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Thread: Security for a church that meets in a school

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Security for a church that meets in a school

    Question for our lawyer friends:

    I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine.

    A church rents space in a private school for services on Sundays. The pastor of the church, and the principal of the school have both explicitly granted their permission to carry during the church services.

    Code of Virginia 18.2-308.1 specifically covers ALL elementary, middle and high schools, "public, private or religious." Some of you may recall that in 2014, Delegate Mark Cole was unsuccessful in his attempt to strike "private or religious" from this section of code. He thought it would be better to leave it up to the individual school's ownership to set policy, but the bill was left in the Militia, Police and Public Safety committee. Therefore, it is my understanding that neither the owner of the school, nor the pastor of the church, would have the authority to grant permission for an individual person to carry in the school building, contrary to 18.2-308.1.

    However, the code has a list of exemptions, among which we find:

    The provisions of this section shall not apply to [...] (iii) persons who possess such weapon or weapons as a part of any program sponsored or facilitated by either the school or any organization authorized by the school to conduct its programs either on or off the school premises;

    Clearly a church renting the space would be "an organization authorized by the school to conduct its programs" on the premises.

    My question:

    If the church has an organized security team, and chooses to authorize the members of that organized team to carry firearms, could that be considered "a program" that would that satisfy the exemption allowed in the code above?

    TFred

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    Regular Member solus's Avatar
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    as an aside, i do not believe the Principal has the authority per se, but rather Bd of Trustees would.

    One would hope everything would be in writing on carry...and the security force has the same acknowledgement from the religious entity's trustees..

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    Regular Member ProShooter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFred View Post

    A church rents space in a private school for services on Sundays. The pastor of the church, and the principal of the school have both explicitly granted their permission to carry during the church services.
    Sorry, but the pastor cannot give you that permission.
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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProShooter View Post
    Sorry, but the pastor cannot give you that permission.
    I agree that a pastor cannot simply say to Joe Congregant, "Sure Joe, feel free to carry here." (ETA: I even stated this in my original post! )

    But that is not the question I am asking. The law provides for specific exemptions. I am asking if the scenario I describe would satisfy one of those exemptions.

    TFred
    Last edited by TFred; 03-22-2016 at 11:41 PM.

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    The provisions of this section shall not apply to [...] (iii) persons who possess such weapon or weapons as a part of any program sponsored or facilitated by either the school or any organization authorized by the school to conduct its programs either on or off the school premises;
    I think that this is the loophole that legislators intentionally provided for people/institutions to decide for themselves if carrying was right for them.

    I think it'd be worth the money for a lawyer to draw up the outline of a program designed to intentionally fulfill this exception. A safety or security program, perhaps. An exercising their rights program perhaps. ANY program is eligible.
    IMHO, not being a lawyer.
    Heck, even without a lawyer, seems like if they put some diligence toward writing out and formalizing it as a program, that it should satisfy.

    Would have to be approved by whatever authority normally approves such, be it principal, priest, board, or committee. Otherwise it might be refuted that it was approved.
    Last edited by ChristCrusader; 03-23-2016 at 06:24 AM.
    *I am not a lawyer. Nothing from me shall be construed as a magic cloak of legal advice. It's ultimately your tucas that's on the line. Keep examining the law anyway. The gov't, made up of people like us, is supposed to work for us, not against us. Let's find, correct, and avoid the wrongs before they're actively used against us, or we become innocently trapped by them. We're to be the masters. Let's vigilantly keep tabs on our servants who seek to rule us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TFred View Post
    Clearly a church renting the space would be "an organization authorized by the school to conduct its programs" on the premises.
    I'm not at all confident about this part, because the possessive "its" can be interpreted two ways:

    1. "an organization authorized by the school to conduct the organization's programs"
    2. "an organization authorized by the school to conduct the school's programs"

    Under the last antecedent rule, we'd read it the second way. That reading is bolstered by the subsequent phrase, "either on or off the school premises". If an organization is conducting its own programs off of school premises, then the school's authorization can't possibly be relevant. That bit makes sense only if the organization is conducting the school's programs.

    In short, I don't think this exemption applies to your scenario.

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tosta Dojen View Post
    I'm not at all confident about this part, because the possessive "its" can be interpreted two ways:

    1. "an organization authorized by the school to conduct the organization's programs"
    2. "an organization authorized by the school to conduct the school's programs"

    Under the last antecedent rule, we'd read it the second way. That reading is bolstered by the subsequent phrase, "either on or off the school premises". If an organization is conducting its own programs off of school premises, then the school's authorization can't possibly be relevant. That bit makes sense only if the organization is conducting the school's programs.

