passed it did prohibit carry in churches but it has been amended. Please check to see if you can change the color for Texas.

    • Jacob Paulsen April 5, 2016 at 11:01 am #

      Thanks Charles, somehow I missed that churches were part of the new legislation down there. Map above has been updated.

  4. Dr Bill Chachkes April 6, 2016 at 2:27 pm #

    Jacob, great article! My situation is unique in the fact that my congregation borrows space from a Christian fellowship church, but it’s not in a traditional church building, which fits the bill for us(Messianic Judiasim). I am head of Safety, and several of us are Vets(6),Retired LEO’s(3) and the Rabbi is a Navy vet, and the Cantor(asst. rabbi) is an Army Early nam vet. So all of us shoot. I was able to get a team together to “do security”
    My issue is getting these folks trained. Boone has time, and everyone is afraid to get butt hurt when they get told something they don’t want to hear…. So to Quote Micheal Bane ” no one has the brains of a Dann Hamster”
    So anyway, we had 5 cameras installed last fall, and some locks improved. I am the first responder to any incident. I’ve been a certified EMT since before y2k.
    My attitude is “it’s only a matter of time…..
    Discuss please

    • Jacob Paulsen April 6, 2016 at 4:15 pm #

      Dr Bill, thanks for your comment. This is a topic our company has been researching recently. It seems like there aren’t a lot of options out there for training oriented for a church security team or team member. We have found in a few metros where there are regularly held training class or courses and there are a few companies that specialize in this kind of training but it is often expensive or very inconvenient for your average church volunteer. We have been looking at developing a course (though probably still a year or more down the road) that would be available digitally and afford-ably. Until then I would focus on small but regular training sessions that are short and incident specific with your team. Maybe its always the first Tuesday night of the month or something similar. One month you might be focused solely on fire evacuations or on identifying suspicious behavior. If you keep these training sessions to no more than 90 minutes or so I think you could expect good attendance. You could probably find instructors or off duty officers (potentially several of the people on your team already) to offer to take turns conducting this training. For groups like yours where there is already a lot of expertise on the team you probably need to focus on getting everyone on the same page. Having standard policies and procedures that everyone knows about to ensure the team moves in sync and in accordance with the guidelines that will minimize risk but also organizational liability.

  5. Joe May 17, 2016 at 11:29 am #

    I live in NJ. With that being said i do not(and never will get due to laws) have a concealed carry license. My pastor has asked me to carry at every event on the church property. Is this legally allowed? Would it be a legal nightmare if something ever happened that i needed to use it?

    • Jacob Paulsen May 17, 2016 at 11:39 am #

      Joe, yes I would say that carrying at the church events had better be worth it because the law in NJ doesn’t give you any specific right to carry concealed or openly anywhere without a license to do so.

      • Joe May 18, 2016 at 4:49 am #

        Even on the church’s property with the property owners permission?

      • sinjin August 23, 2016 at 7:54 pm #

        If NJ churches are truly considered “any other private property” then the (business) owners should be permitted to carry a firearm without licensing. Question is, who are the “owners” of a church that is incorporated? The trustees? The church officers?

        • Jacob Paulsen August 23, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

          This is the kind of thing that is generally state specific and best to consult an attorney about but generally speaking authority is passed from the owner of a property to the legal agent. If the property is leased for example then the person on the lease is the acting agent of the property owner. If the acting agent allows then any representative of the church could also be an acting agent.

    • Roy Hill October 17, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

      GET THE PASTOR’S RESPONSE IN WRITING. IF HE DEEMS IT NECESSARY FOR AN ARMED GUARD, YOU WILL BE SOMEWHAT COVERED BY THE PASTOR’S REQUEST.

      I TOO AM A PART OF CHURCH SECURITY, THEY TOLD ME NOT TO CARRY AS WE HAVE A LARGE CONTINGENT OF LEO’S PRESENT AT ANY ONE SERVICE. WE HAVE FIVE.
      I TAKE PART IN TWO.

      COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS AS BEING BLESSED WHEN YOU SERVE THE LORD.
      RH

  6. Ohioan May 26, 2016 at 9:39 am #

    You must receive permission in Ohio.

    Source: Ohio Revised Code

    “(B) A valid concealed handgun license does not authorize the licensee to carry a concealed handgun in any manner prohibited under division (B) of section 2923.12 of the Revised Code or in any manner prohibited under section 2923.16 of the Revised Code. A valid license does not authorize the licensee to carry a concealed handgun into any of the following places:

    […]

    (6) Any church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship, unless the church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship posts or permits otherwise;”

  7. Chris August 20, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

    In the State of VA you are not Permitted to concealed Carry unless you have permission

    Prohibited Conduct and Where Unlawful to Carry – Section 18.2-308.012

    Section18.2-283: To a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held at such place, without good and sufficient reason.

    • Jacob Paulsen August 23, 2016 at 10:48 am #

      Chris, thanks for sharing this. From how I read the statute it sounds like you need a good reason, not permission. Are there court precedents or legal decisions about how good and sufficient reason has been interpreted?

      • Rick Foster June 3, 2017 at 8:23 am #

        The Attorney General of Virginia shared his opinion that fear for personal safety or fear of terrorism we’re “good and sufficient” reasons. As far as I know, no court has established precedence in VA.

  8. gene August 27, 2016 at 9:56 pm #

    So much for separation of church and state….

    • Deb Hanna November 6, 2017 at 4:27 pm #

      Gene, read the Constitution. There is nothing about “Separation of Church and State”. What it does imply is that the government will not interfere with religion. Please read it before you continue to use that quote.

  9. James A Wyatt September 14, 2016 at 3:10 pm #

    IT HAS ALWAYS SEEM TO ME THAT THE DECISION TO ALWAYS GO ARMED (AS WELL THE ATTENDANT ALERTNESS NECESSITY OF BEING INTENTIONALLY CONSCIOUS OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS AND THUS THE POTENTIAL FOR DANGER) IS SIMPLY AND ALWAYS THE INDIVIDUAL’S RESPONSIBILITY; THAT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF EACH OF US TO OUR INDIVIDUAL FAMILY MEMBERS AS WELL AS OUR LOVED ONES AND TO OURSELVES and laws that in any way place in jeopardy our ability to accept and execute that which is our individual responsibility are, as always, a CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER . . . ALWAYS. Based on that firm belief, for 60 of my soon to be 79 years, while working in 8 states for a 35 year tenure with my employer, beginning with the first two years in Chicago, known as the CRIME CAPITAL OF MIDDLE AMERICA, and subsequently in each of those states where ‘going armed’ was prohibited by each state’s ANTI-GUN LAWS, I have always ‘GONE ARMED REGARDLESS’ and will continue to do so REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT MY STATE’S HANDGUN PERMIT REMAINS VALID OR NOT!!!

  10. James A Wyatt September 14, 2016 at 3:20 pm #

    REGARDING CHURCH PASTORS AND IT MEMBERS BEING ARMED, THE FOLLOWING IS SUBMITTED AS AN OBSERVATION ON THIS SUBJECT AND THE OBVIOUS NECESSITY OF THE RATIONAL AND REALITY INVOLVED.
    THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH & ITS PASTORS . . . AND ITS MEMBERS; THEN AND NOW

    BROTHER J. A. GEORGE was our Pastor at First Methodist – Kosciusko, Mississippi where we attended, this back in the years I was growing up; that back in 1940a &’50s and that era before the Methodist-affiliated itself with the liberal, socialist “National Council of Churches and, subsequently, the “World Council of Churches’ and we immediately we severed our all ties with the methodist. Brother George was an elderly tall still fit fellow; a college track star athletic back in his youth; he also a friend and quail hunting companion to Dad and me as well as his being our pastor.
    He was known for an incident that took place early in this ministry.
    As a young Pastor, he went to hold a revival in the mountain area of N.E. Tennessee where invariable ‘local drunk toughs’ would do their best to disrupt and close the services.

