On Dec. 29, 2019, a shooter walked in and attacked members of the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, a suburb of Fort Worth, and the debate on gun laws again dominated the national spotlight.
Top Texas officials cited the actions of several armed churchgoers who subdued the gunman as a model of how Americans should protect themselves from potential mass shooters. However, Democrats repeated their call for more restrictive gun laws that they say would prevent shootings.
Churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques have all seen attacks by gunmen, showing this violence as no respecter of places of worship.
Northeast Mississippi also is not immune to such tragedies. Less than five months ago, a fatal shooting occurred in a Ripley church on a Sunday morning.
Following the shooting incident in Ripley, Daily Journal staff writer Danny McArthur talked with ministers throughout the area who shared their thoughts on the importance of security teams.
Because it can take police several minutes to respond to a call for help, many area churches are deciding that having security in place may be a necessity rather than an option. In response to the changing nature of the world and these threats, security teams and cameras help make everyone feel more secure.
The Second Amendment, which protects the rights of citizens to “bear arms” or own weapons, has become a controversial amendment. Many people want more laws to prevent people from owning guns to help prevent shootings, while others want to keep this right and not have it limited to allow them to protect themselves.
In 2016, Gov. Phil Bryant signed a law allowing guns in churches, which he said would help protect worshippers from potential attackers. The Church Protection Act allows places of worship to designate members to undergo firearms training so they can provide armed security for their congregations, and gives them legal protections.
We wish we could say that what happens nationally doesn’t happen here, but it does. We can no longer be naive about the need for security. No church, school or business is immune from potential attack.
While there is no doubt this is a political and emotional issue, the threats have to be taken seriously and we must be proactive.