A Placerville, CA firearms instructor and gun range owner is offering free training to clergy members and church personnel in an effort to help bolster confidence and security among those in the religious community.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Geof Peabody said he believes church violence has been on the rise for decades and that when it comes to armed security in houses of worship, “it’s time for ministers to get their head out of the sand.”
In recent months, violence against church buildings and congregations has attracted national headlines.
Peabody said he began offering gun safety and concealed-carry classes for clergy and churches about eight years ago, and has since that time has had about 500 ministers and staff members take his course, which includes a classroom section typically held at a church, followed by hands-on training at a gun range.
“The first one we did this year we had 55 ministers sign up for it. It’s pretty epic,” said Peabody, who calls his training program results “immeasurably successful.”
Recent terrorist attacks and other events in California and elsewhere have sparked a surge in interest for personal protection and firearms training. As a result of recent events, Peabody said he has received increase interest from congregations about his training.
Rev. Debra Sabino of The Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Placerville said a stalking incident first prompted her to purchase a firearm for the first time and to become proficient with its safety and use.
“I have been following stories of violence done in churches for a couple of years and do believe that churches need to have a well thought-out security plan which may include having trained people carry a gun, depending on the situation,” Sabino told The Christian Post. She said she now considers armed security for churches to be such an important topic that she is writing a book titled “The Theology of Self-Defense.”
"I believe that lethal force may be necessary in certain cases to protect lives we are entrusted to protect,” she said.