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 2 of 2"
Who in their right mind would carry concealed in church? This week, Pat finishes 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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Okay, my friends and fellow Guardians! This week we’re wrapping up the two-part series that we began last week, where we examine the Strategies, Tactics, and Rules of Engagement necessary as part of what I see as the 3 Possible Conditions of Carrying Concealed in Church.
Condition 1: An Organized Church Security team (RAREST)
Condition 2: An Unorganized or Unofficial Church Security Team (RARE)
Condition 3: You as a ‘Lone Guardian’ (MOST COMMON)
One brief note before we cover the two most likely conditions that you’ll find yourself in, relating to last week’s discussion on Condition 1. We had a man write in who is a police officer and is the leader of a church security team exactly as we described. He concurred with all our points, but added one of his own: Denial of Access. As I compiled last week’s broadcast, it certainly occurred to me that a ‘perfect world’ scenario would be manned entrances, but given the tight schedules of most people I know and the tight budgets of most churches I’ve experienced, I decided not to touch that scenario – instead sticking to the more practical usage of people participating in the service. But, absolutely: If you have the manpower and if your style of worship permits people to move outside of the main sanctuary, the earlier and faster you can catch a threat, the better. If they can be engaged before even entering the sanctuary filled with unarmed worshippers, this would be the ideal scenario.
Our fellow CCU Alumni who wrote in leads an extremely effective team, which communicates using walkie-talkies and ear pieces, and who man perimeter positions – including the main lobby – observing and evaluating people as they approach. This is fantastic. Anyone who works in security for a single location quickly learns who regulars are, and the typical profile to expect from visitors. Anyone who isn’t a regular can be given extra scrutiny, and any strangers who are outside the profile can be given even more.
OK... Now having a full-time church security team supported by your church leader and recognized by your entire congregation is the absolute ideal situation. And if there’s going to be one, you may as well be on it, and if you’re going to be on it you may as well lead it, so for that refer to the previous episode.
But: that is a very unlikely situation because most churches don’t have these teams because there aren’t enough guardians in the congregation and/or because the church
leader doesn’t see the world the way you do and/or because your congregation is largely of the persuasion that if guns should be banned from any place that place would be a place of worship.
That leaves two possible scenarios in which you may find yourself carrying concealed in church.
The next one I want to discuss, which is the second least likely, is what I call the unofficial church security team. This will be a scenario where not only do you carry concealed in church, but so does at least one friend of yours, possibly several. And you may even have the blessing of your church leader, but the congregation is neither aware of the fact that you folks are carrying concealed, nor would they probably be supportive of that fact.
A good example is this: you and a couple of your guardian friends who go to the same church become friends with your pastor. In time you get this individual into guns, you become closer friends, and eventually they begin carrying concealed just like you. Following a few church shootings, this pastor says to you: “Don’t tell anybody I told you about this, but I want you to know that you and Bill and George have my permission to carry concealed here during services. If something happens, it would be great to know that you guys could help out. But again, don’t tell anybody else because I don’t think they would be very comfortable knowing there are loaded firearms in here.”
This situation, first and foremost, demands that you question whether or not you want to put your life and legal future in jeopardy to protect a whole bunch of people who might call the cops on you if they ever found out that you were carrying concealed in church. That’s a tough pill to swallow, much like the pill law enforcement officers are asked to swallow – because they know that any mistake they make is going to out-shadow 10,000 virtuous deeds and 100,000 hours of patrolling streets for the greater good. You will be in the same boat.
Now whether or not you accept this invitation by your pastor to join or form an unofficial security team is totally up to you. But as with every decision we make regarding concealed carry, the important thing is that we know the costs and benefits of each path. These risks of liability increase a bit when you move from an official security team to an unofficial one, because an official security team may enjoy some liability protection from any insurance held by the church itself, or the church may pay their legal fees if liability is incurred while they act in service of the church. (Most churches don’t have the cash for this, which is another reason why official security teams are so rare.)
If you do move forward with this unofficial team, the strategies, tactics, and rules of engagement are very similar to those outlined in the previous Guardian Broadcast – with two main exceptions:
First, it is more likely that you will not have enough manpower to cover all of the entrances into the church, and you won’t exactly be able to stand up in front of the congregation and ask for volunteers. In that case, you simply have to put yourself in the shoes of a potential attacker, and decide what sort of attack is going to be most likely.
From my perspective: If you are a rural church or you exist in a culturally homogenous area, your attacker is more likely to be a single operator who’s ready to die and who’s looking for the juiciest target of opportunity. In that case, I believe it’s more likely that he will enter the rear and begin shooting into the backs of the congregation.
If your church exists in a more culturally contentious area – especially if it’s in a metropolitan area – it becomes increasingly more likely that you will face an actual ideological terrorist attack, in which the attackers are more likely to want to be seen and heard and may then enter toward the front, and in which it becomes more likely that there will be more than one of them.
