Archive for November, 2013


So you’ve looked at the statistics. You’ve read the testimonies of survivors. You’ve dug up your state laws. You may have hinted around or just bluntly asked your church leadership. You may or may not have included your spouse in on your decision. I trust you also turned to the Bible and sought God for His direction and counsel. (Since it’s His house, that would seem the respectful thing to do.) Finally, after all that soul-searching, you’ve decided. If you decided not to carry in church, then nothing really changes for you. Aside from a new mental awareness of your situation, your habits are unchanged. However, if you decided to carry, then there are practical concerns you need to take into consideration. While concealment can be difficult enough with daily carry, there are specific challenges that are unique to church attendance. 

Concealment Challenges at Church
  1. hug-in-churchHugs: Some churches have huggers, others do not. Personally, I love hugs. I think they are a wonderful thing. However, hugs are also one of the best ways to unobtrusively frisk someone. And while I have a hard time imagining Grandma Betty is trying to frisk anyone, the results can be the same. She feels your firearm and says, loudly, “what’s this?” Suddenly, you’re made. Now you’ve got to talk your way out of it. I personally pass it off as a “personal health device.” However, this whole awkward situation can generally be avoid by keeping your arms low and close to your body, causing the other person to reach up and around your arms to hug you, thus shielding your firearm under your arms. *This technique does not necessarily work if you are carrying somewhere other than where your arms will shield.
  2. Attire: Depending on the church you go to, clothes conducive to conceal carrying may or may not blend in. Suits are great for hiding firearms, however skinny jeans and T-shirts are not (and yes, I have been in a church where the common dress for 12 to 30 year olds, of both genders, was skinny jeans and T-shirts). Of course, you can always be fearless and dress whichever way you like but suddenly dressing in a suit when you’ve worn jeans for years may get a few raised eyebrows. An additional challenge for women are the flimsiness of dressy clothes. We women, often find it far more difficult to carry in dressy clothes than our everyday clothes, unless our holster is independent of our clothing.
  3. worshipHand raising: If you go to a hand raising church, make sure you raise your hands in front of the mirror before you go off in that cute little outfit. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve been surprised by how high my shirt will raise just by lifting my arms. And you do not want to inadvertently show off your new S&W 642 while you worship Jesus. You never know who’s eyes are open… You may just hear, “Mommy, look!!! Ms. Smith’s got a gun!!”
  4. Bowing: As a minimum, bowing will cause a small-of-back, behind-the-hip, or possibly even on-the-hip carry gun to print. Depending on how far you lean over, the cover garment may also completely slip off of the gun. Additionally, an appendix-carried weapon will be rather distracting and discomforting at that point. A carry method somewhere off the waist would probably be the more preferred method if bowing is a regular occurrence for you.
  5. praying_man_at_altarKneeling: Depending on the position, kneeling is great way to reveal ankle and/or back holsters. If you expect to over, the cover garment may completely slip off of the gun. An appendix-carried weapon will also be rather distracting at that point. A carry method somewhere off the waist would probably be the more preferred method if bowing is a regular occurrence for you.  
  6. Prostrating: Laying on the ground on your stomach will not be very comfortable if you are carrying anywhere on your front,  your cover garments will probably print badly if you carry on your back, and an ankle carry could easily be revealed. Pocket or shoulder carry may be the only options available to address this situation.
  7. Blues_Brothers_2000_14884_MediumDancing: My or my, how do you get a hard, heavy, metal object to bounce, jump and move with your body instead of away and to the floor? Pocket carry may work. A holster designed for joggers would probably go a long way to keeping the gun on your person instead of on your toes. A good shoulder holster would keep the firearm in place, but I imagine it wouldn’t feel too good to have that banging into your ribs. I have never tried dancing while carrying so I can’t say for sure, but I’m thinking a belly band would probably be the only way to go.
  8. Falling out/Slain in the Spirit: There are a couple of concerns with this one: 1. The firearm being in a painful place once it is between you and the floor. 2. it needs to be so deeply concealed that nobody will see it even when you are not conscious enough to keep your cover garments aligned. Bodies can end up in some very unusual positions and the last thing on their mind at that moment is keeping covered. 3. the ushers/catchers getting caught up in it as the lower you to the ground. A belly band with the firearm in the appendix carry position might be the best answer for this one.
  9. religious-revival-meeting-TULSACatching: If you are an usher and part of your job includes catching people, then I would recommend against a large gun carried in an appendix or shoulder holster. The back of a person’s head does not make a very spiritual sound when it connects with the butt of a gun (or worse, the hammer). You could probably get away with it if you carried on your hip or just behind, but remember the remainder of the congregation is typically behind the prayer line. They may all get a real good look at your Colt 1911 if you are not careful.
  10. abdresbisonnistrekkerut_file_81742__t2Leading the Service: If you are going to be front and center for any duration of time, and you want to keep it a secret that you are carrying, may I recommend pocket carry, the flash-bang holster, or a holster shirt… something for deep-concealment? Because every eye will be on you at some point and humans, being humans, their attention will be looking for something to wander off on. An intriguing bulge on your hip will be just the thing their attention was looking for. I can hear it now… “Hmm, lets forget about this true and powerful Word I need to hear and lets focus in on this lump under his coat. Has he gained weight? Nope. The lump is only on one side. Hmmm. Cell phone? Nah, he never has his cell phone on…”
What are your challenges?

