Video courtesy of USA Today

For seven years, Geof Peabody — owner and instructor at Peabody’s Shooting Range — has been teaching his fellow church members how to use guns.

Peabody said interest in his class has been growing among the faithful, as they feel a need to be prepared in case of an attack.

The shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina Wednesday that left nine black parishioners dead is reinforcing that feeling, and some church members’ belief that they may need to pack a gun when they go to worship.

Dylann Roof, the white 21-year-old suspect of the Emanuel killings, sat with the church prayer group for about an hour before he allegedly yelled racial epithets and then opened fire at the group.

“We need protection,” Debbie Caudle, member of Green Valley Community Church in Placerville, Calif., said. “People that go through classes and get licenses and stuff to carry a gun. I fell like we need this in our lives. We need it in church and in our businesses.”

Caudle has taken the introductory handgun class for ministers.

“I never had held a handgun before in my life and I wanted to be comfortable with it,” said Caudle, who is white.

Peabody starts training in a classroom where ministers learn about safety. Then, they move over to the shooting range to get hands on practice.

He said the purpose of the class is not only to learn how to shoot, but also to know how to stop someone else from shooting.

“One person that takes the training in this class, if they never touch another gun in their life, they can still interfere with a revolver or a semi-automatic and make it stop operating,” Peabody said.

Peabody said he has trained over 400 ministers, but even within their churches not everyone is supportive of the idea of people carrying weapons at church.

“Many people have a problem with somebody in ministry — or even a Christian in general — having anything to do with fire arms,” Cavalry Chapel Senior Pastor Dominic Triveri said. “But firearms are just firearms and what is done with them is up to the individuals who use them.”

The ministers said the idea is not for everyone to have a gun at church, but they believe the more they know about weapons, the better equipped they will be to respond to gun violence.

(Bianca Graulau reports for News 10-Sacramento, Calif.)


  1. This mentality is insulting and sacriligeous. Weapons of any kind do not belong in a house of God. I understand that after this recent tragedy, thoughts like this will enter the public consciousness, but let’s not Church become an OK Corral environment. Scan people at the door if we must, but let’s not carry weapons in Church with the idea that potentially killing someone is necessary or self-defensive…….we are in the presence of God.

    • “He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” — Jesus according to St. Luke chapter 22.

      • That was for the fulfillment of prophecy, and not a recommendation for self-defense. When Peter tried to use that sword to defend Jesus, Jesus commanded he put it away.

      • You are only displaying your ignorance of Scripture by your comments. There are many places in Scripture that explicitly require self defense but I am not about the work for you. Get and learn how to use a concordance to find them yourself. Aside from the fact the “right” (not a privilege granted by any government) to own property requires the right to protect it from damage or theft.

    • JR

      This mentality may be “insulting” and “sacriligious” to you personally.

      For others, it is a religious duty to protect family, neighbors, friends and fellow church members.

      Wake up, it’s OK Corral time already with obvious open season on Christian churches.

      I applaud those taking steps to make sure homicidal maniacs think twice before they walk in and start shooting up a church house.

      If you can’t find the stomach for it….stand out the way for those who can.

      • Scott, I sadly have to agree with you. None of us, even the most ardent firearms enthusiasts, wishes this upon a house of peace. We must be resigned to it, and steel ourselves for the potential of Evil to inhabit our sanctuaries.

        At the same time, just like the AME Church so vividly demonstrated, we do not stand in judgment, but offer forgiveness. However, sheepdogs are what are sadly necessary to protect the flock.

    • A “scanner” doesn’t prevent the maniac from going off with something other than a gun after he’s passed clearance.

      A gun in the pew, however, insures that proper decorum can be maintained regardless of a maniac’s options after passing clearance.

      People of all races in this country have been murdered at Christian churches due to random acts of lunacy regardless of the respective motives of the shooters ….”in the presence of God”.

      Returning fire, or firing first, look like obvious and constructive choices to me when dealing with senseless killers….in the presence of God.

    • Vicar Dave Price

      Agreed! This is so stupid! Jesus in the Garden forbade swords. Can you imagine His reaction to guns!!

  2. “ firearms…what is done with them is up to the individuals who use them.”

