Southern California Churches Advocate Arming Congregants

Southern California Churches Advocate Arming Congregants
By John Longenecker

Buckeye Firearms Foundation
Buckeye Firearms Foundation

Southern California – -( The genius of concealed carry of handguns is that would­-be murderers remain uncertain as to who is armed and who isn’t. You never know if the target is armed with lethal force, and more to the point, how alert and prepared they are to resist. This is true for everyone interested in being as safe as they can be from future violence, because it comes to the realization of specific unalterable realities: you’re on your own. It’s a matter of positive attitude, not belligerence.

This week some Southern California church leaders came to that very same conclusion, and took up a position advocating not only a very discreet security presence of professionals, but also took the advice of their consultants and adopted the policy of advocating concealed carry of handguns among the congregation.

Realities are the core of solving the problem of church violence, and having the stomach to face those realities and to meet them. For too long, employers, churches, schools and others have said many different ways that they are sad to see things have to come to this, but this is a trap which serves not the people, but the killers. Other objections have also delayed facing the reality of how to meet the reality of murders and mayhem on campus. Fifteen Southern California church leaders refused to fall into that trap, and they sought out expert advice. Among other steps, it involves concealed carry of handguns in church, and they took it.

Yes, concealed carry of handguns by the members who come to worship. This is huge. Especially in California, and this makes it national news.

The Southern California churches’ consultant is Interfaith Intruder Response, a security firm who respects church worship and sanctuary deeply while elaborating specific realities the church needs to accept where threat assessment is a new function for them. Some of those realities involve not only understanding how families fall apart or how political sentiment can act out, but how to meet grave danger with action at the most critical moments, and some of that action may involve lethal force of their own.

Other churches around the nation have their own story to tell on the subject of not only how they have become pro­active and prepared, as in Bring­Your­Gun­To­Church Day has done, but also real experience in stopping murderous assailants the moment the assault begins. It works. So does announcing it publicly. Very shrewd. That alone can have a deterrence effect.

Some of the most helpful components of the one­-day course from Interfaith Intruder Response is how the church is urged to accept facts the entire nation must come to accept, such as the moments between a violent attack and the arrival of police not as incapacitating, but as opportunity to stop them cold. Cases of mass murder of congregants taught to offer no resistance hasn’t cut it, and instructions on how to hide or even to urge children to toss books at an active shooter do about as much. Yes, some have taught the kids to throw books.

The answer is not to ban handguns from visiting parents, or to arm faculty who may or may not be present at the critical moment, or to have uniformed guards who are so easily recognized, but to do as these churches are now announcing: discreetly invite the armed citizen to join you, fellow congregants who wear a concealed sidearm when they come to services as they legally do wherever they go in their state. These congregants who have a concealed carry permit are welcomed now. After all, they’re not the belligerents.

Killers can kill in moments before a request for aid can even be processed, much less dispatched and on­-scene. Not all killers of churchgoers use guns. Many have a knife, and a knife does not run out of ammunition. Some acts involve multiple assailants. The law in nearly all states is on the side of the target when it comes to meeting life­-threatening danger and the use of lethal force in reasonable response. Individuals may use lethal force when in reasonable apprehension of grave danger. Individuals may come to the aid of another. For these churches, perhaps their authority and law were the easy part. The hard part was more likely understanding better where their religious authority would lie in even consulting experts on the subject of violence. To the comfort of many, several liberty purists have commented on Christian authority in the righteous use of force. Some of that insight has been part of the Gun Rights Policy Conference which is held every year in September. [Please go to for information on this very important issue.] A lot of Christians are gun owners. Millions of us.

[Gun owners, who number around 90 million adults right about now, are part of an interesting finding by experts who research the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report among other sources. The finding is that about 2.5 million times every year, someone, somewhere in America uses their personal gun to stop a violent crime in progress, and only a tiny percentage of those even see the need at the last second to fire their weapon. Death by justifiable homicide by citizen for 2007, for instance, was only 194 reports. 2.5 million non­shootings is a lot of crimes stopped without violence, but which were stopped in the absence of police. Those were stopped on citizen authority and their superior force, the same authority we give police. These de­escalate a potential crime millions of times each year.]

There are reports in 2008 and 2009 of how church assaults were similarly interrupted by an armed citizen and to a happy conclusion.

Let me emphasize my support and praise for any church, or school, or workplace who elects to go concealed carry on its premises: It took a lot of courage and faith to make it policy that armed members with concealed carry permits may attend church armed.

More than forty states have some provision for concealed carry, and some states have no requirement for a permit to carry open or concealed. This is because this majority recognizes citizen authority to act in fighting crime; that law enforcement derives its own authority from that of the people it serves and not the other way around. The major cities, though, seem to balk at this.

How we meet and fight crime in America in the major cities may begin to turn around to reduce violence on our authority.

John Longenecker operates the Good For The Country Bookstore and he can be reached at John at

Buckeye Firearms Association is a grassroots political action committee dedicated to defending and advancing the right of Ohio citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities.

Buckeye Firearms Association seeks to maximize your rights by endorsing and electing pro-gun candidates on the city, county, and state level, including mayors, sheriffs, legislators, and governor. We also work to defeat anti-gun legislation, pass pro-gun bills, and reform existing laws to benefit all Ohio citizens.

Unlike many anti-gun groups, we do not get our funding or support from wealthy activists or big corporations. We are a non-partisan, all-volunteer organization. Officers and supporters donate their time and skills to the pro-gun cause. Not a single dime from donors is spent on salaries or wasteful overhead. In fact, every penny is used to support political campaigns, influence public opinion, and advance gun rights around Ohio.