ASK FATHER: Can a bishop forbid open carry of guns in states where it is legal?

UPDATE 14 Jan:

At A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics there is an interesting reaction to the Diocese of Dallas’ new policy about guns.  A couple of the posts there touch on this topic, as a matter of fact.

One Catholic was irritated by the policy. Here is a photo of the envelope from the Dallas’ Bishops Annual Appeal:

UPDATE 13 Jan:

Another Texas diocese gets into it. There is something odd about this piece, however.

From KFOX 14:

Catholic Diocese says no to Open Carry

EL PASO, Texas – It’s been 10 days since open carry went into effect. Now the Catholic Diocese of El Paso has made its decision on the new Texas law.
Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso Patricia Fierro says the organization hopes to have the decision go into effect by next week.

She says, “Those will not be allowed in our parishes. However, we don’t have the proper signage right now but we are working on that.”

KFOX14 wanted to find out how people felt about the diocese’s decision not to allow open carry.

Harry Sorensen, of West El Paso, says, “I think it’s a good idea on the church’s behalf. That’s their prerogative that they want to do. If they feel comfortable with people having weapons in the church that (is) their business.”

Daniel Fraire, of West El Paso, says, “I don’t think there’s any reason why we need guns in a church.  [I sure hope he’s right.]

Although, there have been attacks in a church so I can see why people would want to take their gun in a church in a way.”

The Texas Tribune recently conducted a social media poll about open carry policies. Based on their polling data, 72 percent of people say open carry policies would influence where they shop. [Interesting.]

Fierro doesn’t think their policy will impact whether people still go to their church. [Really?]

“I’m thinking we might lose members if we allow them to bring guns into the church,” she says. [This is a guess… based on… what?]

“But I think they’ll feel more secure if we keep the guns away.”

People have their own theories about the impact the decision could have on churchgoers.

Sorensen says, “They probably won’t go to church if they aren’t allowed to carry but that just depends on the person I suppose.”

“Why not see it both ways?” says Fraire.

He says, “Allow two separate Masses. [Interesting.] Have one where guns are allowed and one where guns aren’t allowed. At least you can divide the people based on that.”

[NB] Some people in the past have told KFOX14 they think people should be able to leave their weapons in their cars before going into church. The diocese tells KFOX14 that will not be allowed. [Ummm… leaving their weapons in their cars will “not be allowed”?  I suppose this might depend on whether a car is on a city street or there is a church owned parking lot but… “not be allowed”?]

Perhaps someone can correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t El Paso an area where illegals (- who knows who) are flooding across the border?

This is an interesting topic, to be sure.  I find especially interesting the rhetoric chosen by the dioceses in their statements.

UPDATE 6 Jan 1519 UTC:

After a cordial exchange I received this from the Director of Communications for the Diocese of Tyler, which he sent for posting with attribution:

“While we may see a wide range of policies for churches in Texas in response to the open carry law, Bishop Strickland did not feel like the “no guns” approach was the best or practical for the Diocese of Tyler. His desire is to balance the right of law-abiding individuals to defend themselves and their families, with the decorum that is appropriate for the Sacred Liturgy.  Naturally, Bishop Strickland’s statement wasn’t intended to be of a juridical nature, but rather a common sense request from the Bishop to his flock as Texans acclimate themselves to the new law.”

Peyton Low
Director of Communications
Diocese of Tyler
http://www.dioceseoftyler.org

Thanks and kudos to Mr. Low who took the high road and engaged in a helpful way.

UPDATE 6 Jan 0238 UTC:

There are some good comments in the combox, below, which clarify Texas law.  It is becoming a little clearer now what the situation is there.  It is a good, useful, and instructive, discussion.

Also, the Diocese of Dallas issued a statement. HERE  It is far more legalistic and restrictive.  They have gone the way of the lawyers.  It is as if they don’t want some people ever to cross the threshold of their churches… sorry… thresholds of “Entity”.
_____

Original Published on: Jan 5, 2016 @ 14:53 CST

POTUS shedding a tear while announcing his latest overreach.

Today we heard the First Gay President, as Newsweek dubbed him, again trample on the Constitution of these United States of America through a violation of the separation of powers.  POTUS will attempt to impose unconstitutional “laws” through executive fiat.  The Executive Branch is not empowered to make laws. Congress has the sole power to legislate.

On the issue of gun rights and gun control, a reader sent a question about whether, in the state where it is legal openly to carry guns, a bishop has the authority to ban open carry of guns in churches.

This was brought up at a different blog.  HERE

In some states you can openly carry a gun without a permit, but a permit is required to carry a concealed weapon.  In other states you can open carry with a concealed carry permit.  Each state has variations in laws.

His Excellency Most Rev. Joseph Strickland, Bishop of Tyler (in Texas), has issued a letter on the website of the Diocese of Tyler. HERE  He doesn’t want people to carry openly in church.

Note that the first paragraph explains that the laws in Texas changed concerning open carry.  It says that those with concealed carry licenses will also be able to open carry in public places not prohibited by law.  In Texas it is not prohibited by law to carry in a church. [UPDATE: check the combox for clarifications on this point.]

 

On January 1, 2016, new legislation will go into effect in Texas which allows those with licenses issued by the State to openly carry handguns in places not prohibited by law. We will see our fellow citizens openly carrying weapons in stores, restaurants, theaters, parks, and other public places. [churches] This law revises the current “concealed carry” law but continues the requirements that those with licenses to carry handguns must be at least 21, have passed a criminal background check and have received classroom and shooting range instruction.

I respect and support the right that we have as Texans to defend ourselves and our families. As Catholics, we believe the legitimate defense of persons can be not only a right, but also a grave duty.

In the Diocese of Tyler, I strongly encourage those who choose to exercise this right to continue to do so in a prudent and responsible manner. [However… watch the language…] With respect to our communal worship, I believe that openly carrying a weapon is not appropriate during the Sacred Liturgy and may understandably cause great discomfort to some gathered to worship alongside us.

Accordingly, as Bishop, I ask the faithful of the Diocese of Tyler and guests of our churches to observe my instruction that weapons are not to be openly carried during Holy Mass or other times of public worship. Peace Officers commissioned by local, state or federal agencies are exempt from this instruction. [NB: He doesn’t say anything about concealed carry.  Only open carry.]

As Texans adjust to this new law, I would also encourage the clergy and faithful of the Diocese to address any questions that may arise with calmness, kindness and respect, taking into consideration both the legitimate feelings and the rights of all involved.

Please direct any questions that may come up regarding this instruction or the position of the Diocese of Tyler to Mr. Peyton Low at the Chancery Office.

Also, this is to be inserted into parish bulletins or read from pulpits in the Diocese of Tyler.

For the churches of the Diocese, the following statement should be inserted into Sunday bulletins and/or read during the announcements:

OPEN CARRY & HOLY MASS
Respecting the right of Texans to defend themselves and their families while at the same time being considerate of those who may be uncomfortable around weapons in the context of our sacred liturgies, Bishop Joseph E. Strickland has instructed that weapons are not to be openly carried during Holy Mass or other times of public worship.  Peace Officers commissioned by local, state or federal agencies are exempt from this instruction.  For more information, visit www.dioceseoftyler.org.

If a person who is lawfully carrying a weapon in an open manner enters a church, ushers, greeters and clergy are asked to refer the person to this statement.

As always, if someone is acting suspiciously or if an individual perceives danger to himself or others, call 9-1-1 and follow local security procedures.

Okay… that’s the situation now in Tyler, Texas, where the laws have changed and where new decisions have to be made.

A reader asked me…

QUAERITUR:

Does a diocesan bishop have the authority to ban open carrying of guns in churches (which are public places not prohibited by law)?

I asked a few canonists about this.   The general view is, no, not really.   One thought that he might be able to.  I don’t think so.

He can ask but he can’t require.  A bishop seems not to be able to enforce such a thing.  The wording of the Bishop of Tyler, for example, expresses a request.   He would really like it to be the way he asks.   He is asking.  He can’t “command” under pain of censure.  One could pay close attention to his request and decide on a course of action. People are free to follow his request, or not.

