A Baptist church in Dumas, Texas plans to host concealed handgun training classes, the Associated Press reported Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013.
To legally carry a concealed weapon in Texas, and in most states, a class is required. The training involves 10 hours of how to handle a gun and some basic safety procedures. There is also a legal aspect as well as far as defending oneself with a gun, and there is minimal training on firing a weapon.
The church is in the Texas Panhandle area near Amarillo. The pastor says it is offering the class as a community service because there is high interest in the subject matter. A state-certified instructor plans to teach the class on March 2. The offering of the class was announced this weekend.
Calvary Baptist officials say they are not making a political statement, but are offering a needed service in the community.
"We've always attempted to think outside the box as far as what the needs of the community are, and I think this melds well with that philosophy," Rev. Brad Foster was quoted by the Amarillo Globe-News as saying.
Sunday School director Jim Edlin said he would be sharing his experiences in the classes.
"We're not making a political statement, except we don't mind being associated with being in support of the Second Amendment." he said.
The classes will take place in the church's fellowship hall.
The website www.usacarry.com lists state regulations concerning concealed carry. According to their site carrying concealed weapons in a church - as well as most public buildings - is prohibited in Texas. The rules are very similar in Kansas.
According to a story posted on Huffington Post, this is not the first time a church has offered a concealed carry class. In December of 2012, before the Newtown, Conn. shootings, the article says a church in Oklahoma was offering a concealed carry class.
A church in Lexington, N.C., has also offered concealed carry classes for a few years. Pastor Ryan Bennett said the classes have been offered as a way of reaching out to the community. He said they have 80 people in each class and there is a waiting list to get in a class.
"Our people knew it wasn’t about bringing pistols to church, though; it was about outreach.” Bennett told the Huffington Post.
While outreach may take many forms, not all Christians think it is a good idea.
Richard Cizik of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good was quoted by Huffington as saying. ”But what these churches are proposing compromises the essential message of the gospel, that Jesus was first of all a peacemaker.”
“I am not intrinsically anti-Second Amendment; however, this seems to be an ethically suspect message. The gospel should be ‘Put your faith in Christ.’ This seems to be ‘Put your faith in Glock.’”
Both of the pastors were quoted as saying they would allow concealed carry in their respective churches, but they do not encourage it. They say they are offering a community service.