A few days ago Dr. Mike Vanlaningham (Moody Bible Institute professor & author) and I joined the Chris Fabry Live show on Moody Broadcasting to discuss the topic of church security. The link to listen to the broadcast is below.
Chris opened the program up by asking this question to the listeners "If you were at your church and heard a gunshot; what would you do? Right here, right now..." This is a question that I use to kick off most of my presentations. I ask it, then wait for the audience to respond. The radio listeners did just that. The phone lines were jammed and the emails rolled in. I'd like to discuss some of the responses and comment on them.
Marion called in an said she'd duck down and try to hide under her seat.
John also spoke about ducking and not being concerned because God will protect him.
Deanna will look to her husband to protect her and the family as he is prepared and carries a concealed firearm.
Ben stated he'd attempt to figure out what's going on in order to evaluate the situation and determine his plan of action as a concealed carry licensee.
Stephan said he'd dive for cover
John responded that he'd fire back.
What I didn't hear was "I don't know" I don't know has been a very prevalent answer at many of my presentations over the years. I'm glad people have at least given the response to this type of horrific attack some consideration.
Here's the deal; your first response to hearing what may or may not be a gunshot is to get yourself and your family up and out the nearest exit away from the sound of gunfire. Ducking down and trying to hide makes you a stationary target. These shooters are in the hunt and kill mindset. They'll calmly walk up and down the aisles shooting every person who's elected to curl themselves up in ball and HOPE to bad guy doesn't find them. At the sound of gunfire RUN!!!!! Hiding is NOT the best option especially in your worship area.
Several other respondents who were concealed carry holders stated they'd attack the shooter. A great sentiment but a terrible idea. As a concealed carry holder you duty is to protect yourself and your family (friends). You action should be to draw your firearm and direct those with you to the nearest exit. If you have a perfect opportunity to shoot the offender; DO IT! However shooting across the room or down the aisle is risky and not prudent. You duty is to protect and save your family. Once safe you may consider returning to the area to see if you're able to help; just remember you do NOT have a Superman "S" on your chest. Most of us are not as proficient with a handgun as we think we are; especially under stress. Now that being said; I totally understand the desire to help your fellow church goers. Once your family is safe try to enter the building in a way to be out of sight and behind the shooter. Use every piece of cover to cover you movement and look for an opportunity to take a controlled shot from behind cover.
It wasn't our intention to talk about using firearms on this radio interview but the audience definitely had their views. To be clear I do carry a concealed firearm 98% of the time and always at church. I oversee the training and activities of my church's armed security team. The scenario that keeps me awake at night is an active shooter event where some concealed carry holder, who we don't know, is running down the hallway with his gun drawn. In his mind he's moving to help; in my team's mind he's a threat and will most likely be shot. I will reiterate; a private citizen with a concealed carry permit should NOT respond to an active threat unless he has the drop on the shooter by being in the immediate vicinity. A security team member or a law enforcement officer may shoot the CCL holder; he's the guy with a gun.
If your church needs help and advice please contact us. Take care and Be Safe!