In a diocese, the bishop is the legislator.  However, he can legislate only concerning what pertains to his office.  He can legislate about indulgence and what to preach and many other things concerning the life of faith.  He can’t legislate about things determined by a higher authority (e.g., the Pope) or about things that don’t concern him (e.g, your neckties, the style of your shoes, your gun and its caliber).

There are also questions of how property ownership is set up in the Texas.  Is the bishop merely one member of a corporate board of the parish?  Is it corporation sole?  That might impact this, but I’ll stick to the bishop’s ecclesiastical role.  [UPDATE: Be sure to look at the comments in the combox.  There is a lot more about this and the Texas law is clarified.]

Mind you, when a bishop says something about comportment in church Catholics should respectfully listen.  We are not Sedevacantists or SSPXers who set aside what bishops say or who do not recognize their authority.  However, we have to consider also the limits of the authority of bishops and of pastors as well.  And ushers.

If people in the Diocese of Tyler do not conform to the wishes of the Bishop in this matter, they may incur the displeasure of the bishop (which is not nothing), but they can’t be canonically censured by him.  Or by ushers.

He can excommunicate you for joining the Masons, but not for open carrying in church.

That said, if someone determines to “stick it” to the bishop and, therefore, chooses to open carry in church, because it would annoy the bishop … I’d ask that person to examine her conscience.

Open carry to “stick it to the bishop” might be legal, [UPDATE: Again, check the comments, below.] and the bishop might not be able to do anything about it, but it could be a petty, disrespectful and even sinful thing to do on account of the motive and the sacred character of the person of the bishop, whom you intend to offend.

On the other hand, after carefully weighing the bishop’s words, a decision to open carry for other motives (self-defense, defense of loved ones, etc.), need not be disrespectful.

In any event, no one – NO ONE – should either open carry or concealed carry without understanding the consequences of that decision.  Training – lots of training – is the prudent path before carrying.  Instruction about all the legal ramifications is a must.  Even then, even after training and instruction, not everyone is cut out for carrying a weapon beyond the confines of one’s castle.  And you have to be in control of that weapon all the times and alert within your surroundings.  This isn’t a game or a matter of frivolous motives.  It’s deadly serious.

Moderation queue is ON.

 

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87 Responses to ASK FATHER: Can a bishop forbid open carry of guns in states where it is legal?

  1. tbakker says:

    As a concealed carry license holder in Texas I believe your information about carrying in a church, concealed or otherwise is incorrect. It has always been illegal to carry concealed in a church. The statutes have been amended to cover open carry as well.

    From the Texas statutes:

    Sec. 46.035. UNLAWFUL CARRYING OF HANDGUN BY LICENSE HOLDER.
    Text of subsection effective on January 01, 2016
    (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:
    (6) on the premises of a church, synagogue, or other established place of religious worship.

    [Thanks for this. And thanks for pointing out the day of 1 Jan 2016. That makes a difference for the discussion, at least from the civil point of view in Texas. I am not sure how it affects the bishop’s authority in his ecclesial role as bishop.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  2. dans0622 says:

    Hmm….can’t a bishop legislate that people are to dress a certain way in order to be admitted into a Catholic church in his diocese? It seems to me that he could. “Men are to wear pants. Everyone is to have covered shoulders. Women are to cover their heads (!).” etc. Attaching penalties to the violation of such a law is another matter but could also be done.

    [Right… a point brought up in another comment. How about this: The bishop says that people cannot wear brown sock, but that the socks must be black.]

  3. tz2026 says:

    WEAPONS?
    The Knights of Columbus at one of my previous parishes had swords and would not merely “open carry” them, but take them out during some ceremony – I forget if it was before, after, but I think it was during Mass.
    (Somehow the saying “bringing a knife to a gunfight” seems appropriately ironic).

    [It is common for the KCs to form a sward arch for the entrance of the sacred ministers at Mass.]

  4. Will D. says:

    But Father, But Father, isn’t the Bishop or the Diocese the property owner for all the churches? [That is not the case in all states. As I mentioned in the top entry. Some states are corporation sole.] Couldn’t he forbid open carry in much the same way that many stores choose to forbid carrying on their property?
    (For the record, I’m fine with concealed carry, but dubious about open carry.)

  5. Moral_Hazard says:

    Fr. Z posted: “In any event, no one – NO ONE – should either open carry or concealed carry without understanding the consequences of that decision. Training – lots of training – is the prudent path before carrying. Instruction about all the legal ramifications is a must. Even then, even after training and instruction, not everyone is cut out for carrying a weapon beyond the confines of one’s castle. And you have to be in control of that weapon all the times and alert within your surroundings. This isn’t a game or a matter of frivolous motives. It’s deadly serious.”

    Very, very, well put, Father. Kudos.

  6. Bosco says:

    Too bad Obama couldn’t shed a tear for 55 million innocent children murdered through the abortion industry he both salutes and promotes.

    Insofar as Bishop Strickland’s decision in respect of possession of firearms among the attendees at Mass, I suppose, though I have not researched the applicable law in Texas, that if liability insurance coverage for the Diocese will be increased as a result of firearms on Church grounds, then perhaps the Bishop might argue the economic impact on the Diocese as warranting a prohibition.

    Just supposin’ though, have a look at this brief article from The Altoona Mirror (PA) of April 5, 2015. There were more extensive follow-up articles.

    “Gun fired during Mass”

    http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/608417/Gun-fired-during-Mass.html?nav=742

  7. Titus says:

    OK, I’ll bite.

    Why can’t the bishop make such a particular law as an exercise of his power to oversee the Liturgy in his diocese? One reads about decrees that were issued in many places and times throughout history (e.g., I seem to recall ones from Renaissance Italy) prohibiting the carrying of weapons in church. Were those not episcopal decrees?

    I would be genuinely interested in the rationale at work here: to where does the bishop’s authority in this regard (i.e., regulation of conduct during the liturgy) extend? Only to the sacred ministers? Only to particular enforcement or interpretation of universal law? Somewhere else?

    [It’s an interesting point. For example: One wears a gun. But it is considered normal to tell people who don’t have adequate coverage by clothing that they should not enter. So… in some respects it is not unusual to “tell people what they can and can’t wear” in church.]

  8. Xopher says:

    Thank you, Father.

    To clarify, the Texas Penal Code DOES actually prohibit the carry of weapons in a church (PC 46.035(b)(6)). HOWEVER, in section (i), it states that it is a defense to prosecution that the individual was not properly notified in accordance with another section of the penal code (30.06 and 30.07).

    In other words, it IS legal to carry in church, unless you’ve been notified NOT to. There are detailed instructions concerning how notice is to be given and all that, so Texas residents would be well advised to educate themselves accordingly. All License Holders should be well aware of these laws because they’re covered in the classes required to receive their licenses.

    [That’s interesting new information. Thanks for that! However, was any of that changed with the changes that went into effect on 1 January?]

  9. Augustine says:

    In my diocese, also in Texas, the bishop left that decision up to the parish pastors. My pastor has welcomed those carrying openly in the parish bulletin.

    Christus natus est!

  10. Bosco says:

    BTW wasn’t that tear sparkling on Obama’s cheek the very same tear Hilary shed in the 2008 New Hampshire primary?

  11. Wiktor says:

    NB: ” during Holy Mass or other times of public worship” is not the same as “in church”.

  12. Xopher says:

    Father,

    No, it hasn’t. I took that from the updated version, as well. The only update is that individuals must be notified specifically for both open and concealed carry. Section 30.06 states how to notify concerning concealed carry, and the recent law added 30.07, which states the equivalent for open carry.

    Note that a “defense to prosecution” doesn’t mean you can’t get arrested for it. You can still be arrested…the defense takes effect when, in trial, you bring up the fact that you weren’t notified, and the court drops the case…

  13. At our parish, the pastor and three other priests who were present were all openly wearing their birettas during Vespers on Epiphany.

