The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas, is removing signs that tell people to not carry guns on church property, KXAS-TV reported.
Why are they doing this?
It’s happening partly because of a mass killing in November 2017 that left 26 people dead at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Following the shooting, the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth hired a group of security consultants that advised them to remove the signs.
The signs identify the churches as gun-free zones — and that could make them vulnerable to attacks, the consultants told the Diocese.
Signs that read “no conceal, no open carry” began disappearing from entrances to parishes in and around the city about three weeks ago, according to the report.
Tony Perez, an active parishioner at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Fort Worth, told the TV station he agrees that the signs can do more harm than good.
“When you do that, you’re effectively advertising a gun-free zone,” said Perez, who has a concealed carry permit. “And when you advertise a gun-free zone, you’re advertising also that your location is vulnerable.
“If anybody wishes us ill intent, they don’t know, there could be nobody carrying, there could be 100 people carrying. They just don’t know,” Perez added.
Although the signs are gone, the no-guns policy remains in effect. The only difference is that the policy is being stated in weekly church bulletins.
That creates a different problem: Enforcement.
“Somebody could be a visitor, somebody could maybe not read the bulletin before the service and be carrying the entire time,” Perez said.
What else are churches doing?
In addition to the sign change, each parish is deciding other ways to improve security. Some of the options include “hiring off-duty police officers, training security teams from the congregation to be prepared and adding fencing or security cameras,” the report stated.
After the Sutherland Springs shooting, the Diocese of Dallas made a similar announcement about the “no guns” signs.
“In light of this tragic event, Bishop Edward J. Burns has asked that parishes in the Diocese of Dallas consider appropriate safety measures, including the removal of all signs prohibiting the concealed carry of firearms on campus to eliminate any perception that any of our parishes would be an easy target for terror,” the Diocese said in a written statement.