The news media did a full-court press on the recent murders at the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, in which a murderer, armed with a shotgun, began firing at parishioners inside the church. He was quickly killed by one of the parishioners, Jack Wilson, a trained firearms instructor and head of security for the West Freeway Church.
What’s been receiving much less media attention is that many churches have already implemented plans to deal with this worst-case scenario, while other places of worship are now rushing to make their facilities more secure.
In Indiana, for example, a change to state laws in 2019 allowed for concealed carry within churches. At a small, rural church outside of Kokomo, parishioner Jack Dodd “and his pastor recently went to an active shooter training,” reported Indiana’s Fox59.
“We have two individuals, myself and another individual, that sit in the back of the church always in the same spot, very near the door so that we can challenge anybody who walks in,” Dodd said.
Dodd admitted that he and other parishioners felt some hesitation over bringing firearms into their church.
“We’ve been a little bit resistant to it because you just don’t feel like you need a weapon in church,” Dodd explained. “But then you hear about these kind of situations.”
At the Praise Temple Full Gospel Baptist Church in Shreveport, La., Bishop Lawrence Brandon told KSLA that his congregation had “formed an armed security team [in 2019] to help ensure a mass tragedy does not unfold at the church.
A new law took effect in 2018 in Louisiana that allows members with concealed-carry permits to bring firearms to church services. The one caveat is that places of worship must inform their congregations of their decisions to allow concealed carry in their sanctuaries.”
Brandon said his church membership was informed of the concealed-carry change, and the news was well received.
Bishop Brandon said, “The reaction was positive because the people felt secure.”
Training for the security team is paramount, Brandon added, and his team works with the local Caddo Sheriff’s Office on a regular basis to stay sharp, safe and effective.
The Antioch Christian Church in Marion, Iowa, also has a volunteer team.
In a statement sent to CBS2 News, the church noted that, “The ‘Safety Team’ is a team of volunteers who train to coordinate responses to a number of emergencies, primarily medical, but also weather, building evacuation and potential threats. Many of our volunteers have law enforcement, military and/or medical experience, and First Aid/CPR/AED training is provided.”
Local gun shop owner Ernie Traugh, of Cedar Valley Outfitters, told CBS2 News that church-based security teams are more common than ever before.