Local churches rethink security, plan to add armed guards following Texas shooting

Local churches rethink security, plan to add armed guards following Texas shooting

At least one Madison area church is planning to take extra security precautions following Sunday’s church shooting in Texas.

For the last two years High Point Church has been taking steps to train, insure and contract members of the congregation to become armed guards.

“Most people like the idea that you have locked doors, but moving from security to security that has capacity for deadly force is a huge thing for people,” said Pastor Nick Gibson.

Gibson is in favor of adding armed guards as soon as possible, but because the church has a school on-site, federal law makes it a gun-free zone.

“Federally mandated we can’t protect ourselves and that creates a very long and difficult process to come up with a legal, insured, safe, trained way to have people here who can defend us if necessary while still maintaining a very loving, open to the public, inclusive environment,” he said.

Gibson said 28 other Dane County schools are in the same position, leaving thousands of students in danger.

The church is a few votes away from adding the guards, but it will all come down to whether the congregation thinks it is appropriate.

“Either way people will leave your church, you just have to do what you think is right,” said Gibson.

Pastor Stephen Feith at Madison Church doesn’t see the need for guns at his parish.

“We’re no more a target at this community center on a Sunday morning than we can be going to Walmart,” he said.

Feith said they will stick with their basic security plan. He doesn’t feel more fearful or worried.

“The scariest thing about this is just that these are the conversations that we’re having in our society right now, where we wonder when I go to church what is the plan, what is the protocol,” said Feith.

He said prayers and Facebook posts aren’t enough. He hopes the Texas shooting pushes people to work with government and their communities to make a change.

“On the one hand we do have prayers and thoughts and on the other hand our faith should enact, to push us to do something about it,” he said.

Both Feith and Gibson said they hope fear doesn’t stop people from going to their place of worship.