Tactical Issues Regarding Carry in House of Worship

Tactical Issues Regarding Carry in House of Worship

This is a discussion on Tactical Issues Regarding Carry in House of Worship within the Carry & Defensive Scenarios forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; We have recently had a number of threads regarding carry in Houses of Worship. Those threads, for the most part, focused on whether it was ...

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  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array Ron's Avatar
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    Tactical Issues Regarding Carry in House of Worship

    We have recently had a number of threads regarding carry in Houses of Worship. Those threads, for the most part, focused on whether it was lawful to carry and if lawful, if it was appropriate.

    I would like to change the focus to tactical issues. Assume that it is lawful in your state to carry in a church or synagogue and you have elected to do so. Assume further that you are attending services with your family.

    My questions are where should you sit? For example, my wife and I like to sit up front because we are both short and feel that we can see better. But, from a tactical perspective, is that the best place to sit, assuming that the entrance to the sanctuary is in the back?

    Following that, assume that there is an attack by one armed crazy intent upon killing as many people as possible.(I am using one gunman in this hypo to try to make it less complicated)

    What would you do, assuming that he has started shooting and there is panic with people desperate to get out of the building? Do you try to lead your family to safety out of the building? Do you tell them to get down on the floor and then try to get to the gunman for a shot, remember the panic taking place? Or what? And what are other issues and thoughts on this I have not thought of?

    I am raising this because I always carry to services and I have often tried to imagine this scenario and what I would and/or should do in the event this horror ever came to pass.

    Thanks.

    Ron
    "It does not do to leave a dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him."

    J. R. R. Tolkien


  2. #2
    Distinguished Member Array sniper58's Avatar
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    Most sanctuaries have side exits. I usually sit up front so I can hear! Your first priority is your family's safety. Once they are out of harm's way, if you have a chance to engage the BG go for it (if that's your inclination).
    Tim
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  3. #3
    VIP Member Array aus71383's Avatar
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    I used to sit up front, and felt okay about it with just me and my wife. Now that we have a little girl we sit in back so she can sneak out if she needs to - I prefer sitting in the back from a tactical standpoint because it makes it easier to see who's coming in, and observe everyone else in the sanctuary.

    Austin

  4. #4
    Senior Member Array Stirling XD's Avatar
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    In many situations I see posted here, my first thought is to get me and my family out and let everyone fend for themselves. However, I have always felt that those around me in a house of worship are family as well. So it would difficult for me to simply escape when others I cared about were in danger. That being the case, I think I would give the family instructions to get out or get down and then probably turn to face the attacker.

    I would try to pick a seat that offered me mobility and cover if possible. Thinking about the churches I have attended, I would probably pick an aisle seat closer to the side instead of the middle. Attention by a BG will probably be focused forward and down the middle. Being closer to the back might offer an advantage if the BG walks in and starts to move forward. I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot someone in the back if he is shooting at other people.

    While some church pews are pretty solid, it would probably take several of them to stop a bullet. Some churches do have support columns on the side of the auditorium that might stop some bullets. If it’s not good cover, it may be good concealment. Of coarse there are a lot of different churches out there as well as many ways this scenario can play out. I came to these conclusions in about 15 minutes and I’m sure there are other good ideas out there. I’m looking forward to reading them too.

  5. #5
    VIP Member Array Kerbouchard's Avatar
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    I would say, tactically, the safest place would be the front. If BG was trying to hit you, it would be a futher shot, he'll most likely start shooting the closest people to him. But if you wanted to be proactive, the best place would be the rear. If you are in the front of a Church and a BG comes in the rear exit and starts shooting, with everybody running around, you are very unlikely to get a clean shot. With that said, if you were in the front and the BG was in the back, I would have my family crawl along the floor, using pews for cover and get to an emergency exit.

    It probably wouldn't be a bad idea to talk to your pastor and ask him if he knows of any other members who are carrying in Church. That way you guys could get together and have a plan, or at least get an idea of what the others might do. Even though things might not go according to plan, talking with like-minded people on location might give you some good insight on tactics.

