Weapon Types and Laws
From the Bible
Warriors in the Old Testament learned how to use their weapons, then developed their skills through practice.
When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them ... (Genesis 14:14).
He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze (2 Samuel 22:35 and Psalm 18:34).
It was only in order that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, to teach war to those who had not known it before (Judges 3:2).
Esau was a skillful hunter (Genesis 25:27).
They were bowmen and could shoot arrows and sling stones with either the right or the left hand ... (1 Chronicles 12:2).
When we learn to drive, we also learn to check the oil and have it changed regularly, check the tires, turn the lights off when we get out, etc. This is besides learning how to operate the vehicle and follow the rules of the road. We learn to be safe drivers and to take good care of our vehicles.
It should be that way with weapons. Learn how to use them, how to take care of them, and how to own, carry, and use them legally. Those are the requirements not only for firearms, but in some states for other weapons, too - even pepper spray.
In the News
Omaha, Nebraska, August 2020 - E. Johnson, a life-long gun enthusiast, retired from his job on the East Coast, and moved to Nebraska. There he specializes in training churches' "life safety teams" in defending their flocks. He finds "that regular, focused training is a vital element for any church starting a life safety team." This includes training in the safe use of weapons.
Hurst, Texas, and other towns, February 2020 - Several firms are training church safety team members in tactical shooting. This includes live action using laser guns which create the bangs and expel casings while recording "hits" with the light beams.
West Chester, Ohio, November 2017 - News of mass killings in churches and other places of worship has spurred a surge in demand for tactical training by safety teams in communities of faith. This includes not only firearms, but less-than-lethal weapons.
Waco, Texas, May 2019 - Cadets in a police academy are learning how to use pepper spray. They also learn to keep functioning even when they have been sprayed. As an instructor said, "They need to know that if they get sprayed they still can't stop."
The Use of Force Training Record is the special free download for July. A brief summary of the use of force in church safety ministries is followed by the training record for this subject. The training topics are:
- Firearm Qualification
- Tactical Shoot
- Drills and Exercise
- Unarmed Control
- Use of Force Laws
- Verbal De-escalation
When you click *HERE* to get it, you will be signed up to receive our monthly newsletter (The Church Guardian) and our weekly updates by email (that is if you're not already subscribed).
Learn more about the Use of Force through the Church Security Guide article "Use of Force Training" and the SDCS training course Basic Use of Force Laws v4.
King David said, "[God] trains my hands for war" (2 Sam. 22:35 and Ps. 18:34). David was an expert slinger, as were the Benjaminite soldiers (1 Chron. 12:2). He had practiced to perfection while herding sheep. Then when he became part of King Saul's army, he had to learn how to use the sword, the spear, and the bow & arrow. Training his hands built muscle memory and eye memory. Actually using these weapons in battle provided the training of experience.
We can learn about weapons through reading, videos, and online instruction, but it is hands-on learning and practice which really nails it down. We all know that shooting at the firing range keeps our aim sharp. If you are learning how to properly use a baton, you need to practice with it enough to develop the feel and control your swing.
With firearms, safety is a major concern. If you accidently spray yourself with pepper spray or tear gas, you can wash it off and - barring some physical condition -recover. Accidentally discharging a firearm can wound you or another person, possibly leading to serious injury or death.
Anyone who's been in the military knows that cleaning and maintaining your weapon is critical. A clean rifle or pistol operates as it should, but if it hasn't been cleaned it may misfire or jam. The same is true for your hunting shotgun or rifle.
In the Church Security Guide article, Kris recommends several kinds of Use of Force Training to be conducted annually:
- Firearm Qualification - Preferably to your state's P.O.S.T (Peace Officers Standards and Training) or Licensed Security Guard standard.
- Tactical Shoot - Learning to shoot under simulated combat conditions.
- Force on Force - Using Airsoft guns, practice responding to an active shooter. Use several scenarios in different areas of the church. Take turns playing the roles of attacker and defender or different defender roles (containment and engagement).
