Aaron Israel, at the Personal Defense Network, reviews safety and security procedures for churches—also applies to other organizations.
There is no way a church can guarantee the security of the congregation with or without a special team, just as there is no way a police force can guarantee the security of the public. It is ultimately the individual’s responsibility to defend him or herself when the chips are down.
Church Safety and Security
Personal defense inside a church is often an unnecessarily controversial topic. God does not begrudge the church member his or her right to self-defense. See Psalm 144. Photo: author
I am often approached by pastors, deacons, and other church members in positions of authority with questions about church security. The interest is usually in forming some sort of “security team” of volunteers and is focused on the legal concerns inherent in doing so. I believe that these well-intentioned inquiries are often born of misconceptions about what security really means. I feel it is important to truly understand what the goals of church security ought to be and what can be done even on a small budget without raising any legal concerns. The goals of church security are the same as personal security inside the home, a mall, or basically any building: deterrence, detection, and response. Below I will discuss ways to accomplish these goals regardless of budgetary constraints.
To potentially deter violent actors, you don’t have to have a big budget. It is very inexpensive to hire an off-duty police officer or an armed security guard to come stand outside the main entrance to the church. An overt security presence might cause a would-be violent actor to think twice before following through with their plan. However, a determined attacker could simply find a way around overt security measures. We have examples such as the Columbine school massacre, where the murderers simply waited for the resource officer to leave his post before beginning their attack. Overt security measures in the form of uniformed officers may provide the psychological “warm and fuzzy” that some people seek when they talk about security, but aside from the possibility of deterrence, there is nothing magical about having one uniformed officer (or ten) on site.
Overt security measures such as off-duty law enforcement officers or armed security guards can help to potentially deter or respond to a violent actor. But they should not be relied upon exclusively, as they can be circumvented. Photo: author
In understanding this reality, church leaders should consider the visible presence of armed personnel as only a piece of the security puzzle. It would be foolish to do what I have seen some larger churches do by posting armed security guards and simultaneously preventing legal concealed carry. Turning your church into a “gun-free zone” when it is not designated as such by state law is tantamount to inviting would-be violent actors in. Making the naïve assumption that overt security measures will be at the right place at the right time if and when something goes down is very shortsighted, in my opinion, unless you plan to turn your church into a fortress complete with metal detectors, pat-downs, etc. This is obviously not the type of atmosphere most parishioners would be comfortable with and, even if it were, fortresses such as courthouses and airports are often defeated by determined attackers. Do not view overt security measures as more than what they are, and definitely don’t rely on them to the extent that you take away the congregation’s ability to carry their own personal defensive tools.
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Over at the Firearms Radio Network, God and Guns features an interview with Aaron Israel concerning his article—interview starts about the 42:50 mark.
GNG 105–Church Safety and Security
A tip o’ the hat to God and Guns.
Other related posts:
- ☞ PAUL THE APOSTLE and ARMED SECURITY.
- ☞ But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?