The Catholic Diocese of El Paso, Texas, is making a stand against the new state open carry law. The dioceses is putting up signs that read “No Guns” on religious buildings, banning church goers from carrying guns in diocese owned buildings.
On January 1, new Texas legislation went in effect that allowed any resident with a current state-issued gun license to openly display their weapon in public. Gun owners celebrated by taking their weapons to the Texas statehouse on New Years Eve to display them proudly at midnight.
Open carry has not been allowed in Texas since 1871, and although gun owners celebrated, some are less than thrilled. Some parishioners of the El Paso diocese were concerned for their safety in church, especially after some parishioners brought their firearms. Diocesan leaders met last week, and decided to ban firearms from church.
“We’ve always talked about having a safe environment,” said El Paso Diocese Chancellor Patricia Fierro. “We just thought that most of our parishioners would want to go to mass without fear that the person next to them is carrying a gun.”
Any business or church that opposes guns in Texas must place a sign banning them from the premises. The El Paso dioceses has ordered the placards, and expects them to be up at congregations in time for the weekend services.
The actions are similar to steps churches in Georgia and Illinois took to block guns from churches and other places of worship. Although many churches in other states morally oppose firearms, the El Paso dioceses has not issued a statement opposing firearms in general, just in their church.
However, Diocese Chancellor Fierro personally opposes the new open carry law. Fierro is particularly concerned about the new law that allows concealed carry on Texas college campuses.
“We want people to come into our churches and feel secure — but that would mean without guns inside the church,” Fierro said.
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