- Mailing Address: P. O. Box 248 | Aubrey, TX 76227
Recently I was asked to contribute to a series of articles about Guns in churches by our friend Brian Gallagher of "SecurityatChurch.com". Due to travel and time restrictions we were unable to respond, but we read all the responses from others.
I think good points were made about the necessity of a security program and the need to have, what we call, "Intervention Capable" reactors/responders as part of a Security Team.
From our contacts within thousands of churches we have seen the entire gambit of inventive solutions that churches have come up with. Some mega-churches hire dozens of active local police officers to be present during services, both uniformed and plain clothes. Some rely on off duty law enforcement congregation members. Some rely on volunteer civilian "Concealed Carry" individuals.
The main areas of concern are,
First - what is legal in your state?
Second - who's liable if something goes wrong, as in a shooting of innocent bystanders?
Third - what should be the measure of who is qualified to be in this "Intervention Capable" (pronounced "Armed") role?
What is legal?
As pointed out in the various responses to Brian's request for opinions, each state may have different laws that dictate the legality of arming a Security team.
Who is Liable?
The first thing we think of when approaching this issue is "Insurance". When active law enforcement or private security shoots someone, intentional or not, the majority of the liability will rest first on the local municipal government or the private security company's insurance. With any other individual the liability will rest on the individual and the church that authorized the security team.
Numerous insurance companies have dedicated entire web sites and resources to Church Security and Safety issues. Understand that it is not in the interest of these insurers to promote "armed civilian security teams" as this increases the risk that they might have to pay a claim against the church.
However, as much as they might resist, numerous insurers are "insuring" these civilian concealed carry permit teams as a part of their coverage.
In the resources provided by the insurance companies there are only vague references to "Training", but no clear path to what is "adequate" for training.
The typical course of police training in Texas consists of 576 hours of training in subjects ranging from fitness to firearms. The typical course of private security training in Texas consists of 60 hours of training. The typical Conceal Handgun Permit requires only 8 hours of training. Some states don't even require the individual to fire a handgun.
Several years ago, we saw the need for some type of training that would serve as a standard for church security teams that was both legal and acceptable to insurance companies.
Our present platform which meets the Texas state private security requirements and a candidate for national standard.
Conclusion /Opinion -
Because of the challenges involved with developing a recognized national standard of "qualifications" we do not believe there is an easy answer for churches who want clear path to an acceptable program of qualifications and training needed for armed church security teams.
All of our efforts have gone into adhering to each state's requirements for professional security licensing of individuals to perform armed commercial security work for churches. This way we are leaving the training and certification standards to the state and not someone's opinion.
About the author:
Chuck Chadwick founded the National Organization for Church Security and Safety Management (NOCSSM) www.nocssm.org in 2002. He is also president of Gatekeepers Security Services (GSS)www.gatekeeperssecurity.com and the Christian Security Institute (CSI)www.christiansi.org. GSS being a state licensed security services company and CSI a state licensed security training school.