I read with interest the new U.S. government guidelines designed to help churches deal with mounting security issues. In many ways, it is the same advice we have been giving for the past 7 years.
- Design A Plan
- Develop A Team
- Train Your Team In The Plans
There is one small, but very important detail we disagree upon and the guideline authors waited until the very last chapter to discuss it.
According to Vice President Biden, “The faith leaders not only want us to talk about making schools safer,” Biden said. “They’re worried that their congregations are at risk. So they wanted to know, what should they be thinking about when someone stands up in the middle of the congregation and decides to do something similar as we saw in the schools.”
In response to their concerns, Biden said, “we gave concrete direction.”
The concrete direction given includes the Run-Hide-Fight model established for schools, and includes everything but an armed response from members of the church.
According to the Huffington Post, “The guidelines’ basic run-hide-fight advice is similar to that given to schools faced with active shooters: Congregants should first try to flee the scene, taking people with them but not waiting for those who refuse to leave. If flight is not possible, hide –- the guidelines describe some of the best hiding places. Fighting back is a last resort.”
The guidelines state, “If neither running nor hiding is a safe option, as a last resort, when confronted by the shooter, adults in immediate danger should consider trying to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter by using aggressive force and items in their environment, such as fire extinguishers or chairs. In a study of 41 active shooter events that ended before law enforcement arrived, the potential victims stopped the attacker themselves in 16 instances. In 13 of those cases, they physically subdued the attacker.”
This is where we have to disagree. If everyone is running away and hiding, it presents a target rich environment for the attacker, and if left unchallenged presents a risk of a higher body count.
Secondly, if given the choice between a trained individual carrying a firearm and someone having to use a fire extinguisher or chair, I would opt for the trained person with a firearm. Granted, if not armed both a fire extinguisher or a heavy chair may cause a temporary disruption and save lives.
While I appreciate the government finally coming forth with some solid information, it appears they have continued on the politically correct path of limiting a citizen’s ability to protect himself, his family, and his congregation.
I have provided a link to the report below.
If you need more information about following the government guidelines, we offer a complete package to help you develop policies and improve your church security.
The federal guidelines recommend active resistance. We teach you how to do this in our Physical Response To Critical Incidents course.