Woodfin –Area church leaders packed a lecture room in Woodfin Tuesday evening (Jan. 9) to hear from the Buncombe County Sheriffs Office about how to protect their congregations from mass shootings. The presentation was done at the Buncombe County Training Center.
The hour and a half long presentation and public discussion was initiated, according to Buncombe County Sheriffs Captain Randy Sorrell, because of the department phones ringing off the hook asking “What can I do” to protect the people I feel responsible for.
“So what do we tell you on how to protect your congregation...Constantina wire, fences, snipers on the roof...the first time you think about it you think that its a fairly straight forward thing to deal with, and then you think about it a minute and you realize it is an incredibly complex problem,” Sorrell told clergy and church leaders. “How do we live in this world in a democratic Society with the freedoms we want and be free from worrying about that kind of violence.” Read more...
Sorrell said knowing that congregations and leaders would have different comfort levels with protection the sheriffs office put together an informational packet and video to give leaders the knowledge to know what they needed to know rather than giving them a plan of action because it will ultimately be up to the individual churches and congregations to make that decision.
“There are people in this area who are professionals and do this (church security) professionally and do this for a living who can give you that advise we certainly encourage you to seek those people out. We dont endorse one over another. If thats what works for you we encourage you to do that,” Sorrells said. He also added, “We encourage you to seek out legal advice because theres all kinds of complexities in this situation.”
Sorrell said it wasnt just as simple as a few members carrying concealed weapons, but a much more in-depth issue which included legal matters, policies, procedures and rings of protection that can be taken to make their church a safer place.
Sorrell stressed that pastors and leaders need to first talk about the issue and come to a consensus then present their decisions to their congregation so that everyone is on the same page. “Because at the end of the day it comes down to one simple thing. What are you and your congregation willing to live with? Thats the bottom line.”
“I have talked to many pastors and people from churches on the phone when we were coordinating this and I will tell you that some are ready to have armed guards at the door. Some are not prepared to have a firearm anywhere near their church. Thats a pretty broad view of the world and thats ok. Thats why we live in the great country we live in,” Sorrell told the group.
“Our goal here you know is to have a conversation. Our goal is to answer some questions for you and our goal is to send you away from here with some information that will allow you to go back to your congregation and make a plan,” said Sorrell.
Sorrell then opened the meeting up to questions from the audience which went on for over an hour and ranged from the legality of actually using a firearm in defense to use of security cameras in deterring and protecting the faithful. Sorrell said on the latter matter a decision need to be made if security cameras were going to just record an incident or if people were going to be monitoring the cameras during services because there was a vast difference in the way they can be used.
Other matters that came up were the legal ramification of locking doors, how to approach suspicious persons on church property, churches meeting on public school property, private security, hiring members of the law enforcement community to provide security and even estranged spouses of church members which Sorrell pointed out should be a bigger concern than an act of terrorism.
Sorrell also addressed firearms in church. “The firearm in church rule, from our perspective, are pretty simple. You have to follow state law. State law doesnt really address it to be honest with you because it says that if you own the property you can kind the set the rules as you want them.” He then said, “From a practical stand point of the church and firearms what I would say to you is this. You need to seek very good legal advice.”
Kevin Calhoun, outreach officer with the sheriffs office, added, “The insurance company, those people who pay for those problems and those mistakes, have made it their premier effort to give you some conversation pieces out there on the internet in short, say 20 minute video presentations...about what are the legal implications.”
Calhoun and Sorrell said they hope to have the information that they handed out at the meeting up of the departments website in the future. Another meeting is planned for Tuesday, January 16th at 6 pm at the same location. For more information about this subject or to obtain the information given out at the meeting contact the sheriffs office at 255-5555. Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan was not present at the meeting having been called away to an important matter.
Remembering MLK Day
By Clint Parker
Weaverville – American Flags lined Weaverville’s Main Street and Weaver Blvd Monday as the country remembered Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
According to Wikipedia, “Dr. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. The campaign for a federal holiday in King’s honor began soon after his assassination in 1968. Read more...
“President Ronald Reagan signed the holiday into law in 1983, and it was first observed three years later” in 1986. “At first, some states resisted observing the holiday as such, giving it alternative names or combining it with other holidays. It was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time in 2000.”
North Carolina used to be one of the states that combined the day with the remembrance of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s birthday. According to a 2017 Smithsonian.com article citing a 1990 New York Times article, which noted that at the time “...five states combined MLK and Robert E. Lee’s celebrations, although Virginia and North Carolina no longer do so.
”The same article noted that “Only three states — Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi — continue to celebrate the two on the same day.”
Presentation to give
on North Korea situation
Weaverville – An upcoming talk at the Weaverville Library on North Main Street will take a closer look at the North Korea issue confronting the nation.
“North Korea: The Myths and Realities,” will be presented on Tuesday, January 23rd at 7 pm by security consultant Jonathan Tetzlaff as he speaks about what may be ahead for 2018 in US/North Korean relations.
According to a release, “Jonathan has worked for the U.S. government and for private corporations as a foreign affairs analyst and has made numerous trips to North Korea over the last several years. Read more...
Learn more about what’s really happening in this secretive state and whether the international response has been, or can be, effective.”
The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Weaverville Library. For more information call the Library at 250-6482.
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