    (If you saw the movie about SARGENT ALVIN YORK, the Tennessee War Hero of WWI, there were scenes where he and his
    ‘Rowdy’ buddies did exactly that.) This young Pastor, Brother George, was not your ‘run of the mill, milk toast’ young Pastor ,however. When he walked up to the Revival Tent pulpit, he placed his Bible on the middle of its top and on each side of the Bible he placed a pair of revolvers he took from his suit trouser waist band.

    When the services began, the ‘hooraying’ began, first with the usual shouting outside, the banging on tin, etc. . . . and then, as usual, a knife penetrated near the top of the tent wall at the back of the seated congregation . . . and began slicing down the canvas tent wall.
    Bro. George. stopped his sermon, and with a revolver in each hand placed two bullets above head height right above where the knife had penetrated. Things were said to have gotten “REAL QUIET ALL OF A SUDDEN” . . . and the noise from outside did not continue . . . whereupon Pastor George continued his sermon that night without further interruption . . . and each of the following nights of that Christian revival that followed, he having SIMPLY PROVIDED A SIMPLY IMMEDIATE EASILY UNDERSTOOD BY ONE AND ALL to those who has so long been disrupting Church Revival Services., that consistent nuisance problem having been tolerated in past revival efforts by previous pastors who simply a persistent failed to be addressed the easily solved disturbance and in many instances simply closed the revivals.

    Pastor George not only addressed the ‘problem’ but he did so effectively in a manner easily understood by the disrupting
    adversaries. He simply effectively dealt in the only positive proactive manner, having COMMUNICATED IN AN EASILY UNDERSTOOD MANNER THAT THE PASTORS IN PREVIOUS REVIVALS AND THEIR FAILURE ON THE PART OF PREVIOUS PASTORS TO COMMUNICATE IN A ‘LANGUAGE’ READILY UNDERSTOOD BY ONE AND ALL.

    Truly, we over the years since the 1930s ‘40s and ”50s have become a nation of wimps, that apparent the case that appears the case in all areas of ‘endeavor including the ‘”Christians churches”.of this day. i.e, a nation of domestic sheep rather than the wild
    Rams of nature and certainly not a nation of SHEEP DOG PROTECTORS!!!

    A Nation of Cowards

  11. Holly November 16, 2016 at 3:39 pm #

    Will you address and/or clarify carrying in a church that meets at an elementary school for service (in Colorado)?

    • Jacob Paulsen November 16, 2016 at 5:12 pm #

      Holly, in Colorado the statute in question is 18.12.105. The relevant section says:

      A permit issued pursuant to this part 2 does NOT authorize a person to carry a concealed handgun onto the real property, or into any improvements erected thereon, of a public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school;

      There are three exceptions which summarized are:
      1 If the gun remains in your vehicle
      2 If you are employed or retained by contract by a school district as a school security officer
      3 If you are on undeveloped real property owned by a school that is used for hunting or other shooting sports

      So in the case of the school you are referring to can I assume it is a public school? If it is a public school then the short answer is that it doesn’t matter if there is a church meeting or any other community function taking place at the school. It is still the school and it’s real property is still covered by the above statute. If the school is private then the above statue isn’t relevant and the school is just like any other private property able to make any restriction it chooses but obligated to communicate those restrictions to patrons of the property.

  12. Eli December 23, 2016 at 6:19 pm #

    What about Maryland? Can someone with a legal firearm but no CCW carry on church property with the approval of the church leadership?

    • Jacob Paulsen December 24, 2016 at 10:12 am #

      Eli, without a permit having a concealed gun outside of one’s private property is against the law so the question might be, how are you going to get it from your home to the church? Beyond that, the church is private property so with leadership approval I suppose it would be ok, but between your home and the church; without a permit there is no legal way to transport it concealed.

      • Rev Mike November 7, 2017 at 9:05 pm #

        What if the Pastor, from Maryland, lives on the property and has permission from the Board?

