A few months ago, shortly after the tragedy in Sutherlands Springs, Texas (where 26 worshipers were murdered inside a church), we conducted some training at a local church.
The training included the firing of simunitions, the use of "plastic like" bullets. It is some of the most realistic training you can experience.
When engaged in such training, the trainers - at least the smart ones - will prohibit the trainees from bringing guns or live ammo onto the scene. This is common practice in the world of law-enforcement.
There are many reasons for this. For example, when the simunitions are fired they sound very real. As a result, some attendees, if armed, could possibly react by drawing their guns and defending themselves. How is this possible? Truth is, the trainers have no idea about the history of those who are in attendance. There could well be someone suffering from PTSD, and the sound of gunfire could lead this person to believe he is in an actual gunfight.
You simply cannot allow live ammo or live weapons on the scene when conducting such training. Police agencies everywhere are banning the presence of live ammo and actual guns while training (as well as other non law-enforcement entities who offer civilian training). It is not uncommon to also ban the presence of knives, tasers, or any weapon when engaged in such training.
Other terrible things have happened in such training scenarios. I know of police officers who thought they were using a gun that was not real, and when they pulled the trigger, out came an actual live round that killed a fellow officer (Arlington, Texas Officer shot and killed in training session by fellow officer).
I was caught off guard by the attitude of some who came for training, and it causes me great concern when I see ignorance about this matter.
Before the training last December, we sent out at least 6 emails to all who registered, informing them that live weapons and ammo would not be allowed on scene. We even had the presence of police to help search all those who came (the police train this way all the time). Some police agencies will even have attendees search each other twice before training begins (most police departments do not allow weapons of any kind on a "hot scene" when training).
However, at our recent training, and in spite of our warnings, we had people show up with guns. I remember several men who showed up and REFUSED to disarm. They demanded a refund, saying they had not been told. But they had been told. Their pastor had received 6 emails, but had failed to relay the info to them.
They left, having refused to disarm. THINK ABOUT THIS: these men did not consider the safety of the others an important matter. These men served on a church safety team: these men refused to disarm, completely ignoring the rules of training.
A member of their church contacted me later in the day and I explained to him what had happened. He apologized on their behalf. He then commented that one of the guys who had refused to disarm was a "little hot-headed."
I can't help but wonder: What is such a man doing on an armed church safety team? A "hot-headed" person on a church safety team is a disaster waiting to happen.
Another man who had registered for the training demanded a refund when he learned about the safety rule. He was adamant that he would not go somewhere where he could not carry his gun. He argued that his safety and that of his family was at stake. But, for some reason, he did not think that our safety was important!? Think about it: He was willing to jeopardize the safety of all who attended. He put himself above the others: “the rules don’t apply to me,” he was telling us (by the way, we had employed several armed security guards for the day, so it wasn't like there was no security on the premises).
Individuals such as these are a danger to your team. I suggest that you do your best to not allow them to serve on the team, at least until they have learned how to play by the rules.
If you conduct training in the manner we did, you had better take the appropriate precautions in providing a safe atmosphere.
I must admit, the longer I engage in this line of work, the more I grow concerned about the ignorance that is so prevalent about safety practices while training - or while armed.
Last June, I was visiting a Texas church one night during its Vacation Bible School. I mentioned to the safety team that the new law allowing them to carry while serving as a church safety team member would go into effect September 1st (3 months later).
After sharing the news with them, one of the men reached into his right pocket and pulled out his pistol and showed it to the rest of us! “I got mine right here,” he said. I was stunned at this man’s lack of concern for the safety of the rest of us. NEVER PULL YOUR GUN OUT AT CHURCH TO "SHOW IT" TO OTHERS.
A few months ago, in Tellico Plains, Tennessee, an 81-year old man, and several others, sat in a church discussing church safety. They had recently attended a church safety seminar. During the discussion, the elderly gentleman removed a gun from his back pocket as he told the others, “I carry a weapon with me everywhere.”
He then pulled out a .380 Ruger. According to the news report, he then “removed the magazine and cleared the chamber to show the pistol to the others. He then reloaded it, put a round in the chamber and put it back in his pocket.”
Shortly thereafter, another man asked if he could see the gentleman’s gun. The gun-owner “took it out of his pocket and his finger accidentally hit the trigger. The bullet struck his right hand and then went through his 80-year-old wife’s abdomen and right forearm…”
There is no place for such carelessness.
At another training seminar, we set up the shooting simulator, where the “good guy” faces the video screen and deals with the “bad guys” on the screen. One of the attendees was quite successful in dealing with the killers on the screen. But after stopping the bad guys, he then twirled his gun as he placed it back into his pocket (a scene right out of the wild wild west). I saw him pull this stunt. I rushed down, took the gun from him, and then told all the others what he had done. Sheer carelessness on his part.
Never forget this: if you end up in a shootout, you will do what you do in training.
What I experienced from the men who came to our seminar for training, and then had to leave, reveals that our knowledge of gun-safety is quite deficient. If we cannot understand even the basic principles of training - and the safety related to that training – we are not ready to put a worthy team on the premises of our church.
If we are not careful in our training, we are going to get people hurt. And if you’re not willing to participate in training that does so in a professional and safe manner, then do us all a favor: get off the team ASAP.
Editor's note: Some have asked if Sheepdog Seminars forbids the presence of guns at their seminars. We do NOT make that determination. That decision is made based on the laws of the city, country, and state where the seminar takes place and is made by the host - not us. The training session mentioned in this article was NOT a Sheepdog Seminar.
RECENT GUN MISHAPS
· A teacher accidentally discharged a firearm while teaching a public safety class, injuring one student at a Northern California school - read
· Off-duty officer accidentally discharges gun at school wrestling meet - read
· Other police-related accidental shootings - read
UPCOMING SHEEPDOG SEMINARS:
· Southern California (Huntington Beach – THIS COMING MONDAY, May 14
· Atlanta, Georgia – May 18 and 19. Friday and Saturday morning
· Sabetha, Kansas – Friday, June 8
· San Antonio, Texas – June 22 (Saturday)
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TEXAS - I was privileged to have lunch a few weeks ago with Pastor Frank Pomeroy of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas - the site of last November's massacre (in which 26 people were murdered inside the church - and 20 more injured).
Pastor Frank (right) is a man of unusual faith. There is so much I could say about him. Pastor Frank's daughter, Anna Belle, was among the victims. Though his heart is filled with so much pain, he presses on, serving his congregation and community. WE ARE COMMITTED TO NEVER LETTING PEOPLE FORGET WHAT HAPPENED AT THIS CHURCH! You can help these dear people by making a donation to the church. Click here to donate.