Additionally, with regard to guns on the premises, most experts do not recommend encouraging civilians to carry guns into the pews. Concealed carry laws vary widely by state, and individuals may actually find themselves in legal jeopardy if the use of a gun is not specifically authorized under the state’s concealed carry law. Also, congregants with guns in the pews may create confusion once law enforcement officials arrive at the scene. This could further exacerbate an already tense situation. If a church decides to provide armed security, it should be provided by an off-duty, uniformed law enforcement officer. A law enforcement officer in uniform may deter an event from happening, and a law enforcement official is best trained to react to a hostile situation.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have resources and information about what an individual should do during an active incident. Those options include run/escape, hide/lockdown, or fight/counter. FEMA includes a link on its page to a 5-minute video that evaluates these options during a shooter situation. That video can be found here (Under the “Shareables” tab). The Insurance Board has also contracted with an organization known as ALICE, to facilitate resources and education. ALICE stands for “Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.” During an active shooter incident, running or escaping the environment is the optimal solution, but may not always be feasible.
These services are available to member churches and ministries regardless of whether they purchase insurance coverage through the Insurance Board. Please note that if you are currently a member church or ministry which purchases general liability insurance coverage from us, your policy provides coverage for certain expenses related to an active assailant scenario, including such items as public relations costs, counseling expenses, medical expenses, and other reasonable costs as may be determined.
The resources above are designed to equip church leaders and congregations to consider, among many options, the most appropriate response(s) to employ during an active shooter/assailant scenario. Additional resources can be found by contacting the Insurance Board at (800) 437-8830, and selecting option 6 at the prompt.
With care and concern,
Timothy Harris, CPCU
President & CEO
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