The Guardian Broadcast
"Providing Concealed Carry & Armed Self-Defense Wisdom."
A podcast by Patrick Kilchermann, founder of the Concealed Carry University.
"The 3 Conditions of Carrying Concealed in Church, Part 1 of 2"
Who in their right mind would carry concealed in church? This week, Pat begins a 2-part series exploring the 3 conditions in which a private citizen may find him or herself carrying concealed in church.
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Hello and welcome to this week’s Guardian Broadcast. I am the founder of Concealed Carry University and your host here, Patrick Kilchermann.
This week I want to talk about concealed carry in churches.
While the laws are still different for most jurisdictions requiring you to research them for yourself, in many places it’s becoming more and more acceptable to carry in church, provided you’ve obtained the permission of your pastor, who the law generally recognizes as the chief administrator of a church. If you are a protestant, this is your minister or preacher or pastor. If you are a Catholic, this is the primary priest at your parish, provided your Bishop has not issued a blanket statement on concealed carry for all churches within his diocese.
Who in their right mind would carry concealed in a church? Why would anybody ever want to do that? The answer lies within the reality which history has shown us: the fact that active shooters and terrorists tend to prefer targets that are as soft as possible. Look at the 21-year-old murderer from Charleston, South Carolina – this twisted punk claimed to have a problem with violent felons. And yet rather than going into a troubled part of town to pick a fight with drug dealers, what did he do? He went to the only place where he was guaranteed an array of passive, unarmed victims, and for 45 minutes he sat in a prayer group with these high-quality citizens, too much of a coward to even look them in the eye or say a single word to them. Only when they stood up and closed their eyes to pray did he have the guts to stand up and begin firing.
This is why somebody in their right mind would consider carrying concealed in a church: because the softer the target, the more likely it is to be targeted. Now, ANY discussion on self-defense must always be kept within the correct and healthy perspective. So here I must acknowledge that church shootings are still rarer than fatal lightning strikes, but that doesn’t mean we should fly kites during storms, and I don’t think you’ll see police stations beginning to let down their guards any time soon. Neither should we.
Given that, if you have permission to carry in your church or if you don’t need it, carrying concealed in church is not as simple as carrying while out and about. There are a few critical “Concealed Carry University” level strategic and tactical concerns that we must consider – primarily, which of the following scenarios, or ‘conditions’ if you will, exists within your church.
The first and most common scenario is that you are the lone guardian. You are with your family, and there may be other members of the congregation who are carrying concealed but you don’t know for sure and/or you are not close with them. You are the lone guardian. You either have permission, don’t need it, or don’t care. I’m not encouraging anyone to break a law – only recognizing what’s out there.
The second possible condition is that you and a few of your friends or acquaintances do carry in church with some regularity. You are all mentally aligned enough to have discussed some of the recent shootings and possibly even what you would each do in the event that a gunman entered your church and started killing people. However, as part of this second condition, most of the congregation and maybe even the pastor are unaware that you folks are carrying, and frankly they probably couldn’t handle it if they did know. Furthermore, there is probably zero or little coordination between you and your fellow Guardians.
And finally, there is the least common situation or condition in which you are carrying concealed in your church, and if this describes you – you are very fortunate. Within this condition, several of you do carry concealed and you’re each aware, you have talked about potential deadly force situations as a group, perhaps you have even shot together, your pastor has given you his blessing and has even asked you to consider yourselves the unofficial or official church security team, and a good number or even all of the congregation is aware of that fact.
Those are the three conditions. If you carry in church, decide now which defines your situation. This is important, because each of the conditions yield a drastically different set of strategies, tactics, and rules of engagement that you’ll be wise to follow, should the worst ever happen in your place of worship.
Let’s discuss these strategies and tactics and rules of engagement now beginning with the most ideal situation – a situation in which you have been asked to be a part of the covert or overt security team within your church.