If manpower is lacking, you can only make an educated guess and cover those entrances as well as you can, while making plans as to how you would deal with a threat that entered from one of the uncovered entrances.
The other great difference between having an official security team and an unofficial security team is that the congregation will be unaware of your ability to respond to a shooter, and uneducated on how to behave if a shooting begins – and therefore you can expect the full spectrum of human behavior from your fellow congregants. Some people will freeze up and sit still in their seats as if nothing is happening. Others will slump over and cover their heads or use their bodies to protect their kids. Some people will dive to the floor. Chairs will be scattered, pews will be blocked. Others will jump to their feet and make for the exits, barreling over and trampling anybody who gets in their way.
What this means for you is a few things.
First, at very least you can expect to not have a clear field of fire into the attackers, because there are going to be a whole lot of bystanders in your way.
Second, if you are seated in an aisle seat (which is where you should be), you are probably going to have a tidal wave of people pushing into you trying to get out.
Third, as you present your pistol or attempt to make a shot, you may have some of your fellow congregants tunnel-vision-in on your weapon and attack you or try to disarm you.
These are all challenges you may face in this unofficial role, and it could get messy.
Otherwise, simply study the previous Guardian Broadcast and do as much education and work with your fellow guardians and your church leader as possible. Run through scenarios at the range, run through scenarios during discussion, meet up at the church when it’s empty to talk your way through scenarios with your team and, especially as you’re sitting there every service, focus on visualization work (during downtime within the service, of course). Try to imagine every scenario possible from where you are sitting and, for each one, imagine several possible ideal ways to respond.
OK, now let’s discuss the third and by far most common scenario in which you may find yourself carrying concealed in church – this is what I call the “lone guardian” situation. This could describe a scenario in which you are the only person you’re aware of who carries concealed in church, or perhaps you have a friend or two who also carries but you definitely do not have anybody’s blessing or permission, and your congregation is definitely unaware that you are carrying concealed.
Now... we all want to be the best guardians we can be. We all want to protect and preserve innocent human life to whatever extent is possible, and we all feel the internal frustration when we see injustice – the weak and the peaceful being trampled on and slaughtered by the unjust.
I totally understand those urges because I am right here with you, but this particular scenario is one where we really need to keep that guardian urge in check.
Effective self-defense is all about correctly and prudently weighing costs and benefits.
The idea of trying to be a one-man security force in as densely packed of a place as a church, when most of those people would not support you in that role, and when – unlike most police officers – you lack any sort of legal representation or liability protection from a governing body — this is definitely a scenario in which the cost of even doing your job well almost always outweighs the benefits.
If that is you, I would encourage you to transition into the same role that you take on during any other family outing: the provider and protector of your family unit, and somebody who would do anything to make sure their lives were not prematurely destroyed.
What I mean is I would ask you to release yourself from any obligation to your fellow congregants. They may be friends, even close friends. But unless they are debilitatingly defenseless, they are also responsible for their own safety and they are choosing not to undergo much of the physical and emotional discomfort that you undergo through carrying concealed. They are not sacrificing all the brainpower and time required to adequately train and prepare themselves.
And while there absolutely may be a time when you are morally culpable to put your life in danger to protect those people, I believe your first responsibility falls on your family. You must get them out of the church and into a safe place – first and foremost – in the event of any catastrophe – whether a fire or a flood or a shooting.
In private, explain to your family how they should react if there’s a shooting, which I believe should be the following:
Every week, sit as close as possible to the entrance that you believe is the least likely to be utilized by an attacker. Ideally, you would sit in the aisle seat nearest the entrance. Your spouse would not sit next to you, but instead at the end of your family unit, with the oldest child next to you and the youngest next to your spouse. On first shots fired, they duck in place in their seats while keeping their eyes on you. You stand up and draw your pistol while keeping it totally concealed under your offhand or jacket. You move to the entrance, cautiously checking that the way is clear, and giving your family a sign to jump up and follow you. Your spouse picks up the youngest child if necessary, and urges or pushes from the rear to get the family unit moving. Your spouse or older children can be drilled ahead of time to take responsibility for the younger children. If anybody is being crushed or trampled on by panicking congregants, deal with that situation – but otherwise lead your family out through the doorway.
Tell them to stay right behind you as you move out of the building while keeping your pistol drawn but concealed. Take them in the exact opposite direction of the shooter, whatever that looks like for your building and scenario. Keep your eyes open for accomplices – make your family aware ahead of time that if anybody ever begins shooting at you or if you ever begin pointing or shooting at anybody else, they are to retreat away from you and take cover until you give the all clear.
