By Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
Colorado –-(Ammoland.com)- We left the small-town life of Altus, Oklahoma to move to the big city of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
I knew things were going to change, and I knew we were headed back into the higher crime rate of a city, but I was not expecting shootings on church properties on Sunday.
I was not expecting to have adults, while in training to dedicate their lives and efforts to missionary work be gunned down in the middle of the night at their own dormitory. I was not expecting to have evil people, with multiple firearms lie in waiting to murder church-going folks as they departed the perceived safety of their religious sanctuary: shot and left dying on the tarmac in the freezing snow of a church parking lot.
I am an old retired cop and an infantry trained officer, but I guess I must be a little naive. In my heart I hope, when I go to church, that it will be a peaceful experience, short of the minister’s sermon that day. I am not really expecting to have an outbreak of violence in the church during the service.
But I must tell you that, even while stationed in small town Altus America, I still did the typical “cop” thing and always sat in the back of the church. I wanted to be able to see everyone coming in and to have a view of the congregation during the service.
I always got to church early to make sure my usual seat was waiting there for me. I am a boring old Methodist, and we don’t make national news very often. Do you know what I think? I like it that way.
Sometimes low-profile means the bad guys are not paying too much attention to you. So now we have to worry about the evil of man at church and during all the increased activities of the Christmas season. And it is evil.
I don’t really care what the shooter’s personal problems are, or in his case was (an off-duty cop shot and killed that destroyer of human life), I am more concerned with the innocent dead and their surviving family members. I am concerned with the church family that has to deal with the tragic loss of members. I am concerned with the fear this act of evil will cause, be permeated through the congregation. There is enough suffering and sorrow in life, sometimes you just want a safe and friendly place to go to and be among “good.”
The New Life Church of Colorado Springs, where the second shooting happen, was lucky in that they had armed security on the church campus and had a plan to deal with violence. But does it strike you odd that you would even need weapons in the hands of your church members to maintain the peace of your Sunday services?
There again is my naïveté and I am the old cop, so how does the average church-going member think? Oklahoma has a concealed weapons carry permit law, but I never bothered applying for one during the early days of our Air Force tour at Altus. When I found out we were moving to the big city and that Colorado honored Oklahoma permits I went ahead and got mine. I must admit I am glad I did, and sadly, I do not go anywhere without a firearm on or near me.
Now I have to consider if I need to start carrying one to church services. Evil, destructive people are forcing me to change the way I go about my daily life. So what is normal now, the good guys having to carry guns to church?
Do I now have to include in my prayers, “Lord please make me a good shot so I can defend my family in your house?”
I fear and dread violence, but I am trained for it and even in the senior part of my life I can make the right, hard decisions to confront evil in society. What about the average citizen who is not ready to withstand the “wolf” at the door? Are we to be forced to check through the handbags of the little old ladies coming into the church, not to see if they are carrying a handgun, but to scold them if they have failed to have a weapon at the ready? Does every adult have to venture out onto the streets of our society always alert to deal with evil and the violence that it brings?
The answer is, you have got to be prepared to confront it or at the least get out of the line of fire. Sometimes the lamb has to fight. This column was written in 2007.
On Sunday night 5 Aug 2012 I was posted as a Cudahy (Wisconsin) auxiliary police officer in the front of “evil’s” home, Wade Page’s home. Page the man who had shot to death six members of the Oak Creek WI, Sikh Temple. After the FBI SWAT team had cleared Page’s residence I stood in that front yard as the FBI technicians removed evidence of mass murder.
Evil lived in the 3700 block of Holmes Ave, Cudahy WI, my new home town–murder on Sunday.
About Major Van Harl USAF Ret.
Major Van E. Harl USAF Ret., is a career Police Officer in the U.S. Air Force was born in Burlington, Iowa, USA, in 1955. He was the Deputy Chief of police at two Air Force Bases and the Commander of Law Enforcement Operations at another. Now retired, these days he enjoys camping, traveling, volunteering with the Girl Scouts and writing.