WEST ALABAMA CHURCHES, LAW ENFORCEMENT GATHER, DISCUSS STAYING SAFE AT SERVICE

While school safety has moved to the forefront of the gun debate, safety for those practicing religion is still on the minds of many.

Tuesday, BamaCarry hosted a packed seminar on assessing risks, maintaining safety in the church and discussing violence inside places of worship. Law enforcement organizations from around Tuscaloosa County were also there.

More than 20 churches and usher teams were on-hand, learning new and better methods of keeping their parishioners safe in case of an emergency.

In June 2015, Dylann Roof shot and killed nine churchgoers during a bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. In 2017, Devin Kelley opened fire at First Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas, killing 26 people.

“Churches have become soft targets,” said BamaCarry President Paul Arnold. “Most of them are away from places in the country. Even the city churches are isolated from everything.”

One question on many leaders’ minds is should their parishioners carry guns inside their houses of worship?

Blake Corder, an usher at Saint Francis of Assisi University Parish said it’s an idea that needs further discussion.

“I don’t really have an opinion either way,” he said. “It’s a house of god, and I don’t necessarily think we need armed guards walking around. In this day and age, common sense does need to take over and realize that we’re vulnerable there on Sundays.”

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