LIVINGSTON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - The mass shooting in Texas last week has a lot of Louisiana religious leaders taking action to beef up security, and one Louisiana sheriff is ready to help them under provisions in a seven-year-old state law.
"It's unfortunate. I hate to see the things we've seen across our country," said Sheriff Jason Ard of Livingston Parish.
After shootings in distinctly different places like Las Vegas and a small church in Sutherland Springs, TX, it appears people of faith are ready to take steps to protect their congregations.
"We have been basically on the phone since we put this email out the last three days nonstop," said Ard.
Under Louisiana law you must undergo an eight-hour training course before you can carry a weapon into a church or synagogue, and it appears many are ready to sign up to protect their flocks.
"It really is sad but this changes the way we look at things every day," said Ard.
Ard appears to be the first person in the state to step up to offer a special eight-hour training to allow someone to carry a gun into a place of worship. And he has been deluged with more than 100 phone calls.
"We go over basic firearm safety use-of-force training you need to understand with use of force is," said Ard,
Though the sheriff says response has been strong, the issue of bringing guns in the church spurs debate.
"We can't weaponize ourselves in a place of worship," said Rev. Willie Gable of new Orleans.
But Dr. Paige Patterson, who heads the Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary, said, "By all means, I urge every church to get trained, armed security."
Entry into the church security class is fairly simple. all one needs is a concealed carry permit and permission from your pastor.
"I'll accept anyone from any parish," said Ard.
The training is fairly straightforward. It will be conducted by two deputies who will work on their own time.
"We do scenarios and help them make a plan help them understand the law and liability," said Ard
The first class of 20 congregants wanting to provide armed security at their place of worship begins in just over one week.
"We have a duty to help citizens, and we have a high demand for this," said Ard.
And Ard says he's ready to help out.
The sheriff said the eight-hour training will be conducted in two four-hour sessions at a cost of $125 per student.