        • Jacob Paulsen November 8, 2017 at 9:57 am #

          If you live on the property and the laws allows that you can have a concealed firearm on personal property then I would say you wouldn’t need a permit.

  13. Rick Foster January 10, 2017 at 9:16 pm #

    I do not see the map of blue states and red states attached to the article I am reading. Is Virginia a blue state or red state.

    • Jacob Paulsen January 11, 2017 at 11:10 am #

      Rick, thanks for your comment… I didn’t realize there was something wrong with our map. I fixed the issue and it now is displayed above. Virginia is blue on the map and has no specific church regulation… thus churches act like any other private property in Virginia.

  14. AJ Hernandez January 17, 2017 at 10:02 am #

    My Pastor just asked me to write a legal document concerning concealed carry for children workers (he prefers they do not carry when working with children) and for the general population (protocol when police are on the scene). I have never written a legal document and in dire need of some guidance. Are their templates or examples of legal documentation of concealed carry in a church?

    • Jacob Paulsen January 23, 2017 at 8:43 am #

      AJ, I’ve never written or reviewed just a document but I’m confident that many churches have them in place. You might actually have luck asking the church’s insurance company if they have anything. I know Brotherhood Mutual does a lot in this way of supporting it’s churches.

  15. Brad S. May 12, 2017 at 3:32 pm #

    I live in R.I. & my Pastor has asked me to carry & be part of a security team at our church.
    A couple of guys in a local gun shop told me that with Pastors permission I can carry concealed without a permit, but I can’t seem to find any information “in black & white” & I don’t want to rely solely on someones opinion.
    Can you direct me to such information?
    Thanks for that & all the great information here.

    • Jacob Paulsen May 15, 2017 at 10:54 am #

      Brad, my first thought would be… why not get a permit just to be safe?

      The church is private property so yes I believe that without a permit it is like any other private property in that the owner of that property can make any rules they want if they aren’t in direct violation of any statute or law.

      That said… how do you intend to get the gun from your home to the church without a permit?

      • Curious Tim November 6, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

        Jacob,

        I have read the comment from you a couple of times about how a person is going to get their gun from home to the church in this case. I assume you mean how are they legally going to put it on their person during transit without the proper conceal carry permit? Can’t they just have it, in this case, in the trunk like they would when they drive to a shooting range and then once they get on church property take it out and carry it concealed?

        • Jacob Paulsen November 6, 2017 at 2:27 pm #

          Well that would depend on the state. Some states may allow the individual to have a concealed firearm in the vehicle without a permit while a lot of states will not allow that at all. Here may be a fair summary:
          1: Churches are private property so unless the state has a statute specific to places of worship; the ability to carry concealed or not legally is probably up to the church/property authority.
          2: Without a permit it may not be legal to transport a handgun concealed and loaded to the church. Some states allow it. Others may require it be unloaded and/or inaccessible from the passenger compartment for immediate use…
          3: All that said why not just get a permit? Is there a downside to getting some education and training and not having to worry about the other details?

  16. Pastor Mike May 27, 2017 at 9:25 am #

    I am a Christian pastor in a small country church in Virginia. We have never had an issue with a threat of violence in the history of the church. But I would like to be prepared in the event of such an incident. I have no problem with anyone in my congregation carrying a concealed weapon and would certainly grant permission for them to do so, but I want to make sure everything is legal (ROMANS 13:1-7). From what I have read, it appears that in Virginia there is no problem in us doing so. But certainly the person must have a permit to do so. Is this correct?

    • Jacob Paulsen May 29, 2017 at 8:15 am #

      Pastor Mike you are correct. In Virginia there is no church specific legal restrictions. Private property is private property and as the acting agent or owner of that property you can make whatever rules you like.

  17. Jean June 20, 2017 at 12:17 am #

    Jacob, thank you because many of your articles tend to be more informative using facts instead of radical mindless opinions. I would like to ask you, Do you think is more good that harm allowing civilian access to semiautomatics fire arms?
    I also like your data graphics, where they are coming from?