Have your spouse drilled to call the police and report the shooting once you are out of the immediate danger and eye and ear attention is no longer necessary. Move your family several blocks away from the incident, and then check everybody over for injuries. If anybody has been shot or is in a critical state, you need to figure out a way to get them to the emergency room, because it is likely that they will not be treated quickly if you stay put. You may be tempted to return to the scene to get your vehicle, and in certain circumstances that may be the best option for you, but probably not – it will probably be wiser to begin pounding on doors until you find somebody willing to drive you or lend you their car. Throw them your watch, your cash, your driver’s license – whatever it takes to get your kid or spouse to the emergency room if they’re critically injured.
If there are no life-threatening injuries, only once their safety is 100% guaranteed should you even begin to entertain the idea of heading back to the scenario with your weapon. HOWEVER: I can only think of a couple hypotheticals in which this would ever be wise.
I know it may sound ruthless or cold to totally disregard all of your other congregants. And I’m aware that Christ teaches us full, self-giving love – that we should be willing to lay down our life for our friends. I’m also aware of the doctrine of martyrdom – people who suffer and submit to death in the name of Christ being sanctified through that.
But you have to keep in mind that when you have a family, things change. Your life does not belong to you anymore. Your life completely belongs to your spouse and it completely belongs to each one of your children. And in order for them to be willing to give you up to protect other people requires knowledge and wisdom that a child is simply incapable of. In short, I don’t think there is any possible virtue in getting yourself killed trying to protect other
people that outweighs the virtue of keeping yourself alive so that your children have a father or a mother, and so that your spouse has a husband or wife.
I may be wrong – I may be as cold-hearted as some people have told me that I am. But I don’t think so.
And therefore, the key here – the key to being a good and effective lone guardian in church who feels called to protect others – lies in the things that you do ahead of time.
For example, if there are any people in the church who you feel a duty to protect, you need to make sure that they are sitting by you and your family, and you need to make sure that they are up to speed with how they should behave and who they should follow in the event of a shooting. If they are disabled, a member of your family needs to be responsible for leading them out, because you need to stay agile and prepared to fight as you move away from the scene.
If that is not enough to satisfy your conscience, then I would challenge you to assemble a convincing argument and begin meeting with your church leaders regularly in an attempt to pass on advice that would make your church a harder target. This could mean the prioritization and installment of cameras and security systems, it could mean a policy where all the doors except for one are locked during service, or it could even mean arguing for the creation of either an unofficial or official church security team. If you only meet with dead ends, then you should be especially satisfied that you have done your part and revert to the role of the prudent lone guardian.
In short, my challenge here is that the protocol for protecting your family and church as a loan guardian is no different whatsoever than the protocol for protecting your family while you are watching a movie in a theater, or while you are relaxing at a park, or while you are shopping in a mall. In every one of these scenarios, there may be 3 or 4 out of 1,000 potential situations in which the best response is for you to move toward gunfire while sending your family in the other direction. But for the other 997 likely scenarios, your duty is always going to be to stick with and stay alive for your family.
And no matter what sort of carnage you leave behind, provided that you get your family out of there safely, I can almost guarantee you that you will never suffer any deep regrets. At least no regrets that would come anywhere close to those that you stand to suffer in the alternative. For proof of this, one has to visualize no further than imagining pushing your family out a side exit while you turn back to engage a threat, engaging him successfully without being injured yourself, only to learn a few minutes later that a second shooter massacred your entire family just outside the building.
You gained nothing in that situation, you gave the shooter the death he came looking for; you did him a favor. And yet – you lost everything.
Be wise, my fellow guardians – and stay safe.
And please – if you enjoy these guardian broadcasts and if you enjoy the process of developing and perfecting your own survival mindset, then please look no further than my brand-new release, 3 Seconds From Now: Decisions Under Fire.
The response to this program has been like nothing else I’ve been a part of, and as a Concealed Carry University alumni you have a chance to ‘get in on the ground floor’ for a price that you will never see or find it anywhere else. The price of Concealed Carry University curriculum doesn’t change. It doesn’t depreciate as years go by because this education will be as valuable in 20 years as it is today. And so now is the time to get on board with this education if you want it, and if your goals and motivations are where I think they are.
What is 3 Seconds From Now: Decisions Under Fire? It is your applied self-defense and continued education rolled into one. It is the most effective way to learn how to think and act under stress – the most effective way to become an effective guardian.
In many of the defensive-use-of-force cases that we study, fewer than three seconds pass between the victim becoming aware of the presence of a threat, and a deadly force entering the equation. Survival and success depend on recognizing that it is not enough to only carry a gun and know how to shoot. Real survival and real success begin in the mind.
In this program, you will see people who are experts with their weapons make terrible decisions that – in some cases – cost them their lives. YOU will learn to avoid these mistakes.
Stay safe, and God be with you. Until next week.