For centuries, churches have stood as bastions of faith, places of refuge, and centers for communal gathering. Yet, intertwined with their sacred purpose is a vulnerability that has made them targets throughout history. From acts of terrorism to hate-fueled attacks, history has shown us the fragility of safety even in the holiest of spaces.

Given the threats, there is a need for security and self-defense in houses of worship. While many churches allow parishioners to carry firearms, some do not. Making matters worse, some states have passed laws banning concealed carry in churches.

Many bigger churches have security teams which may be comprised of unpaid volunteers, paid private security or even on duty law enforcement. Security team members should strongly consider CCW insurance given the potential criminal and/or civil liability inherent in private security

This blog explores examples of church shootings and how there is an effort in some states to ban concealed carry in churches and further, explores church security teams and the need for them to acquire CCW insurance.

Examples of Church Attacks

On June 17, 2015, a gunman opened fire during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Nine African American parishioners, including the church’s pastor, were killed and several others were wounded. It was determined the shooting was racially motivated. The shooter was convicted of murder and federal hate crimes and sentenced to death.

One of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history took place on November 5, 2017 when a gunman entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and opened fire during a Sunday morning service. 26 people were killed and another 20 were wounded. A citizen armed with an AR-15 confronted the shooter outside the church and fired several shots, striking him in the side of the torso and thigh. The killer was able to get into his vehicle and sped off. The armed citizen, along with another citizen, chased him in another vehicle. Eventually, the shooter ran off the road and took his own life.

On December 29, 2019 a gunman opened fire with a shotgun inside the West Freeway Church of Crist in White Settlement, Texas and immediately killed two churchgoers. A volunteer security team member, Jack Wilson, drew his pistol and fired one shot, killing the perpetrator. Evidently, several other churchgoers also drew their own weapons in response to the shooting.

As the Spanish-language services were starting in the afternoon of February 11, 2024 at the Lakewood Church in Houston Texas, a woman began to shoot at the churchgoers. She shot one man in the leg, wounding him but thankfully did not hit anybody else with gunfire. Two off-duty police offers were working as security for the church, pursued the shooter and exchanged gunfire with her, ultimately killing her.

These are only a few examples, but they also highlight how rapid, armed response can, result in fewer innocent people being harmed or killed. It highlights the need for security and the ability to defend yourself in houses of worship.

Making It Harder to Exercise Self Defense in Church.

The United States Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Bruen v. New York focused on the constitutionality of New York’s strict concealed carry permit law, clarified the standards by which states can regulate the carrying of firearms in public. While the Court affirmed the right of individuals to carry firearms for self-defense, it also recognized the authority of states to impose certain restrictions, such as requiring a justifiable reason for obtaining a concealed carry permit.

In response to Bruen, some state legislatures have created ” sensitive places ” bills where concealed carry is prohibited. These safe spaces typically include locations such as schools, government buildings, public parks and churches among others.

Proponents argue that these measures help prevent gun violence and promote a sense of security. In reality, “sensitive places” are expanding gun free zones which create target rich environments. These feel-good laws are preventing law abiding citizens from exercising their Second Amendment Right to Keep and Bear Arms outside the home. Furthermore, concealed carry permit holders are one of the most law-abiding demographics in the country.

New York passed the Concealed Carry Improvement Act as a direct response to Bruen but that act has already been challenged. In December, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld portions of the Act but also blocked some provisions including banning concealed carry in houses of worship. A partial win for self-defense.

California passed Senate Bill 2 in September which like New York, created whole classifications of “sensitive places” concealed carry would be banned, including places of worship. On January 2024, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a California judges injunction of the new law, thus suspending the law from going into effect until an appeal of the ruling can be heard in April.

At least one other state, Colorado, is considering a similar “safe spaces” law which would ban concealed carry in houses of worship.

Church Security Teams

Church security teams have become increasingly common in recent years as a response to concerns about potential threats during religious gatherings. These teams often consist of trained volunteers or hired security professionals who are tasked with ensuring the safety of worshippers and mitigating risks associated with potential violence or emergencies.

Many churches allow or even encourage members of their security teams to carry concealed firearms as part of their security protocols. Having armed personnel on-site can help deter or respond to threats effectively. As pointed out earlier, there are examples of church security teams quickly ending shooting incidents.

However, along with carrying concealed firearms comes the responsibility of understanding and adhering to state and federal laws regarding firearms possession and use. This is where CCW insurance becomes crucial for members of church security teams.

CCW insurance provides legal protection and financial coverage in the event that a team member is involved in a self-defense shooting or faces legal challenges related to their use of a firearm.

Purchasing CCW insurance ensures that members of church security teams have access to legal representation, coverage for potential civil liability, and assistance navigating the legal aftermath of a defensive shooting. Given the complexities and potential consequences of using firearms in self-defense situations, having insurance can provide peace of mind and necessary support for those tasked with protecting others in a church setting.


Houses of worship have always been targets for terrorists and hate fueled individuals seeking to harm others while they are worshiping. Some shootings have been stopped quickly by either armed parishioners or members of a church security team. Unfortunately, some states are trying to ban concealed carry from houses of worship but so far, have not been successful.

Given the security risks, more and more churches are successfully implementing security teams. However, there are inherent risks to the team members if they find themselves in a defensive shooting situation that can include criminal charges and civil lawsuits. The religious institution leadership should encourage security team members to obtain CCW insurance.  

Second Call Defense offers invaluable protection and peace of mind to church security team concealed carry permit holders. As a member, individuals gain access to comprehensive legal and financial assistance, including coverage for criminal and civil defense expenses, bail bonds, firearm replacement, and expert attorney representation.

Moreover, Second Call Defense provides 24/7 emergency hotline support, ensuring immediate assistance in the critical moments following a self-defense incident. With its extensive network of experienced attorneys and proactive legal defense strategy, Second Call Defense stands as a vital resource, shielding members from the potentially devastating consequences of legal battles and ensuring they can confidently exercise their right to self-defense.

*Second Call Defense is not insurance and does not sell or promote insurance products.  Second Call Defense is a membership organization that provides its members access to the “Second Amendment Support Foundation, Inc.,” which provides the means necessary to protect Second Call Defense members from the legal aftermath of exercising their right to self-defense. For an overview of the differences between Second Call Defense Member Benefits and traditional insurance, click here