Texas churches to display 'no guns' sign to show opposition to new open carry law

A gun rights supporter openly carries two pistols strapped to his leg during a rally in Arlington, Texas.Reuters

The Catholic Diocese of El Paso in Texas said it will display "no guns" signs in churches to show its opposition to the state's new open carry law.

"We've always talked about having a safe environment [in church. We just thought that most of our parishioners would want to go to mass without fear that the person next to them is carrying a gun," said El Paso Diocese Chancellor Patricia Fierro, according to ThinkProgress and Raw Story.

The law lets licence holders to openly carry handguns in public. It provides that businesses and some organisation can ban firearms, but they must put up a sign declaring the ban at the entrances of their establishments.

Fierro said they will put up the signs outside churches in the area next week.

"We want people to come into our churches and feel secure — but that would mean without guns inside the church," she said.

A Texas Tribune online poll showed that 72 percent of Texans said the open carry law would influence where they shop, according to KFox14.

"I'm thinking we might lose members if we allow them to bring guns into the church," Fierro said. "But I think they'll feel more secure if we keep the guns away."

Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell criticised Texas for becoming the 45th state to "embrace the cowboy mentality that permits the open carrying of guns."

"It is difficult to see how this new law allowing persons with concealed handgun licences to openly carry firearms can accomplish anything other than cause people to feel threatened and intimidated," he wrote.

Farrell said the Diocese of Dallas "will prohibit the possession of any weapon in any facility owned, leased and operated by the diocese or a diocesan entity, except as specifically permitted by diocesan policy."

He said the policy is based on the "belief that our churches, schools and other places of worship are intended to be sanctuaries – holy sites where people come to pray and participate in the ministry of the Church."

"Let us pray that our legislators will see this as a human and not a political concern so that gun violence can be mitigated through appropriate legislation that allows us to live in a safe environment while respecting our Second Amendment rights," he said.

Farrell also praised President Obama's new executive actions on gun control. "Though modest, [they] are first steps in correcting gun laws so weak that they are ludicrous," he said.