- Shoot and Don't Shoot - On the same day as Force on Force, train to determine whether deadly force should be used. This is to teach the team that deadly force is not always the right response.
- Unarmed Control Techniques - It is far more likely your team will have to physically restrain a violent person than to use deadly force.
Non-Lethal to Less-Lethal Weapons
Safety in use is also a concern for some non-lethal to less-lethal weapons, such as batons, electric discharge devices, and defensive sprays. To the firearms training we can add sessions in non-lethal weapons that are legal in your state and that your team members are carrying or are likely to carry. Kubotans and knives can be added if state or local laws cover them.
For example, police in several jurisdictions are training in the use of defensive sprays and stunning devices. The first concern has been avoiding excessive force resulting in unnecessary injury and death. Another is avoiding protests, lawsuits, and political repercussions. Churches also want to avoid injuries or deaths, as well as the bad reputation, lawsuits, and possible criminal charges which could result.
Weapons Training and Certification
The first mission of the National Rifle Association (NRA) was teaching firearms safety. Every year, people are accidentally shot by hunters. Sometimes the saddest thing a person has said has been, "I didn't know it was loaded," or "I thought it was an animal." There are also hunters injured by misfiring rifles and shotguns. Thanks to this training, it's now common for hunters to clean their guns and sight them in before the season opens.
Peace Officers Standards and Training (P.O.S.T) is the gold standard of weapons training in the United States. Although it is at a much higher level than what may be needed in your church, it at least assures people that the Safety Team members who carry are competent. At the very least, they will be able shoot at a level recognized by the state.
A number of states require applicants for a Concealed Carrying of a Weapon (CCW) permit to complete a training course before being issued a permit. The course includes both classroom sessions and live shooting. In some states, a course developed by the NRA is used. Most courses are all in one day.
The classroom CCW training may include cleaning and maintenance of the firearm, laws about when and where to carry, how to carry, and liability. Many states require a demonstration of one's ability to shoot safely and accurately. Classes may be simpler for renewals.
Some local police departments may offer firearms safety training. On the other hand, members of the congregation who are law enforcement officers or military veterans may conduct weapons safety classes covering firearms, defensive sprays, and stored-charge devices. Law enforcement officers have the advantage of knowing weapons regulations of the state and the local jurisdiction.
Designed for training law enforcement officers for confrontational situations, the Use-of-Force Simulator is also being used to demonstrate to municipal officials and the public what a police officer faces. The Simulator has 700 interactive scenarios. In some of them, the "situation" can end with de-escalation.
Defense Training Organizations
There are many organizations out there training people in using weapons for defense. This includes not only firearms, but defensive sprays (both tear gas and pepper spray), stored-charge devices (stun guns and tasers), and unarmed defensive moves. Some also teach baton use.
Manufacturers of defensive devices -for instance, Axon (maker of Taser) and Reflex Protect - also teach defense in general besides how to use their non-lethal to less-lethal weapons.
Certified Onsite Instructors
Sheepdog Church Security has several persons certified as onsite instructors. They will come to your church - if it is in their range - to conduct classes to certify each safety team member in the Sheepdog Church Security training series. So far, the listed instructors are in Arkansas, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. Besides the SDCS certification, they also conduct weapons training, all in firearms and most in pepper sprays.
All of these instructors are experienced in areas such as law enforcement, military, firearms instruction, and/or defensive equipment sales & service. If you have the experience necessary, wish to teach church safety personnel, and would consider becoming a Certified Sheepdog Instructor in your area, get in touch with Kris Moloney at (612) 470-7364.
WSA Use of Force Series
The Worship Security Association (WSA), a Sheepdog Church Security affiliate, has a library of 100+ training videos. Part of this collection is a 4-part series on the use of force. In "Physical Tactics ~ Use of Force" WSA founder Simon Osamoh converses with Joe Bezotte, an FBI agent for 25 years who now works in church safety and is a security consultant and instructor. The topics of the videos are Preview Use of Force, Understanding Use of Force, Unarmed Tactics, and Governance.
