The State of Concealed and Open Carry in Churches

Open Carry & Concealed Carry
Open Carry & Concealed Carry

Ammoland Shooting SportsArizona -( – According to, there are two states that ban concealed carry in churches, Nebraska and Louisiana. Nebraska allows a church to authorize an armed security team if the team members have carry permits and if written notice is given to church members.  Louisiana law is similar but requires an extra eight hours of training every year. Seven states and D.C. that require the permission of a church leader to conceal carry firearms in church, and 41 states where carry in churches is treated the same as any other private property.

Of the 41 states that treat churches the same as other private property, eight are “may issue” states, where the permit-issuing authority can deny the exercise of the Second Amendment for almost any reason. Those states are California, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. Within these states, the issuance of permits ranges from almost none in Hawaii and New Jersey, to fairly large numbers, as in upstate New York and Massachusetts.

There are 13 states that do not require a permit to carry concealed. They are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, and West Virginia.

The State of Concealed and Open Carry in Churches
The State of Concealed and Open Carry in Churches

Open carry is legal in most states. Only five states prohibit the open carry of holstered handguns in most public places. Those states are California, Florida, Illinois, New York and South Carolina. 26 States do not infringe on the right to openly carry firearms.  Six states infringe on open carry in a few specific areas. Pennsylvania requires a permit for Philadelphia, Colorado requires a permit for Denver,  and Iowa requires a permit inside city limits. The other three states allow localities to pass restrictions on open carry without a permit. 13 states require a permit for open carry.

In my experience, most people who carry in church carry concealed. There are churches where open carry is common and acceptable. In my church, The Vertical Church, in Yuma, Arizona, open carry is common and seen every Sunday. Many of the open carriers are on the church security detail. There are concealed carriers as well, but they are harder to count. People switch between open and concealed carry as is convenient.

In the early colonies, people were sometimes required to be armed at church. In “Origins and Development of the Second Amendment“, I found a reference to colonial requirements to carry guns in church from the Virginia laws of arms-bearing.

All men that are fitting to bear arms, shall bring their pieces to the church…

The law dated to 1631.  David Hardy found it in the 1823 work by William Henning, “The Statutes at large, being a collection of all the laws of Virginia, Vol. 1 at 127, 173-174.”

Those were perilous times in Virginia.

Church attendees are not attacked with the frequency that they were in the 1630's in Virginia. The United States today has a population tens of thousands of times greater than all the colonies in 1631.  It seems like we are being attacked at a greater frequency because each attack is trumpeted over the entire nation, and our communication system is so good that everyone hears of every attack almost immediately.

Church attendees tend to be responsible people. It makes sense for those with knowledge of firearms to carry at church.

With the recent attacks on church attendees, the legal carry of firearms to church is bound to rise.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

Link to Gun Watch

Dean WeingartenAbout Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

  • 29 thoughts on “The State of Concealed and Open Carry in Churches

    1. Most savvy churches may authorize a recognized unarmed security force, but decline to officially allow “arming” their security people because of the HUGE liability issue involved; and openly allowing open carry in church scares off potential parishioners. However, many churches look the other way concerning conceal carry while the conceal carriers are on their own legally. Should a shooting take place on church property, the church denies any responsibility for the action of the individuals’ involved. “Carrying a gun on church property is not authorized by the church or diocese!” is the standard disclaimer statement.

    2. Another issue that I have come across is insurance:
      I worked on the volunteer security detail at the last church that i attended, and because the company that the church had its insurance through didn’t like “weapons” on the premises, any of us who carried did so in a concealed manner, and though a few church leaders knew that we were armed, nothing was said. If there was an incident, basically we were on our own in the legal sense.

    3. Jesus, Himself, commanded His disciples to even sell their cloaks, if need be to buy swords (the handguns of His times), just not to use them to stop the Romans from arresting and crucifying Him; because that was the Father’s plan that must be carried out for salvation. But He knew they’d need the ability to defend themselves and others, even forewarned them about having tribulation (troubles) in this life. He didn’t intend them to be defenseless targets then and I don’t believe He intends that now either. ANY “gun free zone” is nothing but a TARGET RICH zone for a criminal bent on mayhem and murder. As society devolves, morally speaking, that danger increases especially for those who seek to live moral lives, because our very existence infuriates those who live amorally. If anywhere should NOT be a “gun free zone” it’s places where there are a lot of “soft targets” like Christians, children, or the innocent oblivious to the dangers around them, putting churches, synagogues at the top of the list. Mosques too often are nothing but armories and training camps for jihadis to be concerned for their safety in the same way.

    4. Arm the ushers alone & train in Gun Use, IE staffers & post signage:
      “Our Flock is Armed.”
      Secure Main entry after service begins & route patrons to other entry into Main Church after screening.
      Post CCTV cameras for video for court use.
      Hire Pvt security IE If have 200+members alone.
      Merge with other churches on Security in area.
      Host Pastor summitt on Security, Prayer time & worship.

      Do this nationwide.

