Due to concerns about violence against church members attending worship services, many churches have formed volunteer security teams or groups. These groups are typically made up of church members, many of whom hold a Texas Concealed Handgun License (CHL). Unfortunately, a provision in Texas law prohibits these volunteers from carrying self-defense handguns if they are in any way involved in providing security or safety for their fellow church members. These provisions are found in Chapter 1702 of the Texas Occupations Code.
The tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut last December has thrust the issue of school safety to the forefront of public debate. Numerous proposals have been put forth to address this issue and many of the more practical solutions involve the use of volunteers. While some of these volunteers would undoubtedly be active Texas peace officers, many would be retired officers, former military personnel, and citizens who are CHL’s. Chapter 1702 would prohibit all of these volunteers, other than active peace officers, from carrying self-defense handguns while protecting our school children.
Two bills have been filed that will address this problem and it is in the best interest of all Texans that one of these bills pass and become law. HB2535 and SB1324 are not companion bills, but each addresses this subject in a reasonable manner, although both should be amended to remove an unnecessary and harmful amendment to Texas Penal Code §46.03(b)(6).
Under either bill, CHL’s would not be prohibited from carrying self-defense handguns when serving as volunteers on security teams or groups for schools or churches. SB1324 goes into greater detail to make sure that such volunteers do not wear any uniforms badges, or other insignia that could lead people to believe they were Texas peace officers.
The only opposition to either these bills will likely come from the security industry for purely economic reasons. Although it is highly unlikely that this change in the law would make any difference in the overall revenue in the security industry, money should not even enter this debate since we are talking about the safety and wellbeing of schoolchildren and churchgoers.
You can help pass these bills by contacting your Texas Senator and Representative and express your strong support for HB2535 and SB1324. Be sure to ask them to support these bills, and to offer or support an amendment that would remove the change to Texas Penal Code §46.03(b)(6), if these provisions are not removed in a committee substitute. We should all contact Senator Seliger and Representative Shaefer and express our sincere appreciation for filing and working for passage of these much-needed bills.
Both HB2535 and SB1324 will make Texas safer.