in_church    OR0

Depending on the church you go to, none or all of the above may apply to you. There may be some other challenge you struggle with at your church. I developed this list based on my past experiences in my churches. Some of the churches I’ve attended would have been quite easy to carry in. Hardly more difficult than daily carry. Others would have been extremely difficult to adequately conceal carry in (if I had not been too young to own a firearm at the time). I’d love to hear feedback from everybody on this topic. What have you found that works? What doesn’t work well? Any other situations you can think of?

Thanks for Reading.



Does conceal carrying in church provide a level of protection and security for individuals, families and the church as a whole? Does the very act of carrying a loaded weapon into a place of worship violate the very peace that building represents?  Is it a responsibility and duty to protect family and friends or is it a sacrilegious mistrust of God’s protection? Does surrounding violence and criminal activity make obligatory the carrying of firearms? Are small churches in peaceful neighborhoods exempt from such considerations? Are members paranoid for desiring to carry in church? Are current or former Law Enforcement Officers the only ones to be allowed to carry in church? Can “regular” CCL holders be trusted to be trained well enough to not cause more harm than good when reacting to an incident in such a chaotic environment?


2012 Sikh Temple Shooting

These are some of the questions, both bluntly stated and implied, I encountered while reading up on this topic. Reading through the comments sections on numerous sites revealed most of these questions. Most people seem to have a very visceral reaction to the idea of loaded firearms in places of worship. Many recoil in horror at the very idea of violating a sacred place of peace, worship, and refuge with a tool of death. Many others emphatically state case after case of violent actions in churches, synagogues and other places of worship in the USA as an urgent and pressing demand to remove the “gun-free-zone” label off of these places. Very few comments were in the middle. Though I’m not a  psychologist, I believe people react so strongly because the act of joining together to worship our God is a deeply personal one.

For many, churches represent the one place they feel secure, loved, hopeful, and peaceful. It is their escape from the chaos around them. Their shelter in the storm. To borrow a little from the New Testament, it is a well-built, protected sheep-fold for them to come to for safety and shelter. To consider bringing weapons into the sheepfold is asking them to consider their sheep-fold as vulnerable to predators. To some, discussing the possibility a wolf might enter the fold is to dishonor their Shepherd. Preparing defenses against the wolf attack is to not have faith in God’s protection.


Atlanta 2012 Shooting

Others look at the violent attacks that have occurred in churches in the US and around the world (see the links below) and earnestly seek to defend the lives of their loved ones and church family from such horrific actions. They see a firearm as no more of a violation to the sanctity of worship than a cell phone. Both are used to bring firepower to a situation; one immediately, the other to call the cops.

201104_114_GunChurchHere in Georgia, it is currently illegal for me, and all other, non-LEO, Georgia citizens to carry in a place of worship. Many other states leave it up to local church boards, pastors or other religious leaders. Due to the wide variety of rules and regulations governing conceal carry in houses of worship, I highly recommend you research the laws for your area. Whatever your current practice is (carry in church or not), it is always good to know the laws governing something as important as concealed carry. You never know when something may change and to paraphrase, fore-learned is forearmed.

More on this topic next week…


What Others Are Saying…


A few of the Recent Church Attacks in the US

Excellent Videos of a Church Massacre Survivor (Survivor of the St. James Massacre Speaks to Virginia Citizen’s Defense League) (More from Charl van Wyk)

The Fight in Georgia to get the right to carry in churches… Georgia v Georgia 2011



A robber bursts into the restaurant, shooting twice into the ceiling. “This is a robbery! Don’t Move!” he shouts. You are sitting 15 feet away. Your adrenaline surges. Your heart catapults into warp drive. Your vision tunnels in on him. Fear courses through your body. You are conceal carrying. What do you do? Do you immediately draw and shoot? Do you wait to draw until he is distracted by collecting the money? For most reading this blog, the instinct is likely to immediately enter the fight. We have trained both physically and mentally to eliminate threats. Faced with a very urgent, violent threat the reaction is one of equal violence. Threats to our life and the lives of those around us must be stopped. But what if immediate fight will only get you killed?