    In short, I don't think this exemption applies to your scenario.
    I agree 100%

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tosta Dojen View Post
    I'm not at all confident about this part, because the possessive "its" can be interpreted two ways:

    1. "an organization authorized by the school to conduct the organization's programs"
    2. "an organization authorized by the school to conduct the school's programs"

    Under the last antecedent rule, we'd read it the second way. That reading is bolstered by the subsequent phrase, "either on or off the school premises". If an organization is conducting its own programs off of school premises, then the school's authorization can't possibly be relevant. That bit makes sense only if the organization is conducting the school's programs.

    In short, I don't think this exemption applies to your scenario.
    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeshot View Post
    I agree 100%

    Anyone wanting to volunteer to be a test case, stand firm. All others will take one step to the rear.
    Assuming this is the correct interpretation, it would seem to be an undesirable condition that the law has no provision whatsoever for the gun rights of an organization who rents facilities from a school. This is a very common occurrence - way to common for the law to allow the wholesale denial of carry rights in these situations.

    TFred

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tosta Dojen View Post
    I'm not at all confident about this part, because the possessive "its" can be interpreted two ways:

    1. "an organization authorized by the school to conduct the organization's programs"
    2. "an organization authorized by the school to conduct the school's programs"

    Under the last antecedent rule, we'd read it the second way. That reading is bolstered by the subsequent phrase, "either on or off the school premises". If an organization is conducting its own programs off of school premises, then the school's authorization can't possibly be relevant. That bit makes sense only if the organization is conducting the school's programs.

    In short, I don't think this exemption applies to your scenario.
    That's an interesting consideration, except when read in context, the prior phrase seems to be establishing the comparison of when the program is of the school's interest:
    ... as a part of any program sponsored or facilitated by either the school
    vs the permitted interests of an outside organization,
    or any organization authorized by the school to conduct its programs either on or off the school premises
    An organization on the premises conducting the school's program would already covered by the first phrase as being school-sponsored or -facilitated, so the 2nd phrase should mean something different, being an outside organization sponsoring or facilitating any program.

    The prolific use of "any" seems to leave "many" applications and interpretations available.
    ANY organization that's authorized by the school to implement its program on their property, or also in the case of, for example, an offsite range that gives time exclusively to school students, even ANY such organizations offsite that would normally be prohibited, but are now authorized by the school.
    Any, any, any.
    Last edited by ChristCrusader; 03-24-2016 at 04:32 AM.
    *I am not a lawyer. Nothing from me shall be construed as a magic cloak of legal advice. It's ultimately your tucas that's on the line. Keep examining the law anyway. The gov't, made up of people like us, is supposed to work for us, not against us. Let's find, correct, and avoid the wrongs before they're actively used against us, or we become innocently trapped by them. We're to be the masters. Let's vigilantly keep tabs on our servants who seek to rule us.

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gutshot View Post
    An organization that cares about their gun rights should give their business to lessors that respect everybody's rights. This is the result to be expected when convenience and expedience are more important than rights.
    In a commercial context, sure. But that is not what this is, necessarily. In my particular scenario, yes, it's a private school, so, in essence, a business. But the restriction of rights is not due to the school's policy - quite the contrary, the school is more than happy to allow them to carry. The policy is imposed by a bad state law.

    And in MANY cases throughout the state, small non-profit (not a lot of cash to spend on high-dollar rent) organizations routinely rent space from public school systems, and rightly so! The PUBLIC owns these buildings, so they SHOULD be available for the public to use - but without having their Constitutional rights denied - or requiring these organizations to become fish in a barrel for the next mass-murderer.

    Look at what happens when a school tries to deny a group the use of their building based on their belief system! They get sued, and they LOSE. Once again, the First Amendment is taken seriously, while the Second Amendment is tossed aside like a brown banana peel.

    TFred

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFred View Post
    --snipped--
    Once again, the First Amendment is taken seriously, while the Second Amendment is tossed aside like a brown banana peel.

    TFred
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    Accomplished Advocate user's Avatar
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    I am of the opinion that members (or others hired for the purpose) can carry if they have CHP's. The reason isn't state law but fed law. If such persons have permits, then the question is controlled by Va. Code sxn 18.2-308.1, which does provide an exemption for "persons who possess such weapon... as part of any pogram sponsored or facilitated by ... any organization authorized by the school to conduct its programs... on...the school premises."

    What would make the most sense in my opinion is to get the people designated to carry appointed "special conservators of the peace" by the local circuit court. That would make them "law enforcement officers" within the meaning of the exemptions to both fed and state laws. The designation would have to come from the body or person legally authorized to make decisions like that under the charter and bylaws of the church. In some cases, it's called a "vestry" or a "board of elders" or in the orthodox traditions, the authority lies with the priest. But an informal appointment by a pastor is probably not enough (and if criminal charges were filed against me, I'd want something more than someone's say-so, so I can produce a piece of paper at trial). See Va. Code sxn 19.2-13.
    Last edited by user; 03-25-2016 at 05:55 PM.
    Daniel L. Hawes - 540 347 2430 - HTTP://www.VirginiaLegalDefense.com

    By the way, nothing I say on this website as "user" should be taken as either advertising for attorney services or legal advice, merely personal opinion. Everyone having a question regarding the application of law to the facts of their situation should seek the advice of an attorney competent in the subject matter of the issues presented and licensed to practice in the relevant state.

