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With all that's been going on lately, there has been a lot of talk about church security. I've been approached by one of our elders about our church security. We are to have a special meeting where somebody is supposed to talk to us about security ideas. We've got a couple of officers in our congregation and the county sheriff also attends there (I assume he is the one giving the talk). They have asked me and some others that have had formal firearm training to be in attendance and to discuss our possible roles in security. I guess I'm looking to any pointers I could bring up in the meeting that may be overlooked.

My thinking is first and foremost, aside from securing the entrances, you need some sort of outside surveillance to detect a possible threat before they ever make it to the door. You could then alert the police and maybe neutralize the situation before anything bad happened. With some of the well trained members we have, I have no doubt that we could be a decent force to neutralize a would-be attacker, but still, the last thing you want is a gun fight inside the church building. 

Another thing that worries me is most of these shootings involve an attacker with semi-auto long guns. I'm fairly decent with a pistol but I worry how effective you could be facing a long gun with possible body armor. I'd love to have my AR at my disposal but I don't know if the congregation is ready to go that far. I guess I could keep it as backup in my vehicle, but even if I could get out there to it, surely a bunch of carnage will already be caused by the time I got back. Again, it comes to that you need to stop the intruder before he ever makes it to the front door.  

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I am in the process of installing a wireless security camera at the front of our church right now for that very reason. I used a Foscam camera that you can monitor on an Iphone. I am going to monitor it during the service(along with anyone else who wants to monitor it), The idea being it would at least hopefully give us a couple of second time to prepare. I have heard that if a person with a HCP is in the congregation that is one thing, but they are not to be considered "security" from a legal standpoint. IANAL but I am sure there is some info our there on that aspect.  BA

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38 minutes ago, ffr1910 said:

. I have heard that if a person with a HCP is in the congregation that is one thing, but they are not to be considered "security" from a legal standpoint. IANAL but I am sure there is some info our there on that aspect.  BA

That's interesting. Care to expand on that? Are you saying that if you are classified as security, the rules would be different when it comes to deadly force?

As I mentioned, I'm sure the sheriff will be at the meeting, if not the keynote speaker. Maybe he has some insight on this.

To be honest, outside of some of the most liberal places, I think it would be almost impossible to ever convict anybody for thwarting a church attacker, even if it wasn't "by the book". Look at the latest shooting in TX, the guy went in pursuit of the attacker and chased him down, a big no-no in all "self defense" laws that I know of. Looks like, and rightly so, the powers that be are willing to overlook that little infraction.  I know most law enforcement agencies around here are all but encouraging people to take down these would be mass shooters by "whatever means possible". It seems the law may be giving average citizens some leadway when it comes to use of deadly force.

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No, the rules aren't different from a criminal perspective, but civil cases are a different pile of monkey fling. It can open up a huge liability issue if the church has tacitly (or openly) endorsed someone as "security".

As for the armed citizen in TX going after the shooter, no that's not a big no-no in self defense laws. In that instance, the armed citizen would have reasonably thought that the attacker was an imminent threat to the lives of others so the armed citizen was justified in responding with lethal force. Nobody is turning a blind eye to a criminal act on his part because there was no criminal act.

Edited by monkeylizard
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We have a sheriff's deputy with his patrol car at our church during services. Bad guys like soft targets - not ones where there is a clear counter threat to them. That alone, in my opinion, is a huge deterrent.

We have a main entrance that has a counter/buffet where greeters sit. While I am not 100% sure, I would suspect there is a panic button back there that just needs one push to alert police of a serious issue. If it were me, I would have 1-2 AR pistols mounted underneath the counter top that would be placed there every Sunday morning, with folks who know how to use them. I have a CAA Micro Roni Stab that fits easily in a small backpack or briefcase. With my Glock 19, and the red dot on it, I can engage targets up to 50 yards with no problem.


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What I've started doing recently is carrying a Glock 19 in a old bible leather bible case the wife had. Removed the bible and the gun with several spare mags will fit nicely. Only concern I have is it's not actually on my person so you have to be aware at all times to make sure it's not left unattended. For this reason, I've been leaving a empty chamber until I get more accustomed to this way of carry so if I forget and leave it in the seat when I go to the bathroom or something, a kid isn't likely to get ahold of it and shoot somebody. In the past, I haven't carried in church because no IWB or pocket holsters that I've tried fit me, so unless I start wearing a suit or at least a sports coat, my concealment options are limited. This is just a temporary way of carry until I come up with something better. 

