I want to go over a few things today related to carrying a firearm inside of a religious institution. Now, this serves as a blanket set of advice for any sort of church, synagogue, mosque, or wherever you go to pray.
Carrying on Church Property
In Colorado, we treat a religious institution as private property. If you are a CCW holder, the same law that gives you the authority to carry concealed allows a private property owner to limit your ability to carry concealed on their property.
So, if you are trying to enter a religious institution and there is no signage posted about firearms or prohibiting firearms, you’re welcome to carry concealed within. However, if there is signage that prohibits your concealed carry on their private property, you may not carry concealed.
If you do so and you’re caught and you have the wrong police officer or prosecutor, you could be charged with unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon or trespass. And at the very least, the sheriff that issued you your license would likely pull that license from you for failing to abide by the rules and regulations that we are required to follow as CCW holders.
Schools on Religious Institution Property
Now, if your religious institution is connected to a school, there’s another set of issues to consider: the federal law that prohibits you from bringing a firearm onto the property of a school. And that same law which grants exceptions for concealed handgun license holders in our CCW statute does allow for members of a church security team to carry concealed within a religious institution even though it’s connected to a school.
So, you need to be very careful about that because it’s all very fact-specific. If you have all of this set up and you are now carrying concealed lawfully within your religious institution, and some event occurs where you are now forced to use deadly force against somebody that’s trying to hurt other members of the religious institution or other attendees, you may do so as long as that other person who would be a victim could use self-defense or deadly force to protect themselves.
Defending a Third Party
If somebody is coming in and they’re pointing a firearm at a third party and that party could use deadly force to protect themselves, you could use deadly force to protect that third party here in Colorado. Now, this doesn’t go to say that you couldn’t potentially face civil penalties or a civil sanction if you shoot and miss somebody or any other host of variables that could go wrong.
Obviously, that’s another set of videos for us to discuss. But just to get you set up and to allow you to use deadly force to protect yourself or a third party within a religious institution, follow these steps to make sure that you don’t get sideways with the law. If you’ve got any questions about this or anything else, feel free to give me a call. I’m always happy to talk to U.S. LawShield members.