‘God’s Army’: Louisiana Locals Train To Protect Their Churches With Guns

January 21, 2011 3:43 a.m.

Some Louisiana residents have recently been attending firearms training sessions so they can carry concealed weapons into churches, in accordance with a law passed over last summer.

Back in July, Gov. Bobby Jindal signed a law that allows churches, mosques, and synagogues in Louisiana to establish a “security plan” for their constituents, permitting members of the congregation with concealed weapons permits to carry guns during services. Part of the law requires eight hours of tactical training with local law enforcement before someone can begin carrying inside a house of worship.

And now, it seems, members of Bossier Parish churches have begun to take up the state on its offer, purportedly so they can protect their fellow churchgoers in the event of some kind of an attack.Last weekend, 20 people attended the first of multiple Church Security Training Sessions at the Bossier Sheriff’s gun range, Adam Duvernay of the Shreveport Times reports. There were several hours of classroom training before the group hit the gun range:

The class included lessons on physiological changes during violent encounters, lessons on control tactics like pressure points and take-downs and the justifications for a physical response to dangerous situations. On the range, they practiced controlled shooting, reload drills, drawing techniques and speed drills.

As Zachary Roth reported, Bossier Parish is home to Sheriff Larry Deen, who last year launched “Operation Exodus” — an effort to arm volunteers with “shotguns, riot shields, batons, and a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on a ‘war wagon.'” Deen explained at the time that “recent terror threats” have shown that there are “homegrown terrorists are in our midst.”

“Over the past several years, the violence has gotten worse and worse” said Jim Middleton, one current trainee. “I’d rather be proactive than working after the fact. We’re all in God’s army, and you don’t see any army going to war unarmed.”

Louisiana State Rep. Henry Burns (R), who wrote the original legislation, visited the class, and told the trainees that “each and every one of you here are patriots because you care to provide protection to the innocent. We should be able to worship our Lord without fear.”

Burns told TPM last May, after the legislation passed the state House, that the law was for “those unique situations where maybe a church can’t afford law enforcement,” but churchgoers want to protect themselves.

A church is “really no safe haven,” he said.

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