RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Churches in North Carolina are evaluating their security plans following Sunday’s shooting massacre at a Texas sanctuary, and for some, that means considering having armed members of the congregation.
Raleigh pastor Darnell Dixon said such conversations have already taken place at Bible Way Temple.
“It may be something we’ve already done. I believe in being prepared,” Dixon said.
“I believe it is incumbent on the church to make sure that people are protected. We have alarm systems, we have entry alarm systems, we have fire protection here, so it’s a part of the package,” he added.
Dixon declined to discuss specifics of what the preparations entail, but when asked if he has a firearm, he again reiterated that he believes in being prepared.
Dixon says what happened in Texas can happen anywhere. He says church members who say “this won’t happen in my community” are unprepared.
The two men who fired shots at and chased gunman Devin Patrick Kelley following Sunday’s shooting at a Texas church are receiving praise for their Good Samaritan actions and being hailed by some as heroes.
Dixon said he doesn’t know if their reaction would have been the same as his. The pastor of a congregation about 500 people near Shaw University said he supports the Constitution, the Second Amendment, and North Carolina’s concealed carry laws.
“I believe in life, and I think that things can be handled differently. As tragic as it is, I believe that, if the state of North Carolina allows you to be concealed, I believe you should,” Dixon said.
“Whatever the Constitution and the law of the land is, I believe you should. I don’t believe in recklessness or abuse. You can abuse anything if you use it improperly,” Dixon added. “I think there’s a proper use of a firearm and I believe there is an improper use of a firearm.”
Republican state representative Rena Turner of Iredell County received calls from constituents following the 2015 murders of nine people at Charleston, South Carolina church.
Turner sponsored a bill during the March 2017 legislative session to loosen restrictions on concealed carry permit holders at churches which have schools on the same campus — provided classes are not in session.
House Bill 174 passed 82-34 but did not receive a vote in the North Carolina Senate before the end of the legislative session.
“After that shooting in Charleston, they were just very concerned about their safety and being vulnerable,” Turner said in March.
“We live in a different world these days, and these people didn’t want to be prevented from protecting themselves,” she added.
CBS North Carolina requested comment from Turner about Sunday’s shooting and if she plans to sponsor an identical or similar bill during the upcoming session, but her legislative assistant said Turner was out of the office on Monday.
Dixon said he would encourage lawmakers to vote in favor of such a bill.
“Yes, I support that 100 percent. The climate of our day dictates the preparedness of any place where people gather, so I am an advocate whether it’s the church or any place where people gather. You go to the ballgame, they have security, they have police officers visible, so now they’ve come to the church, so I think we should be prepared,” Dixon said.
“The great tragedy of the devaluing of life in a very innocent atmosphere, which is the church, where people’s consciousness is pointed towards a spirituality that uplifts them, that teaches them peace and love and tolerance, love your brother. For that (shooting) to happen in such a serene place, it’s almost like an oxymoron,” he added.
Dixon said he will not let the event scare him away from or act differently while at Bible Way Temple. He also said having security stations at the entrances to churches is too extreme.
“I don’t want people to be uncomfortable. I think the house of worship should be open to all people, but the Bible says ‘watch as well as pray’,” he said.
Dixon said would like to see a discussion about the legality of assault rifles, believing the general public has no need for such weapons.