      1. another bow to officialdom: only the ONLY ONES with “special” training and “approval” are “able” to provide for “the security of a free state (society)”, right?

        The measures you suggest would bankrupt many smaller churches. Nearly every church I’ve been involved with since I started arming myself everywhere I go have no such plans in place. One church I was part of for ten years, all three elders and two (that I know of) of their Wives and ALL their adult children carry. Nearly all of the rest of the adults do. We had a specific situation where there was a real possibility of violence targetting one particular member. Word ws quiety passed.. of anyone “new” shows up, be on high alert, particularly concerning the intended target. Maybe word leaked out, but nothing ever happened. Another church I’ve been involved with for years has nearly all the men of age carrying, a designated “security team” with protocols in place, they seem, smoehow, to have figured out most of who else carries, toio. If a perp like the Texas creep were to enter, and begin his mayhem, I seriously doubt he’d ever get off more than his first round. I’ve seen the qualifying targets of a couple of members of that church. I’m pretty good with rifle and handgun, but I’m REALLY glad these two guys are on OUR team.

    5. I refuse to get a concealed carry permit on the grounds that the paper trail leads a gun-grabbing government directly to my door first. In the first wave of gun confiscations, those with permits will rue the day they got them. I will hold out for the day that law is meaningless (something the Clintons, Obama, and Democrats demonstrate regularly) at which time a permit also becomes meaningless, and the government will not have me on their short list for a 2:00 a.m. ballistic entry into my home.

      My purpose for being armed is to be protected from a rogue government, which is the original purpose of the 2nd Amendment. It is not there to protect hunting, shooting sports, or gun collecting; it is there to keep government properly in fear of the citizenry.

      1. I hate to tell you this, the government already knows who and where you are. Other than that, you are correct. I’ve paraphrased the Second Amendment to make it clearly understood.
        A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state? [the unorganized militia , yes, therefore]
        “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

        1. I understand, but I think I’m on their long list and not their short list. The way I see it, the gun grabbers will dispatch paramilitary forceses to disarm those on the short list first, alerting everyone else to hide themselves and their weapons for the counter attack.

          1. @Wu, the confiscations that you suggest are already ongoing. CalDOJ has a squad that goes to your house and seizes all your firearms, ammunition, and related, if your soon to be ex-spouce files for a restraining order, or if you have someone handling your affairs (e.g. Soc Sec).
            I see the banality of the bureaucratic process as a greater threat. The regulatory agencies make rules that have the “force and effect of law”. One by one, they quietly regulate until they have regulated your Civil Rights away in a “same $hit, different day” manner.

    6. Texas prohibits concealed or open carry in churches. They are not treated as other private property.
      TX PC §46.035
      “(b) A license holder commits an offense if the license holder intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly carries a handgun under the authority of Subchapter H, Chapter 411, Government Code, regardless of whether the handgun is concealed or carried in a shoulder or belt holster, on or about the license holder’s person:
      (1) on the premises of a business that has a permit or license issued under Chapter 25, 28, 32, 69, or 74, Alcoholic Beverage Code, if the business derives 51 percent or more of its income from the sale or service of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption, as determined by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission under Section 104.06, Alcoholic Beverage Code;
      (2) on the premises where a high school, collegiate, or professional sporting event or interscholastic event is taking place, unless the license holder is a participant in the event and a handgun is used in the event;
      (3) on the premises of a correctional facility;
      (4) on the premises of a hospital licensed under Chapter 241, Health and Safety Code, or on the premises of a nursing facility licensed under Chapter 242, Health and Safety Code, unless the license holder has written authorization of the hospital or nursing facility administration, as appropriate;
      (5) in an amusement park; or
      (6) on the premises of a church, synagogue, or other established place of religious worship.”

    7. In Georgia concealed carry is permitted with the approval of the church. Open carry, while a Constitutional Right I agre with, is absurd if not stupid because YOU are the first target.

    8. Just to clarify in Wyoming to conceal-carry in church a permit holder must first “get written consent”, this state statute brings a liability burden on religious organizations that intend to allow individuals to conceal-carry. Only members of law enforcement are exempted from this requirement.

    9. Why do these two states dictate to churches concerning concealed carry. This should be up to the church leaders and congregation. Are thee two states, Louisiana and Nebraska in violation of the 1st amendment?

    10. I live in VIRGINIA and carrying in church here is questionable. Most of the pastors I know do not want any firearms I. Their churches. I am trying to change them over and get them on board but I have been told that , for most of them it is due to Church Boards further up the denominational line. But, I will always carry when I attend church. If there is an issue with it we will figure it out after I protect my family and friends.

    11. ALCON,

      I CCW everywhere that doesn’t wand me or run me through an X-Ray device. If one is abiding by “No Guns Allowed” signs, then your being subject to criminal violence without a weapon, is on YOU !

    12. Look at a traditional Christian church and a stone fort. They are the same in most details with windows that are firing points.