  14. CarpeNoctem says:

    I would come down on the side that the order of a bishop to forbid is not a ecclesial/canonical matter, but a civil matter. After all, it is civil law that has the teeth in this situation. In my state, we have the situation where the ‘owner’ can forbid concealed-carry. The bishop isn’t the ‘owner’, per se, but he is the corporate head recognized by civil law, and so, like any corporate policy that might forbid conceal-carry, his word would be ‘law’. [I don’t know how parishes are set up in Texas.]

    Two thoughts: the pastor could turn a blind eye or openly resist, as he might do for so many other things the bishop might order (for instance, in liturgical matters), but when a shooting–even if totally justified–occurs in the church or on the property, then all the (civil) consequences that follow (legal, insurance claims, liability, PR, etc.)… will yield a howling problem for that pastor… and the pastor will be one of the guys holding the bag when all is said and done. The bishop will also make sure the pastor takes the fall on this one. It’s not nice, but that’s what would have to happen to protect the diocese. And then the canonical issues for disobeying the bishop… ?? Aye!

    Secondly, if the bishop does not forbid conceal-carry, HE will be the one on the button when a shooting (even if totally justified) occurs… and he, as the property-holder/president/CEO/corporate member… whatever… will be the target of the ambulance-chasers who would love to have another foothold into the patrimony and properties of the Church.

    I’m willing to bet that some if not most bishops would not like guns in churches for political (anti-2nd amendment) reasons. Some are doing it in a sense of pacifism and the tension which conceal-carry brings to the central mission of being an organization that points beyond the violence and brokeness of this world. Those reasons are totally the bishops’ prerogative. I would also bet that more bishops will be coerced by the legal-liability environment we work in today.

  15. Richard_amdg says:

    I don’t think that’s correct – the subsection to which you refer appears to be conditional, subject to notice/posting: “Text of subsection effective on January 01, 2016 (i) Subsections (b)(4), (b)(5), (b)(6), and (c) do not apply if the actor was not given effective notice under Section 30.06 or 30.07.”

    http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/PE/htm/PE.46.htm

    So if the signage isn’t posted properly (verbiage, font size, etc.), then prohibition doesn’t appear to apply.

  16. KateD says:

    Of course the bishop has the authority. Besides, who wants to tick off a guy who can loose and bind?!?

    Arizona is open carry. We stopped in at Cabella’s on our way through a couple of months back and as we drove into the parking lot my 14 year old daughter said, “Mom, that guys packing”. As we scanned the parking lot, most people has pistols on their hips. It was actually comforting that people had the liberty to make adult decisions about their own safety. I reminded her we weren’t in California anymore. When we went into the store there was a gun check. You leave your gun when you go in and pick it up when you’re done shopping. Not a big deal.

    Tyler churches just need a new gun check ministry….EMMs? Extraordinary Munitions Ministers? Maybe redirect the gals who are EMHCs to this new ministry…two problems solved!

  17. Matt R says:

    I personally do not believe carrying arms in church is accordance with the Christian spirit, and it was historically frowned upon by the church. That being said, I agree with Fr. Z.’s closing paragraph, and I also think that if someone is carrying a concealed weapon, he or she (women being an important demographic for new CCW permits) is unlikely to carry opnely. It attracts too much attention, and it defeats the whole purpose of carryong.

    That being said, drawing attention to one’s carrying in church (especially when it is a gun-free zone) is a shooting waiting to happen.

    I wonder what constitutes sufficient notice for purposes of the law restricting carrying in church. Instruction required for the permit would probably cover it, even if that is simply in the form of materials given to the applicant. I would be uncomfortable posting it in church, given the possibility of someone taking advantage of that knowledge.

  18. Baritone says:

    I find it mildly amusing that the penal code section in question is “30.06” [Yah… I noticed that too.]

    I do wonder though about a bishop’s moral obligations. If he has the authority to restrict the ability of his flock to defend themselves on church property (and he chooses to do so), it would seem he must necessarily take the responsibility on himself if an incident occurs in which his unarmed flock is gunned down.

    There is no amount of legislation, whether civil or ecclesiastical, which will keep the bad guys from firing on the good guys. Murders don’t respect innocent life…why would they respect the law?

  19. kurtmasur says:

    Regardless of legal statutes whether in Texas or any other state, an important question would be if churches are private or public property? (ie. do they belong to the federal, state or municipal governments or to a private entity?). If they are private property, then I don’t see why a bishop could not implement rules about what is allowed inside the church property of his diocese or not. I think it’s been previously mentioned elsewhere in this blog, that just because something is legal, it doesn’t mean it is right (which could be considered as common sense anyways). We can think of many other things that are legal, but which wouldn’t be appropriate inside a church….as in the example of the immodest dress mentioned earlier in the comments. While it wouldn’t be illegal per se to dress that way, it certainly doesn’t belong in a church and bishops are right for prohibiting it. In the same manner, guns may be legal in the States, but it shouldn’t mean that bishops shouldn’t have a voice about prohibiting them on church property. That said, if security is the main issue here, perhaps dedicated security staff or the ushers themselves could be the ones appointed (authorized by the bishop) to actually (openly) carry a gun during Mass for one of those “just in case” moments, heaven forbid. Of course, it would mean that to be an usher, they would have to be properly trained and with the proper gun license. Perhaps the very same parishioners willing to take their gun to church could be the right candidates to become an usher… Anyways, in any case, I think it would look overall less awkward if dedicated staff openly carried a gun than if actual laymen did. Just my 2 cents. [“Staff” are laymen.]

  20. Manducat in the hat says:

    @tbakker, your information is incorrect/incomplete

    Read further into subsection (i) which states:

    (i) Subsections (b)(4), (b)(5), (b)(6), and (c) do not apply if the actor was not given effective notice under Section 30.06 or 30.07.

    So under Texas law, you may legally conceal carry in a church if 30.06 and/or 30.07 signs are not displayed appropriately.

    [And if I understand correctly, to ban guns completely (concealed or open) both signs must be displayed. How lovely that would be at every door.]

  21. rmichaelj says:

    As Xopher and Richard-amgd have pointed out, unless there is signage it is legal to conceal carry in Church in Texas. The original law prohibited carry in hospitals and churches, then the law was amended in 2007 to state that the subsections regarding hospitals and churches ” do not apply” unless the appropriate signage is posted. In regards to what Xopher mentioned I would opine that a statement saying the section does not apply is stronger than saying it is “legally defensible”

    On a more personal note, while I can see why a Bishop would not want open carry in parishes in his diocese, to try and limit the practice of conceal carry is ridiculous and counter productive. Studies have shown that a conceal carry holder is less likely to be involved in an unjustified shooting than off-duty and retired police officers.

    So while I certainly respect Bishop Strickland’s Policy in Tyler, and would not open carry. I have real problems with Bishop Farrell’s policy of trying to restrict both conceal and open carry. I make a very good effort and have been quite successful in respecting the local bishops authority.

    However, when it comes to the physical protection of my family- Bishop Farrell has now stepped on what is my authority as a father. Also keep in mind that in Texas (and possibly other states as well, many of the parishes which use the extraordinary form are in somewhat unsafe neighborhoods.

    If the sign isn’t posted I’m going to do what I feel is appropriate for the safety of my family. If signage is posted, I’m going to request written permission. If refused- well I will have to make a tough decision, I’m pretty sure there will not be signage at the nearby SSPX parish. They respect my authority to defend my family as I see fit, even if they don’t respect the authority of the local Bishop in all things.

    Finally, in regards to liability for the parish or dioceses because they didn’t post signage or have a policy—please!!! Show me one case where a property owner was held liable for someone discharging a concealed weapon that the property owner did not know of- because the property owner didn’t post signage or have a “policy” against conceal carry. Not going to happen. I agree with Father Z that lawyers were probably involved- but that doesn’t make it a good involvement- they do charge by the hour. [I have no doubt that lawyers were involved in Tyler as well. However, the two dioceses came to different conclusions about how to address the issue.]

