How to Secure America's
Houses of Worship

By David Burnett. Jan 3, 2022

In 2009, an armed schizophrenic man walked into First Baptist Church in Maryville, Ill., during Sunday services. He confronted and fatally shot Rev. Fred Winters as Winters preached from the pulpit. Winters unsuccessfully tried to shield himself with his Bible, which exploded into confetti. The murderer then stabbed two other parishioners and himself before being apprehended.

Most of us also remember the 2019 murders at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, where a murderer opened fire during Sunday morning service. A livestream video shows Jack Wilson draw his handgun and kill the sociopath with a single shot. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, right, presented the Governor’s Medal of Courage in 2020 to Jack Wilson, who shot and killed a murderer at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas, on Dec. 29, 2019.

Stories like these illustrate the rare but serious problem of murderers who target churches—and the particular challenges that face anyone confronting this problem. Houses of worship strive to be open and inviting; they are places of refuge for the vulnerable and needy; their doors are often left unlocked; strangers are welcome. They are places where violence should be unthinkable.

Unfortunately, those conditions are ripe for a violent mentally ill person or a terrorist to target, as illustrated by the 2016 arrest of an ISIS sympathizer who plotted a church massacre in Michigan and boasted, “It’s easy, and a lot of people go there. Plus, people are not allowed to carry guns in church.”

Unfortunately, crimes against church congregations are too common. In 2019, the FBI recorded thousands of assaults, vandalisms and burglaries in houses of worship, as well as dozens of kidnappings and nine homicides. .....

Here, and as with schools and other places the need for the ability to carry is paramount. Vulnerability is only increased radically by a lack of armed potential in the event of a lethal attack, when seconds count.


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