BRIEFING ROOM: Gatekeepers at Houses of Worship

As this is written, the entire country has been shocked by yet another mass shooting. This one occurred at the First Baptist Church in the small town of Sutherland Springs, Texas. Twenty-six people were killed, with the victims ranging in age from 17 months to 77 years old.

An armed citizen stopped the carnage by engaging the murderer—hitting him at least once—which caused him to drop his weapon and flee the area in his vehicle. While horrible, the death toll could have been much higher without the quick action of the armed citizen.

As has become the norm following an atrocity, those on the far-left spectrum of politics called for more gun control even while the crime scene was still being processed.

Is this a time for fewer guns? In my opinion, no. If anything, it is a time for more responsible citizens to be trained and armed.

Experts in the field have long advocated hardening soft targets. The sad truth is, there is no softer target than a house of worship. Members of a congregation—gatekeepers, if you will—may prevent, or at least mitigate, the carnage caused by a deranged person before it starts.

In 2011, at the request of several members of a small local church, I put on a class designed for church security. There were, to the best of my recollection, five individuals in the course, including the pastor. That number is now over a dozen.

They position themselves inside the church so they will not be in each other’s line of fire, with each gatekeeper having their own zone of responsibility, and they practice their shooting skills on a regular basis.

Another smart thing they do is keep their identities confidential, in order to prevent a disgruntled member of the church targeting them at the onset of an attack.

At S.W.A.T. we believe in having subject-matter experts write in their field of expertise. In an upcoming issue, we will have an article on developing a church security team. The author helped develop and supervised one of the largest of such teams at a “mega church” in the Dallas area, and will give his advice on how to organize a team of gatekeepers.

Our prayers and sincere condolences go out to the community of Sutherland Springs.

Until next time, stay low and watch your back.

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