    To summarize Authority is a two way street, Bishops should respect the authority of fathers to provide for the defense of their families (or mothers where a father is not present or involved).

  22. rmichaelj says:

    addendum:
    Liability also works both ways, if a bishop prohibits conceal carry but doesn’t provide for security then what happens if someone is attacked/mugged/killed.

  23. tzard says:

    There’s no teaching about why he “Believes” (not thinks or judges?) it’s incompatible with Mass. Is it just that some would be uncomfortable? What about those of us who are uncomfortable holding hands during the “Our Father”?

    Some practicalities are also being completely being ignored. I can tell you I’m not at all comfortable with all those handguns in people’s cars in an unguarded parking lot. After all, we’re told not to leave valuables or purses in our cars, why should people leave their guns there?

    [A good point. Even if you have a gun vault hard cabled and locked in your trunk, you are still walking away from your car.]

  24. MWindsor says:

    “Training – lots of training – is the prudent path before carrying.”

    I live in Texas, and so far I haven’t seen anyone open carry anything. Some of my neighbors and I talked about it, but no one really feels a deep need to do it.

    As to the training – an example: I got a new Walther PPQ not long ago. I’ve never owned a striker fired pistol before, and the trigger on the PPQ is really otherworldly (you Beretta and Glock guys should give it a try…seriously, you won’t believe it). But I paid for an hour one-on-one training session with one of the instructors at the local range. About 10 minutes into the session and after having drilled a few 10-rings, he said, “Ok, you obviously know what you’re doing. Why are you really here?” I told him that I’d never used anything striker fired and that a little brush-up on safety was never a bad thing. He said he wished more people looked at training that way. It was actually a really good coaching session from then on.

    Train, train, and then train some more. There is safety in proficiency, and proficiency only comes with practice.

  25. dans0622 says:

    Interesting topic.
    Re: mandating a particular color of socks. A law is an ordinance of reason for the common good. A law about sock color lacks reasonableness, in my opinion, and doesn’t have anything to do with the common good. I think a law forbidding “open carry” can be seen as an ordinance of reason and as having something to do with the common good.
    Re: whether or not the diocese is structured as a corporation sole. I fail to see how that has anything to do with the bishop’s authority in this matter.
    Canonical principles. Canon 381.1: “A diocesan bishop in the diocese entrusted to him has all ordinary, proper, and immediate power which is required for the exercise of his pastoral function except for cases which the law or a decree of the Supreme Pontiff reserves to the supreme authority or to another ecclesiastical authority.”
    Canon 391.1: “It is for the diocesan bishop to govern the particular church entrusted to him with legislative, executive, and judicial power according to the norm of law.”

  26. jltuttle says:

    To be so afraid of guns that you fear them even when they are locked in a car is profoundly uncatholic. A car is more likely to kill you then a gun. Prepare your soul and you’ll have nothing to fear.

    We are increasingly surrounded by orcs and easterlings, but are supposed to take comfort in the fact that they are disarmed? If you cannot rid your land of the forces of Mordor, then you must arm yourself. For as soon as the enemy realizes there will be no retribution, they will strike.

  27. KAS says:

    Mostly, people I know are glad for the open carry because now, if your concealed weapon happens to peak out from under your clothing, you no longer break the law. Most people I know who carry prefer concealed, do their best to keep concealed, and are happy to lose the worry that somehow their weapon will be spotted and they will be in violation.

    As for the lawsuits if a gun is fired in Church in self defense vs everyone disarmed– if the Bishop insists on making the church a gun free zone, it will become a lawsuit waiting to happen when some crazy decides Mass is his very own shooting gallery. Of course, carrying a defensive weapon is of no use if the crazy decides to blow himself up.

    Sadly, we live in interesting times.

  28. Mary Jane says:

    I live in Texas, in the Dallas Diocese, and I have not yet seen anyone open carry. I am very concerned about the statement issued by Bishop Farrell. With his statement he has essentially put a “no guns here” sign on the front lawn of all churches/property owned by the Diocese. And yes, some of these churches/properties are not in the best neighborhoods.

    rmichaelj, you said: “However, when it comes to the physical protection of my family- Bishop Farrell has now stepped on what is my authority as a father.” My husband and I were talking about this yesterday, and he feels similarly as well.

  29. Defender of Truth says:

    Very interesting reading although I disagree with most of it. That puts me in the minority for which I trust I will not be pilloried. One sentence written by KateD caught my attention. She was of course referring to those who do carry in public places. She wrote; ” It was actually comforting that people had the liberty to make adult decisions about their own safety. ” I do not see any comfort in seeing many people openly or otherwise carrying firearms in public. My first experience of seeing firearms being carried in public was on a business trip. It was the first time I had been to Paris. When I left the hotel the next morning the police where at the entrance carrying what appeared to be automatic rifles. For me, it was not a “comforting” experience. Before anyone gets “hot under the collar” you should know I own a rifle and was at one time a member of the NRA. However, the manner in which the NRA operates today, excludes me from supporting them today.

    In my experience I have seen a college student attempt to attack the mathematics professor. Other students prevented him from doing so. I cannot help but wonder what might have happened if the student had been carrying a weapon. There will come a day with so many “packing”, when a fire fight will occur in a school, a church or a theater. Perhaps then we will rethink the carrying of weapons in public.

  30. Spade says:

    “My first experience of seeing firearms being carried in public was on a business trip.”

    So, you were an NRA member at one time and were old enough to be on a business trip and that was the first time you saw a firearm carried in public? In France? And it was by a French cop?

    I find this hard to believe.

    I saw five US cops openly carrying firearms on my way to work this morning. If we’re including cops, as you apparently are, I see them all the time.

  31. Mary Jane says:

    Okay another thought…

    If Catholic families in the Diocese of Dallas were to determine that it would not be safe to attend Mass at their parishes if they were not allowed to at least conceal carry, is the Bishop going to dispense their Sunday obligation? [Good question.]

    (Obviously this is a hypothetical case/question, as there are many parishes in the Diocese that are in safe neighborhoods). [Is there such a thing as a “safe neighborhood”?]

  32. Polycarpio says:

    Baritone’s point reminds me of the debates (well, it reminds me of reading about the debates–the debates themselves were before my time) relating to the Peace of God/Truce of God (Pax Dei) movements in the Middle Ages, whereby church leaders such as the Archbishop of Bordeaux attempted to reinforce zones of peace around churches, church festivals, on holidays and such. When the Lateran III Council adopted such a measure as a universal prohibition on holy days, St. Thos. Aquinas opposed the measure, arguing that principles of self defense trumped the philosophy of the movement. I doubt anyone at the time would have argued that the bishops were entirely without authority to make the regulations. But that was a different time.

  33. Pingback: Open Carry on Church Property in Texas - Catholic Living

  34. Manducat in the hat says:

    If the gun is concealed, then nobody knows it’s even in the church, thus no tension. There’s a way to carry openly without inducing panic. Dress in nice slacks, a polo shirt, and a tight haircut. Don’t dress like a mall ninja or like you’re going on a desert safari.

    A man open carried in church here in Texas one time (not sure of his legal justification), and nobody noticed. He was 65 or so, walked with a cane, wore jeans and a black vest. I noticed the revolver on his hip, but could find no badge. Nothing happened that I noticed.

    If you’re worried about religious practice and the idea of self defense, go to the CCC Paragraph 2264. In a nutshell, man is obliged to care for his life more than that of another, and as such has a right and duty to protect his own life. The idea that carrying weapons in church violates the sacred space has not enjoyed logic-based support, but seems based solely on emotion, which has failed to provide a solid answer to the question “so what if a bad guy with a gun enters the church.”

  35. Manducat in the hat says:

    Another portion of the same bill effective Jan 1, 2016 is a holder of a License To Carry caught violating the 30.06 or 30.07 signs only faces a max $200 ticket (Class C Misdemeanor) instead of the previous $2,500 fine and year in county jail (Class A Misdemeanor).