Is a church considered private property or a public place? I don't know if I'm using the right terms but private property as in your home or a public place as in a restaurant? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you could get in hot water by carrying a loaded rifle into a restaurant, even if the restaurant owner was ok with it, but if a church was considered private like your home, you could have any legal firearm at your disposal (assuming the church leaders were ok with it).

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With churches obviously being targeted its good you are thinking about this.

Cameras and early warning devices are a great idea. But have a plan for when they alert you to the fact you have a heavily armed shooter coming through the door. He has the element of surprise and if he takes out your security guy at the door; you need help.

I would suggest multiple members at different locations. Maybe even a rifleman in a room the members don’t have to see.

Certainty you don’t want to have a gun fight in a crowded room. But once it starts only a shooter can end it.

It’s sad you have to be prepared to kill someone in church; but that’s the way it is right now.

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3 hours ago, m16ty said:

Is a church considered private property or a public place? I don't know if I'm using the right terms but private property as in your home or a public place as in a restaurant? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you could get in hot water by carrying a loaded rifle into a restaurant, even if the restaurant owner was ok with it, but if a church was considered private like your home, you could have any legal firearm at your disposal (assuming the church leaders were ok with it).

It's private property because it's not owned by the public (i.e. the government) but it is open to the public unlike a private residence. It's basically the same as a store or restaurant. If your church meets in a school, then that's a different kettle of fish and you're pretty much in a no-carry zone with very few exceptions.

You're correct about long guns. An HCP does not give us the lawful ability to carry long guns. I can't say that I know what the laws are (if any) about the proprietor/owner or the employees of a business having a long gun. Whatever those are, they would probably equally apply to a church. But ownership gets sticky with a church. In many denominations, the local church doesn't actually own the church property. It's normally the district/diocese that actually owns the property and may also be considered the operator of the church, depending on how the church and district/diocese are incorporated. Then you'd have to figure out who might be considered the owner's legal agents. Obviously the pastor and any paid staff would be, but what about unpaid lay persons like deacons, ushers, Sunday School teachers and church council members? A church's legal structure really is an odd duck to me.

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That's interesting. Care to expand on that? Are you saying that if you are classified as security, the rules would be different when it comes to deadly force?
As I mentioned, I'm sure the sheriff will be at the meeting, if not the keynote speaker. Maybe he has some insight on this.
To be honest, outside of some of the most liberal places, I think it would be almost impossible to ever convict anybody for thwarting a church attacker, even if it wasn't "by the book". Look at the latest shooting in TX, the guy went in pursuit of the attacker and chased him down, a big no-no in all "self defense" laws that I know of. Looks like, and rightly so, the powers that be are willing to overlook that little infraction.  I know most law enforcement agencies around here are all but encouraging people to take down these would be mass shooters by "whatever means possible". It seems the law may be giving average citizens some leadway when it comes to use of deadly force.


It isn’t at all about legality and rules of engagement, but rather about civil liability.

If the church appoints a security team and then that team screws up and accidentally shoots someone’s five year old, the church could be held responsible.

If there just happens to be someone that carries do the same, the church would be held much less liable.


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4 hours ago, monkeylizard said:

But ownership gets sticky with a church. In many denominations, the local church doesn't actually own the church property. It's normally the district/diocese that actually owns the property and may also be considered the operator of the church, depending on how the church and district/diocese are incorporated. Then you'd have to figure out who might be considered the owner's legal agents. Obviously the pastor and any paid staff would be, but what about unpaid lay persons like deacons, ushers, Sunday School teachers and church council members? A church's legal structure really is an odd duck to me.

Our church is non-denominational. We have elders, deacons, and a preacher. The preacher is the only person on the church payroll. The church building and property is actually owned by the members of the church and managed by the elders. I guess the owner's legal agents would be the elders.

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Once a church (or any organization or person) starts appointing people into a role, they become agents. AIUI, it doesn't have to be something formal. If it can be proven that the church knowingly allowed something to be in place like security by HCP holding members, then that's pretty much the same as if there was a written contract to provide security. IANAL, so that's not necessarily correct in all the nuances of the law, but generally speaking, CZ9MM is spot on about liability.

I like to live by don't ask, don't tell.

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The people are going to begin, if they haven't already, expecting their churches to provide security to prevent a shooting from occurring.  What I am hearing is the churches that are stepping up to this expectation are establishing "Safety" Teams.  The duties of these Safety Teams generally include the provision of First Aid as well as response to any other emergency situation that might arise during church activities, such as fires, tornados, earthquakes, and yeah even active shooters.

