Some pastors across the country are introducing armed security after the shooting at a Charleston church killed nine people.
"If they had security, the assailant would not have been able to reload," Bishop Ira Combs, a pastor in Jackson, Michigan, said Sunday. "All of us here are not going to turn the other cheek while you shoot us."
Combs’s church, the Greater Bible Way Temple Church, now has armed security guards in the building. Another security coordinator worked with other members of the security team that were undercover in the congregation, Christian Today reports.
"We aren't looking to engage people in violence, but we are going to practice law enforcement," Combs said. "And we are going to interdict if someone comes in with a weapon."
In Detroit, another pastor, Charles Ellis, of the Greater Grace Temple, now has a trained and armed 25-man security force.
"Nobody should have to worship in fear or be looking over their shoulder," he said.
According to the National Church Shooting Database, there were 139 shootings in American churches between 1980 and 2005. In those shootings, 185 people were killed. More recent numbers are not available.
A church security consultant who tracks church violence, however, said in 2013 that churches and other religious organizations have become “softer targets.”
“Whenever there is a violent situation, we see security beefed up,” said Carl Chinn. “Schools, for example, have become more hardened targets. And as we see other places get more readiness, that means other places like churches and ministries become softer targets.”
Publication date: July 2, 2015