After the many tragic mass shooting events that happened in churches, it’s no surprise that congregations everywhere are rethinking church safety. Whether you are a pastor, attend church regularly or have family members that do, the questions of whether to allow firearms into church has probably crossed your mind.
No matter how your local churches decide to answer this question, the conversation needs to be addressed in each congregation. The last thing any church member wants is a crazed man to come into their church with a gun and have no safety procedures in place. While there was a time that these kinds of questions would never be asked, and church was always a safe space to praise God, this is no longer the case.
It’s a hard question for faith leaders to answer because there isn’t always going to be one right answer. What safety strategies might work for one church may not work for another. The size of the church, the budget, location of the church, and other factors all come into play. Some people are excited to welcome the extra layer of security, while others are still against the idea.
Here is what both sides have to say about the idea about measures that can be put into place.
What Those For Guns in Church Say
Those who support the idea of guns inside churches have one thing on their mind: safety. They believe the best way to stop a mass shooting from happening is having a good guy armed with a gun – whether that be a police officer, hired security guard, or congregation members with concealed carry licenses.
Pastor Shannon Talley of McAllen First Baptist Church in Texas is being proactive about firearms in his congregation, putting a plan in place so that church members with concealed handgun licenses know who else may be carrying. “We are putting that into place so our concealed-carry people know each other, but we are also setting things up to where they’re located strategically throughout the auditorium in the services that we have,” Talley told KRGV News.
Brady Boyd is pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado and he is no stranger to church shootings. A decade ago, his church fell victim to a shooting that took the lives of two of their members. He has security measures in place making sure this doesn’t happen again, which includes hiring a police officer to park outside of his church every Sunday. In addition, there is a strong military presence in his town and he encourages them to volunteer to protect the church as they do their country.
What Those Against Guns in Church Say
Not everyone is onboard with the idea of allowing guns in church. Christian leaders are afraid that an armed presence would take away from the sense of sacred space that churches are known for. Churches are places of peace. Jesus says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
The apostles endured imprisonment, beatings, torture and the like at the hand of their enemies, but never defended themselves through violent means. Some Christians believe this means no violence should come to anyone at any time for any reason.
Bringing guns into a church begs the question: what have we come to in this country? Do churches really need members trained in handgun skills? We live in times of danger, yes, but are additional weapons the solution to keeping churches safe? Some people think the idea would make the risk of danger worse. There is a risk of armed church members mistaking people in the congregation with the assailant, danger of friendly fire, or protectors that mishandle their lethal weapons.
Patrick Barber with East Point Church in Kansas said to Christian Chronicle that he understands the situation is complex, but raises another question: “Would Jesus stand up for the innocent. Certainly. Would he kill someone to protect the innocent? I’m not so sure.”
Choosing to allow guns into a sanctuary isn’t something that should be taken lightly, and should be thoroughly discussed with members of the church. Everyone should be aware of the safety policies and procedures put in place so that there is no confusion or surprises. Lack of communication could make an active shooter situation that much more dangerous.