Just in Case You Need a Lawyer
We all know that firearms and knives are dangerous, even deadly, and using them risks legal liability. Also, no matter how harmless a non-lethal weapon may be - or seem to be - or how well you're trained, using it may result in a lawsuit or criminal charges. If and when you have used a weapon and someone is injured, you need a lawyer (as the saying goes) "now, if not sooner."
Actually, we're not kidding about the "sooner" part. When force is used and it involves a weapon, you likely do not have time to look for an attorney. If you have one on retainer, you can then just make a call. That is the mission of U.S. LawShield. There are attorneys on board across the nation. If you are a member, a lawyer in your state is available within 72 hours for consultation, but immediately available in an emergency.
Sheepdog Church Security has an affiliate relationship with U.S. LawShield. You can sign up as a SDCS affiliate member for legal coverage just in case you need it.
Training is essential for carrying a firearm as a Church Security Team member. It is advisable, and required in some states, for non-lethal to less-lethal weapons like pepper spray, batons, and Tasers. If you intend on carrying a weapon of any kind as a Safety Team member, be properly trained.
There Is More
The other articles for this month are "When You Need Cover" (Legal Defense for Self-Defense), "Legality and Lethality" (Weapon Types and Laws), and "The 2006 Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Shooting" (Lesson Learned).
- Kris Moloney, "Basic Use of Force Laws v4," Sheepdog Church Security, Copyright © 2019: Individual Training (Online) [https://sheepdog-church-security.thinkific.com/courses/protecting-yourself-and-the-church-with-use-of-force-laws]; Instructor Bundles (Classroom) [https://sheepdog-church-security.thinkific.com/courses/protecting-yourself-and-the-church-with-use-of-force-laws-training-bundle].
- Michael Ray Smith, "Gun-Toting Church Safety Enthusiasts Say Regular Training Is Essential," Religion Unplugged, August 14, 2020 [https://religionunplugged.com/news/2020/6/9/gun-toting-church-safety-enthusiasts-say-regular-trainingnbspis-essential].
- Allie Morris, "God and a Glock: Texas churchgoers are training to fight off attackers wielding guns," Dallas Morning News, February 7, 2020 [https://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2020/02/07/god-and-a-glock-how-churchgoers-are-training-to-fight-off-armed-attackers/].
- Alexis Rogers, "Tactical training instructors see increase in church security training after mass shooting," WLWT5, November 6, 2017 [https://www.wlwt.com/article/tactical-training-instructors-see-increase-in-church-security-training-after-mass-shooting/13438346#].
- Kristin Hoppa, "Recruits undergo pepper-spray training in police academy," Waco Tribune-Herald, May 4, 2019 [https://wacotrib.com/news/education/recruits-undergo-pepper-spray-training-in-police-academy/article_dacd4f7f-68a6-5cee-8e4e-17a447b8d99c.html].
- Kris Moloney, "Use of Force Training Record," Sheepdog Church Security, © 2019 [https://sheepdog-church-security.ck.page/60badbb325].
- Kris Moloney, "Use of Force Training," Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2019 [https://sheepdogchurchsecurity.net/force-training/].
- "Training with Axon," Axon [https://www.axon.com/training].
- "Training," ReflexProtect [https://reflexprotect.training/].
- "Certified Onsite Instructors," Sheepdog Church Security [https://sheepdogchurchsecurity.net/onsite-instructors/].
- Sheepdog Church Security affiliate link, Worship Security Association [https://worshipsecurity.vhx.tv/?code=sheepdog].
- Simon Osamoh with Joe Bezotte, "Physical Tactics ~ Use of Force," Worship Security Association [https://worshipsecurity.vhx.tv/physical-tactics-use-of-force].
- Sheepdog Church Security affiliate link, U.S. LawShield [https://www.uslawshield.com/?affid=f83659a7-c044-11e9-a753-02fcb63ac2fe].