If you accept this role, it is important for you to understand that you are no longer carrying concealed as a private citizens for the purpose of personal protection. Instead, you really do have to look at your time with a gun in church has being an active and proactive member of a real security team. Because you have accepted this role, your primary responsibility is no longer yourself and your family – but instead you now have a real responsibility for the unarmed members of your congregation. Personally, I don’t like this. The people in your congregation have as much responsibility to self-protection as you do, and they have chosen to disregard or outsource that. They have asked you to put yourself in danger and leave your family unguarded as you try to protect them. If you accidently shoot one of them while trying to shoot a murderer, there is a good chance they will team up to throw you under the bus...hard. Even if you succeed in shooting the murderer and save a bunch of their lives, they still might resent you for putting them in more perceived danger. For these reasons, I would have to be much more bonded to my fellow church-goers than I am in order to accept a role like this.
But still: many people are part of security teams like this, and in the future they may become more necessary than they are now. And so provided you are OK with the warnings I just laid out, then you are clear to follow the simple strategies and tactics that any building security team follows.
First, I would encourage you to take as much control of this security team as you feel confident with. If you are here, you are probably one of the wiser members of this team, or at least you would be with some more specific training. Feel free to reach out to me by replying to any of the emails that I ever send. If there’s enough demand, I can shoot a private video free of charge where we cover more building and church security tactics. But the first step is to take control by taking leadership.
Second, get your people to move to the entrances. If you choose to sit isolated in the middle of the congregation, you’re not helping anybody. Have your people move to the outside perimeter of the seating, and sit on the outside row where they will have the freedom to get up and begin moving around without obstruction.
Every entrance should be covered. Hopefully you have enough people to do this – if not, and because your church has a proclaimed security team, try to recruit more. Ideally you would have at least one body covering every entrance. Assign and reserve seating for them and their family four or five rows behind each side entrance door, giving them a clear field of view and fire on anybody who walks in or out of those doors. You don’t want them to sit directly across from or in front of the doors, because if somebody busts in and starts shooting, you do not want your security personnel to be the first ones hit, and you don’t want them to have to try to draw their pistols within plain sight of a shooter. The overall congregation is going to suffer far fewer casualties if your security personnel is sitting back from the doors 10 or 12 feet.
This strategy works well for side entrances and small doors, but if the rear end of your church is nothing but doors as mine is, you will need a few people in the back. For a church that is 90 feet wide, you would want one armed person sitting in the back row on each corner, and at least one directly in the middle pews next to the center aisle.
Next, you’ve got to make sure that every single member of the security team knows their duty. Their primary duty is to cover the entrance that they are assigned to. If shooting begins in the opposite corner, they must not forget that their primary duty is still to cover their particular entrance. They have to count on their teammate from that sector dealing with that threat until they are certain that no accomplices are going to enter through their assigned entrance. You can imagine somebody jumping up and running 45 feet to help out their teammate, only to have an accomplice active shooter pop out from their door. Now they’re out of pistol range and many people will suffer.
Next, you should take it on as your duty to put pressure on each individual on your team to develop themselves through their mindsets, training, equipment as much as they are able. You don’t want somebody with a Ruger LCP covering one of your entrances. This is serious work and it requires serious tools.
Similarly ineffectual would be to have somebody prone to skittishness or hesitation to cover an entrance. Make a membership on your team something to be earned, not a right. If you are hearing this, then there’s a good chance you already have copies of some of my Concealed Carry University curriculum pieces. If you have a copy of the Complete Guide, then by all means pass it around to the members of your security team. Or you can, schedule a public viewing with your whole team where you watch 60 minutes as a group every couple weeks and then discuss it for another 60 minutes until you feel that you are all on the same page. And of course, take them to the range and get a feel for their abilities and bring them up to your level as much as you can. It won’t be hard – this is not going to be a moving and shooting scenario – this is mostly going to be a standing and firing scenario. If they can develop good, smooth, discrete draws with their formal church clothing and develop their combat accuracy, they will be useful to you and the rest of the congregation.
