church security violence
(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File)
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Every church should have one or more good guys with guns protecting the flock. Every synagogue. Every temple. Every mosque. Anywhere people gather to worship should have a planned and trained 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 always carried discretely in church, even at my own wedding. I have no doubt my [now-former] pastor in Pontiac, Illinois knew I carried. But even as I did what I had to do to keep myself and my family safe, I knew that in and of themselves guns don’t necessarily make churches safer.

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

church security
Courtesy Lifeway Research

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 from new or occasional visitors.

They need de-escalation skills to verbally resolve conflicts which could escalate into violence. 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 be able to control an uncooperative individual. 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’ve come to know one expert on church security training, Tom Whitaker of Metro Krav Maga in Collinsville, Illinois. Tom’s a black belt in Krav Maga and has 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, Illinois 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 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 any parishioner’s last, unavoidable option.

church security
Church security screen visitors to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

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

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  1. I have never understood how practicing freedom of religion required not exercising the 2A, yet, some .govs take it upon themselves to deny enjoying both rights simultaneously.

    I carry at church…no matter our church or a friends church…or a wedding or a funeral.

    • I’m serving on my church’s security right now, as I write this. I wholeheartedly agree with the author’s points of needing to be skilled in de-escalation strategies as well as more deadly options.

      Churches are becoming more open targets as our society falls further away from its faith foundation.

      • Haz,

        Society falling from faith…absolutely.

        Churches falling from faith, also. Church down the street hangs signs propagandizing the LGBTQJSGRYXHDIRH…agenda. St. Mary’s Catholic women’s college now accepting tranhs folk.

      • “Churches are becoming more open targets”

        Enquiring minds want to know, but think the data likely DNE, currently. My take is that church attacks in general are down, to include late-night arsons. The assumption that a random house of worship is unprotected just ain’t safe anymore.

      • Good job being aware doing your job on the security team.
        With your phone in your face
        I for sure feel safe

    • The church and the synagogue have both been corrupted for quite some time now. Armed self-defense. Carrying weapons everywhere you go. It’s all in our religious texts. But too many folks rely on a “leader” to tell them what’s in the Bible.

      The corruption comes mostly from non-believers.

  2. Interestingly, we went to Sunday services recently in a rural county where the Sherriff says every household has guns. Our friend is an elder in the Church and a member of the security team (consisting of 2 people). Yet, he and his wife conducted a clothing inspection to make sure no one in the congregation would know that he is carrying. I wondered why they were so concerned since the congregation knows there is an armed security team and since they all own firearms. I chose not to ask.

    Neither of them knew I was carrying.

  3. Security team? Every member of the parish should be armed. Otherwise you are simply waiting for a first responder to deal with the threat same as if you were home and called 911.

    We are our own first responders. Even at church.

  4. My large NW Indiana church(Hammond 1st Baptist) is certainly a target. Huge security presence. Guy in our Sunday School is a team member with a Glock 19 on his belt. Uniformed cops too. I believe the pastor carries a gat. I always have something lethal especially in cold weather. Truly a “sell your cloak & buy a sword” church. And it’s Indiana🙄

  5. Those who expect their worshiped deity to protect them. Will find themselves asking why it didn’t when SHTF.

    • The worshiped deity didn’t give us brains to waste.
      Intelligence is used to drive safe etc and there is no reason why this same intelligence cannot be used to keep us safe from criminal activity.

    • Darkman,

      Are you saying that because faithful people get slaughtered that is proof there is no God? Not arguing, just looking for clarification.

        • If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. This statement by Voltaire was so famous that Flaubert included it in his Dictionnaire des idées reçues, and it is still frequently quoted today.

        • As a person of faith I can personally attest to God getting me out of the stuff more than once in my life. If one isn’t in faith, then there can be no expectation of a response to that faith. However God does work in Grace at times towards non-believers.
          That said, I put on a coat when it’s cold outside, and am prepared when wolves are about.
          David Wrote:
          “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”
          ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭20‬:‭7‬ ‭KJV‬‬
          But also:
          “Blessed be the LORD my strength, Which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:”
          ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭144‬:‭1‬ ‭KJV‬‬

          Be practical and prepared, but put ultimate faith in God.

          For anyone who doubts about God, I would recommend Ken Johnson’s book:
          Ancient Prophecies Revealed: 500 Prophecies Listed In Order Of When They Were Fulfilled

          The greatest proof of God is Him telling us through his Prophets what will happen before it happens.

        • @ John. I stand on the quote by Voltaire. It’s easy to pretend your ‘Imaginary Friend’ has been protecting you. Until something truly Fukd Up happens. Then it’s just bad luck or someone else’s fault. Just like Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny, were created to keep children in line. In order to get treats and presents. Religion was created by men. Who wouldn’t even allow the people to read the words in order, to keep adults in line. Either with the fear of Hell or a promise of a Utopia in the sky.

