The Truth About Guns and Church Security

Every church should have one or more good guys with guns protecting the flock. Every synagogue. Every temple. Anyplace people gather to worship should have a ballistic response ready to an imminent, credible threat of grievous bodily harm or death.

Pistol packing parishioners protect the extended religious community as well as their own friends and family. Some have done so for years — both with and without the church leadership’s knowledge. Sometimes legally, sometimes not.

I’ve carried discretely in church, even at my wedding, and ever since. I have no doubt my [now-former] pastor in Pontiac knew I carried. But even as I did what I had to do to keep myself and my family safe, I knew that guns don’t necessarily make churches safer.

Church safety depends on security staff mastering a wide variety of non-firearms-related skills.

First but not least, members of church security need to develop situational awareness. They need to know what’s normal and what isn’t. How to recognize suspicious behavior, from both regular members and occasional visitors.

They need de-escalation skills, to verbally resolve conflicts which could become violent. They need to know how to guide someone into a safe(r) space without going hands-on.

And when it’s time to get physical, they need empty-handed skills to control an uncooperative subject. They also need more aggressive combative skills, to counter a threat without resorting to their gun. Or, in dire situations, to get to their gun.

I do know one expert on church security training: Tom Whitaker of Premier Martial Arts in Collinsville, IL.

Tom’s a black belt in Krav Maga. He trained at Israel’s Wingate Institute. Having spent his younger years working security in bars, he picked up a lot of knowledge from the school of hard knocks.

Tom Whitaker, left, and John Boch at a Guns Save Life meeting in Springfield, IL.

After his Maryville, IL church saw its pastor killed by a lunatic armed with a .45 during a service, Tom set-up a security team and began sharing his strategies and experience with other religious organizations

Tom stresses what I’ve outlined above: the vast majority of of problems security encounters at a church or other place of worship don’t require a ballistic solution — if handled properly and discretely. A gun should be a parishioner’s last, unavoidable option.

All that said, I’ll take an armed innocent without any training willing to take action against a lethal threat over an unarmed victim waiting for help, or their demise, any day. But if you want to be a more effective guardian of your religious community know this: the greatest weapon is only as good as the person who uses it.

comments

  1. avatar Arc says:

    Local churches already sent out letters stating that several members are CCL and armed. Door guards and doors that only open from the inside have been used for a while now, I think. I personally want ballistics glass on the doors and membership cards. Anyone without a card is a new person.

  2. avatar JC WTF says:

    Or you could do like the Communist Cardinal Cupich in Chicago, and mandate criminal protection zone signs (a.k.a. “no gun”) signs, letting any maniac in the Chicagoland area where to go to find disarmed sheep.

    Our pastor said his hands were tied because “policy”. Real nice. Blood will be on all of their hands …

  3. avatar ironicatbest says:

    That’s just all bullshit.. .To stop shootings in churches, ban churces.

    1. avatar ironicatbest says:

      What’s a churces? < h

  4. avatar Rick the Bear says:

    “Violent Incidents”? Seems like a pretty vague term. Were there not enough shootings to make the chart look good?

    1. avatar FedUp says:

      There were four violent assaults/rapes/homicide attempts in churches, in the entire country, in 2004???

      Methinks that statistic is a bunch of caca.

  5. avatar Garrison Hall says:

    For starters, I think everyone who owns/carries a gun has to give some serious thought to ubiquitous “gun-free zones”. Simply put, they are magnets for spree-killers. A practical—and potentially life or death—consideration by People Of The Gun is whether or not we carry in them despite the warnings. Personally, I think there are more good reasons to be discretely armed (and by that I mean most likely carrying a mouse-gun in a good holster that won’t print) regardless of what the store, school, or company policy officially states. There are, of course, potential costs to be weighed. Robert recently got tossed out of the world’s best bagel shop [sarc] because his gun got spotted, causing the resident snowflakes to have a meltdown.

    Of grater import, however, are local laws and institutional policies associated with gun-free-zones. If carrying in a gun-free-zone can get you busted or if carrying will definitely get you fired that’s an obvious major impediment. Personally, I’m an advocate for tacit understandings.

