FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) - More and more north Alabama places of worship are finding new ways to protect its members, which includes armed security. Tuesday night, dozens met in Florence for an informational meeting in how to form their own volunteer safety team.
Steven Robertson, an officer and gun safety volunteer, led the conversation at Cypress Creek indoor gun range. He touched on the do’s, don’ts and everything in between.
“You hear it on the news all of the time about church shootings and I think it’s very important to be very prepared for those situations," said Georgia Barnett. Her son pastors a Florence church and her thought process is simple: "I think it’s better to act than to react.”
The crowd of more than 100 people was diverse, yet everyone had one thing in mind -- safety.
“Just like any other thing you would organize in your church, you need to have the training and documentation for it," said Robertson.
In his address, Robertson detailed that every person who plans to own and/or use a gun needs a conceal carry permit.
At Cypress Creek Indoor Gun Rage, Robertson and his team take individuals through a class that will also provide you qualification with the Alabama Security Regulatory Board.
“You’ve got to tailor your plan to fit your facility," explained Robertson. "No two facilities are the same. [Team members] need to possess common sense and be doing it for the right reasons.”
NBC News reports there are more than 1,000 volunteer-run security teams in houses of worship in the U.S. These numbers were reported by Carl Chinn, founder of the Faith Based Security Network, a nonprofit that offers safety guidance to faith communities. Of the more than 1,000 churches, two hundred of them, in 34 states, have registered with his network in the past 11 months. The majority have armed members.
“Some people are ready to go. Some people already have their teams in place. They’re just looking for more info," stated Billy Crabtree. He was one of the dozens present Tuesday night. "We’re looking to get ours organized and move forward from there.”
Cypress Creek Indoor Gun Range is one of a few ranges across North Alabama. Go to their website for the latest on church and gun safety courses.