Church shootings are on the rise according to statistics and church safety is on the minds of everyone today.

Church shootings are on the rise according to statistics and church safety is on the minds of everyone today.
On Tuesday, the Newton County Sheriff's Office Chaplain's Department held two seminars for churches on church safety. The seminars took place at 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. at the New-Mac Community Room in Neosho, with a packed house.
"I think that we had between the two sessions somewhere around 80-85 people," Newton County Sheriff Chris Jennings said. "It was a very good turnout, very good representation from several of the churches in the area, and we will still do more of them if the requested by any of the churches. I think that the general attitude is very open, sorrowful that it has come to this, but open to the reality of this is the world that we are living in right now."
Jennings said the law enforcement department talked to those in attendance about a security team.
"Basically we were telling members of the different churches what they needed to do to get to a point where we could train them for a security in the church," he said. "Basically, how to pick a security team, what kind of people you want on your security team, different things like that. And then at some point when they get to that ground level where they are ready for us, they will contact us and we will come to the church, we will help them set up a security plan for the church. To teach their security people, things about entrances and exits, just basic security of the church and the people."
One would not think of a church on having someone come in and shoot the congregation.
However, in August 2007, it happened here in Neosho at the First Congregational Church. Three people died and five others were wounded at that church. Mass shootings have become common and has been defined as a shooting in which at least four individuals die from gun violence. Nationwide, schools, institutions, and many businesses have adopted new security measures in an effort to prevent mass shootings.
Between 1980 and 2005, 137 people died in church shootings. From 2006-2016, the number increased to 147. The deadliest church shooting happened last year, on Nov. 5 at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where 26 people died and many others were wounded. On the same day, another church shooting in the parking lot of a Catholic church in Fresno took two more lives.
"There is a general decline in morals in the nation," Jennings said. "You can blame any number of reasons for that, but whether it is broken homes, or video games - personally one of my pet peeves is the violent video games, I think that takes our youth and breaks them away from reality, so that is one of mine pet peeves, but you can blame any number of reasons. But it is the moral decline across the United States I think has led to a lot of these violent crimes."

Jennings said the first basic step is to pick a security team.
"Whether you want them armed or not - or to more of a less aggressive type of defense," he said. "Then basically we start with the levels of protection as far as keeping (person) out of a building or if he does get into the building, what is your next step, emergency exits, that sort of thing... any action at all is better than no action."
The sheriff went on to say that depending on the size of the church, their security measures are going to be probably a little bit different in the different churches.
"If there is more people maybe from some of the churches that didn't make it, we are certainly more than happy to set up another training if some of the other churches contact us," said Jennings.