    Thank you,

    • Jacob Paulsen June 20, 2017 at 7:25 am #

      Jean, Yes I think it does more good than harm allowing civilians access to semi-automatic firearms. To remove semi-automatic firearms from civilians would mean (in the current firearm market) that we basically all have to defend ourselves with bolt action hunting rifles.

      We mostly make our own graphics internally!

  18. Don June 26, 2017 at 8:53 am #

    In Louisiana I believe there is provision to carry concealed with additional training and permission from the church leadership. We had a security team at our church in LA consisting of LEO’s (both on and off duty) as well as civilians with CHL. The civilians had to take a special training course that was pretty intensive, in addition to their CHL course. The church itself actually sponsored the CHL classes. These additional classes are actually laid out in LA law, but I couldn’t pinpoint it for you at the moment.

  19. Gary Coffman October 21, 2017 at 2:58 pm #

    Oct. 21, 2017.
    While doing some research on this subject, I found another interesting idea worth looking into.
    If you are going to “carry” at your Church functions, have the leadership check into the Insurance carrier’s policies regarding that practice. Similarly, you should evaluate your own Insurance needs as well. Stay safe.

  20. DavidCali209 November 5, 2017 at 2:27 pm #

    Just due to the horrible shooting in sutherland springs, TX has made my Pastor think about

    allowing me to set up a security team. My Pastor who is also my Uncle owns our Christian

    church here in California in the county of Stanislaus. I wanted to ask whether it is legal to carry

    a concealed weapon/handgun inside the church and is it legal to carry the weapon on oneself

    “inside the church” without a CCW? I ask only because not everyone who might be in the

    security team have a CCW.

    • Jacob Paulsen November 6, 2017 at 10:35 am #

      That would depend on the state. Most states require you have a permit in order to carry concealed but there are exceptions.

  21. Owen November 5, 2017 at 5:58 pm #

    The recent shootings in TX today 11/5 brought me here.

    I have a CC permit for VA and am very concerned. Have there been any changes in the law to prohibit carrying in a VA church? I understand one must have ’cause’ to carry which I would qualify for given some previous circumstances. Thank you for answering.

    • Jacob Paulsen November 6, 2017 at 10:35 am #

      There are no changes to what is written above.

  22. Chris S November 6, 2017 at 11:28 am #

    Your information on Wyoming is wrong. It should be a yellow state – written permission is required prior to concealled carry in any house of worship. See Wy. Stat. Ann. § 6-8-104.

    • Jacob Paulsen November 6, 2017 at 11:30 am #

      Chris, my own home state… and I got it wrong. Thank you for sending the reference. Updating now.

  23. Phil Alley November 6, 2017 at 2:32 pm #

    I believe that you have incorrectly placed Nebraska as a Red State. According to Nebraska Revised StatuteStatute, 69-2441(1)(c)

    Chapter 69 Section 2441
    69-2441.
    Permitholder; locations; restrictions; posting of prohibition; consumption of alcohol; prohibited.

    (1)(c) A place of worship may authorize its security personnel to carry concealed handguns on its property so long as each member of the security personnel, as authorized, is in compliance with the Concealed Handgun Permit Act and possesses a permit to carry a concealed handgun issued pursuant to the act and written notice is given to the congregation and, if the property is leased, the carrying of concealed handguns on the property does not violate the terms of any real property lease agreement between the place of worship and the lessor.

    • Jacob Paulsen November 6, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

      Phil you are correct. Looks like our research team didn’t go deep enough on this. Looks like places of worship are listed as off limits in the statute but then in paragraph C there is an exclusion to the prohibition for authorized security personnel. Thank you for bringing this to our attention!

  24. Mike Woelke November 6, 2017 at 2:58 pm #

    You need to update your reference to scriptures at the beginning (“In Luke, Christ tells his disciples to sell their garments to buy a sword”). This quote is out of context (when I first read it I thought the same as you at first until I researched it). That quote is there but the point of what was said was that Christ said he had to fulfill the prophesies and therefore He and the apostles had to look like a band of brigands. This was just before Jesus was taken in the garden. You will also see the words about 2 swords and his statement “two is enough”. That is obviously not enough for defense but enough to look like an armed band. He also says in there that “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword” – further proof that he meant something other than what you stated.

