Doug Clay, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, recently sat down with Dr. Richard Hammar, legal counsel for the Assemblies of God, and Jerry Sparks, President of AGFinancial Insurance, to discuss best practices church leaders can put in place to minimize the risk of an active shooter incident on their church campus. Watch the video of their discussion here.
The recent shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which left 26 dead, has shocked our nation and left many pastors and church leaders wondering how they can prevent such a tragedy from happening in their own churches.
“All people are made in the image of God and deserving of our highest investment to protect their lives and safety,” Dr. Hammar said.
The church has both a moral and ethical duty to create an active shooter policy even in the absence of a legal obligation. While no church can completely eliminate the risk of an armed intruder, these preventive measures may decrease the risk of such an event and possibly even save lives.
Enlisting the help of uniformed officers from local police or sheriff’s departments is one of the best ways to mitigate risk. Having a police car parked visibly outside your church building might be a deterrent to potential criminals. Also consider using law enforcement rather than private security during worship due to their specific training requirements. While the cost of security may seem prohibitive, keep in mind the safety of your members.
Conceal and Carry
You may have members in your congregation with concealed carry permits, who you can enlist as part of your security team. They need to be vetted as well as trained, matching the training that is done by your local law enforcement. If you are going to have volunteers with concealed weapons, you should also have a concealed carry policy to help protect your church from liability.
Click here to learn more about church liability in the event of a shooting.
Take the needed time to create these policies and procedures and put them in place, including ongoing training for those involved. Seek legal and risk management advice from experts, contact local law enforcement and ask for their assistance, and document the steps taken to create the security policy for your church. For more information on how to safely enlist members with conceal and carry permits for your security team, check out this white paper.
While unfortunately there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of a shooting incident in your church, you can put protections in place. Not only do these policies help protect your church and congregation from legal ramifications, but they also demonstrate that your church leadership is doing its best to keep people safe.
For more detail on the legal ramifications of an active shooter situation and the best practices for prevention, click here to watch Dr. Richard Hammar explain how your church can be prepared for a shooting incident.
For more information on other ways to keep your church safe, find our risk management resources here and download our free Church Risk Management Guide.
This information is not legal advice. Information is from sources deemed reliable. Information is subject to error, omission,
withdrawal, or change. Contact your own legal advisor before taking any action that would have a legal consequence.