In my opinion, there is no certain size of a congregation that begins to necessitate the establishment of a Safety Team or at the very least safety protocols.  If you are gathering people together at an appointed place and time on a recurring schedule each week, you have essentially told all criminals when and where they can find a group of people to do bad things to.  To be frank, this applies to any organization, not just churches.  Scout meetings, fraternal meetings, council meetings, and so forth all have the same inherent problem.  A person who wants to visit violence upon you knows when and where to find you, so you should have a planned and well-trained response for that.

I predict that the churches and other groups that either ignore this problem or willfully refuse to do anything to prepare for it are going to begin to see a decline in participation.  People are going to start looking for the presence of "Safety" Teams or asking whether the group has established protocols, before deciding whether to put themselves or their loved ones into the congregations.

Should these people be carrying their own guns and first aid as well?  YES.  But some folks will always rely on others to carry their slack and the desire for personal safety is no different.

 

 

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I posted this in the original thread on the church shooting. Since then the Church was fortunate to have the owner of a Security firm that also attends the church. They have now got out side Cameras that might show anyone approaching the church with any type of long gun and can be seen by all of the security people on their cell phones so they will have advanced warning before the would be shooter can even enter.  A red light can be turned on in all 4 corners of the church signaling potential danger and people will act accordingly at that point. The church also got   3 complete Trauma kits  supplied by a doctor that is also a member of the church. There is also other medical personnel such as nurses that attend the church.

The Church has an attendance of about 135 members and I applaud them for their actions to make their congregation as safe as possible. The Sunday schools rooms of the church are also secured for the childrens protection.

Original post  

I had a friend stop in today that attends a small church here in Gallatin and he and several friends of his that also attend the church and on any given Sunday there are 5 to 7 armed and trained people attending the service. Several of them are Vets and 2 police officers retired and they have sent up a code word similar to the Secret Service. The congregation all know the code word is "GUN" that is announced loudly by who ever sees the possible shooter and everyone in the church knows to get down below the pughs to gain cover while the security people confront the shooter. They actually do drills to make sure everyone responds just like fire drills when we were kids in school. The security people are not all in same location but in different areas so they can see most all the members of the church. He said they began doing this almost 2 years ago and the entire congregation is in approval. 

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3 hours ago, TGO David said:

The people are going to begin, if they haven't already, expecting their churches to provide security to prevent a shooting from occurring.  What I am hearing is the churches that are stepping up to this expectation are establishing "Safety" Teams.  The duties of these Safety Teams generally include the provision of First Aid as well as response to any other emergency situation that might arise during church activities, such as fires, tornados, earthquakes, and yeah even active shooters.

In my opinion, there is no certain size of a congregation that begins to necessitate the establishment of a Safety Team or at the very least safety protocols.  If you are gathering people together at an appointed place and time on a recurring schedule each week, you have essentially told all criminals when and where they can find a group of people to do bad things to.  To be frank, this applies to any organization, not just churches.  Scout meetings, fraternal meetings, council meetings, and so forth all have the same inherent problem.  A person who wants to visit violence upon you knows when and where to find you, so you should have a planned and well-trained response for that.

I predict that the churches and other groups that either ignore this problem or willfully refuse to do anything to prepare for it are going to begin to see a decline in participation.  People are going to start looking for the presence of "Safety" Teams or asking whether the group has established protocols, before deciding whether to put themselves or their loved ones into the congregations.

Should these people be carrying their own guns and first aid as well?  YES.  But some folks will always rely on others to carry their slack and the desire for personal safety is no different.

 

 

That is why I’m going to be at the meeting and help any way they see fit. I don’t ask anybody at the congregation to protect me, but I will gladly stand up and protect people that can’t or won’t protect themselves. We are a close nit congregation, I consider everybody there family. I just think it is the responsibility of any able bodied man in the congregation, but if there are still able bodied men that won’t, I’ll do what I can to protect them too.

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On 11/10/2017 at 11:04 PM, m16ty said:

That's interesting. Care to expand on that? Are you saying that if you are classified as security, the rules would be different when it comes to deadly force?

As I mentioned, I'm sure the sheriff will be at the meeting, if not the keynote speaker. Maybe he has some insight on this.

To be honest, outside of some of the most liberal places, I think it would be almost impossible to ever convict anybody for thwarting a church attacker, even if it wasn't "by the book". Look at the latest shooting in TX, the guy went in pursuit of the attacker and chased him down, a big no-no in all "self defense" laws that I know of. Looks like, and rightly so, the powers that be are willing to overlook that little infraction.  I know most law enforcement agencies around here are all but encouraging people to take down these would be mass shooters by "whatever means possible". It seems the law may be giving average citizens some leadway when it comes to use of deadly force.