  25. Mark A November 6, 2017 at 7:05 pm #

    I am a pastor of a small rural church in a town with a population of about 160 people. There are less than 3,000 in our county. I have a concealed carry license. I carry much of the time when I am in the office but not during services. If I were to start carrying during services I would probably want to carry my Ruger American compact in 9mm. The problem is concealed carrying it. I have not found a IWB holster that feels good to me. I have a pastor’s paunch and not a lot in the way of hips. For my S&W Shield I use a Sneaky Pete. At present I use an Alien Gear Cloak Mod holster under a jacket for the American Compact. Sneaky Pete does not make a holster yet for the American Compact.

    Our church is kept warm enough that during services I preach/teach in shirt sleeves. So an OWB is not acceptable. Do you have any suggestions? I believe I am more accurate with my Ruger American and it has a larger capacity magazine. So it would be my preference although the Shield is better than nothing.

    • Mark A November 6, 2017 at 7:09 pm #

      To continue the above thought, I am 60 years old and I do not want to carry behind my back. I am not that flexible any more. I am left handed so I would like to carry in the nine o’clock position.

      • Jacob Paulsen November 6, 2017 at 7:12 pm #

        Mark, you might consider a belly band style holster or The Brave Response holster.

  26. Gary N. Skipper November 6, 2017 at 11:49 pm #

    Where do I need to find out the law for concealed carry in Tennessee for Churches? I have a Concealed Carry Permit and I am a retired law enforcement officer. I have been requested to carry concealed by the pastor and the board of Trustee’s. We need to beef up our security team and I want to have the right answers when we discuss this hot topic. Thanks
    Gary S, Retire Chief of Police

    • Jacob Paulsen November 7, 2017 at 8:09 am #

      Gary, I believe there is no law for Tennessee churches and concealed carry. They are no different than any other private property.

  27. Phil November 7, 2017 at 3:26 pm #

    Not sure if this was discussed but what if the church is tied or on the same grounds as a school, for example a catholic school attached to a Chruch I go to Mass? Doesn’t FEDERAL law prohibit guns on any ground where it is used for education purposes. This I know of vague but the law was written that way.

    • Jacob Paulsen November 7, 2017 at 3:33 pm #

      Phil there is a short paragraph above about church schools but here is a more specific summary: Federal law dictates that guns are illegal within 1000 feet of a school unless the individual is otherwise permitted by the state. Thus if you have a permit and the state allows that with that permit you CAN be in or at a school then you can. Otherwise you can’t. Also worth noting that some states do have laws that specifically address schools that are in churches.

  28. Richmond Neff November 8, 2017 at 9:53 am #

    We attend a small Methodist church in a small community in Livingston County, New York.

    What are the governing New York State laws that deal with a church service attendee, appointed and authorized by the church, to be armed as a defensive precaution during church service

    • Jacob Paulsen November 8, 2017 at 9:55 am #

      There aren’t any laws that I’m aware of which effectively means you are just a private citizen who may be armed.

  29. Tony Leger November 8, 2017 at 10:51 am #

    Mr. Paulsen your article leaves the impression that concealed carry is impossible in a church in Louisiana. That is simply not the case. Law requires permission from the church, and an eight hour class annually. We, and many other churches in Louisiana have met that requirement and are protecting our own at every service. We are no longer a “soft target”.

    • Jacob Paulsen November 8, 2017 at 10:57 am #

      Tony, thank you for calling me out on this. One other person also recently mentioned that option which at the time of writing this article I was unaware of. I will revise the map above shortly.

  30. Miguel Pou November 8, 2017 at 11:47 am #

    I live in New Jersey and I have a permit to own firearms but off course not for conceal Carrie.
    Can I conceal Carrie at church with the pastor and the board permition.?
    They are very concerned about security but we don’t want to do anything illegal.

