EDITOR'S COMMENTARY

Security From a Higher Power

It is my hope that campus violence and shootings aren’t becoming so mainstream news that we forget or dismiss how divisive and tragic a shooting will be seen. A shooting or untimely death of any kind is proportionately tragic. We often report online and later in print concerning campus security and campus shootings when they happen. We have not intentionally skipped houses of worship, and it certainly demands that we include them in our reporting, printing of news and our Campus Security Summits.

So, who is that higher power? In my mind it will be those people who fill the pews of the chapel, the synagogue, the mosque and other houses of worship each day. It will take education, solutions and technology.

On Dec. 13, 2019, a maligned person with evil intent entered a church sanctuary. No one wants to see this kind of news slid along the landscape; however, the gunman opened fire. Two people were killed before an armed parishioner stopped the man. The parishioner has been hailed as a hero. He is part of the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Texas.

Church members had gone to extreme lengths to ensure order and security inside the walls of the church. Part of the plan was to ensure that members were aware of people who seemingly didn’t belong. Others were armed to preserve the security of others.

Do guns belong in houses of worship? While that is not for me to decide, I have thought of a plan if such an incident were to take place in my church. I do wonder if I could react quick enough to save lives. I think churches have an obligation to discuss such matters with their congregations. What to do in case a deranged person enter the chapel with maligned intent. The higher power lies within each of us to save our family and our fellow worshipers.

My first thoughts would be to my family. It would become imperative to get those closest to me hidden and on the ground underneath a pew. Since we sit in the same place each week, I have looked around for the nearest exit or safe hiding place. As a family, we have talked about this. Our conversation is to get into a room and block the door.

Because I think I’m some sort of hero, my plan is to grab as many hymnals and start throwing in the direction of a shooter. In my minds’ eye, I feel that I’m still young and virile enough to jump from pew to pew to take the person to the ground. We all know that isn’t happening, but the point is as individuals, in this type of scenario, each person is the higher power.

Like him or not, President Trump has signed a bill authorizing $375 million in grant money for houses of worship to defend against violence amid rising hostility against religion. As he said: “It’s crazy; what’s going on is crazy.”

This article originally appeared in the March April 2020 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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