I dont have a specific reference, but I think I heard it from a church security webinar that our church insurance company offered for free. It was something like an armed congregation member is one thing, but they are not to considered "security" for the church due to legal issues. DO NOT quote me on that ;)  BA

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I have heard of some churches getting company security licenses (different than a contract security company or armored car service type license) and then the people on the security teams who are carrying firearms get armed guard licenses.  The church would have to pay fees to the state for licensing and also have an insurance liability policy.  Licensed armed guards can be authorized by the state to carry long guns in addition to handguns.

Now in addition to licensed armed guards being able to carry handguns and  long guns, the code says that the following people can carry firearms, long guns and handguns without a permit:

(3) At the person's:

      (A) Place of residence;

      (B) Place of business; or

      (C) Premises;

I'm guessing it could be said that a pastor or other leadership, elders, deacon type people at some churches could probably carry whatever they want without any sort of permit because the church could be their 'premises'.

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Pastors or other leaders (deacons, etc) can authorize carry in Missouri Churches.  It is not a criminal offense in MO to carry without permission in Churches. Misdemeanor. 

Edited by deadeye111
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3 hours ago, deadeye111 said:

Pastors or other leaders (deacons, etc) can authorize carry in Missouri Churches.  It is not a criminal offense in MO to carry without permission in Churches. Misdemeanor. 

No law against permit holders carrying in churches here either. Matter of fact, I guess a church would have to post to legally prevent it. 

This issue is as much about liability of the church itself if it organizes a security plan vs that of the individual who might take action only on his own volition, as it is about an effective plan itself.

- OS

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Long time lurker here but always enjoy the conversations.

I am on the ‘safety team’ for a large nondenominational church. We have about 16-20 guys on duty any given Sunday covering all doors and watching the parking lot. We serve as volunteers and carry ONLY as private citizens exercising our 2nd amend rights.

Our church does an amazing job training us in all aspects of our role - first aid, cpr, as well as other deescalation/ confrontational skills. But ultimately we are one of the first smiling faces people see when they walk in any of the many doors on our campus. Typically we are the first asked about finding the bathroom/classroom or how to get a replacement tag to pick up their kids, etc.

I’m not a ‘professional’ at this by any stretch of the imagination but below are a few things I’ve learned that might be food for thought.
- build a team and get good training
- deescalation skills are huge in resolving conflicts in order to avoid force
- soft hand techniques are helpful when non lethal force is needed
- recognize that as soon as you're forced to pull your gun you’ve failed at your job. While you train to win a gun fight, you train harder to learn skills to avoid it in the first place.
- know your baseline and keep an eye out for anomalies
- keep focused outward. Once a threat is in the building risk escalates exponentially
- look into radios so your team can communicate w each other
- get lanyards so your presence is known and so you/the sheriff know who the ‘good guys’ are if something does go down
- have the sheriff present at each service
- research a waiver that team members sign recognizing that they are volunteers and any who carry, do so only as private citizens

Also, there are many great organizations out there that can provide training for your team.

Anyway...I hope this is helpful.






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Just a piece of additional information to share.  Don't make any direct contracted hires of Tennessee licensed armed security officers for security, unless you have a ton of liability insurance and are licensed to do so.  Always hire through a Tennessee licensed private protective services company for a licensed armed security officer.  See TCA code as follows:

62-35-104

62-35-114

62-35-123

62-35-130 (Penalties)

I don't know the legal aspects of contracting sworn law enforcement officers.  I would imagine the laws for them are totally different.

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It's a long shot, but we need to push the legislature to allow permit holders to carry long rifles.  It doesn't make sense in today's day and age that we can carry AR pistols, but can't carry a rifle in public.  We can carry them on our property, houses, and in our cars without a permit, but a permit holder can't carry one for protection.

Church's are a soft target, we should expect to see more attacks on them over the coming years, and while I'm a decent shot with a Glock 19, but I don't want to get into a gun fight with a body armor wearing bad guys with a rifle, with just a 9mm.

Until then, to stay within the legal limits of TN firearms law, AR pistols with a 10 inch barrel are the way to go IMHO.

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We had our “security meeting”. Liability was discussed and the final word was that they encouraged licensed members to carry but there would be no official armed security roles. We did work on some general security plans that are still being ironed out.

one of the main things that anybody can do is meet and talk to visitors. We should be doing this anyway to be welcoming but it’s also a good way to find out people’s intentions.

i won’t discuss any of our specific plans in a open forum but there are about 30 armed civilians at any given service. I jokenly told the Sheriff after the meeting “ if something does go down, I think we will be ok, as long as we can keep from shooting each other”. He laughed and agreed.

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