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    Regular Member nemo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by user View Post
    I am of the opinion that members (or others hired for the purpose) can carry if they have CHP's. The reason isn't state law but fed law. If such persons have permits, then the question is controlled by Va. Code sxn 18.2-308.1, which does provide an exemption for "persons who possess such weapon... as part of any pogram sponsored or facilitated by ... any organization authorized by the school to conduct is programs... on...the school premises."

    What would make the most sense in my opinion is to get the people designated to carry appointed "special conservators of the peace" by the local circuit court. That would make them "law enforcement officers" within the meaning of the exemptions to both fed and state laws. The designation would have to come from the body or person legally authorized to make decisions like that under the charter and bylaws of the church. In some cases, it's called a "vestry" or a "board of elders" or in the orthodox traditions, the authority lies with the priest. But an informal appointment by a pastor is probably not enough (and if criminal charges were filed against me, I'd want something more than someone's say-so, so I can produce a piece of paper at trial). See Va. Code sxn 19.2-13.
    User,

    Is your sensible opinion limited only to those in the position of the example, above, or does it extend to anyone on a security team in a church, even one that does not meet in a school (though it has a school of its own, in the same facilities)? if so, then what would be, i.e., where would the layman find, "the local circuit court"? TIA.

    By the way, are you going to start giving your classes, again?

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    Accomplished Advocate user's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nemo View Post
    User,

    Is your sensible opinion limited only to those in the position of the example, above, or does it extend to anyone on a security team in a church, even one that does not meet in a school (though it has a school of its own, in the same facilities)? if so, then what would be, i.e., where would the layman find, "the local circuit court"? TIA.

    By the way, are you going to start giving your classes, again?
    Special conservator appointments apply to anyone, anywhere in Virginia, however, the appointment order will be localized to a particular place. Once one so appointed is off premises, he's not a conservator anymore. Sort of like if I go to Maryland, I'm not an attorney, because I'm not licensed there. Look up the local circuit court for your county or independent city here: http://www.courts.state.va.us/courts/circuit.html

    I'd had some health problems that kept me from doing the personal defense law seminar, but I'm getting better, now, and I do mean to go back to regular presentations; it's all a matter of logistics and timing.
    Last edited by user; 03-25-2016 at 06:00 PM.
    Daniel L. Hawes - 540 347 2430 - HTTP://www.VirginiaLegalDefense.com

    By the way, nothing I say on this website as "user" should be taken as either advertising for attorney services or legal advice, merely personal opinion. Everyone having a question regarding the application of law to the facts of their situation should seek the advice of an attorney competent in the subject matter of the issues presented and licensed to practice in the relevant state.

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    Campaign Veteran skidmark's Avatar
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    One cannot just have the Circuit Court petitioned to appoint you a Special Conservator of the Peace.

    http://www.courts.state.va.us/forms/circuit/cc1430.pdf

    A sample of the training and costs of meeting the requirements to qualify for appointment: http://www.cjsi-va.com/scop.htm

    The State, via DCJS, steps in with t's own fees and approvals/disapprovals. http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/pss/how...tions/scop.cfm

    Special Conservator of the Peace Code - 9.1-150.1 - 9.1-150.4

    Special Conservator of the Peace Code - 19-2-13

    Special Conservator of the Peace - 6 VAC 20-230

    Never let a good idea go unregulated!

    stay safe.
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    Regular Member nemo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by user View Post
    Special conservator appointments apply to anyone, anywhere in Virginia, however, the appointment order will be localized to a particular place. Once one so appointed is off premises, he's not a conservator anymore. Sort of like if I go to Maryland, I'm not an attorney, because I'm not licensed there. Look up the local circuit court for your county or independent city here: http://www.courts.state.va.us/courts/circuit.html

    I'd had some health problems that kept me from doing the personal defense law seminar, but I'm getting better, now, and I do mean to go back to regular presentations; it's all a matter of logistics and timing.

    Well, lemme know when you want to start, and I will put together a time and place, here in NOVA, for you. How many do you need?

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    Regular Member nemo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skidmark View Post
    One cannot just have the Circuit Court petitioned to appoint you a Special Conservator of the Peace.

    Never let a good idea go unregulated!

    Thanks, Skid. Is that the voice of experience speaking?

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