US advises on what to do if a gunman comes to church
Adults 'in immediate danger' are advised to fight back
Lats December's shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, sparked new concerns over attacks by lone gunmen (picture: AFP)
- Lauren Markoe for Religion News Service/washington Post On Faith
- United States
- June 19, 2013
For the first time, the federal government has issued written guidelines for houses of worship that are confronted with a homicidal gunman.
Vice President Joe Biden released the new rules on Tuesday (June 18), six months after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 dead, including 20 children.
Beyond seeking shelter and waiting for police to arrive, as many Newtown victims did, the new rules also advise adults in congregations to fight back — as a last resort — in a bid to stop the shooter. The new federal doctrine is “run, fight or hide.”
…Though shootings at churches and other houses of worship remain relatively rare, they can make inviting targets for shooters — particularly disturbed individuals — who are looking for a highly visible target to settle a grudge or make a political statement…
…According to the new rules, gathered in a 38-page document called “Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship,” fighting back is advised for “adults in immediate danger,” who should:
“Consider trying to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter by using aggressive force and items in their environment, such as fire extinguishers or chairs. In a study of 41 active shooter events that ended before law enforcement arrived, the potential victims stopped the attacker themselves in 16 instances. In 13 of those cases, they physically subdued the attacker.”
The question of how best to subdue a gunman is likely to rekindle a debate within many churches, particularly in parts of the country where it is common to carry weapons: Should congregants bring guns to church?
Source: Washington Post On Faith