Fort Worth

Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth Removes Signs Banning Guns on Church Grounds

The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth is taking new steps to improve security, including taking down signs that warn people not to carry guns on church property.

A team of security advisers told the Diocese the signs could make them a more obvious target for someone who wants to do harm. But the move doesn't mean church policy on guns has changed.

Up until three weeks ago, you saw the signs outside the entrances to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in downtown Fort Worth and other parishes around the city too.

"For no concealed and no open carry," said Tony Perez, pointing to a bare pole that used to hold one of the signs.

Perez is an active parishioner at St. Patrick's Cathedral, with a license to carry. He was one voice advocating against the signs.

"When you do that, you're effectively advertising a gun-free zone,” Perez said. “And when you advertise a gun-free zone, you're advertising also that your location is vulnerable."

After the tragic mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth hired a team of security consultants who urged them to take the signs down from all church properties. The Dallas Diocese made a similar move last fall.

"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 said.

But the change in signage doesn't mean a change in policy. The notice banning guns is now going out in church bulletins every Sunday, which may prove harder to enforce.

"Somebody could be a visitor, somebody could maybe not read the bulletin before the service and be carrying the entire time," Perez said.

He hopes to see the kinks worked out with the top priority to protect a place of peace and sanctuary for all who enter.

The signs are not the only security change. Each parish is deciding on its best security measures, including hiring off-duty police officers, training security teams from the congregation to be prepared and adding fencing or security cameras.

NBC 5 checked with the Department of Public Safety and the Attorney General's office, but neither wanted to comment on how the Diocese is choosing to notify people of its carry ban.

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