By Mark Rogers
Across America pastors and church leaders are trying to figure out how to effectively implement volunteer armed church security. For those with a budget large enough to hire professional security, there is little in the way of any issue. For those that can't manage that budgetary strain, they are looking hard at volunteer armed church security.
Concealed carry laws in states that allow cc in churches are the ones offering the opportunity as well as the vast array of concerns. Allowing volunteers to be armed on church campuses poses questions not posed in other settings.
Those are physical, emotional, mental, legal and what makes it different - spiritual.
Volunteer Armed Church Security Decisions Related To Law
Some of the laws across the country allow ccw in churches as part of state law. Others allow ccw on the basis of individual churches' decisions and specific permission. In either case the decisions don't come easily.
Most people in my state of Arkansas don't think in terms of number of churches throughout the state. There doesn't seem to be any means of getting solid statistical numbers, but it's safe to say they number in the thousands (of churches). Yep, in the Fort Smith city limits alone well over 200.
Every church in Arkansas is being affected, one way or the other, by new concealed carry amendments allowing churches to decide if, how, who, what ..... concerning concealed carry. For churches not wanting any concealed carry in their facilities, they don't have to do anything. It's still against the law, even with ccw licenses, unless specific permission is given by the church.
On the other hand, it's provided both opportunity along with serious concerns for churches not having budgets that support professional armed church security. I've spoken now to multiple area pastors and other church leaders. The question "should we form a volunteer armed church security team?" opens a door that leads down a lot of paths.
Plus virtually all pastors are getting pressed to answer if people can carry concealed.
Starting from a church security perspective, there is an obvious advantage to having some capable people armed.
Some questions about volunteer armed church security that arise are:
What kind of handguns should be carried concealed?
What should volunteers' qualifications be?
What is the proper mindset for volunteer armed security?
Who is criminally liable if somebody gets shot?
Who is liable on a civil basis?
How do we train our armed volunteers?
How do we place them for best safety?
Should our armed security volunteers be discreet or clearly identified?
How are people in the congregation going to feel about it?
If we don't do it is it going to make people mad?
...... on and on it goes.
I'm Mark Rogers, best known online as the Christian Gun Owner.
I can help you with many of the volunteer armed church security concerns you have.
My unique experience as a Christian, church member, handgun operations expert, shooting group leader and church staff member gives me the perspective you need.
Perspective to wisely choose, teach proper balance between security and sanctity, what types of handguns are acceptable, and the ideal armed volunteer.
Contact me. I'll be proud to help you navigate the winding path to getting your team solidly in place.
Mark Rogers' Handguns/Firearms And Concealed Carry Resume'
From a church perspective, few people have more direct experience at dealing with Christian, church going gun owners.
Civilian Handgun Expertise
I have become expert in seven types of handguns resulting in eventual expertise with over 50 specific handgun models. That expertise includes handling, firing, disassembling/reassembly, training ages 6 - 75 in safe handgun operation and firing.
Possibly most important for this article is expertise in a broad range of concealed carry methods for both men and women.
That has all been as a Christian, much of the time dealing with Christians in a large Western Arkansas church. Time spent in that church has also developed an understanding of armed security and its advantage for the safety of any congregation.
Shooting Group Leader And Range Safety Officer
I led a shooting group for four and a half years that was part of the Small Group ministry of that church. I served as the Group Leader and part time as the Range Safety Officer. I led that Group for 4.5 years with no injuries, no accidents, or negative impressions of the church.
People from every background imaginable and of all ages shot with us with many of them learning to shoot.
Church-Specific Laws Bring Opportunity, Confusion, And Serious Concerns
I have consulted with multiple local pastors and other church leaders across the U.S. concerning church security under state specific concealed carry laws, as well as state security requirements. Those laws and requirements determine how individual churches decide whether people can carry weapons; as well as who specifically can carry, and when handguns can be carried in or around their facilities.
To add to the confusing mix, some state laws have also been modified to allow specifically permitting individual ccw license holders to carry in and around Christian schools owned and operated by churches.
Many churches without the budget for a sufficient professional armed security staff are moving toward taking advantage of those laws. Their dilemma is figuring out how to implement non law enforcement armed security and still keep the integrity and impression of their churches.
That's where I come in.
I know how to approach, communicate with, and provide valuable perspective for pastors and church leaders. That perspective extends to both prospective and existing church security teams that are, or will be armed.
My understanding is not just of guns, concealed carry and security, but in keeping teams focused on the house of God.
Security teams must understand their access to firearms is not a first, but last resort. Their focus must be that of keeping the integrity of ministry while protecting people in their place of worship.
I have put all this together, and show you how to manage it.
My goal is to help you build the best spiritually focused security team possible.
This guide covers the consideratons that pastors and church leaders will need to understand and take action on.
It deals with all church congregation and team issues.It will clarify the answers about how to assemble a team that is allowed to carry handguns in the church facilities.
It's pretty clear that considering volunteer armed church security prompts more questions than it gives answers.
If these and other questions are not yet considered and answered, I can help you.
The Single Most Important Factor In Armed Volunteer Church Security Work
Church members chosen for armed security must be able to be church members first, security second. In spite of that, they must be able to respond instantly to a life threatening situation from a firearm or other weapon.
They must be able to transition instantly in the case of the unthinkable. Everything they think about coming on their security ministry must emphasize normal church life while being ready for life threatening events.
