How Safe Is Your Place of Worship?

Violence on or around faith-based properties is increasing across our country. The reasons for this increase are likely numerous and complex. Regardless of the reasons, the question needs to be asked; how safe are you and your family at your place of worship?

There have been several high profile incidents in the last year or so. Two examples are the Sutherland Springs Church shooting from November 2017 or more recently, the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburg in October 2018. Both incidents resulted in multiple fatalities and many more injured. In both cases the victims were completely defenseless.

Carl Chinn is a man who has the dubious distinction of being involved in not one violent incident on faith-based property but two. The first involved an armed hostage taker (Chinn was a hostage) at a Focus on the Family facilityin Colorado. The second was a church shooting at New Life Church in Colorado Springs where Chinn was one of the first on scene to confront the killer.

In addition to being a devout man, Chinn is an expert on security at faith-based facilities. He is a speaker with the Sheepdog Seminar organization, which is focused on helping faith-based organizations improve security.

Chinn has compiled data on violent incidents occurring on faith-based properties between 1999 and 2017. Many people would find the numbers surprising.

Most notable is the continued increase in number of incidents and fatalities beginning in 2006 and continuing through 2017.

Violent incidents on faith-based properties are often not motivated by religious issues. Many are the result of domestic violence spillover or of ordinary criminal activity such as assault, robbery, rape, etc.

The common thread through all these incidents is that churches and faith-based facilities are soft targets. People at these locations are generally defenseless and criminals and murderers know this. Incidents often do not occur during services. Victims are often facility staff, attacked while performing their normal work activities.

Given this information, you might consider the following:

  • How safe is your place of worship?– Does leadership consider security issues at all? Is the building physically secure? Are there a number of exits? Is your place of worship a soft target?
  • Does your place of worship have a security team?– Is there a team? Are they trained or just well meaning volunteers? Are they armed? Security that isn’t armed isn’t security. Do they train and practice regularly?
  • Do you have a CCW and do you carry at services?– If not, why? Why don’t you have a CCW and if you do, why don’t you carry at services? Do you carry wherever its legal to do so? If not, why
  • Do you have situational awareness at service?– Do you choose where to sit based on awareness? Are you aware of exit locations? Of cover? Of concealment? Of escape routes? Can you see who is entering and do you notice people?
  • Do you volunteer at your place of worship?– If so, do you consider all of the above?

Violence is a growing problem in our society. While our country as a whole is generally a safe place, innocent people are attacked every day. Incidences of mass violence are increasing. It has nothing to do with firearms! What we are seeing today is a function of our society, having multiple and complex causes. As a society we’ve chosen to not seriously address these causes, so the situation is not likely to change anytime soon.

You are responsible for your personal safety. You are responsible for the safety of your family. Accept your responsibility. Take action.

Anti-gun forces will continue to use incidences of mass violence to attack your rights. If you want to keep your rights defend them by joining San Diego County Gun Owners (SDCGO), the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA), and the National Rifle Association (NRA). Join the fight and help us restore and preserve our second amendment rights. Together we will win.


©2018 Joseph T Drammissi


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