There are various feelings about carrying a concealed firearm in church, and it saddens me that events have occurred which force us to ask this very basic question. The answer is neither easy, nor is it pleasant to think about.
I think most people primarily go to church to connect with God, spiritual formation, to see good friends and become involved in something larger than themselves. I remember about five years ago, I was approached to join my church security team because I am a police officer. At the time, I felt like church was the one respite, the one safe place where I could relax, shed my cop persona, and just be myself.
If you know anything about police officers they are the paranoid type. Over many years, if they allow themselves, they become suspicious of everyone and they never relax…hence many die of heart attacks or cancer due to the stress level and their inability to relax.
This was my one time during the week to not be the cop and to be a regular guy…I left my gun at home and I went to worship.
I politely told the team leader how I felt, and he said he understood. I felt bad, and appreciated him thinking of me, but my heart wasn’t there because I felt like I need a day off.
Then, almost overnight, things in America changed. The terror attacks of 9/11 began making me more concerned due to my perception of the security picture changing. I still resisted the thought of carrying a gun to church because it didn’t feel right. Then church shootings began to happen and I became more aware that even in my little haven and false sense of security, that I was vulnerable, my family was vulnerable, and to a larger degree, the church family was vulnerable.
I made the decision to begin carrying a gun everywhere I go – including church. I am not a gun guy. I can’t tell you every model available, and every caliber of bullet out there. However, in my experience of being a police officer, I have seen the worst people have to offer, and I mistakenly allowed myself to believe it couldn’t happen to me in church.
I was wrong.
I believed this because I partly knew our security team had several members with CCW permits and the church allowed them to carry their weapons if properly trained. Yet, I was surrendering my security to someone else, and this was not right in my mind.
I bought a small Kel-Tec .380 that slides into my back pocket and is extremely concealable, and I sold a slightly larger Sig Sauer P239. I don’t advertise this fact to anyone…nobody knows I have a weapon on me except me and the security team.
I have read newspaper articles after the shooting in TN where members of a church said things like, “If anyone wants to bring a gun to church, then that is not a church I want to attend.” Of course, the media prints those quotes because it meets their agenda. However, I can see their point. Like me, this person would rather choose to live in a little world she has created where the wolf never growls at her.
The difference though, is understanding that there is a wolf, and developing a plan to deal with him if he shows up at your church.
There have been unpleasant stories of almost all church shootings where someone attempts to stand up and witness to the person who is doing the killing, instead of attempting to stop the violent act through violent means because it is contrary to their peaceful orientation.
Christ is about peace, love, joy. We have created this image of him being meek and mild, lowly and well, wimpy. Enduring what he endured, that is not how I choose to picture him. He was a man’s man, tough, built, rugged and didn’t put up with a lot of people’s opinions of him. He said what needed to be said, was pretty direct about it, and didn’t mess around.
He was even moved to action when he became angry – when men desecrated His Father’s house. He witnessed to the men desecrating the house but only while he was flipping over their tables and driving them out. This is one of those deals people choose to ignore because it doesn’t fit with their Jesus that they created in their minds.
So I guess I am angry. It used to be I could deal with the sin in the world during the week and come to church to see less sin (notice I didn’t say no sin), or at least to avoid the violence I experienced during the week. However, violent men have brought their violence into our sanctuaries. The decision on how we choose to deal with this problem are left to us.
I am angry because I feel like I don’t have a choice. Our culture seems to be spinning out of control; violence, criminal activity, and violent men are celebrated as something to aspire. They are invading what used to be off-limits, and where they do not believe they will be stopped with counter measures.
I choose to use the law to my advantage. The Constitution has given me a right to have a firearm, not the government. The state has seen fit to allow me to carry it concealed as a police officer, but also allows citizens the right to carry if they so choose.
Secondly, when I allow my mind to think through a scenario, it sickens me to know I could have acted, but because I chose to believe it wouldn’t happen to me, I failed to protect my family (personal and church) from disaster.
So, should you carry a concealed firearm in church? Do what your conscience tells you to do. Let it be your guide for how you choose to act.
I have also chosen to allow everyone to have their opinion. Everyone in America has an opinion, but not every opinion can be right. Those who choose to worship and surrender their security to others (police, security, spouse, parent), are free to do so without judgment from me.
My expectation is that if I choose to prepare myself for the possibility that it could happen where I worship, and if I am forced to act to protect you, you can thank me later. However, I won’t share with you what my intentions are so that I can avoid judgment.
There are as many opinions in this country about firearms, the government and the rights of citizens as there are citizens. Yet if you choose to carry a concealed weapon, you should inform yourself of your state’s laws, and what rights you have. The best resource online for concealed carry information is US Concealed Carry. I have found the best articles, information, and thinking about this topic at this website.