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New Texas law brings confusion to Texas churches

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New Texas law brings confusion to Texas churches

I know that our newsletter goes out to thousands of churches, with lots of them not in Texas. I publish this story more as a hope that your church can learn from it. This article has a dual purpose. One is to update you on some Texas legislation, the other is to shed light on how to think through what people say or tell you. You really must think beyond the emotional rants and take the story to the logical conclusion.

There are behaviors that are legal and those that are advisable. While it's legal to consume a gallon of whiskey in one setting, I think that all can agree that it is not advisable. This list could go on, but won't.

Let me say that we are not lawyers and this is not legal advice. We are stating our logical conclusions which could change given more or different information.

Texas Legislation:

Texas Senate Bill 2065 which was originally about eyebrow hair threading and car booting had an amendment tacked onto it "Exempting Churches from any security regulations in the Texas occupations code 1702." The original House Bill 421 never made it past the house calendar committee.

If the Governor's signs this bill, a new law will be passed (Senate Bill 2065) that makes it legal for churches to deploy volunteer security teams, both armed and unarmed without any training, liability insurance or background checks. The jury is still out as to whether you even need a license to carry a handgun given that the church is private property.

I went to Austin on March the 7th, 2017 to witness against the bill. I testified at the Texas House of Representatives Department of Homeland Security committee that heard testimony "for" and "against" the original HB 421. Two years ago, I also spoke out against a similar bill (HB 1561). Each time I was lambasted and portrayed as a greedy sick capitalist preying on the pocket books of the poor churches. Yes, we charge churches whose volunteers come to us for 6 days of state curriculum security training. More information on our Gatekeepers program is on our website.

Arguments made by witnesses:

  1. Church security teams don't need training because it cost money.
  2. Church security teams don't need training for just doing security for a couple of hours a week.
  3. Church security teams don't have the time to train.

A well-known church safety seminar speaker testified that "Unlike police and security guards that need 40, 60 or 80 hours of training, we are talking about men and women that work 2 or 3 hours a week at their churches" and so, don't need the training.

His argument was that because these people are doing what professional law enforcement and security officers do only a couple of hours, they don't need the training to do the job. That would be similar to an argument that the person doing brain surgery on Tuesdays between 4pm-6pm doesn't need to go to med school or pass the medical exam because he's only doing brain surgery a couple of hours a week.

He also stated that "they don't have the time to go to training." and that "churches "can't afford training."

The "can't afford the training" carries the same argument as "Med school is expensive, so doctors should not have to go through med school or get licensed to practice or carry mal practice insurance".

Under this lack of finances argument, it could be argued that the small neighborhood donut shop should not have to adhere to the public health codes because they can't afford to keep rats and roaches out like the Dunkin Donuts shops can.

Lessons:

  1. Church security teams need training to do the job of security.
  2. Training cost money.
  3. Training takes time.

Statements made:

You don't need a permit/license to do security in such-and-such state.

Another well-known church safety seminar speaker testified for the bill said that "in Colorado you can have an unlicensed volunteer security team". He failed to mention that what he said was true for parts of Colorado, the mostly unpopulated parts. In the city and county of Denver and Colorado Springs, where most of the people are, security is regulated both for uniformed security, as in CO Springs, or uniformed and plain clothed, as in the city and county of Denver.

Statement made:

Churches don't need to run those costly background checks because they "Know their people."

Another church security salesman said that churches don't need to run background checks because they "Know their people." He's probably unaware of all of the child sexual molestation that has happened in churches by people that the church "Knew". This has been shown to be untrue by far too many cases.

You may think that ANYBODY KNOWS YOU NEED TO DO BACKGROUND CHECKS! You would be surprised. I once did a security assessment for a very major Christian ministry that wouldn't hear of doing background checks because "once you have been saved by Christ you are a new person!" and all the past is erased. To each his/her own choice. Visit http://www.ministrysafe.com for more on sexual abuse in the church.

Another consideration: Liability Insurance

Part of the legislation's effect is the lack of mandatory liability insurance. Under our Gatekeeper program the individual officer and the church are somewhat shielded by our company's commercial armed guard coverage. Imagine the consequences of your church security team "malfunctioning" in performance of their duties of security. A stray bullet hits grandma or little Susie; or a beat down of a legal protestor (see article about pro-life activist in this newsletter).

There are insurance companies that offer some degree of liability insurance for Security Team Operations. If you can get your insurance company to provide coverage we encourage you to look at the coverage closely so see exactly what your church and the individual are insured against. We are also contacting various insurance companies to see what coverage they might offer to help your church.

Conclusion:

If your church should elect to pursue the course of providing their own volunteer security team we urge you to closely consider the full consequences of this move.

Training:

A well-rounded training program includes all the facets of the private security curriculum; State laws regarding self-defense, use of force, defensive tactics, intermediate weapons and deadly force (usually in the form of handguns).

Background checks:

You will need to understand that there is really no such thing as a true "National Background Check" that any commercial company can provide. Only the FBI can do this and it is illegal for your law enforcement friend to do one for you using law enforcement resources. That is why we use the state government that depends on the FBI to run a full background check when they issue security licenses to our officers during the state security licensing process. So that $12 dollar church background check you did for your children's workers is just a check of some records the background check company compiled.

Liability Insurance:

That policy rider that you got from XYZ insurance for $400 per year is not the same as commercial armed guard insurance.

I hope you can appreciate my point of view in all of this. People will say almost anything to support their point of view. You can find statistics and facts that will support almost anything you want to support.

Did you know that 99.99% of traffic fatalities happen to people riding in a motor vehicle? Ha!!

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