My church is in an old school here in Arizona. We meet in the auditorium/cafeteria. This space is off a courtyard where all of the old classrooms would share that common area. Windows along one wall with 3 doors on that side. The kitchen is across from the doors with it’s own door and finally there is a door behind the stage. We sort of have a plan, that is suppose to include locking the doors during service, but frankly it is not followed. We have an older gentleman who leads up the safety initiative, but believe that he is the only member who carry’s a weapon. However, he is not at every Sunday service.
With the temperament of the country, I have only just begun carrying on a regular basis. I volunteer with the sound/video department , so, every week I am in a “perch” at the rear of the seating. I have an excellent view of all but the kitchen door, since it is behind and to the left of me.
If something goes down, I figure that I would first engage from the perch and then close distance as needed.
Does that seem reasonable? My EDC is a Ruger LCP 2. I carry it 6 + and an extra mag in my pocket.
I would strongly advise against engaging a target from a perched position with a .380 caliber pistol over a group of people… Even if you are a good shooter, it’s not going to have the accuracy to ensure an innocent person isn’t inadvertently shot.
The best position (in my opinion) with a small caliber pistol would be as close to the target as possible. This would require some profiling but if you see someone who could be a threat, you should sit directly behind them.
I agree with you having the best seat in the house as you described it. You can see pretty much anything within the church from that position. If you are going to take action you have to close distance pretty quickly. Hopefully someone in the congregation calls 911. You should maybe speak to others and ask if they have CCW permits who attend the church to see if they volunteer to help out. I am one of the coordinators on my church team so I can tell you our team has become minimal due to this COVID-19. If you see it coming from your perch it’s too late but you maybe able to save some lives. The lord will open doors for you and you will get more volunteers in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Is there room for a carbine in that AV perch? That little mouse gun ain’t gonna be worth much beyond 15 yards. Most folks can’t even shoot them effectively at that distance…and that’s without stress. It’s good for close-in, personal protection as a last resort. We have a phrase for such pistols that I don’t want to type in polite company.
You ever heard of a Sergeant-at-Arms? In the ancient military monastic orders of knights, they had sergeants, who were not knights (noblemen). They were the distinguished military experts and specialists of common birth within the orders. The Sergeant-at-Arms remained armed during worship/prayer and meals, and posted himself right inside the locked entrance. He was responsible for only allowing entrance to authorized people even before the door was locked. This was a position of great honor, as only the SAA would remain armed during worship/prayer. He also did not participate. His focus was on security. This is where the tradition and office of SAA began. Moral: there is NOTHING wrong with churches taking their security seriously. For most of Christian history, the church has been persecuted by governments and targeted by criminals. Only in Europe and America do we sort of forget this, because it is still the rule throughout the rest of the world.
With that said, your congregation seems WAY behind the 8 ball. Times have changed! “Satan prowls like a hungry lion seeking whom he may devour.” A lot of people like you who decided to bring up obvious security gaps and easy solutions to tighten things up have found themselves in very uncomfortable positions for long periods of time. Few have been well-received. “A prophet is without honor in his own village.” If you feel unsafe, you might want to find a new church that doesn’t have its head buried in the sand. Again, I’m being polite. After all, I have pastored 2 churches and served in regional and state level leadership with a major denomination. I have some experience with training church safety teams.
Let me tell you brother @Ken38 right now churches are easy targets. And I also believe that the people who intend to commit these atrocities know that churches have security. We have to cover ourselves as Christians in the blood. We have to be prepared for anything and everything. Every 3 months, quarterly, our team gets together and I feel that’s not enough. There will be loss of life because you can’t completely stop it. Our pastor believes in armed church security and he’s comfortable with it. Our team has experienced people but if something were to happen it’s difficult to stop it. Our parking team is our eyes and ears also because they see people entering. I pray that it never happens, in any church.
Sounds like your church at least has the fundamentals correct. The “threat” does not begin in the sanctuary, not even at the door. The threat begins in someone’s heart. Then they plan and prepare. Serious predators recon and rehearse. But these aren’t the most common threats of violence to a church. Domestic disputes and mental illness/substance abuse lead to way more problems than active shooters, bombers, arsonists, etc. Sexual predators are attracted to church youth programs. I could go on and on. But I’ll stop. In terms of active shooters and the like, the outer ring of situational awareness most churches should focus on is the edge of their property: parking lots, wooded areas adjacent to the property line, drainage canals and so forth. Expanding your awareness out that far will allow far more opportunity for detection and interdiction before anyone not on the safety team gets hurt. So, when you mention the parking team as your EWI asset, you are on the right track.