    My old school had the usual gun-free-zone signs posted on the campus. For quite some time, however, we maintained a discrete don’t-ask-don’t-tell understanding that there were going to be a few faculty members who regularly came to school armed. Almost nobody knew they were carrying and they never—ever—discussed that fact with anybody at school. The only people who know were those with a reason to know and they said nothing, recognizing that having some trusted armed people around was an inherently good thing.

    My point in mentioning this is simply that in every bureaucracy there are tacit understandings that things are done—things that are part of the everyday routines of the organization—that fall outside the formal operating protocols that define the entity but are nonetheless understood as being essential to it’s successful functioning. Just as we understand that there are some highly unofficial activities that are essential for keeping the doors open, we should also recognize that quietly allowing well-concealed firearms in gun-free-zones may just save a bunch of people’s lives. Yes that violates a rule, but when it’s possible, I think the trade-off is worth it.

    1. avatar Kendahl says:

      If a gun-free zone has the force of law, it’s unwise to carry. The risk of prosecution after inadvertent exposure exceeds the risk of being caught in a mass murder situation. It would be better to find a more agreeable church. If the most they can do is expel you, go ahead and carry discretely. What they don’t know won’t upset them and might save their lives.

      Years ago, my wife and I bailed out of a church whose pastor preached against guns and in favor of the 55 mph national speed limit. The church she attends now has uniformed, paid security.

  6. avatar Johnjohn says:

    Good friend of mine in East Central Illinois who is a member of a local church in a small town tells me that the church he attends has budgeted X amount of dollars to hire off-duty police officers to sit and/or move around during services…..he also mentioned that there are a few local attendees who have their CCL and regularly are packing heat during services and that other security measures are being put into place as well…..I would imagine there are many churches all over the country that are tooling up in light of the carnage in Texas and South Carolina.

  7. avatar former water walker says:

    My church is pretty good. Cops roaming around,members security team(all armed) and a multitude CC. In downtown Hammond,IN. No idiot pacifism!

  8. avatar Geoff PR says:

    Put it to you this way – Those that attend in coat and tie have more *options* on carrying discreetly.

    Someone I know locally attends a church where carry is un-offically frowned upon, but carries anyways, discreetly.

    There are likely many others out there who have the same personal policy…

  9. avatar drunkEODguy says:

    if you don’t mind my asking, which church in Pontiac? I haven’t been back in years but I bet I have family that attend it, if it’s the one I’m thinking of

  10. avatar Manny says:

    Declared “Gun Free” zones should be made criminally and privately liable if a person inside produces any type of weapon causing personal injury to those inside. If any establishment posts a “No Weapons Allowed” sign they should implement the same screening procedures as when boarding a passenger plane.

  11. avatar David Deplorable says:

    A .45 in the hand beats a cop at the donut shop.

    Yeah, I carry at church. And my faithful POTG friends do the same. We are all well trained and worry only a little about those less trained.

    We worry more about emotionally disturbed people and those inclined to violence.

  12. avatar Ansel Hazen says:

    We need to start repeating ad nauseum, end all gun free zones. No more asking for them. Make it a non negotiable demand.

  13. avatar Docduracoat says:

    We have a problem with the church my wife attends
    There is a stand alone Catholic School in a separate building on the grounds where the Church building is located
    I would estimate that it is about 100 feet between the 2 buildings
    Isn’t there a Federal law prohibiting guns within 1,000 feet of a school?
    Regardless of whether the school is open or closed at he time
    Carry in the nearby church would violate that 1,000 foot rule and be illegal
    Am I right?

    1. “Isn’t there a Federal law prohibiting guns within 1,000 feet of a school?”

      I’m pretty sure that law was struck down as unconstitutional.
      Lots of people live across the street from a school, millions of Americans live within 1,000 feet of the school, and you can’t just remove the Constitutional right to own guns from millions of Americans just because they happen to live within 1,000 feet (333 yards!) of a school.
      You can’t say millions of homeowners are banned from keeping a gun safe in their house just because a school happens to be within 1,000 feet (333 yards!).

      Everyone on my entire street lives within 1,000 feet of a school — does that mean none of us can own firearms, on our own property, and store them in a safe in our own house?
      I certainly hope not, because some of us do own firearms!

      At any rate, nobody in my state is allowed to be armed in church unless they’re a cop. I live in a state where law-abiding civilians are not allowed to carry, either openly or concealed, a state that simply does NOT grant carry permits to civilians, period — the People’s Republic of New Jersey.

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