TYLER, Texas — The Texas House approved Senate Bill 535 Tuesday evening to allow licensed handgun holders to legally carry their weapons on the premises of places of religious worship.
The legislation was written by Republican state Sen. Donna Campbell of New Braunfels to change a law that stated handguns are not allowed in places of worship.
"We have learned many times over that there is no such thing as a gun free zone," Senator Campbell said. "Those with evil intentions will violate the law and carry out their heinous acts no matter what. We never want to see another tragedy like Sutherland Springs and we may not have to if we stop disarming the good guys."
Senate Bill 535 does not restrict the rights of churches to prohibit licensed Texans from carrying on their premises, but simply treats places of worship like other private property. A church that chooses may still post 30.06 or 30.07 signs to prohibit weapons on their premises.
"Sanctuaries should be safe spaces," Lanes Chapel Methodist Church senior pastor, Jeff Gage, said.
Gage's church in Tyler has Penal Code 30.07 posted at its entrances, prohibiting open carry.
"We do allow concealed carry," Gage said. "We do ask people to refrain from open carry particularly because we don't want to create an environment where others might be made uncomfortable by the presence of a firearm, a visible firearm."