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Churches turn to armed security guards as gunmen increasingly threaten houses of worship

Security specialists are increasingly urging U.S. church buildings to enhance their security measures after two close to misses involving tried shootings at houses of worship in numerous elements of the nation this month.

Interest in doing so amongst congregations can be on the rise, they are saying.

Last week, a Pennsylvania man jumped out of his seat on the entrance of a church and tackled an armed man who walked up to the pulpit and tried to gun down a pastor mid-sermon.

A hero within the entrance row, Clarence McCallister, tackled and disarmed him.

Then, on Saturday, a gun-toting teen walked up to a Louisiana church throughout a First Communion Mass for dozens of kids. Parishioners detained him exterior and referred to as police.

In February, an armed girl barged into Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, together with her 7-year-old in tow and opened hearth.

Off-duty officers on scene put an finish to the assault, however her baby was struck within the head within the crossfire.

Even the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advocate church buildings and different locations of worship take preparedness measures across the 12 months.

Measures embrace making a plan and sharing it with congregants in case of an emergency, coordinating with native legislation enforcement and present process lively shooter response coaching.

Pastor Glenn Germany, center, at the Jesus Dwelling Place church in North Braddock, Pa
The Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) advocate church buildings and different locations of worship take preparedness measures across the 12 months. AP

FEMA provides a security self-assessment checklist on its web site. The authorities additionally provides grants for nonprofit security to cowl the prices of bodily security measures.

Local governments all through the nation provide security coaching applications for houses of worship.

But specialists inform Fox News Digital church buildings are increasingly turning to security guards, whether or not armed or unarmed, and both volunteers or licensed professionals.

From megachurches to tiny unbiased locations of worship, curiosity in bettering security measures is up throughout the board, stated David Katz, CEO of Global Security Group, a personal agency based by former federal brokers, senior NYPD officers and FDNY leaders within the aftermath of 9/11. 

DEACON CLARENCE MCCALLISTER
Deacon Clarence McCallister, tackled and disarmed the gunman. KDKA

He stated armed volunteer security at houses of worship shouldn’t be a brand new thought, particularly in Jewish synagogues, however the demand is growing as an increasing number of websites discover their choices.

Katz, a former particular agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), started coaching volunteers at his personal Texas synagogue amid fears of violence following the invasion of Israel by Hamas terrorists and antisemitic assaults within the U.S. Now, he says, he’s working with church buildings, too.

“Most synagogues and churches simply don’t have the budget to hire full-time armed security,” he stated. So although his agency gives it, he’s additionally providing coaching in order that worshippers can shield themselves.

Many are devoted to the duty and have lots on the road if a lone wolf assaults.

“I’ve had people tell me, ‘I’ve been anti-gun my whole life, and I just bought my first gun. It’s time to change the way I vote, and it’s time to change my thoughts about self-protection,’” he stated. “They’re buying guns without training, so we’re going to fill the gap.”

But just some states, together with Texas, enable church buildings to kind their very own security groups of parishioners, he stated.

Pastor Glenn Germany, center, at the Jesus Dwelling Place church in North Braddock, Pa
The Pennsylvania man jumped out of his seat on the entrance of a church and tackled an armed man who walked up to the pulpit and tried to gun down a pastor mid-sermon. AP

“You could never get away with that in New York City,” he stated.

Pat Brosnan, founder and chairman of Brosnan Risk Consultants, which gives risk assessments and armed and unarmed guards, says extensively various legal guidelines in communities across the nation affect what measures church buildings and different houses of worship can implement.

The security trade faces stringent laws, coaching necessities, excessive insurance coverage prices and different limitations that may complicate an all-volunteer security staff, he stated.

But simply the visible of a guard “standing tall” on the entrance door in itself makes a distinction, Brosnan informed Fox News Digital.

“Most of these guys are cowards – it’s important to recognize that,” he stated. “They may talk about meeting their maker and all these other things that they presuppose is gonna occur when they die, if they die at the hands of the police or anyone else. But most of them are cowards. They don’t wanna die. That’s why deterrence, in my view, works more often than not.”

Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen
Lakewood Church pastor Joel Osteen had an armed girl barge into his church in Houston, Texas, together with her 7-year-old in tow and opened hearth. Houston Chronicle by way of Getty Images

In instances the place the price is prohibitive, he stated, some church buildings select to have guards posted throughout service hours and particular occasions solely.

“It’s somewhat rare, but I’ve seen a little bit more now … where individuals at a church basically gang up and disarm a guy. We saw that at the Super Bowl parade, and we’ve seen it many times,” he stated. “It’s very dangerous, but sometimes necessary. I always urge caution without training, but the reality is sometimes there’s no option left.”

He additionally praised the actions of the good Samaritans like McCallister and the mother and father exterior the Louisiana church who saved lives in a sequence of current incidents – whereas urging warning.

“We salute those guys,” Brosnan stated. “When civilians act in a brave way to save lives, it’s outstanding.”

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