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The Armed Citizen® | Churches

The Armed Citizen® | Churches

“Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not kill” are ideas taken from the Ten Commandments, but similar admonitions can be found in the teachings of Islam, Buddhism and other faith traditions. However, this doesn’t mean that everyone who darkens a religious building’s doors intends to heed these ancient words. Fortunately, because the following 15 clergy members and parishioners had been granted the wisdom to protect themselves, they soon found themselves delivered from evil.

It's a story not even anti-gun media outlets could ignore. Matthew Murray allegedly wrote online, "All I want to do is kill and injure as many [Christians] … as I can." Police say he made good on his word, first by killing two young students at a missionary training center outside Denver. His next target was a gathering of 7,000 people in and around the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo. With a rifle and a backpack full of ammunition, Murray entered the church and opened fire. Sadly, two sisters were killed. One man yelled to distract the gunman and was shot in the arm. That's when volunteer security guard Jeanne Assam, who has a concealed-carry permit and once worked in law enforcement, yelled, "Surrender!" Armed with a handgun, she walked toward Murray and shot him several times. "It seemed like it was me, the gunman and God," Assam recalls. His twisted plan foiled, the immobilized gunman killed himself. (Associated Press, 12/11/2007) 

Deacon Bob McMillan grew suspicious of the man who had asked him to pray with him following services at a church in Apache Junction, Ariz. During a break in prayer, McMillan retrieved the .32-cal. pistol he kept in his car. Upon returning, his suspicions were confirmed as he found the stranger waving a handgun at his wife's head and at his two best friends and demanding the weekly offerings. McMillan pushed his wife out of the way and quickly shot the man, wounding him. He then called police. McMillan said later, "I felt I only had a split second to live." (The Tribune, Mesa, Ariz., 3/19/1997) 

Pastor Frank McClung of First Southern Baptist Church in Muscle Shoals, Ala., shudders at the thought of what might have happened had a shotgun-wielding bandit been allowed to make his way into the church during choir practice. Thanks to an armed citizen, he never got that far. Police said the suspect approached one of two parishioners waiting outside the church for their wives and demanded they come with him. The men refused, one going for his car, the other for the church. After the assailant fired into the one man's car, the parishioner retrieved his own gun and returned two fatal shots. "I'm very glad that the church member defended himself and his fellow church members, but I'm sorry that the man with the shotgun died," McClung said. (The Times Daily, Florence, Ala., 7/19/1996) 

"Even the Lord's house isn't holy anymore for these people. If they're crazy enough to do something like this to a holy place, there's no telling what they'd do," said Knoxville, Tenn., pastor Ted Padgett after using a handgun to capture a man burglarizing the church office. Alerted by a church custodian, Rev. Padgett retrieved his .22 from the trunk of his car and entered the church where he came face to face with the stunned intruder, a parolee. He then stood the criminal against a wall and patted him down as the two waited for police. (The News- Sentinel, Knoxville, Tenn., 11/30/1995) 

When a young Prather, Calif., woman ran to a local church for protection after being threatened by a violent family member, the pastor unhesitatingly offered her sanctuary. When the woman's tormentor arrived with a firearm at the pastor's door, he exchanged words with the minister and shot him in the hand. Wounded, the pastor slammed the door shut. His assailant managed to kick it open, but not before the pastor was able to retrieve his own firearm. Forced to defend himself, the pastor fired a single point-blank shot, killing his attacker. (The Mountain Press, Prather, Calif., 12/13/1995) 

Rev. Dan Mettler, an NRA member, entered his Riverside, Calif., church shortly before midnight, and a burglar stepped out of a back room and made a threatening gesture. Mettler, chaplain and reserve deputy with the county sheriff's department, held the man at gunpoint while a neighbor summoned police. (The County Record, Riverside, Calif., 10/4/1990)

The Rev. Richard McCaffrey was awakened by the sound of breaking glass in his Bethel, Alaska, church. Upon opening his bedroom door in the rectory, the Jesuit priest was struck on the head with a pipe wrench and knocked to the floor. McCaffrey managed to fire a shot from his revolver, hitting the culprit and causing him to flee. Responding police followed a blood trail from the church to the wounded man and arrested him. (The Daily News-Miner, Fairbanks, Alaska, 4/19/1990) 

Three youths who may have thought the Grace Baptist Church in Port Angeles, Wash., was easy pickings thought wrong when they broke into the house of worship. The Rev. Steve Ragland awoke when he heard noises, told his wife to call police and took his shotgun along to investigate. Two escaped, but the pastor held the gun on the third teenager until authorities arrived. (The Times, Seattle, Wash., 8/19/1989) 

After four burglaries had stripped his Stockton, Calif., church of most of its valuables, the Rev. John Folmer decided to stand guard nights with his shotgun. When a burglar tripped over some chairs, the 69-year-old minister confronted the intruder and ordered him to lie on the floor while he telephoned police. Authorities said the suspect would be charged with attempted burglary. (The Bee, Sacramento, Calif., 10/3/1987) 

Rev. Charles White, 67, thought the man who had come to his Philadelphia church wanted counseling. But what he really wanted was cash, he said, as he drew a gun on the Baptist clergyman. But the cleric pulled a .25 instead of loot and killed the would-be robber with a shot to the chest. (The Tribune, Chicago, Ill., 8/1/1982) 

Rev. Martin Jarreau was asleep in the rectory of St. Ann's Catholic Church in Miami when he heard strange noises. He grabbed a .38 cal. revolver and went to investigate. He found a would-be burglar trying to exit via a bathroom window. Fr. Jarreau held the man, who had a long criminal record, for police. (The Herald, Miami, Fla., 6/1/1982) 

Donna Stotts, a janitor at an Oklahoma City church, arrived at 3 a.m. to clean floors when she was attacked by a rapist, who slashed her with a switchblade knife. Wiping the blood from her eyes, she pulled a .32 cal. and put the attacker to flight. "If he had've come any closer I probably would have shot him," she said. "But I hated to kill anybody in a church." (Friday, Oklahoma City, Okla., 4/10/1981) 

Returning to Baltimore's Cornerstone Baptist Church late at night, Rev. Logan Kearse encountered 3 men trying to break down his office door. When they ignored his order to halt, he drew a .38, fired once, then called help on the mobile phone in his car. Kearse's chauffeur grabbed one man as he bolted from the church. Police found a second hiding in a basement closet. A third escaped. (The News-American, Baltimore, Md., 5/1/1968) 

Parishioners of the New Liberty Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas, captured a gunman and his woman accomplice when they tried to rob the church during services. Wearing ski masks, the pair interrupted the sermon, held the minister and a member of the congregation at gunpoint and demanded "all the take." Told the money was in the church office, they retreated, marching their hostages ahead of them. Near the rear of the church, a parishioner sprang up, wrestled with the gunman and jammed his hand between the hammer and firing pin of the man's revolver. A single shot was fired. Then the man was overwhelmed and disarmed, still frantically trying to fire the jammed pistol. (Fort Dodge Messenger, Texas., 2/1/1968) 

Caretaker Reed Pitchford, of Chicago, Ill., Grant Memorial AME Church, had been sleeping in the church office when awakened by the sound of someone breaking in. When the intruder kept coming at him, Pitchford drew his pistol and fired twice. The intruder fell dead at his feet. (Sun Times, Chicago, Ill., 5/1/1963)