On Wednesday, the Texas Senate passed a measure putting the state one step closer to making statute out of a 2017 Attorney General opinion asserting Texans who possess a license to carry do so in places of worship.

Senate Bill 535 would codify an opinion of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton from December of 2017 made at the request of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick following the deadly shooting that took place during the Sunday morning worship service of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. The shooting was moved off church property and ultimately brought to a halt by armed citizens who confronted the shooter before police could arrive to the scene, preventing an untold number of additional innocent civilians from being harmed or killed.

Paxton’s opinion, released a few weeks later, said, “Unless a church provides effective oral or written notice prohibiting the carrying of handguns on its property, a license holder may carry a handgun onto the premises of church property as the law allows.”

The bill’s author, Republican State Sen. Donna Campbell of New Braunfels, posted on Facebook to celebrate the passage of the bill Wednesday afternoon:

The bill does not restrict the ability of churches to post 30.06 or 30.07 signs to ban firearms at their points of entry but would merely bring them in line with the requirements placed on other private establishments.

Stephen Willeford, the heroic Texan who, with his modern sporting rifle or AR-15, pursued and shot the man who took the lives of 26 people at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in November of 2017, was honored on the floor of the Texas Senate back in January.

The bill now heads to a Texas House that, with less than a handful of exceptions, has mostly scoffed at the idea of expanding the Second Amendment rights of Texans this session.

Destin Sensky

Destin Sensky serves as a Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard covering the Texas Legislature, working to bring Texans the honest and accurate coverage they need to hold their elected officials in Austin accountable.