    Thanks,

    Mike

    • Jacob Paulsen November 8, 2017 at 11:48 am #

      That should be fine.

  31. D. Morris November 8, 2017 at 7:42 pm #

    1. I attend a church in Maryland where we rent space from a private Christian School. If we receive permission from their Board of Directors, would we(the church) be able to allow those individuals who are legally permitted to conceal carry, do so, with both the church leadership approval and private school’s leadership approval?

    2. If this is considered ‘private property’ can individuals with approval, who do not possess CC permits, but have completed the MD police Training Commission firearms safety course have their near…not worn or concealed, for response to an active shooter?

    Maryland is a “may issue” state for concealed carry. Applicants must demonstrate a “good and substantial reason” to carry a handgun. Permits are normally very difficult (but not impossible) for ordinary citizens to obtain.

    • Jacob Paulsen November 8, 2017 at 8:06 pm #

      D. Morris the question about permits is irrelevant. In short, the property is private property. Thus the owner of that property can determine who can carry a gun concealed or otherwise on that property. Since the state has no specific restriction in the law relating to places of worship this church or school or school/church is just like any other private property.

  32. Mikial November 8, 2017 at 9:59 pm #

    A good article that goes beyond just saying you should be prepared to protect yourself, and actually gives some solid guidance. I had a calling as a Finance Clerk at my church in a state where the code said you could not carry in church without a “Good and compelling reason.”

    Well, I did carry no matter what anyone else thought because I figured I had a good reason before I had the calling, but after I had it I was one of the people who made the trip to a bank to drop the offerings into the night deposit box every Sunday. A member of the clergy would accompany me because there was a rule that everyone go in pairs to ensure no one succumbed to temptation. I had never mentioned carrying to anyone . . . it was after all concealed. But everyone knew me and who I was, and one Sunday as we were making the deposit and I was carefully observing the street while the other person was slipping the envelope into the slot, he turned and asked me if I was carrying a gun. Without hesitation, I answered that I was.

    His response? “Good!”

    The moral? Do what you know in your heart is best and be sure you’re good at it. Period.

  33. Gary November 11, 2017 at 10:14 am #

    What if your church has a school only 300 feet away and is a separate building. There’s a 1000feet in law books that prevents hand gun carrier in the church.

    • Jacob Paulsen November 11, 2017 at 2:35 pm #

      The Gun Free School Zone act prohibits firearms within 1000 feet of a school unless otherwise permitted by the state. So, if you have a concealed carry permit from your state then the laws in your state that govern firearms in or around schools would apply to the school at your church when the school is in session. It is possible however that any state level restrictions won’t apply to private schools, and its also possible that state level restrictions would only apply to that school on school days or on days when it is in use as a school. Best to consult with a local attorney for clarification.

  34. Josh November 14, 2017 at 5:55 pm #

    the map I am looking at only shows blue and yellow states. There must be something wrong with my computer that is not allowing the map to show up in all three colors.

    What states are red?

    I am a pastor and our church own’s the property we are on. We are located in Los Angeles County in California where a CCW is almost impossible to get. Is it legal for me to carry concealed if I get permission from our governing body of elders? Would my employment at my place of business?

    • Jacob Paulsen November 14, 2017 at 5:58 pm #

      Josh, there no longer are any red states. As of when I first wrote this article there were 2. Now there are zero… so your computer is working just fine! At the church with permission of the property owner you can carry. Without a permit you may need to research how you can locally transport the firearm to and from the church.

  35. Susan sasso November 14, 2017 at 8:43 pm #

    In Texas, if the church posts 30.06 and 30.07, prohibiting concealed and open carry, can the pastor still designate those with CHL licenses on the security Team to carry?

    • Jacob Paulsen November 15, 2017 at 8:26 am #

      Susan, I believe so. The property owner is effectively placing a restriction and thus can choose to ignore it on a case by case basis as they permit.

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