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Guns in church? A response to Bishop LaTrelle Easterling

March 12, 2018

By Ronald E. David 

This is a difficult post to write. I don’t want to be confrontational. I don’t want to be disrespectful. But, this needs to be said. I will try to just stick to the facts. That’s all. 

The Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church recently wrote and posted an article entitled “Concealed carry in church? Bishop LaTrelle addresses proposed Maryland law.” In that article, it details (to some degree) the Parishioner Protection Act (HB-758) that would allow “A person who has the written consent of the Governing Board of a bona fide church or religious organization to carry a handgun on the property of the church or religious organization during services and gatherings, without a permit.”

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, the episcopal leader of the Baltimore-Washington Conference, said: “As I have said during my talks on the districts, I am opposed to civilians being armed with guns and asked to become first responders during complex situations.” She goes on to say: “If those who have spent time in academies, simulated training exercises and firearms classes make mistakes in emotionally charged, split-second decisions, how do we expect civilian personnel to handle the stress and chaos of the moment?” 

Where do I even begin? I guess, let me start with some statistics. Over the past 38 years and increasing in intensity and horrible numbers of people being senselessly killed, there have been 10 church related shootings in the United States. They are: (Date Location Number of Dead Number or Injured) 6/22/1980 1st Baptist Church in Daingerfield, TX 5 10; 3/10/1999 New St. John Fellowship Baptist Church, Gonzalez, LA 4 4; 9/15/1999 Wedgewood Baptist, Fort Worth, TX 8 7; 3/12/2005 Church of God, Brookfield, WI 8 4; 8/29/2005 Sash Assembly of God Church, Sash, TX 5 0; 5/21/2006 Ministry of Jesus Church, Baton Rouge, LA 5 0; 12/9/2007 Mission & New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO 5 5; 8/5/2012 Sikh Temple, Oak Creek WI 7 3; 6/27/2015 Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, SC 9 1; 11/5/2017 1st Baptist Church, Southerland Springs, TX 27 20.

A total of 83 Americans lost their lives to church shootings. Another 54 Americans were severely wounded. In 38 years of shooting history in the U.S., absolutely none of the parishioners were armed. The only armed individual was the SHOOTER. 

In fact, I’d like to introduce you to someone who I call a hero – his name is Stephen Willeford. Here is his story about the massive church shooting in Southerland, TX. In a recent article in the media (media outlet removed from the story), Stephen said: "I kept hearing the shots, one after another, very rapid shots - just 'pop pop pop pop' and I knew every one of those shots represented someone, that it was aimed at someone, that they weren't just random shots," Willeford told KHBS. Willeford exchanged gunfire with Kelley as started his escape in his Ford Explorer. He spotted Johnnie Langendorff's truck across the street and hailed him down. "I said, 'that guy just shot up the Baptist church. We need to stop him," Willeford told the affiliate.” It became an 11-mile chase down roads reaching almost 95 mph in some areas. What was the final result? The shooter was found dead of two gunshot wounds – one inflicted by Stephen Willeford and the other self-inflicted.

Which leads me to my next point. How do most of these shooters end their horrific crimes – by killing themselves. No, the police do not kill them. Parishioners do not kill them, and a tree doesn’t fall on them during their carnage. They either kill themselves or SOMEONE has to kill them, period. There is NO debate about this. It may sound like a great idea to pray during the carnage, but for some in the world, they don’t want to meet Jesus face-to-face right then and there. They may have different plans and you need to understand and respect that.

Next, let’s chat about your comment about first responders……… Remember, Bishop Easterling, you said: “As I have said during my talks on the districts, I am opposed to civilians being armed with guns and asked to become first responders during complex situations.”

Let me help you understand something very basic. Your parishioners are not first responders to these incidents if they are unarmed. They are only victims. And if they are armed, they are THE ONLY RESPONDERS you will EVER see. And, they may be your last.

Your logic and reasoning, I’m sure, is founded in the love of Christ. But, it’s awry. It misses every target possible. It’s not reasonable, logical, or founded in the truth of this unfortunate world.

Next, let’s take a look at the next comment you made, Bishop Easterling: “If those who have spent time in academies, simulated training exercises and firearms classes make mistakes in emotionally charged, split-second decisions, how do we expect civilian personnel to handle the stress and chaos of the moment?”

Wow, really, you would question the “stress and chaos of the moment” and use that as a justification rather than realize that stress on a “civilian” is far greater then their ability to stay alive? I’d rather have stress then be dead! This is the craziest argument I think I’ve seen in a long time.

In fact, it’s no argument at all. It’s a death wish come true. Childbirth is stressful. Being a parent is stressful. Living in this messed up world is stressful. Being dead, well – there’s no stress in that. You’re right. This isn’t advocating violence. It’s advocating life. And, saving the lives of those around us we consider precious.

This bill was introduced by responsible people who are advocating for their constituents because they know for a fact that the police will NEVER be able to stop these crazy people. It’s not because they do not want to or can’t. It’s because they realize that by the time a nut case with a gun, with multiple magazines (regardless of size) will KILL everyone, then themselves, even before the first call is made to 911. After that, it’s too late.

Please don’t stop caring for people. Don’t stop loving your parishioners. Continue to pray for those in your community and do great things for God and everyone you encounter. Those of us who benefit from your service respect you greatly and thank you for it. But, realize that there are those within your parish and community that are simply done with these killings and being a victim. We refuse. We will stand for life and the protection thereof. We will stand, aim, and shoot. You will be alive (hopefully) and so will SO MANY more people who go to church and love God. I’m one of those. I will STAND. Feel free to contact me directly with your comments. I encourage them. I can be reached by emailing me at .

Ronald E. David
Website:  www.icefdt.com 
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