At The Hill: “It’s time for more parishioners to lock and load when they go to church”

Nov 14, 2017 | Featured

With all the discussions of whether people should carry their permitted concealed handguns with them to church, Dr. John Lott has this new piece in The Hill newspaper.  The article starts this way:

There are simply too many targets for police to be able to guard everyone. And even when they are in the right place at the right time, an officer’s uniform is like a neon sign saying, “Shoot me first.”

It’s also not realistic to keep terrorists and criminals from getting weapons. The war on guns has been as much of a failure as the war on drugs. Terrorists can also resort to homemade bombs, and have lately made a habit of using vehicles as weapons.

What happens when background checks on gun purchases inevitably fail to stop these killers from attacking? What is the backup plan?

Shortly after the attack at the Sutherland Springs church on Nov. 5, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) warned: “This is going to happen again, and so we need people in churches — either professional security, or at least arming some of the parishioners or the congregation — so that they can respond if something like this… when something like this happens again.”

An article in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday discussed how parishioners across the country are starting to carry permitted concealed handguns at church.

Paxton isn’t alone in his view that people have to take responsibility for their own safety. Ron Noble, the Secretary General of INTERPOL from 2000 to 2014, cautioned that even with “extraordinary security,” it would be virtually impossible to keep weapons out of soft targets. This means that only the terrorists will have weapons.

Permit holders have stopped dozens of would-be mass public shootings in malls, churches, schools, universities and town centers. Gun control advocates perennially fear that a permit holder will accidentally shoot a bystander, or that a police officer will accidentally harm a permit holder. But this has never happened in a mass public shooting.

Permit holders are also incredibly law-abiding. According to my research, Americans as a whole commit crimes 37 times more frequently than do police officers, but police themselves commit crimes at seven times the rate of permit holders in Florida and Texas.

The heroic actions of Stephen Willeford on Nov. 5 are a testament to the power of a good guy with a gun. He saved many lives at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The killer, Devin Kelley, was circling back to shoot the wounded when Willeford showed up with a rifle. Willeford’s fast actions stopped Kelley’s attack, saving the lives of the twenty wounded and possibly many more.

But Willeford isn’t alone. Permit holders have stopped some other church attacks over the last decade. For example:

  • Antioch, Tenn., Sept. 24, 2017: A shooter, Emanuel Kidega Samson, killed one and injured seven others. But the attack could have been much worse. An usher, Robert Engle, first tried unsuccessfully to wrestle the Samson, a very large bodybuilder. But Samson was slightly injured in the skirmish, giving Engle a chance to retrieve his permitted concealed handgun from his car. Engle went back into the church and managed to hold the attacker at gunpoint until police arrived. . . .

The rest of the article is available here.

Here is a church in Upstate New York that just announced that it is making it clear to attackers that parishioners will be defending themselves.  From Fox News:

After the tragic church shooting in Texas, an Upstate New York church is encouraging parishioners to bring their guns to Sunday worship services.

“We say it again. We are not a gun-free zone,” reads a sign in front of Lighthouse Mexico Church of God, which is located in Oswego County about 30 miles north of Syracuse.

Pastor Ronald Russell said he wanted to remind people of the open-carry policy and send a strong message that an attack like what occurred in Texas last Sunday is not going to happen in his church.

A church in Tampa, Florida has posted a sign saying that the parishioners in the church are armed.

So says a sign at the church, at 3738 River International Drive in Tampa, that delivers a stark warning to anyone thinking of wreaking havoc.


The message is signed “THE PASTORS.”

The sign at the 21-year-old church was put up about a year ago, said Associate Pastor Allen Hawes.

But it made a recent splash on social media when Senior Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne posted it on his Instagram account in the wake of the deadly church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, that killed 26 and wounded another 20. . . .

UPDATE: New York Jewish Week headline: “Even Rabbis Are Carrying,” January 23, 2019

And, said a Chabad rabbi, people with gun licenses who attend various Chabad events there have been encouraged to bring their firearms with them. . . .

Who’s packing? It’s a question an increasing number of Jews are asking these days. At your shul, it could be many people.

A growing number of congregations in this country are no longer “no-carry” zones, and those bearing firearms within their buildings include, according to anecdotal reports, members with gun licenses who bring their guns to shul — even on Shabbat. . . .



  1. John Morgan

    Re: the Las Vegas shooting:
    After all the time that’s pasted, why have the responsible investigators and the media failed to describe the weapons used (not stockpiled) by Paddock?
    Is this an inconvenient question to those who know, or should know the answer?

    • johnrlott

      Possibly more detail could be provided, but it seems that we do have enough detail to have reasonable discussions on this. What are you looking for in particular?

  2. Gordon Couger

    The frequency of Church shooting seem to be high enough to go into business making armored pulpits with pop up gun storage for a Mossberg riot gun and an AR-15. I know preachers that would buy one if they could afford it. They have shotgun are rifle close at hand as well a concealed. pistol while they preach. They encourge other to carry in church.

    If you carry a gun carry it all the time. If you can tell when you need it bring a shotgun or rifle so you have a better chance.