Church Security

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Tom Butler, Mar 16, 2009.

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  1. Tom Butler

    Tom Butler
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    In the light of the shooting of Pastor Fred Winters last Sunday, should we take another look at church security?

    I have raised this question at my own church and we're going to talk about it.

    My immediate reaction is that we should have at least a couple of our people packing a weapon, fully on display.

    I'm already aware of one pastor in an inner-city church who is armed even as he preaches from the pulpit. And so are a couple of his church members.

    Will this deter some nut? Probably not. But at least the congregation won't be defenseless.

    So the questions on the table are, what do you think about my view; and do any of you already have security measures in place in your church?
     
  2. Revmitchell

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    No reason not to.
     
  3. Palatka51

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    If Christ instructed His disciples to defend themselves with swords it would be imprudent of us not to do the same.
     
  4. abcgrad94

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    We have a man who is armed at church. It doesn't bother me at all. In fact, I feel safer knowing he is there and prepared to deal with any potential threat. We have had drug users and bums walk into the church during services and you never know their intentions.
     
  5. matt wade

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    Who makes the decision on who is armed? Can any church member come "packing"?
     
  6. Baptist Believer

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    If a church doesn't have a rudimentary plan, you need to get together and discuss it, if for no other reason than to prevent panic.

    I'm not sure having a visible weapon is a good idea. The person(s) who are openly carrying weapons are the first targets and lose any element of surprise against an attacker. Furthermore, a disturbed person may try to disarm a person carrying openly and use the weapon on others. Weapon retention is difficult enough for professionally-trained people, it is even harder for regular folks.

    In our congregation, there are a number of people who carry concealed firearms. I'm one of them. We are strategically dispersed throughout the congregation. For instance, I almost always sit toward one of the from doors on the end near a very large supporting column. From my vantage point I can see all entrances/exits and can move quickly behind the column for cover while I assess the situation and draw my pistol. Because of my position, I have clear shots down two of the four main aisles and can move very quickly between columns and pews to approach shooters quickly. We also have a uniformed off-duty police officer who monitors the parking lots and building. A key person in the congregation who has excellent sight lines (I'm not going to say what their role is for security reasons) has a radio to contact the police officer in case of trouble. She will put the call out on the police bands immediately and come to assist.
    The nut will almost always get the first shot. Unfortunately, that's the way it just about has to work. However in our church there are about five or six people each Sunday who are licensed, armed and ready to go. The bad guy won't get many shots off before his rampage comes to a sudden end.

    You're doing exactly the right thing. My only concern is the open carry of firearms.
     
  7. Baptist Believer

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    It depends on your state's regulations. In Texas, a person with a CHL (concealed handgun license) can carry inside a church facility unless the church specifically informs you that you can't and/or posts a legally-defined sign (the "30.06" sign).

    My pastor knows I carry.
     
    #7 Baptist Believer, Mar 16, 2009
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2009
  8. Jon-Marc

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    With so many fruitcakes shooting up schools and churches, I think they should be protected. If God isn't going to protect His people, then we need to protect ourselves. I'd be more than happy to be one of those armed guards. The question is whether or not the police department will issue permits to carry weapons in churches. I would prefer they were not in view--just there under a suit coat if needed, like a police detective carries his.
     
  9. Tom Bryant

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    We have men who carry, but security involves more than just an armed response to a shooter. There must be someone trained to watch for people coming in late to a service and walking down front as was the case. It starts at the front door and the best security is what people don't see in terms of watchful men and women.

    The problem with an armed response is that too often innocents get it because at a church service there will be men trying to stop the assailant while someone else is trying to shot him.

    Unless the men who are firing are trained marksmen who have been trained in firing a weapon in stress related circumstances there is a very poor chance that they will really hit what they are aimed at. Police forces have a variety of means that train their people in firing under stress. Just because someone has a carry permit doesn't mean that they can fire a weapon when innocents are around.
     
  10. matt wade

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    Wow...I certainly hope you didn't mean that the way it sounded!
     
