Attorney General Ken Paxton has clarified that licensed handgun owners can bring their weapons to church as long as the church does not say otherwise — a question raised after the deadly church shooting last month in Sutherland Springs. 

"Unless a church provides effective oral or written notice prohibiting the carrying of handguns on its property, a license holder may carry a handgun on church property as the law otherwise allows," Paxton wrote in an opinion issued Thursday.

Earlier this month, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had asked Paxton to clear up the issue, as well as whether churches are exempt from state fees for creating volunteer security teams. The attorney general said Thursday that churches do not have to pay the fees under Senate Bill 2065, which went into effect in September. 

Patrick and other state leaders have put a spotlight on church security after the Sutherland Springs massacre, which left 26 people dead. It was the worst mass shooting in modern Texas history.

The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • U.S. Sen. John Cornyn announced the release of bipartisan legislation Thursday aimed at strengthening the federal background check database following the recent mass shooting in Sutherland Springs. [Full story]

  • The Air Force failed to report Devin Kelley's domestic violence conviction to a federal database, which allowed him to buy guns before the massacre in a Sutherland Springs church. That failure has been a problem for years. [Full story]

  • The Air Force has released a statement that it failed to report Devin Kelley's domestic violence conviction to a national database used to screen firearms buyers. [Full story]

Never miss a moment in Texas politics with our daily newsletter.