    Also, my church is fairly large and I don't know everybody that attends. If you do have other guys carrying and you didn't know that person, it might be difficult for you to identify who the BG is, same goes for him.
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    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    Ill freely confess that i cannot hear the sermon if i set much further back than the first row . ( well i can hear it fine , i just cannot understand the words ) . With that being said and me not honestly being a professed christian . ... I set in the back row and soak up the fellowship . Most likely i cannot understand the preacher anyway so i just as well be seated where i can best effect change .

    Note to our pastors i am not anti Christian either , i just lost " faith " as a child watching the way " decons " lived . None the less i am most likely to be the member here nominated for the ACLU awards . Hey tho dont sell me short , i just dont want anyone to tell me how i " need " to worship .
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Array kylebce's Avatar
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    I will address the situation specifically for my church. The sanctuary is round forming a half circle. The main entrance in in the middle of that C shape with the stage up front (the open side) I sit with my family on the far right side. I have line of sight to the minister and to the main entrance. there is an emergency exit behind my section.

    I would want my family to get down. I would keep my head up and angle out of the pew to an open shot. I could effectively & accurately shoot from my seat, but I don't know who would move/flee to obscure the shot. There are no police or federal agents who attend my church that I know of (there was an awsome gal who was an FBI agent but she moved to D.C.)- so I would feel greater responsibility to intercept/take down the threat for my family & congregation.
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  8. #8
    VIP Member Array farronwolf's Avatar
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    We always sit in the back right of the church. No particular reason, that is just where we sit, did it before the little one came along and worked well after he got here.

    There is a door at 4:30 to where we sit, about 20 to 30 feet away leading to the vestibule, there is the main door from the vestibule into the church at 8:00 about 30 to 40 feet from where we sit and another door about 8:30 possibly 80 feet away. Then there are two doors up towards the front of the church (alter area) on either side.

    I have thought about what I would do on more than one occasion. Ok, so my mind drifted during the surmon. Anyway, I would more than likely tell my wife and child to stay put initially, and try to assess whether I was able to intervien with odds of success. I would have to check the vestibule area before sending them out straight away to the doors to the rear. There could be another gunman waiting at the main entrance ready to shoot anyone fleeing. Odds are that the two entrances up by the front of the church would not have a gunman, but path to get to them may not be viable, due to the confusion, and where the gunman was aiming.

    If it appeared that I had a reasonable chance of engaging the BG either in the church or one which was blocking the exit. They would likely be getting some lead for breakfast. Hopefully the other members of the congregation would be ducking and giving me a clear shooting lane in order to engage, or someone else at Mass would be engaging also. Usually there are 3 or 4 people at the service I go to that I believe are carrying any given day, so hopefully I would not be alone.

    A couple of weeks ago when I was shooting I did the old empty the clip as fast as you can at the target. I ended up with 11 out of 12 hits on a 20 lb propane bottle (good to simulate center of mass size) at about 50 or 60 feet in about 3 seconds or so. I would just hope that I can replicate that performance if I ever need to in real life.

    I hope none of us ever have to play this scenario out for real, but if we do, I hope we have some sort of plan.
    Just remember that shot placement is much more important with what you carry than how big a bang you get with each trigger pull.
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  9. #9
    Member Array golfer's Avatar
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    Interesting thread. I was going through this in my church Sunday and there are some difficult chlices that have to be made.
    My wife is blind, there is no way she can make a dash for the door. Most people will dive unere a pew, some will go for the doors.
    There are some solid wood columns at the sides large enough for 1 person to engage a BG from. Problem is he could angle out far enought to get a shot.
    Best scenerio seems to be behind a column or dash out a side door, leaving wife and attempt to come in another door behind the BG. Bad thing about this is, wife has to stay, I loose sight of the BG and have to swim upstraeam of people comeing out the doors while I am coming in.
    Frankly, things could get real ugly fast in a church. The safer place to sit may be up front, assuming the BG will take out those closest to him first to preserve his own safety.
    Maybe there are some other suggestions.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Array cmidkiff's Avatar
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    I sit at the back... mainly because my father in law always did. He's gone now, but the family still uses that row. May not be a tactical choice, but it's what I do.

    If a major disturbance were to occur during service, it would have to come from behind me, and I'd be closest to the event. Nope, not a tactical advantage there, for sure.

