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Post  Admin on Mon 20 Nov 2017, 9:58 pm

In wake of shootings, Florida church sign warns would-be attackers
November 19, 2017
Stokkete / Shutterstock.com
Mass-shootings and terrorist attacks at public events seem to be on the rise and not even houses of worship are safe. Some churches, however, are taking precautions to minimize the risk of becoming a target.

The River at Tampa Bay Church has posted signs on its doors and some of its windows warning would be attackers that its parishioners are armed and willing to use deadly force if attacked.

Despite the sign having been up for almost a year, it has gone viral following the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Not a Gun Free Zone
The sign obtained renewed life on the internet when Senior Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne reportedly posted it to his Instagram account two days after the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The intent of the sign is to warn any would-be attackers that the church would not go down lightly if attacked.
When asked about the sign, Associate Pastor Allen Hawes responded:
It is a deterrent. Look at what is going on. In the past two months, look at what happened in Texas. Look at what happened in Las Vegas. Because we are a church that is on television, we are very involved in the community. We want people to know that this is a safe zone.
He continued, “we are not a soft target. People here will defend their families.” Hawes went on assert that he has a concealed weapons permit and carries often when he is in the church.
The River at Tampa Bay Church has approximately 1,200 to 1,300 members and associate pastor Hawes claims many of them are armed.

Church Massacres
The Sutherland Springs church shooting marks the third mass-shooting that has taken place in a church in the last two years. The first shooting occurred on June 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina, where the shooter killed 9 people during a bible study. Another church shooting this year in Antioch, Tennessee was cut short by an armed citizen after one was killed and 7 injured.

The recent string of church shootings have reignited debate within churches on being seeing as “soft” targets due to their peaceful and welcoming nature. Dylan Roof, the Charleston shooter, reportedly attended the church bible study before killing the 9 victims.

According to reports, the Sutherland Springs shooter’s mother-in-law attended the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs where he killed at least 26 and injured dozens more.

The horrific incident caught everyone by surprise. Joe Tackitt, the sheriff of Wilson County, stated about the incident: “It’s something we all say does not happen in small communities, although we found out today it does.”

It appears that no one in the church was carrying a weapon and as a result had no way to defend themselves. The shooter walked in wearing a ballistic vest on his chest and a semi-automatic rifle in his hands.

When the shooter emerged from the church, a neighbor exchanged gunfire with the shooter and wounded him multiple times, causing him to flee. The neighbor and another man reportedly chased the shooter until he crashed and took his own life.

Given the events following the Sutherland Springs shooting, we can only wonder what the outcome would have been had any of the parishioners had a way to defend themselves. One thing is certain: some churches see a growing threat and are ready to fight back.


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