    Just saying.

  36. Defender of Truth says:

    Spade:
    You may question my veracity but you would be wrong. It happened as I wrote. I did not write “firearm”, but automatic rifles. First, I am 85 years old, was a member of NRA many years ago, traveled to Paris in 1989 on my way to Africa. Although this was my first and only Paris visit, I have traveled to England, The Netherlands, Germany [many times], Austria, Switzerland, and the wine country in southeastern France. Beyond Europe, I have worked in Angola, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Perth Australia and Port Morsby in Papua New Guinea. Perhaps this scant time-table will help you.

  37. marcpuckett says:

    I can sympathise with the bishops in this matter, certainly; but honestly I don’t understand why they insist on going the ‘I’m making a polite request’ route, which seems to me open to being answered, equally politely, with both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Antinomianism is abroad in the land!

  38. SKAY says:

    Baritone said:

    “There is no amount of legislation, whether civil or ecclesiastical, which will keep the bad guys from firing on the good guys. Murders don’t respect innocent life…why would they respect the law?”

    My thoughts exactly. All you have to do is watch what is happening in other countries to Christians both inside and outside of Christian churches and realize the possibilities.
    We have been told there are active ISIS investigations in every state and they do not play by the rules of nice. They like to prey on groups of people with no way to defend themselves and I have no reason to believe that American Catholic churches are immune.
    This is not the America that I grew up in but it is the reality of the America I am living in now.

  39. rmichaelj says:

    To defender of truth:
    In defense of Spade you did write “firearms” . He put the direct quote in his post! You only mentioned automatic later. Please reread your own post.

    To manducat:
    Does the violation of the signage limit your ability to continue to have a CHL? I will look it up, but that would also be a consideration.

  40. frjim4321 says:

    ” So… in some respects it is not unusual to “tell people what they can and can’t wear” in church.”

    But entirely unenforceable.

  41. sirlouis says:

    We used to live in Texas, now we are in Arizona. I have concealed carry permits in both states. In Arizona, anyone can carry, open or concealed, without a permit. In four years, I think I have seen an openly carried weapon (by a civilian) just four times. I conclude that open carry is a non-problem unless it is made a problem by prohibiting it. Yes, there will be some who do it just because they are allowed to, but that gets old very quickly — I should think in a matter of a few weeks. Better for the bishops to ignore the subject.

  42. Kathleen10 says:

    Defender of Truth, you are certainly entitled to feel whatever you feel. No one can tell you how to feel, although I’m sure the president’s working on it. I have been at rallies at our state house where there was open carry, and people made the most of it. It didn’t bother me, but that’s me. I do not happen to agree with your sentiments about the NRA. We are in a battle just to try to keep our Second Amendment rights, given our nincompoop president. He is making power grabs daily, and our Congress shows little energy for taking him on. Men with principle, courage, and will are in very short supply these days, on a few fronts. My point is, why quibble with the NRA at this particular juncture. You may not agree with them but in my opinion we should not obsess over the battle if we could actually lose the war, and he’s not kidding. He wants our rights. He wants to disarm us and fill up our country with Muslims, the jack***.
    Sorry.
    I’m sobered by your age. I’m in the middle years, and I admit I get very nostalgic about how things used to be, so much better. These are crazy times. I have loved ones in heaven who were seniors and who I miss terribly, but wow, they’d be nervous wrecks if they were around now. They wouldn’t believe how it is. For someone of your generation, it’s got to be shocking. Anyway, God bless. If people were made of half the stuff your generation is/was, we’d be in great shape instead of living a daily horror show.

  43. rmichaelj says:

    Manducat,
    This is what I found:
    Section 42 (d)

    An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $200, except that the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if it is shown on the trial of the offense that, after entering the property, the license holder was personally given the notice by oral communication described by Subsection (b) and subsequently failed to depart.

    I’m no lawyer (not even in my worst nightmare) but it appears that as long as you leave when asked it is a class c misdemeanor (Way To Go Texas Legislature!). This would not disqualify from having a conceal carry unless there is something else I haven’t seen. This actually means enough to me I probably will talk to my attorney to confirm.

    However, if someone’s x-ray vision spots your conceal carry and asks you to leave, you had better skedaddle. Class A conviction will definitely yank your conceal carry license (which has been renamed License To Carry- LTC).

  44. Ann Malley says:

    “…Mind you, when a bishop says something about comportment in church Catholics should respectfully listen. We are not Sedevacantists or SSPXers who set aside what bishops say or who do not recognize their authority. However, we have to consider also the limits of the authority of bishops and of pastors as well. And ushers.”

    It would seem that the Director of Communications, if that is who wrote the above, is really reaching for the superior sauce and asserting a somewhat childish, not childlike, notion of obedience. [I don’t see it that way. As a matter of fact, I think that Bp. Strickland’s approach is far more respectful of people than Bp. Farrell’s heckling legalism. Compare and contrast.] Of course, Catholics give credence to their bishops, but then these are not regular times. One must be very protective of one’s soul and, increasingly, one’s personal safety.

    So absolutely all should give credence and listen respectfully to what the Bishop says, but people also have a duty to protect/defend themselves as the situation demands. Spiritually and physically. That is why we must fully understand the limits of authority, not act out of the fear of ‘looking’ disobedient and leave ourselves vulnerable to myriad threats.

    Good grief.

  45. dochm13 says:

    The Dallas anti-gun policy is breathtaking in its ignorance, not to mention overflowing with false piety. One has a natural, God-given, DUTY (beyond just a right, it’s a duty) to protect one’s self and family by appropriate means. Full stop.

    Now, open carry is just stupid. Target on your back. Who do you think gets taken out first when SHTF? Deterrence is borne of secrecy and fear of the unknown. Large numbers of people carrying concealed is what keeps bad guys in check. Why not encourage CC while at the same time discouraging OC, if you’re worried about distractions? As if distractions were a real threat to anyone.

    “Banning” guns does not stop criminals. Bishop Farrell, congrats on your shiny new Gun Free Zones. You’ve just created dozens of inviting, soft, target-rich environments in North Texas.

  46. Terry Mushroom says:

    As a Catholic from outside the US, I find it difficult to find adequate words to express my shock and astonishment at the discussion about carrying guns into church. It’s insane. It’s a sign of a weak, fearful, mistrustful society; of an immature one that doesn’t want to grow up.

    The US since 1945 has displayed exceptional leadership in promoting international human rights. But your gun culture (and death penalty) retention greatly weakens your case. Some may respond with anger to my comments because I’m a foreigner. If so, think on that it’s a sign of love and concern to warn a brother or sister in Christ that they are walking the wrong path. Baptism transcends nationality.

  47. Mary Jane says:

    Think about it – holders of CHL licenses have no felony/drug-related convictions, no mental defects/disabilities, no class B misdemeanor or higher convictions at least in the last 5 years, and they have passed a criminal background check. Seems to me that the Diocese would benefit from having CHL holders “under cover on duty” during Mass.

    Perhaps if enough of us who live in the Dallas area wrote the contact provided at the bottom of the Bishop Farrell’s statement, it might make a difference. I did so yesterday, in fact, with a polite and respectful letter. No emotion, just respect and facts, and I pointed out several of the things we have been discussing here in this thread (“gun free zones” are easy targets for criminals, Fathers have a right to protect their families, allowing *at least* concealed carry makes our churches safer places, etc).

  48. Ann Malley says:

    I wish that others – especially our bishops – wouldn’t continue to sow seeds of misconception – like that of the SSPX merely dismissing a Bishop’s authority as some form of scare tactic – into the equation. It is just such methodology that gives many thinking and devout Catholics pause when considering what they say…. but more importantly what they do and or do not do.

    Its past time we began looking to realities instead of stepping around people’s false perceptions. That latter is a form of obfuscation that, in the long run, can lead to myriad bad fruits. The last 50 years are rather proof of that, especially in light of Nostra Aetate that is increasingly leading to mental disconnect and a wide open door of danger to body and soul.

