Duane McGray takes a gun along with his Bible to church on Sunday mornings, the Tennessean reports. McGray, a former chief of public safety at Nashville International Airport, is a volunteer at First Baptist Church Hendersonville. He carries a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun to worship services to keep members and visitors safe. “I have no problem in carrying a firearm in church,” he said. “I just know that it is necessary to protect God’s people.” Safety has been on the minds of local congregations after a Southern Baptist pastor was gunned down in an Illinois pulpit during church services on March 8.
Some local churches already rely on armed volunteers and off-duty police officers, while others say recent church shootings have made them realize they should be prepared, in case the unthinkable happens. Jeffrey Hawkins of Christian Security Network believes every congregation should do a security assessment, usually with the help of local police. From there they should put a plan in place for everything from fires and tornadoes to a live shooter in a service. By planning ahead, they can help minimize the loss of life. “These shooting are like a plane crash,” he said. “They don’t happen very often, but it’s devastating when they do.”