After 26 people were killed in the Sutherland Springs shooting, security has continued to be a top issue for Texas churches. But a law change just a few months prior to Texas' deadliest mass shooting is helping the Lone Star State's churches find an answer.
House Bill 421 isn't long, but it allows churches to use volunteers for security without going though the expensive process of getting licensed under the Private Security Act. Greater Waco Baptist Church Assistant Pastor Nehemiah Torberson said the process was expense, even for a large congregation.
"We had 60 hours of class time, we had to drive to Dallas for eight days," Toberson said. "I would estimate it probably $1500 to $2000 all told."
The expenditures also included fees for having private security, the cost of classes, and the cost of mandatory mental evaluations. Even so, the church has had a security team for around two years.
As of September, however, they will be able to expand much more easily.
Under the new law, anyone can work security with the church to volunteer. Greater Waco Baptist Church hosted a License to Carry class by Big Iron Hand Gun License Training Saturday, Dec. 9.
"These are the guys where churches should say, 'hey ya'll did it right, lets team up to help protect our church,'" Big Iron owner Johnny Price said. "They've had the background and some training. And again, additional training is always better too."
Several church members came out to get or renew their license Saturday and the church will be selecting new security team members in the future. Toberson said selection is just a starting point for the church and security teams have a lot more to do.
"Make a plan, have a plan," Toberson said. "If something were to happen, 'what's the protocol, what do we do.'"
For information on how the law changes can help other congregations put together a security team, contact Johnny Price at 254-709-6228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.