  49. TradConMom says:

    I am SO glad this is being discussed here. I’m beside myself upset over this. I live in the Dallas Diocese and found out about that first before Tyler (which is 10x better and a completely respectable policy….a suggestion even not a mandate with signs and Tyler still respects conceal carry. Being their bishop is a native Texan not Irish via D.C. I’m not surprised, but I digress…). I’d like to reaffirm that in TX you have to have signs. And yes at least in Dallas the property of “entity” churches are owned by the Diocese. So they DO have the LEGAL right to mandate signs will be posted (and they have). I’d like to ask about the principle of subsidiary. Does the bishop not have the MORAL duty to let each parish decide for itself it they will post a sign? I conceal carry. And as a matter of principle cannot support his weapons policy. I am obligated to attend Mass. I am not obligated to be a defenseless target. I’m at a loss for what I can do about this now. I may drive to the Tyler Diocese which means uprooting my family and leaving behind my active duties in my parish. I feel sorry for those who aren’t near another diocese (and it looks like Ft. Worth has decided to follow Dallas *Sigh*) What would you do?

    [Because of several points you made.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  50. Ann Malley says:

    @TradConMom:

    I’d do my duty before God….. much as you seem to be inclined to do.

    Obviously, this current administration in the White House is not the only entity inclined toward executive overreach. Your suggestion of, “…I may drive to the Tyler Diocese which means uprooting my family and leaving behind my active duties in my parish,” would be one way to communicate your legitimate position quite clearly. Not only to Church leadership, but to your children who will learn by way of your example that over reach and a conflict of duty is something that must be addressed honestly, not just mandated in a way that sends conflicting messages.

    I’ve little doubt that solid Catholics will increasingly be put into positions wherein they must opt to stick up for that which is true….. standing up for matters of principle as you have stated.

  51. Ann Malley says:

    @Terry Mushroom

    There is no anger on my part in reading your post. I would say, however, that your understanding of people in the United States is rather a misconception. Borne perhaps of indoctrination to another belief system of what constitutes ‘grown up’. But not necessarily the reality of being mature and responsible. Practicality is being mature, much like being humble enough to understand when needs must.

    What you, from the outside, deign to be, ” … insane. It’s a sign of a weak, fearful, mistrustful society; of an immature one that doesn’t want to grow up,” is, in reality, a society of individuals who understand history and what it means to have to solve problems head-on. (Not everyone is on the same page with regard to ‘growing up’. Barbarian hordes have toppled many a sophisticated society who refused to recognize reality. Much as we may want heaven on earth, that is not the case.)

    Learning from past mistakes doesn’t only mean shunning violence, Terry. Learning from the past means to learn that there is a time and season for all things. Ignoring the reality of an advertised threat is foolishness. One is not supposed to sign up for martyrdom, but rather do what is permissible to protect/defend and, if in the end, martyrdom should come, that is when one will understand that it is the will of God – and not just the will of the individual who seeks to prove how advanced they are by ignoring all the wisdom of elders and our own human history.

    God helps those who help themselves.

  52. The Cobbler says:

    I was under the impression that weapons in general aren’t supposed to be brought into sacred spaces, but I’m not sure if that means the church as a whole or just the sanctuary, or whether it was a serious moral rule or just a pious notion that floated around from time to time during the middle ages.

  53. Mary Jane says:

    TradConMom, if you decide to drive to Tyler, be sure to visit St. Joseph the Worker. Father Terra and Father Wolfe (both FSSP) are currently there. Both are amazing priests and wonderful homilists.

  54. Rushrules says:

    I’m a freshly retired Police Sergeant in the Dallas Diocese. I am very disappointed in Bishop Farrell’s gun policy. Bishop Strickland in Tyler has a much more sensible policy. I encourage everyone to read his. I do not understand why a Bishop needs to get involved in a political situation rather than sticking to Faith and Morals. Many friends and relatives are confused and angry and are immediately taking action, such as halting donations to the Catholic Campaign, The Bishop’s ProLife Committee, and even weekly mass. Many people believe that Money talks and perhaps it will get Bishop Farrell’s attention.

  55. Imrahil says:

    There are three distinct questions involved here: can he? should he? and has he?

    These are, as I said, somewhat entirely distinct.

    Should he? I won’t say anything about that.

    Has he? No, he has not. It is clear from the quote that he “asked”, not “requested”. When the bishop merely asks, a Catholic is plainly at liberty, in things not intrinsically sinful nor forbidden, to say “thanks for the suggestion but I still will do it”.

    Can he? He can’t, it seems clear, request laymen not to bear weapons in their everyday life (as this is not a thing intrinsically sinful). But that is not the issue; the issue is about bearing them in Church, and here the bishop enjoys (at least) the authority of any house-father on his own properties. Hence, yes, that would indeed be within his competency.

    (Whether the applicable public law considers the Church to be public places, and within its jurisdiction is only of interest in the realms of “keeping up the truce between the worldly and the spiritual sword”, “prudence” and the like, but not in itself: If the Church would reinstitute her policy to ban excommunicated or unbaptized people, at some point in the liturgy, from its premises, the State would not have any real right to object.)

  56. Manducat in the hat says:

    It doesn’t matter who owns the parking lot. Texas statute says that your car is an extension of your home, and that a property owner can only prohibit carrying of firearms “on the premises” meaning inside the actual building. The property owner (bishop, landlord, etc.) has no legal authority to prohibit firearms in the parking lot whether in your car or on your person.

    Here’s a clearer example: I can legally carry my firearm, open or concealed, when walking up to the school to pick up my children so long as I do not enter the building. The same is true for any church or business.

  57. msouth85 says:

    The problem I have with Bishop Farrell’s letter is some of the parishes in the Dallas diocese are in really bad parts of town. Yet, he did not specify that he was going help parishes provide security if the pastor felt it was needed. This brings up another question. If someone does not feel safe going to mass, can he or she request a dispensation from his or her bishop?
    Also, I don’t completely get the guns should not be in a sacred place argument. Mass was celebrated on the battlefield during war. And, if I am remebering the pictures right, some soldiers still had their side arm on their person. If I am wrong about the picutre, I welcome correction.

  58. kay says:

    This goes to the macro view of this issue: Bad guys won’t stop to read these Bishop’s signs on the proliferating number of churches they have under their control so those Churches like Tyler will be able to defend themselves. Those that have the sign won’t and this seems to me is the beginning of an agenda – to make those that are gun owners feel unwelcome in the church, marginalize them, and if they do go to church make them targets so if something does happen they become props to a government storyline that guns must be taken away from the citizens.

    Seems to me that Texas had no problem with wearing guns while in church on Sunday back in the 1800’s/1900’s before they then went home to ranch or go to the small towns that made up most of TX before it became an oil powerhouse in the ’80s. Then came the boom and bust cycles in Dallas and Houston until now when the 3 things that have changed are the rampant political correctness, more litigation, and immigrants from Central/South America as well as the Middle East being plopped into that state. Do the Bishops think either of those groups which are funneled through government support dollars to Unitarian churches which take in the refugees to make money off of them will end up in the pews of the Catholic church? Think again.

    Something isn’t right and I’m not liking how they announce it to everyone instead of putting it into the bulletin for the mass goers to read quietly.

  59. pelerin says:

    I agree with Terry Mushroom. I have found this whole discussion incredible. What a way to live.

  60. Andrew says:

    “Allow two separate Masses. [Interesting.] Have one where guns are allowed and one where guns aren’t allowed.”

    I like that. The one with guns could be named “ritus romanus: forma ballistaria” which would be devided into “forma extraordinaria ballistaria” and “forma ordinaria ballistaria”.

  61. Elizabeth D says:

    Simple prudence forbids it in a prior way, there is no need for the bishop to forbid it, though in places where there is an enthusiasm for weapons that exceeds the amount of prudence possessed by the faithful, it may be prudent for him to reinforce this truth.

