A New Vision, A New Voice ~ The North Texas Conference
What if a Shooter Showed Up in Your Church?
Every church needs a plan for the unthinkable, a CHL holder says.
After the October 7, 2015, edition article on the open carry law going into effect January 1, 2016, in Texas, some North Texas United Methodists said the side of those who favor guns in churches was not presented. Larry E. Collins, minister of music and worship at First UMC DeSoto who favors concealed guns on church property, gives his views on what congregations should consider.
By LARRY E. COLLINS
Churches should definitely be safe havens. But churches are no longer only sanctuaries — to a crazed terrorist, domestic or foreign, they are also concentrations of people who can be targeted to achieve maximum kill rates. And if that individual is looking to kill Christians, as was the recent case at the college in Oregon, what better place than a church?
Many large churches now have armed plainclothes security guards or off-duty police on-site. I used to be a licensed commissioned security officer, and I know several security companies now teach classes specifically designed for churches. There are even Kevlar-lined, bulletproof pulpits being produced.
Every church needs an action plan and people armed to act instantly against a shooter. Average response time to 911 calls is too long to provide any meaningful protection. Response must be on-site and instantaneous.
I would suggest that rather than declaring all churches to be gun-free zones, church leadership should invite all church CHL (Concealed Handgun License) holders to a meeting to discuss the open carry law and simply ask them to continue to conceal their weapon on church property. That seems to me to be the best possible compromise.
Many people are not aware of the training, both classroom and gun range, required to secure a concealed handgun license. Further, no one will be allowed to openly carry a handgun who isn’t a CHL holder. That point is often overlooked in the lead-up to the January 1, 2016, change in Texas law. John or Jane Doe can’t just go buy a gun and start carrying it; that person must have a CHL.
As noted in the October 7, 2015, article, under United Methodist polity, local congregations can decide for themselves under Texas law whether to allow weapons. The official position of The United Methodist Church under Resolution 5011, the 2008 Book of Resolutions, is that every church is a weapon-free zone. But 5011 is just that – a resolution. Resolutions do not have the authority of the Book of Discipline. They are just opinions expressed by the collective assembly at that point in time. There have been many incidents since that resolution was passed.
I know there are many people who have never been around a gun, trained to handle a gun or shot a gun. So they fear guns. They see a gun solely as an offensive weapon. I see a gun as solely a defensive weapon. Perspective is everything. We cannot allow unreasonable and unwarranted fear of guns to determine policy.
Jesus said He has sent us out as sheep among wolves. And we still are. The difference is that now the wolves may be heavily armed and invading the pasture.
It is the responsibility of the shepherd to protect the sheep. A rod and a staff will no longer provide that protection. These days it may require a Sig Sauer .45 or a Glock 9 mm.
The opinions expressed are those of Larry E. Collins alone.