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Sutherland Springs Church, Texas shooting scene Photo credit: Nick Wagner / Austin American-Statesman via AP
Sutherland Springs shooting scene.JPG
Sutherland Springs Church, Texas shooting scene Photo credit: Nick Wagner / Austin American-Statesman via AP
Church News

Research reveals most US churches have an active shooter plan

by Tola Mbakwe

A new survey has found that most churches in the United States have an intentional plan if a gunman enters the building.

LifeWay Research found that almost 2 in 3 (62 percent) protestant pastors say their church has a strategy to execute if an active shooter situation happens during a service.

The research also revealed the debate on whether church members should be armed during services remains divided.

Forty-five percent of pastors say part of their security measures include having armed church members. Meanwhile, 6 per cent say they have uniformed police officers on the premises.

Twenty-seven per cent of churches have a zero tolerance policy of firearms in the church.

Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research said: "Most churches understand this and have responded in some way.

"Churches are some of the most common gatherings in any community, and that makes them targets."

The surveys of 1,000 protestant pastors and 1,002 American churchgoers was conducted before the most recent high profile shooting in the United States.

In December 2019 a gunman killed two people at a Texas church before being was shot to death by congregants who fired back.

According to Lifeway Research, 19 fatal shootings have taken place at Christian churches in the US since 2000, while gunmen have also taken lives at other religious sites like Jewish synagogues, a Sikh temple and an Amish school.

When churchgoers were asked how safe they would feel if a uniformed policeman or security guard was working at their church, 37 per cent said it would make them feel "much more safe".

The survey found churches with 250 or more in attendance are the most likely to say they have armed private security personnel (43 per cent} or uniformed police officers (26 per cent).

McConnell added: "Any organisation that has relatively large gatherings of people has a responsibility for the safety of those gathered.

"In considering security, church leaders have to consider methods, costs, risks and how those safety measures potentially impact their ministry."

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