A sign at the Lighthouse Mexico Church of God has drawn some controversy, saying it is not a “gun-free zone.”
“Locked an (sic) loaded we are not a gun free zone,” the sign at a church in Oswego County, New York, reads.
In wake of the Texas church shooting, some churches are encouraging their congregation members to bring their guns to church.
— KSAT 12 (@ksatnews) November 11, 2017
Members of the church said the church’s support of gun possession in the church makes them feel safer in light of the massacre at a Texas church that left 26 people in early November.
“We have to take the precautions necessary so that we can come … and be safe at the same time,” one church member told KSAT about the sign.
If there were more armed people in church, some members added, there would be fewer mass shootings at churches across the United States, the report said.
“Members of the Lighthouse Mexico Church of God said an armed congregation would make the bad guys think twice,” KSAT reported.
The church calls itself the “most upbeat church in Upstate New York!” and includes a pro-gun message on its website, “We protect our people!” according to the New York Post.
“People say ‘Well, pastor, you’re talking about killing some,’ and I say ‘Well, if I don’t protect my people, I’m being complicit.’ A shooting here, that’s not going to happen,” church pastor Ronald Russell was quoted by the NY Post as saying.
“Times are changing,” he said after last week’s Texas church shooting.
His church also offers self-defense classes and training on how to look for suspicious behavior.
Buffalo’s True Bethel Baptist Church is also planning on hosting active-shooter training this week. The training will focus on survival, not fighting back.
“It’s not about you know whether we need guns in church, or weapons in church, but what are the simple things members are to do? Are they to stay in the building, are they to get up under pews? It’s simple things that could save a life,” pastor Darius Pridgen told WIVB.
Oswego, New York, is located about 30 miles north of Syracuse.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Air Force missed at least two chances to block the shooter in last weekend’s deadly church attack in Texas from buying guns after he was accused of a violent offense in 2012, according to current and former government officials and a review of military documents, Reuters reported.
A third opportunity to flag shooter Devin Kelley was lost two years later by a twist of bad luck when a Pentagon inspection of cases narrowly missed the former airman.
The Air Force said on Monday it had failed to provide information as required about Kelley’s criminal history to the FBI’s criminal databases. It gave few other details about the omission.
A review of Department of Defense procedures by Reuters shows that the military twice should have flagged Kelley, then serving at a New Mexico base, after he was accused of repeatedly beating his wife and stepson.
If Pentagon rules had been followed, the Air Force should have put Kelley into national criminal databases used for background checks soon after he was charged.
The Air Force should then have flagged Kelley, 26, again later that year after his court-martial conviction for assault, which permanently disqualified him from legally getting a gun.
When presented with this account of how the FBI was not alerted about Kelley, Air Force officials confirmed the procedures that should have happened.
“That is what the investigation is looking at now,” Brooke Brzozowske, an Air Force spokeswoman, said. The FBI confirmed it never received Kelley’s records.
Reuters contributed to this report.