They will be the tools used to keep the congregation in the house of God safe from life threatening insane shooters, and other criminals.
There is no room for arrogance in their position, or hesitation to act in a grave emergency.
With this guide I can help you prepare them for their ministry of security service to the congregation in your church.
Thoughts about concealed carry are about as diverse as people who carry them. So, what are the thought processes of somebody who would be well advised to carry a concealed weapon for your church security.
Thoughts about guns in church and/or concealed carry for armed church security.
What do you think about carrying of concealed weapons for church security?
1. "It's my right to keep and bear arms. Nobody should be able to tell me when or where I can carry a gun. The second amendment to the constitution guarantees me that right."
2. "I don't know about that. I don't fool with guns and don't know much about them. What would you need a gun for in a church?"
3. "I hate guns. They're dangerous. I don't want to be in a church with a bunch of people carrying guns. It would be like the wild west. If anybody started shooting everybody would be shooting each other."
4. "It's against everything holy. The house of God is not a place for firearms. What do you want us to become; an armed camp? It's blasphemous to carry instruments of death in church"
5. "We should have faith, not guns. God sends His angels to camp round about us. We don't need to turn churches into places of war. Carrying a gun is a violation of love your neighbor. Our security should be our faith in God."
6. "We should have faith while using what God gives us to use for our part in civil law and order enforcement. Guns should never be the focus, but they may be needed for the safety of our congregation in the event of criminal assault."
Which of those belongs on your volunteer armed church security team? What other considerations and possible responses might there be? How do you approach people to casually find out if they might be good candidates for church security?
These and other considerations are what I provide in this guide for pastors and church leaders in the formation of armed security teams.
Which Volunteers Are Right For Your Church Security Team?
You no doubt know some people you consider responsible to work on your armed security team. Is "responsible" enough?
So, you've got a list of names of people you know would be responsible and faithful to a church security team. They are all people who can balance carry of firearms for security with reverence for the house of God.
Q. Do you know their competence with their handguns? Do they carry carefully and are they familiar with all aspects of safely handling their firearm?
A. Rather inexperienced shooters can get a ccw license. Competently handling and working their firearm is a critical consideration.
Q. Can they shoot? Do you know of their competence on the range? Can they hit an 8x11 piece of paper from 25 feet? Can they hit it reasonably while moving? Can they aim and hit a 5" target from 30 feet?
A. If they are being considered for a church armed security team, for obvious reasons it should be established that they are reasonably competent shooters.
Q. Will they be able to point and shoot in the gravest extreme?
A. Only proven if someone has been in a crowded panic situation with a shooter. Almost nobody can answer this decisively. But it has to be discussed.
Q. What kind of gun do they carry? Do they carry duty sized pistols or very small self defense "pocket pistols"? Does that make a difference on an armed security team?
A. If they only carry a pocket pistol and seldom or never handle a compact or full size handgun, they will not be capable of accurately shooting in the gravest extreme. They would not likely be able to shoot accurately at a shooter without hitting others nearby.
Q. What method of concealed carry do they use?
A. There's a big difference between carrying a small revolver in an ankle holster, a "mouse" gun in a shirt pocket, and what would be reasonably required for church security.
These and numerous other considerations should be discussed. If there is a verifiably competent shooter and gun handler who can work with a potential team that would be an advantage.
With this guide I can give you and your church protection volunteers every consideration reasonable for the development of your armed church security team.
So your budget doesn't cover adequate professional security for your church. But your state generally allows concealed carry in churches or allows churches to individually permit people to carry under specific conditions.
Here in Western Arkansas, churches are still listed in state weapon laws as being places prohibited from concealed carry. That said, state law now permits churches to decide who can carry concealed weapons and under what conditions.
That means churches are now in a position to develop church armed security teams. There are very definite pros and cons to that ability now.
Any church may decide people can carry concealed on their property with the proper license. That said, any violation of gun law will be placed squarely on the back of the person carrying; not the church.
One of the considerations church leaders have to deal with is what kind of gun is best to use for concealed carry for church security?
Do you leave that up to every individual in the security team? Or do you instruct them all on the gun to use? What if some of them protest and they're right in their assessment? What if they're not?
So, is a striker fired handgun such as a GLOCK, Springfield XD, or Taurus 24/7 the best? Simple, basic, dependable. But you know they don't have decockers or real safeties.
Hammer Fired DA/SA With Decockers?
What about a semi auto hammer fired guns with decockers? This is a gun that is cocked ready to fire in single action mode. Then it is "decocked" now ready to fire with a long, hard first trigger pull. After the first shot it goes into single action mode and is easily fired.
But that first shot is hard to shoot accurately. What about that?
Cocked And Locked Hammer Fired?
How about single action only guns like 1911s. Rack the slide, ready to fire. Flip up the side mounted safety. Put it in a holster ..... with the hammer fully back ready to fire. Is that safe?
Small Or Large Guns?
What about gun size? Aren't pocket pistols the easiest to carry? Yes? But aren't they also the hardest to handle, work, control and shoot accurately past about 15 feet? Yes?
What kind of holster should they use? Well, that would have to be decided with gun type and size ..... wouldn't it?
Do you have answers?
I have provided them for you, your church leadership team, and any potential armed volunteer security team members.
I have a page listing what I have evaluated as the 5 best CCW handguns. While choices are personal to each user, the larger, compact to full size guns are the best choice for any security team.