Church leaders debate security after Texas mass shooting
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - As investigators continue to comb through evidence from Sunday's mass shooting at a Texas church, religious leaders have different views on whether armed security should be inside services.
"By all means, I urge every church to see that they have armed security, not merely armed, but trained armed security," said Dr. Paige Patterson, Ph.D., who is President of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas.
"We can't weaponize ourselves in the place of worship," said Rev. Willie Gable who is Pastor of New Orleans's Progressive Baptist Church. "It certainly was tragic in terms of what happened in Texas but I'm just one that firmly believes that we have to you know display our faith, our trust in God. I don't carry a gun and we're in a neighborhood where there's been violence."
"I hope we don't get to that point, but one must wonder and also it brings up I think a larger question, how do so many people have guns and use them irresponsibly and how do people who have mental illnesses get guns and use them to kill people," said Rev. Gregory Aymond, the Archbishop of New Orleans.
A Tulane University security expert we spoke with says it's likely other churches will also start taking a closer look at their security plans.
"Some of the social media websites that I look at, I've already seen people saying I'll train your security because there are special laws and there are special statutes about carrying weapons inside a church, you have to have some sort of certification, you've got to have some sort of training and things of that nature but, what my fear is, they're going to give somebody a gun and say okay go stand guard at the church, no training, nothing like that," said Tulane security expert Robert Allen.
He says church members and others shouldn't be afraid to live their lives but he does recommend being aware of your surroundings.
"No, do not be afraid, just be aware of what's going on around you, when you walk into a place know where the exits are, know what's going on, have that situational awareness, I preach that continuously, some people think they want to be armed and things of that nature, I'll never tell anybody don't carry a gun but if you do make sure you're trained, make sure you're proficient, make sure you know what you're doing," said Allen.
Allen says the most crucial thing you can do to protect yourself and others is to know first aid. He recommends learning how to apply a tourniquet so you can help someone until first responders arrive.
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