I watched this very scenario play out on a force-on-force training video. Bad guy burst into the “restaurant,” immediately shoots the first good guy with a gun while the second good guy with a gun is drawing his firearm and taking aim. They erupt into a firefight and the good guy is shot multiple times in lethal areas (head and torso). While good guy eventually drops bad guy, it was only after sustaining multiple life-threatening, if not lethal, hits. Like, I must ask: would it have been better to stay concealed until an opportune moment? As the bad guy bursts through the door, he is expecting resistance. He is looking for those who will fight back and is obviously ready to kill them. Would not hiding in plain sight, acting like the rest of the patrons, give him a false sense of security, enabling you to wait for that opportune moment? Some real-world experience would indicate yes.

Kenya Mall Attack

However, this approach certainly has its limitations. Can you determine in a split second if the bad guy is there to rob the store or there to kill everybody? Waiting for him to get distracted may only get you killed with your gun still in your holster if the intention is mass murder.

Force-on-force training is indispensable for realistic, reality-based training. It weeds out the unnecessary and reinforces the good. It reveals the unrealistic and instills reactions. The only downside I see is that all participants know a fight is coming (while not knowing from where or when) and thus ingrain an “immediate fight” reaction. Overall, the ability to quickly react with equal violence is a very valuable skill and much needed in many situations. However, there may be times when immediate fight will get you dead.




Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear. ~Thomas Jefferson

201352474951-22magselfdefense_mI recently stumbled upon a rather intriguing debate on Facebook. It all started when one person bemoaned the recommendation of a .22 LR firearm as an optimal self-defense firearm, others chimed in voicing their disparagement, and one lone person challenged the status quo… Let the fireworks begin. Countless justifications and numerous resumes later and his challenge still was not answered. Nobody stepped up to dispute his facts. They  vehemently disliked his conclusion, but where were the facts on their side of the debate (other than the diameter of the bullet)? All this got me wondering… what happened to the principle of questioning everything? Are we not, as mature adults, expected to firmly know the reasons behind our choices? Why do so many in the gun community automatically (and vociferously) denigrate the .22 LR for self-defense? Have they so little confidence in their knowledge of why they choose their calibre that they get defensive at the first suggestion there might be other ways? Or are they genuinely concerned for the life of the other person and believe they are embarking in a false sense of security? Why do these civil debates turn into personal attacks? Do large calibre proponents not have a solid foundation to stand on? Is there nothing more to their arguments than calibre diameter, “stopping power,” and name calling? Why do they get so defensive?  Can we not have a rational discussion? There are logical and justifiable reasons for people to carry .22’s, 9mm’s, .40’s, etc… Can we not acknowledge that what works well for us may not work well for others?

Do all calibre discussions have to devolve to this?

Do all calibre discussions have to devolve to this?

The calm questioning of the status quo stood in stark contrast to the rote reiteration of that .22 LR gun store conversation we’ve all heard. It piqued my curiosity. Was there something to his claim? Is the .22 LR a viable self-defense gun? I’ve been just as guilty as all of those on that post of unerringly maintaining the status quo and firmly discouraging .22’s as defense guns. “They don’t have the stopping power.” “The bullets are too small to do enough damage.” “They really aren’t effective as self-defense guns. etc…” I must confess, I am parroting what others have said. I never looked it up for myself. I’ve never questioned the lines. I’ve stood there, issuing statements that I personally had no knowledge of.


My only experience with shooting any living thing with .22’s, came one late summer night when I attempted to kill an eastern diamondback. It was moving through tall grass, illuminated only by an overhead utility light, and I had never shot at a moving target… It did not go well. I refuse to admit how many rounds I shot that night, but suffice it to say that while the snake did end up with many holes in it, a shovel proved to be much more effective in the long run. From this experience, I concluded .22’s are worthless at killing things and only good for plinking (a better conclusion would have been: buy snake shot). Getting further involved in the gun community only served to reinforce that belief.


However as the gentleman pointed out, .22’s are capable of causing extensive damage. Multiple lives have been saved by .22’s and lives have been taken by .22’s. It is used far more for self-defense than I realized. One potential reason for its popularity is the convenience of carrying one. .22’s designed for conceal carry are often very small and lightweight. That’s definitely one major point in its favor. And keep in mind, in a gun fight, any gun is better than no gun. Also, one recent study of lethal force encounters seems to imply that calibre isn’t as important as simply having a gun, any gun. It seems people, even criminals, don’t want to get shot. It’s painful. This psychological stop is a potential outcome in every lethal force encounter. Yet, not everybody stops just because they’ve been shot. Some keep coming. Can the .22 stop that one?  As many stories as there are of .22’s successfully being used in self-defense there are other stories (and rumors) of .22’s failing to penetrate. Many voice concerns that thick jackets and other objects may dramatically slow or even stop a .22 LR bullet. Can a .22 be trusted to physically stop a threat? Can a .22 be trusted to incapacitate the person before they can incapacitate you? There are lots of questions that still need to be asked and answered. Let’s not stifle questions by throwing out rote clichés, but encourage debate by listening and maintaining civility. Surely, if we are willing to bet our lives on it, our calibre selections should be capable of withstanding a few honest questions.