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When Church and State Collide: Can You Carry In a Oklahoma Dual Purpose Facility?

The following is a video transcript.

Many times, churches, houses of worship, and temples will have extra facilities used for the education of the faithful. Depending on the size of the church or the denomination, the temple may decide to have a more elaborate and formal education system, rather than informal or religious studies, such as Sunday school for children.

The church may charter a private school on the premises that provides for elementary, middle school, and high school, with educational accreditation being approved by the State of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Self-Defense Act allows for, and authorizes, the open or concealed carry of a handgun on private school property or any school bus, when a policy has been adopted by the governing entity of the private school, allowing the carrying of firearms on the school’s premises or vehicles.

Before carrying on the school grounds of a private school, a CHL (Concealed Handgun License) licensee should investigate as to whether the school authorizes the licensee to carry on the school premises.

DO THE LAWS FOR HANDGUN CARRY CHANGE?

The laws concerning handgun carry will change from school to school and location to location, depending on the policy set by the governing body of the private school.

IS SUNDAY SCHOOL CONSIDERED SCHOOL?

Sunday school is not automatically considered school for the purposes of the Self-Defense Act. What is important is the location. A formally state chartered private school, located on the premises of a church, may have a policy where handgun carry is allowed, and it would not matter if a basketball game or Sunday school was in session.

However, if the private school does not have a policy authorizing the carry of firearms according to the Self-Defense Act, then the private school premises would be a gun-free zone, and the carry of firearms would be a criminal act. Sunday school would not matter. Sunday school is considered to be religious education of an informal type, that is not accredited through the state accreditation process.

CHURCH SCHOOL WITH A NO GUN POLICY

The church may post no gun signs and prohibit the carrying of guns on church property, or post signs at the school or other part of the premises, thus control the carrying of guns at different locations on the church-owned property.

The signs do not carry a criminal penalty, but are advisory in nature and allow the church management to eject persons carrying guns against the church policy. If the private school has a church or chapel located on the school premises, and the school has a no gun policy due to statute or not having a pro-gun policy, then it will be illegal to carry a gun in the church, due to the school policy preventing access to the church.

CHURCH SCHOOL WITH A PRO-GUN POLICY

It makes a difference if the private school has a pro or anti-gun policy, because the school can override the church’s policy. If the church is pro-gun, normally a pro-gun policy does not have to be announced by the sign. However, some church facilities, like private businesses, will post a sign advising church school attendees that the church or church school allows the open or concealed carry of firearms by staff or visitors.

For any other questions regarding gun laws in Oklahoma, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

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