In May 2016, members of the Church Law & Tax Team sat down with Editorial Advisor Frank Sommerville for a conversation on church security, gun laws, and how churches might best respond to violent incidents. (Frank had previously recorded a video for CLT on how conceal carry laws affect churches.) With such incidents on the rise, and considering the one-year anniversary of the shootings at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Frank provides insight into the legislation at work and the strategies that church leaders might follow.
How do states address concealed carry in churches?
Two states prohibit concealed carrying of a gun in church. Eight other states allow concealed carry of a gun with permission from the church. Twenty-three states allow churches to ban concealed carry if they do so. Every other state is little different from the remaining states. In Louisiana, if you carry in a church, you have to have eight hours more training on top of your concealed carry training.
One survey in Texas claimed that about 20 percent of the evangelical church congregation was probably carrying a gun on any Sunday.
Does a concealed carry law restrict certain kinds of firearms? When you say “concealed carry,” does that mean it’s a pistol?
When we talk about concealed carry, we are talking about a pistol, which by definition is a gun with less than a 16-inch barrel. The most popular, fastest-growing area of gun sales is the super-small, lighter-weight pistols because they are more capable of being concealed. The smaller the pistol, the easier it will be to conceal.