The Church takes security seriously. There is a dedicated security team that has several members at each service. Some members carry openly, some carry discreetly.
There is nearly always double coverage as most security team members serve at one service and attend worship at another.
Team members switch between open carry and discreet carry as is convenient.
An open carrier with a Glock in a retention holster on his belt is making a purchase at the Church snack counter.
Members of the security team have a high percentage of active, former, and retired military and police. The Church is located less than a mile from the Marine Corps Air Station. Yuma Proving Grounds is only 20 miles away, and most people who work there live in Yuma.
Yuma is a favored retirement area for members of the military, many of whom became familiar with the area while on active duty. Arizona is a state the supports the Second Amendment. It is a Constitutional Carry or permitless carry state. No permit is required to carry, openly or discretely, if you are 21 years old. 18 to 20-year-olds carry openly without a permit.
The members of the security team maintain contact over a radio net. In addition to designated areas of responsibility, some members rove the entire complex and parking lots during services.
The exact percentage of the membership with military or police experience is unknown. While assigned to roving duty, I have counted the number of vehicles parked facing out, as a percentage of the overall number of parked vehicles. Parking facing out is known as “combat parking“.
All members of military and police forces are taught to combat park, for safety and operational reasons. Combat parking does not take any more time than parking face in because the vehicle has to be backed out if it is parked face in.
Combat parking allows for speedy and safe movement away from the parking area if necessary. Most accidents are backing accidents. Backing accidents are more common backing out than backing in. Once combat parking becomes a habit, it tends to stick.
On Sunday, when the rifle picture was taken, the 19th of November, 2017, 27 percent of the vehicles parked for Church services were combat parked. The percentage of combat parked vehicles has been consistently between 25 and 30 percent for the last couple of years.
Many Church members who are not on the security team also carry, both openly and discretely. While the number who carry discretely is difficult to determine, several members that I did not know were armed, confided to me that they were armed at the church on a regular basis. Occasionally, I am able to “make” a church member that is not too concerned about the necessity of concealment while carrying discretely. It is easy to adopt a casual attitude when there is no legal penalty for such a minor indiscretion.
©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30-year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.