  62. tgarcia2 says:

    “Perhaps someone can correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t El Paso an area where illegals (- who knows who) are flooding across the border?”

    As someone from El Paso (who now lives in Dallas), you are wrong, there is no “flooding of illegals”. Yes, I am sure that there are those who live there who are illegal, as I am sure there are those who do go back across the bridge after work/school….you should really see those lines of cars. It is sad that those who have not been to the border area make an assumption like that.

    Anyway, back to the subject at hand, I am surprised that Bishop Seitz allowed his chancellor to make that statement….given he’s from Dallas via Wisconsin

  63. RichR says:

    I am not an attorney, but the Texas Concealed Carry code does not give individuals or businesses the right to forbid you leaving your gun in your car in the parking lot.

    Section46.035(f)(3) clearly says: “‘Premises’ means a building or a portion of a building. The term does not include any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk, or walkway, parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area.”

    Beyond that, there is no way they are going to enforce that, short of searching every car in the lot.

  64. Gerard Plourde says:

    One of the issues that concerns me about the widespread availability of firearms played out this week about 100 miles west of my home in Philadelphia. A State Constable was serving an eviction notice. The tenant had a rifle and pointed at the Constable. The Constable drew his gun and fired hitting the gunman in the arm. The bullet passed through the gunman’s arm and fatally struck the man’s 12 year old daughter who was standing in the background.

    Certainly the Costable’s use of force was justified and the tenant’s action was illegal. But the fact that the Constable now has to wrestle with the unintended death of a child makes me wonder if our devotion to the Second Amendment may not conflict with the First Commandment.

  65. TheDude05 says:

    As to the latest Texas Law is that if a handgun (the type in question with the new open carry law) is in a car it must be concealed. Further there are safeguards in place so that people can have their weapons in their car regardless of what the property owner desires. So while the diocese of El Paso can say that they won’t allow guns in cars, legally they don’t have much to stand on, let alone how can they enforce it if the handgun is concealed in the car as is required. The only people they could enforce this on is someone who open carries, either willfully or accidentally, into the parish and is informed that the gun is not allowed inside. They would then ask the person to go home with the gun, rather than put it in the car and come back in for Mass. Seems to be a way to discriminate on who gets to participate in Mass in this Jubilee Year of Mercy.

  66. sw85 says:

    @Terry Mushroom–

    “It’s a sign of a weak, fearful, mistrustful society; of an immature one that doesn’t want to grow up.”

    Well, American society is certainly weak and mistrustful (in the sense that it’s social fabric is badly frayed by years of liberal rule). I dunno what “maturity” has to do with it.

    It is easy for Englishmen and Icelanders to stand in judgment of Americans, lacking as they do either our history (with the horrendous devastation to minority families wrought by liberal do-gooders in the 60s, with predictable consequences of violence and drug addiction in the cities) or our geographic situation (sharing 3,000 miles of border with a failed narco-state). Much harder to understand where some of them are coming from. One might say a difficulty to empathize with another is itself a sign of something.

  67. JPK says:

    From a practical matter of security, I don’t think it is prudent for a Bishop to make a blanket decree forbidding side arms. Yes, he certainly has the authority; however, in light of recent events he is just broadcasting to jihadists and other psychopaths that all of the masses in his diocese will be filled with unarmed Christians.

  68. Ann Malley says:

    @Elizabeth D

    “…Simple prudence forbids it in a prior way, there is no need for the bishop to forbid it, though in places where there is an enthusiasm for weapons that exceeds the amount of prudence possessed by the faithful, it may be prudent for him to reinforce this truth.”

    With all due respect, Elizabeth, you do not seem to be burdened with the duty to protect/defend a family. Prudence requires one to correspond rationally to that which is real – not a perceived superiority of ignoring present day realities.

  69. Semper Gumby says:

    sw85 : well said.

  70. Semper Gumby says:

    Gerard Plourde: Your concern about violence and your empathy for the officer/Constable are appreciated.

    The daughter’s death resulted from a criminal endangering his daughter through that criminal’s willful behavior. The criminal could have had a knife or sword advancing on the officer and the result likely would have been the same. Tragic, but insufficient cause to repeal the Second Amendment, or to be required to choose between the Second Amendment and any of the Ten Commandments.
    Regards.

  71. SaintJude6 says:

    Ann Malley,
    Thank you for clarifying for Elizabeth the duty one has to protect their family. And their priest.
    Our parish is in a dodgy part of town. And Bishop Farrell wouldn’t have it any other way for the only TLM parish he is ever going to allow.
    Cars get broken into, and guns don’t come cheaply. No responsible gun owner wants to be put in the position of leaving their gun in their parked car and just hoping it is still there when they return or having it stolen and then used against an innocent victim.
    I know someone who routinely carries for the protection of his family. Thanks to the 30.06 signs (and now the 30.07), if his jacket should swing open while on Dallas diocesan property, a fellow parishioner could report him, and he would be arrested. Being prosecuted would mean that he would lose his high-level security clearance necessary for his job. Previously, when the decision was left up to individual pastors, a parishioner could simply vote with his feet to another parish. Now the whole diocese has a bullseye on their backs.
    Add to this that in his statement Bishop Farrell (from Ireland) made the crass mistake of saying that those in his diocese who wanted to carry had a “cowboy mentality.” Yes, he said this while living in the state of Texas. I personally stopped contributing to the bishop’s campaigns when he felt the need to side with the Boy Scouts of America. (Couldn’t risk losing all those big BSA donors.) I respect those who do so to protest his rude, dangerous, and dismissive behavior towards his flock.

  72. SaintJude6 says:

    Gerard Plourde,
    Hard cases make bad laws.

  73. Mr. Graves says:

    RE the story, I couldn’t agree more with the commenter who noted that CC is a far more effective deterrant that OC. If you don’t know who’s holding, you can’t eliminate your resistance early on. Churches are a prime target for attack, not only because of the large number of people gathered under one roof, but also because the persons likely to launch large-scale attacks are, at the very least, suffering from demonic oppression (and possibly worse). Whom would the adversary like more to destroy than Christians?

    RE the comments, it is surprising that some people are taking such an interest in a matter of internal security at parishes they are unlikely ever to attend, especially given the recent events demonstrating just how vulnerable a disarmed populace is to those pesky murderers who don’t bother to obtain their guns legally. Ditto the naive view that “we can’t possibly have enemies in our midst.” (The Brussels/Paris denial that swaths of the cities are effectively no-go zones was a proximate cause of the recent violence, IMO.)

    It is a truism of Catholic teaching that a man has the right of self-defense against an unjust aggressor.

    SNARK ALERT: But don’t mind me. Emboldened by the international interest this has caused, I’m off to post on Canadian Catholic sites how much I’d rather my kids sit in a pew surrounded by law-abiding CC Catholics than be exposed to five minutes of Kathleen Wynne’s sex-ed curriculum, then on to German Catholic sites to post how much less safe I’ll feel at parishes I’ll never attend now that Frau Merkel’s Refugee Policy is being implemented. Etc., etc., by country, ad nauseum.

  74. KateD says:

    Defender of Truth, I, too, was surprised at the feeling of comfort that came from being in an open carry environment. As you mentioned, one might expect to feel the same as when one comes into contact with a foreign country’s armed federal police/military like is common when visiting Mexico. But it is different when citizens open carry. The purpose the founding fathers of the United States of America had in ensuring the right of regular people to bear arms was to prevent any of us from being subject to that feeling you got while visiting France.

  75. Gerard Plourde says:

    Dear Semper Grumpy and SaintJude6,

    I should make clear that I do not support repeal of the Second Amendment. However, no Constitutional Right is absolute. The rights to free speech and assembly are subject to time place and manner restrictions. Even now, there are restrictions on who can legally purchase and possess a gun.

