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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Churches preparing for the next active shooter....

A few years back, I was on a PoliceOne.Com discussion with multiple officers, the question being, "Where do you always carry when your off duty?" One man said quickly, "I always carry in church, people are relaxed and believe no one will harm them..." Unfortunately, time has shown the man was correct, churches, like other "No Gun Zones," are target rich environments for the bad guys.

Found this article on how some churches are reacting to this new security threat. Not saying I like it, but the fact is we've had shootings at houses of worship. And when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.
Churches arm, train congregants after shootings


HASLET — Acrid gun smoke clouded the sunny entrance of a Texas church on arecent Sunday.

Seven men wearing heavy vests and carrying pistols loaded with blanks ran toward the sound of the shots, stopping at the end of a long hallway. As one peeked into the foyer, the “bad guy” raised the muzzle of an AR-15, took aim and squeezed the trigger.

The simulated gunfight at the church in Haslet was part of a niche industry that trains civilians to protect their churches using the techniques and equipment of law enforcement. Rather than a bullet, the rifle fired a laser that hit Stephen Hatherley’s vest — triggering an electric shock the 60-year-old Navy veteran later described as a “tingle...”

...The anxiety of one mass shooting after another has led some churches to start training and arming their worshippers with guns. Not all security experts support this approach, but it has gained momentum as congregations across the country grapple with how to secure spaces where welcoming strangers is a religious practice.

“Ten years ago, this industry was not a thing,” said David Rig-gall, a Texas police officer whose company trains churchgoers to volunteer as security guards. “I mean, sanctuary means a safe place.”

In 1993, Doug Walker said security wasn’t at the fore of his mind when, as a recent Baptist seminary graduate, he founded Fellowship of the Parks church in Fort Worth. But six years later, after a gunman killed seven people and took his own life at another church in the Texas city, the pastor said his thinking changed.

Today, the interdenominational church has four campuses and 3,000 worshippers on an average Sunday, Walker said. It has increased security as it has grown, asking off-duty police to carry weapons at church events. And it recently hired Riggall’s company, Sheepdog Defense Group, to train volunteers in first aid, threat assessment, de-escalation techniques, using a gun and tactical skills, such as clearing rooms during an active shooting.

Walker, 51, said there wasn’t a single event that prompted his church to decide its guards needed more training. But Riggall said that after mass shootings, congregations reach out...

...The 46-year-old police officer said that he and a colleague had the idea for the company after the 2012 mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. They started doing firearms trainings with parents and, after Riggall became certified under Texas law to train security guards, transitioned to churches.

The company incorporates Christian teachings into its courses and more than 90 people at 18 churches have completed the 70 hours of initial training and become state-licensed guards through its program, Riggall said. The so-called sheepdogs are insured and technically employed by the company. But they volunteer doing security at their own churches, which in turn pay Rig-gall.

On a Sunday in July, Brett Faulkner stood with an AR-15 in hand and his back to the cross in the sanctuary of Fellowship of the Parks campus in Haslet, a community about 15 miles north of Fort Worth. He pointed the rifle at a young woman’s back and yelled at the armed men advancing into the room, “I’m going to kill this woman. It’s going to happen right now.”

Faulkner, a 46-year-old information technology worker, already completed a Sheepdog session but came to another church’s to play the bad guy and keep his skills sharp.

“It really just comes down to caring about the people in that building,” Faulkner said of choosing to guard his small Baptist church...

I'm 54 years old, and I remember rifles/shotguns on the back glass of pickup trucks at school and church, not to mention gun clubs at schools. Unfortunately, the world has changed. And houses of worship need to be prepared for the next nut case that comes along. Again, nothing stops a bad guy with a gun but a good guy with a gun. As was shown in Southerland Springs, TX:

...As the gunman exited the church, he was confronted by a local resident who, armed with his own weapon, began firing, prompting the suspect to flee in his vehicle.
“The local citizen pursued him,” said Freeman Martin, a regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety, who said the gunman crashed off the road about 11 miles north of the shooting scene and was later found dead there. “We don’t know if it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound or if he was shot by our local resident who engaged him in a gunfight...”

Be sale out there Sheepdogs.

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