In light of the recent shooting at The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, many churches are raising concerns about security.
In response to the shooting, Jerry Sparks, president of AGFinancial Insurance Solutions, said, "It's a tragic reality of our world today that churches must consider the possibility of such extreme violence happening on their premises. People want to feel safe when they come to church. It falls on the leadership to create an environment where safety is paramount. You may not be able to prevent a shooting from ever happening, but you can do a lot to increase overall security and be prepared to respond effectively to emergencies."
A common security strategy churches employ is the use of concealed weapons. However, while this may help your congregation feel more secure, it could also have legal implications for your church. If you allow people to carry concealed weapons on your church property, it's important to keep some things in mind.
First and foremost, churches that allow concealed weapons must create a policy to reflect that decision. The policy then needs to be clearly and regularly communicated to church attendees and consistently enforced. A church may decide not to allow concealed weapons on church premises; however, such a policy will likely exclude those whose job requires them to be armed at all times such as law enforcement officers, active military personnel, and other trained government officials.
If a church decides to allow concealed weapons, several aspects need consideration:
- What are the proper licenses and permits required in your state?
- What training should be required?
- How will the church verify that individuals are properly licensed and trained?
- Will the church’s liability insurance cover any accidents that may occur involving a concealed weapon or will they deny the claim?
- How will the church’s liability insurance costs change as a result of the policy?
- What legal precedents have been established from recent cases involving concealed weapons laws?
These are important questions to consider as you address the overall security plan for your church.
For more information about the use of concealed weapons, watch this Risk Mgmt LIVE recording as Jerry Sparks and church law expert Richard Hammar discuss church shootings.
This information is not legal or tax advice. Information is from sources deemed reliable. Information is subject to error, omission, withdrawal, or change. Contact your own legal or tax advisor before taking any action that would have a legal or tax consequence.