      Churches have always been targets of and for violence. Any place were defensive weapons are expected is safer than a place where arms are banned.Deterrence is best, better than surviving a gun fight. But having the proper arms, a carbine is better than a handgun.
      A .380 is better than no gun at all. Pews that will stop bullets are better than sheet metal folding chairs.
      Don’t sit together and be able to see the doors. all the doors. If there is a choir loft, put two guards there with ARs and EOTech sights. Have remote door locks and lights controlled that can blind an attacker.
      So, did teh USAF fail to report the domestic violence conviction, was it a DCD or a DD or did tehFBI fail to record the background data?

      1. They say the USAF screwed up. That may or may not be accurate depending upon what the rules were at the time.

        I suspect that the individual and his family must have lived on post/base since civilian authorities don’t seem to have been involved in the initial family violence investigation. If it occurred on post/base, then handling of the matter falls fully under the authority of the military. The FBI, state police, BATF, would not likely have been involved in the case of family violence which happened totally on post/base.

        The military is a society unto itself, with it’s own laws and procedures… a necessity considering the environment they must operate within. Many of the “crimes” listed in the Uniform Code of Military Justice have no equivalents in civilian society. It is possible that reporting the subjects Dishonorable Discharge to a civilian entity may have been an oversight with regard to the 2nd Amendment and restrictions thereto, and there was no requirement to report.

        Such oversights happen in both military and civil law. Those who write the laws don’t always think of every possibility. For example, NY passed a law restricting the amount of ammo a magazine was permitted to hold. AFTER they passed the law and put it into practice, they discovered that ALL law enforcement and military in the state would be in violation of the law.

    13. Dean,
      When considering the subject in generalities your thoughts on “The State of Concealed and Open Carry in Churches” is probably mostly correct. But, when you examine the laws of each state and how the state enforces those laws you will find that there are much tighter restrictions on carrying a firearm, sometimes before, other times after an incident.
      Take my state for example, New Mexico. You make it sound like New Mexico is a gun haven. It is NOT. It teeters between a “shall issue” and a “may issue”. It is a “shall issue”, but the DPS tries to make it a “may issue”. It is legal to carry openly, BUT, that legality has many hidden restrictions in practice. So much so that the only practical way to carry is concealed. Example: you can not carry openly into a department store that sells alcohol, not for consumption, but in bottles to carry home, just like Wal-Mart! Because of this you can not legally carry openly in a Wal-Mart in NM by state law. And there are many other stores besides Wal-Mart that sell bottled alcohol! You may be arrest for unknowingly entering one of these stores. What are you going to do, stand at the front door, call for an employee and ask them if they sell alcohol in their store? It IS legal to carry concealed in a store that sells bottled alcohol! Figure that one out.
      That is just one example out of hundreds.
      Also, if you are involved in any incident wherein the police take your CHC license and your firearm, even if you are innocent, there is a good chance the NM DPS will revoke your license anyway. Don’t believe their PR BS, they WILL revoke your license. The NM DPS controls licensing and they are a “socialistic tyrant” when it comes to firearms carry and licensing, with total neglect for “due process of the law”. It is only because of the state laws on conceal carry that they are forced to conform to those laws that we have conceal carry in NM. Otherwise the DPS in NM would be worst than California. I have dealt directly with them. They are arrogant, rude, intimidating, and not openly helpful, like they are reluctant or even flat out do not want to provide you with the necessary information to apply for a conceal carry license.

    14. We had a discussion, last night, at church concerning carrying. Our church is on a main highway but miles from the police department and they do not patrol the area very frequently. A real case for when seconds count the police are many minutes away. It turns out that one of the Elders that carry sits at the last pew on the right, next to the isle. Another guy sits on the left about half way up on the outside next to the isle. Another guy sits right side about half way to the front and I set inside of the right next to the center isle, close to the front. The doors are locked when service begins so even though we are somewhat remote the necessary precautions are in place. I pity the fool that tries something, and I quote.

    15. Our Right To Bear Arms Has Been Stolen And The Supreme Court Can Now Give It Back To Us. Lone NJ Man Gets Second Amendment Case To the Supreme Court, Will They Hear it? US Supreme Court Docketed No. 17-280.
      October 27, 2017 Distributed for Conference.
      October 30, 2017 Petition Denied.
      How about that?

      1. @OTJ, We have to get more “not corrupted yet” candidates elected to confirm President Trump’s judicial appointments. Granny Ginzberg and Koo koo Kennedy can not hold out forever.

      2. @The Other Jim,

        17-280 may have been, as you say, distributed for conference, but the truth is, it was ‘reviewed’ and denied by two-three liberal recent law school graduates, where no Supreme Court Justice had the opty to see Nick Purpura’s case, and therein lies just one more issue to prove that we are no longer a Constitutional Republic.

    16. Nobody in my church will be aware of my concealed .45 ACP unless TSHTF. Anybody rushing in during Mass, yelling “Allahu akhbar!” will be neutralized. My Anglican pastor, a retired Marine, has assured me that he will back me up with his ankle-borne .380. But then, I live in Arizona, where criminals have to think twice about launching an attack, since the Zonie is usually discreetly armed.

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