    As to the incident to which I referred in my comment, further reporting indicates that the family struggled with both mental and physical health issues, so it may be premature to consign the label “criminal” with all of its implications to the father in this case. A thorough background check (not the current instant check, but one that could take three days as was once the law), prior to completion of the sale is one way to reduce (not eliminate, for no law will ever eliminate bad behavior) the likelihood of a mentally ill person possessing a firearm.

    The fact remains, as Fr. Z states in his final paragraph, that the matter of gun ownership and use carries serious implications. One of these is the fact that the a bullet fired by any weapon often does not stop inside its target but continues on its trajectory until the energy is spent. A few years ago there was an incident in New York City in which a man shot and killed a coworker outside the Empire State Building. He then engaged police in a shootout. Nine bystanders were injured. It was determined that all of the injuries were from the police weapons. This is not to say that the police should not have fired but it does underscore Fr. Z’s point.

  76. Reginald Pole says:

    In order to legally ban the carrying of weapons (both open and concealed) in Texas churches, every available entrance will have to be posted with both 30.06 and 30.07 signs. These signs have to contain the complete text in both English and Spanish in one inch block letters. Just to accommodate all this information each sign will have to be at least three feet by four feet. At least they won’t destroy the aesthetics of most of these modern church buildings.

  77. KateD says:

    Terry Mushroom, The rights first established in the Magna Carta Libertatum were not bequeathed through the magnanimity of a monarch by asking politely. They were won and maintained through a force of arms.

    There will always be those who would usurp the God given rights of others in order to advance their own interests. Americans do not live in fear; we understand that rights must be exercised and defended or they are lost. In American politics, Democrats have the objective of disarming the citizenry completely, but they hide behind the subterfuge of stricter gun regulation for our “safety”. Liberals are engaged in the very effective tactic of “limit, limit, eliminate” regarding the Second Amendment right to bear arms. For this reason, the National Rifle Association and everyday Liberty loving Americans fight each and every instance of further gun legislation.

  78. Sonshine135 says:

    I’m curious and may contact the Dallas Diocese about this. If the faithful are not allowed to carry firearms into church, what is the Diocese doing to ensure their safety? The Supreme Court states that the Police are under no obligation to protect individuals, just the public at large. So, if these individuals are not allowed to take their safety into their own hands, who in the Diocese will make sure they are safe. Just calling something safe isn’t enough to make it safe.

  79. MWindsor says:

    @ Elizabeth D – I live 6.5 miles from my parish. I also live 6.6 miles from the location in Garland, Texas, where a pair of Jihadi’s decided to shoot-up an event at the Culwell center. I live 1 mile from what appears to be a Pakistani Islamic school (it is an Islamic school, we just suspect that it’s primarily run by Pakistanis). I live about 10 miles from a former mosque that was shut down after 9-11 because of ties to Hamas. A few years ago, a fire truck returning to a nearby station discovered a dead body on the side of the street. It turned out that the deceased was a drug runner and had been killed in a neighboring suburb – his body was merely dumped half a mile from my house. Shortly after the Paris attacks, a pair of middle eastern men, military age, heavily bearded, turned-up at Mass. They didn’t seem to know anything about being Catholic (when to kneel, stand, etc.). I never saw them before or after.

    If you don’t live in this kind of area, good for you. It’s not something you have to worry about. But this is what the northern half of Dallas and its suburbs are like these days (and it’s all happened remarkably fast – in 3 years we’ve got a new mosque, a new Islamic school, and women in full burka’s at my grocery store). If it ever comes to shooting, it’s not going to be you and yours at the pointy end of the stick, but me and mine. Pardon me while I refuse to go quietly.

    And in the midst of all this, my bishop disarms us? In reality, he just painted a big target on every parish in the northern deanery. (Truth be told, the only time we ever hear from Bishop Farrell is when he wants money…and now to disarm us.)

    I don’t and wouldn’t carry a firearm to Mass. But I would very much have preferred to let the jihadi’s wonder at whether or not we were carrying anything.

    Gerald Plourde – It is indeed a sad situation for all involved, so I don’t disagree with you there. But the deputy was reactive in this situation. He responded to actions of the father. Objectively speaking, if he hadn’t pulled a gun on the deputy, then the daughter would still be alive.

  80. Imrahil says:

    Some people in the past have told KFOX14 they think people should be able to leave their weapons in their cars before going into church. The diocese tells KFOX14 that will not be allowed.

    and our reverend host says: “… I suppose this might depend on

    whether the car in question is bullet-proof and hermetically lockable, I’d say.

    When once you pull your weapon out of the weapons’ locker, you ever keep it directly at your body.

    The only exception is if you give it to a friend and make sure he treats it with the same caution. (Customarily expressed through the dialoge “one rifle given over, decocked and in safe position” – “one rifle taken over, indeed decocked and in safe position”.)

    Soldiers might also put it down on the ground (e.g. when eating or when pausing from exercise), but always within sight, within some meters of the soldier’s own position, in the free air or the same room when under a roof, and when the situation is safe and civilians are not present.

    I should seriously assume this much is known?

    Leave them on the parking lot indeed. Where any bystander can crack the car (this is said to be easy.) Good grief.

  81. SaintJude6 says:

    MWindsor,
    Perhaps you and I attend the same parish, although I live about 30 miles away. Here too, in a North Texas suburb, we have seen an incredible increase in the number of Muslims moving to our area. Hijabs and even full burkas are on display everywhere. The neighborhood public school now resembles the U.N. and there is an “Islamic Community Center” about a block away. Hmmm, I wonder how they afforded that prime piece of real estate and the building years before their numbers had grown? Everyone knows that the Arab countries are sending money to U.S. Muslims to build mosques.

  82. Gerard Plourde says:

    @MWindsor

    I agree fully that the Constable (an officer of the Court in Pennsylvania who is not a deputy, but rather like a writ server but who can also levy property and conduct judicial sales) acted as he had to. Subsequent reporting has disclosed that the family was known to Family Services and that there known mental and physical health issues present. The Constable was probably not aware of this when he went to serve the eviction notice. It also raises the question whether the presence of a person with mental health issues should have triggered removal of any weapons from the property (as is permitted in cases of domestic violence, for example).

  83. MAJ Tony says:

    Seems we must remind our European cousins that, during “World War, Second Ed.,” England armed its Home Guard with the guns provided by American citizenry. Also, seems we must remind the world that Rome fell, as has every “great power.” As for the status of the Second Amendment: abusus non tollit usum (we can never get enough Latin on WDTPRS)

  84. SunnyFlowers says:

    I just don’t want to be mugged or raped on my way home from church. Bishop Farrell SHOULD know Dallas better. He should also know members come from all over the metroplex – hunters, people who live in gang territory, and others who (more than likely) carry guns.

    So, my parish can put signs up till the cows come home. I’m still bringing my gun in my purse as always. It’s not about defiance – it’s about making it home. Bishop Farrell should walk around some of these areas his parishioners have to walk around in. Church -might- be safe, but right now Dallas has a violent rapist loose and I’m taking no chances.

    With that said, may simply drive to Tyler (Wills Point) now. It’s quite a drive – but might be worth it.

  85. SunnyFlowers says:

    Ah, how funny. We might all go to the same parish!

    Anyways – they busted some ISIS activity in the DFW…several times over! Even in the OC and up near Wylie!

    The well being of my children is priority to me and since we already KNOW ISIS is in the area…WHY would we utilize gun free zones at the places they want to target? Conceal carry is our ONLY protection – not just from street thugs and rapist, but from the REAL threat of terrorist.

    This is simply the reality of today’s society.

  86. SunnyFlowers says:

    Here is Bishop Farrell’s full address on open carry and concealed.

    http://bishopkevinfarrell.org/2016/01/open-carry

  87. JB_Tx says:

    I know Dallas and El Paso, and now Ft Worth, are placing 30.06 and / or 30.07 signage.

    Other than Tyler, what dioceses are not placing the signage? It’s the signage that I object to, as it notifies perpetrators where to strike.

    Thank you in advance, Father and other posters.

    – Jay