RickeyC is right. You need a higher caliber and longer barrel for your Church perch. And I agree that shooting down into the crowd is also problematic. That said, given the scenarios you stated…
Frankly, a tactical rifle would serve best. If a 5.56 is too big a hammer, look at the Ruger PC Carbine chambered in 9mm or .40 cal and uses Ruger & Glock mags. Or how about a lever action rifle in .357 or other handgun caliber. Slap on a hollow red dot and you’ll be able to quickly acquire any target on the floor.
As for having enough CCWs in the house… Check with your local Sheriff/Police as to local laws. Some states allow “workers” i.e. DEACONS to carry within their “place of business” i.e. CHURCH with the permission of their “employer” i.e. PREACHER.
The issue you might run into is the school may not want your deacons strapped for liability reasons. So when you add the open targets of opportunity your location presents… Your congregation may want to look into finding/buying a new home.
Don’t faint, with all the businesses going belly up from Covid there’s lots of commercial buildings available at fire sale prices. There has to be at least one realtor in your group.
Hope this helps.
I serve as deacon and usher so I’m one of the first to welcome regulars and guests. Once service begins, I usually would just stand in the back, with a view of the parking lot through glass doors, always mindful of who’s arriving late.
When the sermon starts, I sit on the far end of one of the middle pews where my peripheral vision can catch any movements. I prayerfully and mentally prepare, picking spots where if necessary, I can make an effective move.
If you have what is pretty much the best view in the House then, as someone who works security for a living, I would say you’re the lookout and should be in contact with whoever is security.
A team is always better than solo, I would recommend talking with your security guy and Pastor about setting up a full team (anywhere from 3-6 people or more depending on how large your congregation is etc).
From there you can establish signals, coms, routines, plans, etc. Then start training as a group. I recommend getting your local LE department involved as well, that way they not only know who the team is by face but they can also offer recommendations and sometimes help with training.
Excellent point. The front door is your first line of defense. “Greeters” know the members and can spot someone new right away. Greeters should make a habit of openly shaking hands and doing a quick “Sicilian hug” (pat down for a gun or mic pack).
The greater of humanity is right handed and OWB or IWB at 3 o’clock. So a friendly pat/hug under the arm isn’t odd or infringing of rights.
That said, the greeter needs to pat/hug every 3rd-ish persons coming through. This not only covers legal claims of profiling… Someone with nefarious intentions seeing it done frequently will be deterred from the fear of getting caught at the door.
I hate to add this… Part of the services should be like the old duck & cover drills in school. When the Preacher, Deacon, etc. yells GUN, everyone should effectively remove themselves from the line of fire. I’ve seen drills where several people’s first instinct was to stand and whip out their pone to record the fill in the blank.
People like this don’t care about their lives. Their word revolves around how many online hits they get. I’ve found the best way to get through is to explain their actions could draw fire that might not kill them, but those around them, and are willing to carry the burden of those deaths? Not to mention the possible legal actions from survivors and family.
Praise God and pass the ammo has never been more appropriate.
Have you looked into the Ruger 57? The 5.7x28 is a bit pricier per unit but far more flat shooting, basically like the handgun companion to the 556. It also carries 10+1 or 20+1 if your state allows it. If the leadership wouldn’t want a rifle or folding AR pistol then a Ruger 57 may be a more flat shooting but still discrete option. The Ruger PC Carbine, 10/22 or other takedown or folding AR pistol allows discretion in a backpack.
I would get the leadership together and have an honest conversation about your risk and your physical security gaps. You already identified your own limitations and blindspots, that’s a good start, but keep going and push out to the perimeters, the ingress egress, the choke points, the recon and fall back positions an attacker might take. Illuminate the dark both figuratively and literally so you and leadership can implement mitigations.
I took a good look at the building and grounds Sunday. Not good. So many access points. The children/youth area and nursery are exposed from the courtyard and the street. Multiple entrances to the sanctuary that are not protected. We are a small church with mostly elderly attendees. Hardly anyone volunteers for usher/greeter and those that do are nearly 80 years old. I’m 60 and feel like a little kid in there! I digress. Not sure how to proceed.