    My teenage kids seldom sit with me these days... they tend to sit with friends, but if they were present, I'd have to order them to the floor, go prone myself, and evaluate the sight picture. There's no cover and little concealment except for getting low behind stacking metal chairs. Since I sit at the back, there would be little between me and the intruder, and nothing important behind him.
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  11. #11
    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    Ron, if this a real consideration, I suggest two things:
    1) read up on the public-venue shootings we've had (churches, malls and schools) and evaluate the commonalities.
    2) I strongly recommend Dan Korem's Rage of the Random Actor, to help with the "software" issures.

    This is very much an "offensive-defense" scenario. To date, none of the active shooters have disguised themselves or their intent, they penetrated the target buildings as far as they did because of denial and lack of awareness on the part of the public.

    If the person in the bulky coat is carrying a rifle down the hall, (and you know its not Deacon Joe heading out to catch a mid-afternoon buck) you should be hand-on, ready to go.

    As far as positioning, ideally someplace with a load-bearing wall on at least one side and a location that offers you a view of those entering the area without you being in their direct field of view. When you find such a place, take it and use it- practice watching and noting as people enter/leave. The best tactical filed ever encountered does nothing for someone who is unpracticed and unprepared.

  12. #12
    Distinguished Member Array Ron's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Rob72;587084]Ron, if this a real consideration, I suggest two things:
    1) read up on the public-venue shootings we've had (churches, malls and schools) and evaluate the commonalities.
    2) I strongly recommend Dan Korem's Rage of the Random Actor, to help with the "software" issures.
    QUOTE]

    Well, Rob, it is a real consideration only in the sense that we have had church shootings in the past, and it is certainly feasible that there could be an attack in my synagogue. I started this thread because, frankly, as I sit at services in a crowded sanctuary I have a real uneasy feeling about what I could realistically do in the event a shooter entered the building.

    Ron
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    J. R. R. Tolkien

  13. #13
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    As soon as I walk into church...everyone looks in silent disbelief...Naw, j/k...
    Actually, my wife and I sit in the last row against a wall with entry doors on each side...I can observe all who enter...

    Stay safe...stay observant...stay safe!
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  14. #14
    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    Well, Rob, it is a real consideration only in the sense that we have had church shootings in the past, and it is certainly feasible that there could be an attack in my synagogue. I started this thread because, frankly, as I sit at services in a crowded sanctuary I have a real uneasy feeling about what I could realistically do in the event a shooter entered the building.

    Ron
    I understand- I phrased it that way intentionally. Mindset is a big issue. We discuss many things in the purely hypothetical. When you are sitting in the pew, and actually look at another person walking down the aisle, and think, "If they drew a weapon, what would I need to do to shoot them to the ground...?" it gets you looking at angles and access more than simply finding "the safest seat."

    There are several PTSD studies showing that those who plan survive traumatic incidents and survive with fewer "latent stressors" than those who simply "take it as it comes."

    In this instance, planning involves knowledge and evaluation of crowd dynamics; active shooters (who/what/when they target and why); your physical ability in context. Are you able to get panicked people to respond to your commands? If not, are you able to effectively move/block others to secure the safety of you and yours? Etc., etc..

    People will respond differently to someone with the aura/appearance of authority (even if they don't have it), than someone simply acting with or in reaction to the crowd. Something else to evaluate and consider.

  15. #15
    Distinguished Member Array Ron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob72 View Post
    I understand- I phrased it that way intentionally. Mindset is a big issue. We discuss many things in the purely hypothetical. When you are sitting in the pew, and actually look at another person walking down the aisle, and think, "If they drew a weapon, what would I need to do to shoot them to the ground...?" it gets you looking at angles and access more than simply finding "the safest seat."

    There are several PTSD studies showing that those who plan survive traumatic incidents and survive with fewer "latent stressors" than those who simply "take it as it comes."

    In this instance, planning involves knowledge and evaluation of crowd dynamics; active shooters (who/what/when they target and why); your physical ability in context. Are you able to get panicked people to respond to your commands? If not, are you able to effectively move/block others to secure the safety of you and yours? Etc., etc..

    People will respond differently to someone with the aura/appearance of authority (even if they don't have it), than someone simply acting with or in reaction to the crowd. Something else to evaluate and consider.
    OK, Rob. Thanks. That was most helpful advice. Hopefully, I will never have to find out how prepared I actually am.

    Ron
    "It does not do to leave a dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him."

    J. R. R. Tolkien

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