Can You Carry at Church, or Is Your Church Considered a School for the Purpose of Concealed Carry?

Most of us who possess a license to carry a handgun in the State of Indiana understand that, to a very large extent, we are prohibited from having a firearm in or on school property. This includes, but is not limited to, school buildings, school buses and school parking lots. We do have a statute that allows the carrying of firearms by persons permitted to possess firearms who are transporting a person to or from school or to a school function as long as the possession is limited to possessing the firearm in a motor vehicle, and/ or storing the firearm on school property if locked securely and out of sight. There are exceptions for law enforcement officers, school resource officers, and for situations in which the school board has authorized individuals to posses a firearm on school property. It is safe to say that possession of a firearm, even by someone licensed to carry a handgun, is extremely restrictive on school property. 

With particular interest is what the meaning of "school property" is when examining various institutions and organizations. Under Indiana statute (I.C. 35-31.5-2-285) school property means the following:

(1) A building or other structure owned or rented by:
(A) a school corporation;
(B) an entity that is required to be licensed under IC 12-17.2or IC 31-27;
(C) a private school that is not supported and maintained by funds realized from the imposition of a tax on property, income, or sales; or
(D) a federal, state, local, or nonprofit program or service operated to serve, assist, or otherwise benefit children who are at least three (3) years of age and not yet enrolled in kindergarten, including the following:
(i) A Head Start program under 42 U.S.C. 9831 et seq.
(ii) A special education preschool program.
(iii) A developmental child care program for preschool children.
(2) The grounds adjacent to and owned or rented in common with a building or other structure described in subdivision (1). As added by P.L.114-2012, SEC.67.

Why is this definition of interest for the person that has a license to carry a handgun if he or she seldom travels to what is conventional known as a "school?" The answer to that is you may be going to a "school" and you don't realize it when you go to church on Sunday morning - or at any other time. Although there are generally no restrictions regarding carrying a firearm to church in Indiana, unless the particular church prohibits the carrying of a firearm, the church where you attend worship services could be considered "school property." It is certainly possible that a church could be classified as a school under the preceding statute, and you are committing a class 6 felony. This can be the case if a school is being operated on church property and the operation of the school is one that has to be licensed under Indiana statute. The bottom line - you have to be very careful when attending church services as you could, in fact, be violating our statutes and committing a class 6 felony if your church could be classified as "school property." 

There is good news with regard to this issue. We understand that Jack E. Sandlin, who is a Senator in the Indiana legislator, has filed or intends to file a bill that clarifies our statute regarding firearms on church property. A press release issued by Senator Sandlin provides as follows:

PRESS RELEASE: Sen. Sandlin Files Church Protection Bill
STATEHOUSE (Dec. 13, 2017) – State Sen. Jack E. Sandlin (R-Indianapolis) recently filed a bill that would clarify the state code regarding firearms on church property.
Senate Bill 33 would exempt a person from prosecution if, while attending a worship service, they are legally possessing a firearm on church property that also has a school on the property. The bill would also exempt employees or volunteers at the house of worship if they are carrying out their official duties.
Under current law, unauthorized possession of a firearm on school property is a Level 6 felony. This bill would clarify when a person may carry a firearm to a house of worship where a school is part of the church.
"Many law-abiding gun owners drive to church with their firearm in their car or on their person, never intending to commit a felony," Sandlin said. "Under current law, it's a felony to do that if there's also a school on the property. This bill would exempt those people from prosecution and clarify our state code for church properties."
The Department of Homeland Security has increasingly issued notices to houses of worship that they may be targets. This bill will provide houses of worship additional options that may help secure their facilities.
The legislative session begins Wednesday, Jan. 3.

Matt Werner, Press Secretary
Senate Majority Communications Office
200 W. Washington Street|Room 126, Statehouse
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 232-9539
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jack E. Sandlin MBA CFE CFS CLEO
Sandlin Private Investigators
Indianapolis, Indiana
800-794-3880

We encourage you to contact your State Senator or Representative by telephone and/or by email to encourage passage of the legislation proposed by State Senator Sandlin. You can find contact information for your state senator or representative at the following link: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/




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Saturday, 20 April 2019

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