It is frequently debated if a armed church security member can really make a difference. To understand the difference one armed good guy on site can make we need to look at two recent shootings, Colorado and San Bernardino.

The recent shooting in Colorado at Arapahoe High School happened to have a Deputy Sheriff on school grounds who was working as a school resource officer, according to a CNN report. He was in the vicinity of the shooter when the rampage began and was able to end the violence in 80 seconds. The initial reports were stating that the police took 14 minutes to arrive on the scene, but we are now learning that wasn’t what ended the shooting.

The rampage might have resulted in many more casualties had it not been for the quick response of a deputy sheriff who was working as a school resource officer at the school, Robinson said.

Once he learned of the threat, he ran — accompanied by an unarmed school security officer and two administrators — from the cafeteria to the library, Robinson said. “It’s a fairly long hallway, but the deputy sheriff got there very quickly.”

The deputy was yelling for people to get down and identified himself as a county deputy sheriff, Robinson said. “We know for a fact that the shooter knew that the deputy was in the immediate area and, while the deputy was containing the shooter, the shooter took his own life.”

He praised the deputy’s response as “a critical element to the shooter’s decision” to kill himself, and lauded his response to hearing gunshots. “He went to the thunder,” he said. “He heard the noise of gunshot and, when many would run away from it, he ran toward it to make other people safe.”


When we look at the results of the San Bernardino event with 14 dead and 17 injured verses 1 in Colorado, the difference a few minutes in the arrival of armed responders to respond is apparent in the significantly higher causalities on site.

Regardless of the source of violence, an angry individual or a terrorist attack, the presence of good people armed and trained, while not eliminating the losses, can definitely reduce the loss of life and injury,

Should you consider placing a security team in place in your church if you can legally do so?

  • Do you have fire extinguishers and smoke alarms in place?
  • Do you purchase insurance to cover the facility?
  • Do you do background checks of church employees and volunteers?
  • Do you remove the snow from the walks in the winter?

Why would you not want to have trained staff in place to handle critical incidents?

My church has had armed staff in place for over 10 years. In this time we have not had accidental discharges, staff randomly displaying weapons, or inappropriate incidents relating to use of force.

The key is to vette and carefully select the staff to be armed. Then make sure that you train together and have a plan for response in critical incidents. Our training incorporates using two way radios and scenario based incident testing with inert firearms.

To quote a close friend of mine, Dave Spaulding “ You must be a active participant in your own rescue.” Considering the world and especially what Christians are facing today, I ask again:

Why would you not want to have trained, armed staff in place to handle critical incidents? 

Jack Justice

Church Security Alliance

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