Will legalizing concealed carry in church deter attacks?
HOUSTON (FOX 26) - 27 dead, 20 wounded. An estimated 700 rounds unleashed by a gunman at the defenseless members of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.
A year and a half later, state lawmakers lifted the prohibition on licensed concealed carry within Texas churches. With the law set to take effect this Sunday, Dave Welch, leader of the thousand member Texas Pastor Council, welcomed the right to fight fire with fire in defense of the vulnerable.
"There's a clear message to potential perpetrators that if churches across the board have people in the church that are carrying, that are licensed, that are trained and prepared, that it is less likely that someone will attempt to engage," said Welch.
Despite the new law, some religious organizations, including the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, opted to continue the prohibition of firearms on church property posting state mandated signs.
Leaders of the Catholic Diocese of Galveston Houston, representing 1.7 million members, are leaving the choice to ban or permit concealed handguns in church to each individual parish.
And in the wake of the Tree of Life Mass shooting in Pittsburgh, FOX 26 has learned some Houston synagogues are welcoming armed and trained congregants.
"There are Jewish synagogues in Houston and in Austin and in other places that are actually taking the initiative to prepare themselves. You have to do it the right way. You have to have a plan," said Hanan Yadin, a security expert who trains military, police and civilian clients to contend with active shooters.