How Churches are Balancing Security and Sanctity
“We have learned many times over that there is no such thing as a gun free zone. Those with evil intentions will violate the law and carry out their heinous acts no matter what,” says Texas Sen. Donna Campbell. She co-sponsored Texas Senate Bill 535 which aims to clarify possession of firearms in churches, synagogues, and other places of worship in Texas.
In this same interview, Sen. Campbell went on to say, “It makes no sense to disarm the good guys and leave law-abiding citizens defenseless.” Her comments coming just days after 22 people were massacred and dozens others injured in her home state of Texas on August 3, 2019.
Fifty years ago, the thought of guns in churches was unheard of, and certainly not a topic open for discussion. Unfortunately, we have learned all too often that even these sacred places of worship are vulnerable to the unthinkable. This ‘new’ threat has raised the question of many church officials if it is time to re-think the ideological belief that these holy places should be gun free zones.
Many churches are now looking at how they can spread already thin financial resources into hiring armed private security or at other avenues of security including smart safe systems like the ones from Grav IT, LLC’s ASRS line. Some churches are turning to volunteer security teams similar to the one Ava Assembly of God in Ava, Missouri has. Their security team consists of 18 volunteer church members who are all armed and train for response to active shooter threats. According to Carl Chinn, founder of the non-profit Faith Based Security Network, there are approximate 1,000 volunteer security details/teams similar to the one at Ava Assembly of God across the United States. Many of which have registered with his non-profit.
Protection at all Costs
The reality is, churches have historically been ‘sitting ducks’ when it comes to their vulnerability to an active shooter. But how do you balance security and sanctity within our places of worship? The answer really depends on the organization and the community where the church resides. For some, the idea of armed security within their church fits, for others, options where firearms or other threat response tools need to be more discreetly stored are the answers. And yet there are those who believe that weapons have no place within their church at all.
We must respect all of these views and beliefs and work to find solutions for each. Priests, Pastors, Rabbi’s, and other religious leaders should be focused on writing sermons, not active shooter plans.