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Paxton: Texans Can Bring Guns To Church Unless Church Says Otherwise

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune
The Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church, where 26 churchgoers were killed in a mass shooting on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017.

Attorney General Ken Paxton has clarified that licensed handgun owners can bring their weapons to church as long as the church does not say otherwise — a question raised after the deadly church shooting last month in Sutherland Springs. 

"Unless a church provides effective oral or written notice prohibiting the carrying of handguns on its property, a license holder may carry a handgun on church property as the law otherwise allows," Paxton wrote in an opinion issued Thursday.

Earlier this month, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had asked Paxton to clear up the issue, as well as whether churches are exempt from state fees for creating volunteer security teams. The attorney general said Thursday that churches do not have to pay the fees under Senate Bill 2065, which went into effect in September. 

Patrick and other state leaders have put a spotlight on church security after the Sutherland Springs massacre, which left 26 people dead. It was the worst mass shooting in modern Texas history.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.

Patrick Svitek is a reporter for the Texas Tribune. He previously worked for the Houston Chronicle's Austin bureau. He graduated in 2014 from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He originally is from Fort Wayne, Indiana.