It’s Only a Matter of Time
(By Craig Dixon)
Did you know that, in the State of Florida, that a properly licensed Concealed Weapons holder commits a 3RD degree felony, when they carry their concealed weapons into a church that has an accredited school on the grounds? (F.S.790.115 (2a) & 790.23 (12)(a)9 A person shall not posses any firearm, electric weapon or device, destructive device, or other weapon as defined in F.S. 790.001(13), including a razor blade, box cutter, except as authorized in support of a school sanctioned activities, at a school sponsored event or ON THE PROPERTY OF ANY SCHOOL…). A school is defined by (F.S.790 115, 3) Any preschool, elementary school, middle school, junior high school, secondary school, career center, or postsecondary school, WHETHER PUBLIC OR PRIVATE. Sections 790.115 (b) and (c1) clearly define that any person who willfully does this “commits a felony of the 3RD degree.” A church that authorizes this can be prosecuted under a myriad of laws, culpable negligence being just one.
Then why is this so widely accepted? Good question. The answer is “because no precedence has been set…yet.” This means that when and if a church sanctioned team member does shoot a bad guy, in a church, that has a school, the individual, as well as the church leaders can be held liable, criminally as well as civilly. The widow of the bad guy has the right and will more than likely exercise the right to sue. Even if the charges are not filed or dropped, a civil court can render a guilty verdict subjecting the individual and the church to a devastating monetary settlement. If you do win the case, the cost of representation is enough to bankrupt most people and some churches. There also stands a great possibility of a churches liability insurance policy not covering representation or damages, due to the law was not being followed. This means that the individual team member is essentially “hung out to dry!” As a well respected insurance agent, in my hometown, offered this analogy …”we would not cover damages to your car, if you were involved in a police chase.” This could close the doors of a church forever…satan wins! The volunteer team member is financially ruined…I’m talking loosing his family’s home, all possessions, the children’s college funds…all of it…satan wins.
The same thing can happen to an unsuspecting person just visiting a church. Since it is not against the law in Florida for a Concealed Weapons and Firearms license holder to carry in a church, how would they know if a school existed there? This is where ignorance is no excuse…right? That would be the prosecuting attorney’s stance. Even if this person’s action were not sanctioned by the church, did the church have a responsibility to inform the visitor that a school was on the grounds? This gets real muddy in a hurry! Like a roaring lion, seeking to devour! While the Bible does authorize us to defend ourselves, our children and our neighbors, it clearly guides us to obey the law. Romans 13 vs. 1 & 2 (KJV) “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained by God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive unto themselves damnation.” This tells me, and I am open to theological correction, that God will not intervene on our behalf.
So now what? Get legal. The State of Florida authorizes businesses and entities to have there own armed security provided that the armed individuals are properly licensed. The required licenses are Security Officer (D) and the Statewide Firearms Licensed (G). You will find security schools throughout the State of Florida. In my area, we have just such a school that has agreed to hold night classes. This precludes the need of your volunteers to use their 2 week vacation time. Moreover allows the individuals without vacation time to attend. The Security Officer class is 40 hours and the Statewide Firearms class is an additional 24 hours. At this writing the all inclusive cost is approximately $700.00. The (G) license must be recertified every year at an average cost of $160.00.
It is my belief and the belief of other professionals in the security and law enforcement fields that a church should inform the public that a school is on the grounds. This could be accomplished by a small sign at the entrances to the church. We have these for sale for your convenience.
The final step in this process is proper training for your team member or members. This will further reduce the liabilities to the individual and the church. The laws concerning subduing/handcuffing, use of force, use of deadly force, forcible felonies are but a few of the Florida Statutes that are covered in-depth. We also issue certifications in non-lethal weapons (O.C.Sprays and Tasers) to further reduce the individuals as well as the churches overall liability. I invite you to visit the course outline for our 3 day Church Defender class on our website.
For questions or comments regarding this article, please send to BethelDefense@Gmail.com