Next, talk to your pastor. Make sure that he knows, since he is the leader of the church and has a microphone, his primary role is to instruct all the other congregants to get down and stay down in the event of a shooting. The safest place for them is going to be to duck and huddle out of vision between the rows of seats in the pews, and to let the security team take care of the threats. The worst thing they can do is stand up or try to run out and pile out of exits. They’re only going to get gunned down or caught in a crossfire. The pastor should be prepared to bring up this sensitive topic to the congregation, and in the event of a shooting, to take cover himself while shouting through his mic, ”everybody get down and stay down, get down and stay down, get down and stay down.” If your pastor needs help in bringing this sensitive topic up to the congregation, send him my way or share with him a script like this:
“Everybody, I do not want to alarm you, I just want you to know that as your pastor I feel somewhat responsible not only for your spiritual well-being, but your physical well-being, and so I want to issue two reminders. If there is ever a fire and the fire alarms begin going off, you will hear my voice over the speaker asking you to calmly stand up and make your way towards the nearest exit, and the professionals will arrive and handle the situation. In the event of another sort of crisis, such as if somebody comes in and begins shooting a gun, then the best thing for you to do is to simply get down and out of sight. There are professionals such as off duty and retired police officers here in our congregation who have been trained to handle a situation like this and so you should not worry. You can help them and save as many lives as possible by simply ducking out of sight and staying there until you hear my voice telling you that it is safe to get up and leave the building.”
Finally, just two more notes. If your church has a choir loft such as with many historic churches, your security team cannot disregard the tactical supremacy of that loft – both from a defensive and offensive perspective. The best place to attack that church is going to be from the choir loft with a rifle. And therefore, the best place to defend that church is also going to be from the choir loft with a rifle. If at all possible: pool your money and buy a high- quality rifle safe with an electronic combination lock. Change this combination every few months, but by all means, keep a loaded carbine or ranch rifle in the safe. Have a security team member with a concealed pistol worship from the choir loft, with the understanding that they are going to have the clearest field of fire to probably any of the entrances exits, and should something happen, the rifle is the best tool for this job.
They will need to be able to perform precision shots. They should also understand however that if there ever is an attack, they have a good chance of directly encountering the threat before anybody else, because if this violent criminal has studied your church’s floor plan at all, which he most certainly has, there’s a good chance that he will know about and have selected the loft as a good firing position. For that reason, access to the loft would ideally be prohibited by a locked door.
Finally, it would be my recommendation for any organized security team that one member also keeps a carbine loaded and locked in a safe or scabbard and cable tied to be nonoperational and hidden in their personal vehicle. He should be given a reserved parking space with a clear view of the main entrance and exit to the church. Every morning a few minutes before service lets out and people begin spilling cheerfully out of the doors, this individual could go and sit in their vehicle with open eyes. There’s always the chance that somebody will be waiting for that moment to open fire on the crowd, and this person would by far have the best opportunity and advantage of engaging and shutting that attack down quickly.
Okay, this is all related to the first and most advantageous scenario in which you carry concealed in church. Next week, we’ll discuss the final two conditions where several of you carry but are not organized, and then the scenario where you are a lone guardian. In these scenarios, as you’ll see, the rules of engagement are drastically different, and will focus very heavily on disengagement and prioritizing protecting your family and getting your family out of the building.
As a final parting shot for the church security teams, I want to say: I realize this all sounds like a lot at once. However, this is the name of the game. It doesn’t have to be stressful whatsoever. Effective self-defense in the Concealed Carry University way depend on incorporating ‘systems’ or ‘habits’ into your life that increase your ability to avoid and respond to violence. Church security is the same. Once these systems are put in place, none of these church security personnel will ever likely feel that they are giving a second thought to security; primarily their focus will remain on worshipping God.