    • God gave us free will. And the ability to create the gun. And morality. Most folks do the right thing. And Jesus said to sell your cloak and to buy an AR-15. Equipped with a bumpstock or binary trigger.

      Because he would be leaving us. And we had to now provide for our own protection. Not the government.

  6. People have this distorted view of what the armed bad guy actually is. Far too many people seem to think that just because it’s a church that those with evil in their hearts and a gun in their hand wont enter. Maybe it’s some kinda weird thinking that Hollywood put there but that just is not consistent with reality. In Texas, a large number of store owners and businesses operate on this twisted idea that a 30.06 sign on the door will keep the bad guys away. I’ve even seen churches with 30.06 signs posted at the from door as if that will ever actually do anything good at all. Pastors that are so completely convinced that if they proclaim to all the world at the entrance that ‘guns are not allowed here’ that it will make evil people stop, turn around, and walk away. It’s the height of naivete going through life with blinders on. There are those that have had to learn this the hard way.

    Your free to do as you wish. But when your sitting in that pew…just who is it that is going to prevent you or anyone else there from getting shot? A sign? Well, here’s your sign!

  7. Churches have more than enough money to hire armed security guards.

    Permitting guns in Church is not unlike permitting inmates in a lunatic asylum to go around armed as many people who hang out in churches are there because they suffer from mental problems. I have often said that “Churches are the poor man’s psychiatrist without the education of one”. At one mass killing in a church a member was the one that committed the massacre, even the military had declared he was insane.

    How anyone in the 21st Century could still believe in talking snakes and a prophet walking on water does not surprises one when the congregation also does the snake dance and kisses live rattlesnakes in one West Virginia religious sect and then goes into prayer, ritual and incantations. Now I ask you does anyone in their right mind want nut cases like these people carrying guns?????

    • OMG. The biggest nutter commenting on ttag talking down on what he perceives as the mentally ill.

      You cannot make this shit up. And naturally a fascist like him would try to suppress religion.

  8. Yepper…murderous perps can pop up anywhere and anytime. Should you cross paths with one or more…Godspeed.

  9. Met Jack Wilson couple weeks ago, he shot the murderer at a Fort Worth church in 2019. He said they’d been keeping an eye on this jerk for a bit when he first got there. They knew he was suspicious, had a wig and fake beard, long dark coat, odd behavior. The security team had seen him on their TV monitors and were talking about him. Unfortunately he killed two people before he was taken out. I didn’t ask if they changed the way they handle weirdos like this. Hope they are more proactive, because they knew ahead of time something about this guy wasn’t right.

  10. we have a safety team of two to keep an eye out inside and out. armed.

    radio with each plus one in the nursery.

    working on more security cameras for better coverage in the building and outside.

    variety of people and ages.

    not perfect but better than our head in the sand.

    out of 100 to 120 folks in church- we typically have 6-8 people armed in addition to the safety team.

    slowly getting more folks trained in CPR and trauma.

    most churches are a nightmare from a security standpoint – lots of corners, windows, doors,,and long distances.

  11. Im not sure the article was worth the storage and bandwidth. Most churches prefer the Ostrich approach, head in the sand. Ive been there and done that after multiple break ins, 2 dumspter fires, refridgerators and freezers emptied of food, street people roaming the halls, AA meeting attendees roaming the halls, drug deals going on in the halls. When we left that church for other reasons, they had a locked door policy, greeters to let parishoners in, Aiphones at every door with mag locks but they did not implement armed security via parishoners, or contract security or off duty cops like I recommended and the security consultant they hired recommended. Not my problem anymore.

      • Had the former and have been so far putting off the latter.

        I don’t need any church. I have my very own hot water bottle at home.

    • Stay home avoid all shopping. Use Uber for delivery internet shopping. And hide under your bed. This way you will always be safe.

      • edit
        Do your drugs at home with the doors and windows closed. It’s safer that way also. It’s dangerous to do your drugs out in public.

  12. It looks like my church is going to consider this topic in a scant few weeks in January, 2024. I am planning to inject myself into the discussion. And I am planning to bring solid information in the hope that my church acts upon facts rather than emotions.

  13. Still the backwards belief that the flook needs to have persons of authority to “protect” them.

    EVERY person in the church should be packing. Untill we get to that mindset that we are ALL our own First Responder then we will continue to perpetuate the same mistakes our society has been making all this time since we turned away from the vision the Founders had for this nation.

  14. Yes, just because “sheep” is the word Jesus used to describe his “flock” of followers, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t defend our flock against wolves.
    Am I right or wrong to say this?

    • “Yes, just because “sheep” is the word Jesus used to describe his “flock” of followers,
      that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare our flock to defend against wolves.
      Am I right or wrong to say this?”

      I don’t know, but there is this:
      “As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
      – – Romans 8:36

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