  11. abcgrad94

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    You bring up some excellent points. For larger churches, the answer might be hiring trained security guards. For smaller churches who don't have the finances to do this, well, we'll have to do the best we can with concealed carry and member awareness. Many churches I know of have the men take turns watching the parking lot and entry of the church during service times.
     
  12. Baptist Believer

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    Yep. What I described is simply a portion of our plan.

    At the same time, it's very hard to respond to someone who hasn't done anything yet. We have to be welcoming of visitors and troubled persons while maintaining vigilence. In any case, our ultimate "security" comes from God, but we don't need to presume upon his grace by not being prepared.

    I'm not sure there are many incidents of innocents getting shot by licensed responders... It would stand to reason that there might be (the anti-gun folks always talk about it, but they can't seem to bring forth any examples). However, I'll grant you that it can happen.

    But shooting someone is often not the answer. If the shooter is close enough to me, I'd probably just physically take him down and disarm him with brute force.

    In CHL classes in Texas, the competency test is nerve-wracking. You have a very short window of opportunity to shoot and you fail if you miss it. I'm very comfortable shooting my pistol from a ready (non-aiming) position and putting a bullet in the bulls-eye, and most of the people in my CHL class were of a similar proficiency. Speaking for myself, I tend to keep my head in emergencies (I tend to get very calm and shut down emotions to work the problem -- I "stress out" and fall apart a few hours later) and have worked as a first responder in other types of situations.

    That being said, most police officers have trouble hitting the target in high-stress situations, so there are no guarantees. However, I'm sure no one is interested in disarming police officers.

    That's true, but a number of people who have carry permits are more skilled than you might imagine... especially former police, government agents, and ex-military.
     
  13. Baptist Believer

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    I don't mean to stereotype security officers (I used to wear a security officer uniform as part of the uniformed section of an anti-kidnapping team), but most of the security officers I have met in my life are less prepared to deal with problems than most normal citizens. Frankly, most companies don't pay security officers enough and don't do any significant training, so you tend to get the most unskilled part of the workforce in uniform. And frankly, most security companies are simply looking for people to fill a uniform.

    A church is almost always better off with an off-duty law enforcement officer.
     
  14. abcgrad94

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    I would think any ex-military folks would come in handy, too.
     
  15. Baptist Believer

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    Come in handy? Sure. But the ex-military people tend to be trained to work in a combat zone and police officers tend to be trained to work in a public setting.

    If you want an armed camp, go with military... they'll do a great job. If you want a freer and open congregation, the police officer is probably the one to lead that effort.
     
  16. preachinjesus

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    I'm personally against any kind of violence or retaliation on the part of Christians. God has taught us not to be avengers. Christ healed the man whose ear had been cut off by one of his disciples.

    As soon as I heard this sad story I immediately shuddered at how many churches would soon allow some members to begin carrying firearms into their sactuaries and in the halls. I was sad. While we can, and should, encourage appropriate security measures by vigilant people we should never condone the carrying of weapons as a defensive measure.

    Just my opinion. Again I say it having served in two churches where the senior pastor was guarded by at least two armed guards because of his noteriety and (in one case) over realized sense of self.

    How many accidental shootings will it take to shift public opinion the other way? It seems to me the greatest testimony of a church community is what happened with the Amish shootings several years ago, and how this church is acting in light of the more recent tragedy.
     
  17. Steven2006

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    Yeah, that would be a wonderful witness to visitors.
     
  18. Steven2006

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    Unfortunately, that is exactly the message this idea would send to the unsaved.
     
  19. Steven2006

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    Amen :jesus:
     
  20. abcgrad94

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    The message sent to the unsaved would be that we as Christians value the lives of our children and will protect and nurture them as God instructed. We would also be good stewards by protecting the church facility in our care.

    Let's face it. This isn't the dark ages where people can find sanctuary in a church or monestary. It's a tough reality that the world is getting worse. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there are soon lawsuits by people claiming the church didn't do enough to ensure their safety or the safety of their children.
     
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