December 18, 2017 10:20:26 AM
HATTIESBURG -- Some Mississippi church leaders are learning how to make houses of worship more secure.
Officials from the Mississippi Department of Homeland Security and the state Gaming Commission provided training last week for several pastors, WHLT-TV reported. The session took place at West Point Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, with people driving in from several cities.
Security has been on people's minds since a gunman killed more than two dozen people Nov. 5 at a church in Texas. Mississippi enacted a law in 2016, allowing places of worship to designate members to undergo firearms training and carry guns to protect the congregation. It also allows people to carry guns in holsters without a concealed weapons permit.
Jim Brinson with the Homeland Security said church leaders should evaluate their property, checking doors, windows and entrances.
"If you're introducing weapons into your church, you want to make sure that you're getting your good quality trustworthy people that actually understand how that firearm functions, and seek as much training, and the best training that you could possibly get," Brinson said. "When you introduce a firearm into a group of people, once you pull it, it's not going to end well regardless how many people you have with guns."
Ben Harper with the Gaming Commission said how communication is important in developing a strong plan.
"I think failure to plan, is planning to fail. That's cliche that we think's been, unfortunately, proven recent history of our country," Harper said. "So we're offering a way to begin a plan for each house of worship."
Pastor Reginald Buckley with Cade Chapel in Jackson, said because of the previous church incidents this year, it's better to stay prepared, and that's why he attended the training.
"Because of the partnership between the Baptist Convention, Families First for Mississippi, Mississippi Homeland Security Office bringing this together, I think it's really going to benefit a lot of congregations," Buckley said. "Not just here in this area, but across the state."
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