Article summary. Most churches in America are safe places. While incidents of shootings on church property are shocking, they are rare, averaging one or two per year. But because of the "open access" policy of most churches, they remain easy targets for violent acts. While such acts cannot be prevented, there are steps that church leaders can take to manage the risk. This feature article will review recent incidents of shootings on church property, address several legal issues, and conclude with an assessment of steps church leaders can take to manage the risk.
Just four days after eight persons were gunned down in a Nebraska mall in December of 2007, two people were killed and three injured by a gunman at a Colorado church. Earlier that day the same gunman killed two other persons at a Colorado missions training facility. These events shocked the nation, and have sparked an intense debate within many churches over the need for security guards. This article will review several recent church shootings, and address the legal issues associated with various security measures.