From the Clergy and Vestry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
In response to the new Open Carry Gun laws in Texas
In January of 2016 new laws will take effect in Texas that will allow those who have a concealed carry handgun license to also carry a gun openly in a holster. Surely there are many different reactions to this development among the good people of this parish. In preparation for these changes Bishop Doyle has asked each parish to review the law, adopt the existing Diocesan Policy about firearms on church premises, and consider the new signage requirements that will accompany the law change.
At the October vestry meeting the vestry voted unanimously to adopt the existing Diocesan Policy on firearms in church. The text of the policy is below in italics. In November, after consulting with our Chancellor and further discussion we voted not to put up signs. There are several reasons.
- If we wanted to press charges against someone for having an open carry firearm on campus we would have to have already posted a very large sign with the actual language of the legal code in one-inch tall letters at every entrance of the building. We have no need to press charges. We only want people to refrain from bringing weapons on campus.
- Since St. Paul’s is private property and the rector has final authority over who may or may not be on campus, we feel like simply asking those with open carry weapons to leave them in their cars will suffice. If someone is resistant, then the rector can simply ask that person to leave.
- Finally, we feel like a large sign will be unattractive and bring too much attention to the issue.
As the clergy and elected leadership of your church, we want to ask you to comply with this decision. For hundreds of years Christian churches have been weapons-free places. This provides a safe haven for all to pray, to encounter God and to encounter a community committed to love and peace and non-violence. In that spirit, we ask you to come to church unarmed and open-hearted. We also want to ask if you see someone coming into the church with a visible weapon to welcome that person, tell them we are happy they are here, and remind them that this is a place of peace.
“The Lord is My Strength and My Shield”. Ps 28:8