    That’s America.
    Easy access to guns so anyone can kill or be killed.
    But no access to birth control to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

    Why? Because the Christians are pro-life!
    What an unreasonable, impractical country.

    • How does anyone associate birth control and guns? Maybe you consider the deaths of those 9 people to be a late, late, late term abortion?

      No access to birth control? The first, safest and most dependable form of birth control is free: abstinence.

      Other forms can also be had for free for adults.

      Max you have no sense of reality or logic.

      • @Will.

        Abstinence is a pathetic, failed policy. It is willfully inhumane.
        Every state which enforces abstinence is full of unwanted pregnancies, unwanted marriages, miserable inequality and poverty.

        And who recommends this unhealthy abstinence? Religion. The poison of decent society.

        If you cared about evidence not only would you support easy access to birth control – but you would be disgusted by claims there is a God who cares about such trivial nonsense as routine human sexuality.

  3. Deacon John M Bresnahan

    I bet every person in upstate NY and rural Penn. and Vermont who has a gun to defend their families with is grateful to God for the Second Amendment and the NRA. Isn’t it curious how the liberal media –which touts life in prison as a substitute for capital punishment— zeros in on only their pet hobby horse: gutting the Second Amendment.
    The media forgets or ignores how the events of the last few days can be seen as a vindication of capital punishment and the Second Amendment and should be part of any debate–when and if the media allows some honest debate.

    • It was okay years ago when no one would enter a House of God with a weapon. Seems there was that least common denominator of morality. Now, however, people have no limits. This is clearly the age of the Devil himself. So I think either JR’s recommendation of everyone passing through a metal detector (single door entry), or to have someone in the church be in charge of carrying a defensive weapon, just in case some brainless fool comes through the door with a loaded gun ready to shoot.

    • Except for the hundreds of people accidentally killed by lugnuts with firearms who don’t store them properly and don’t use them properly. Not to mention the hundreds more killed on purpose during domestic disputes or personal squabbles. Add to that the number of legally purchased firearms which end up through illegal channels due to gaps in interstate laws concerning ownership. To make matters worse the NRA encourages irresponsible gun ownership and use..

      All to prevent the half dozen or so violent crimes where the victim not only has a firearm but the wherewithal to use one effectively.

      How many mass murder sprees have been stopped by armed citizens? Zero.

      Plus the 2nd Amendment isn’t any more exempt from regulation than the 1st Amendment. We regulate speech, assembly and religious practice where they pose clear and imminent threats to the lives of others. No reason devices designed to be lethal to people cannot be.

  4. Peabody says 400 ministers have taken his class? Color me skeptical. I’m sure you could scare up 400 ministers across the country who think this way, but who made their way to him — where is he anyway? I’m not taking the time to watch the video. Would appreciate if reporters gave us the important information, and maybe demonstrated due diligence when a claim like that is made.

  5. I have never owned a gun — after all, mundane little things like food, medicine, electricity, and running water have always taken priority — but I admit I have secretly lusted in my heart for a brand new Lars Grizzly 50 BMG. Shave the mustache clean off a housefly at 700 yards!

    • I got to hand it to you Doc, you are upfront and honest about ammophilia.

      It’s not about protection. It’s about feeding a fetish. I make no judgments about the fetish. I own several firearms of a classic vintage and have zero illusions they are for protection or are perfectly safe to leave where others can access them.

  6. Most off duty and retired cops carry their guns everywhere they go. I wouldn’t always be so sure that there isn’t someone armed where you’re worshiping.

  7. And, why not?

    “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house [beginning with spiritual and physical protection], he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Timothy 5:8)

    For more, Google online tract “Firearms: Scripturally Defended.”

  8. Our lives are a gift from God himself. If we fail to defend our lives from those who would unlawfully and violently take them from us, we are debasing the value of that gift. It is our DUTY to defend ourselves. Firearms make a 90-lb grandmother equal to a 300-lb thug (or 110-lb madman). They are the only tool that does so. There is nothing scripturally unsound about defense of self or those around us (love your neighbor as yourself). The standard rules for firearms usage apply, especially NEVER pull out a firearm and aim at someone unless you are going to fire on them; this presupposes there is no alternative.

  9. Yet another example of how nothing discredits Christianity more than the behavior of Christians.

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