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There’s always a catch, isn’t there?
And in the case of a licensed Concealed Carry Weapon Holder (CCWH) bringing their firearm to church, there is a big catch…schools.
A CCWH in Florida is not restricted from bringing a firearm to church, but based on FL Statute 790.06, is restricted from carrying at “any school, college, or professional athletic event, not related to firearms, or any elementary or secondary school facility or administration building.” Doing so would be a second-degree misdemeanor carrying a potential $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.
Schools would include any preschool, elementary school, middle school, junior high school, secondary school, career center, or postsecondary school, whether public or nonpublic. In the case of a church that also happens to have a preschool, elementary, middle or high school on site, then church is a no-go for the CCWH firearm.
Florida legislature has tried to amend this catch for the last few years, but the measure (SB 1238) was again defeated in 2019.
So, what are conscientious church leaders to do? The first step is to create a plan and determine whether armed security is necessary. Here is a link to another article entitled “4 Fast Steps to Protect Your Church Against Attackers” that contains an Emergency Action Plan template that churches can download and create customized plans for severe weather, medical emergencies, and unruly guests or armed intruders.
Any plan should include a security team with a combination of staff, volunteers, and outsourced security. If staff and volunteers are used, there needs to be consideration for the extent of their responsibilities, because organizing an in-house security force encroaches on Florida’s intent to regulate and license private security firms. US Law Shield put out a concise video regarding the potential issues that arise when organizing a security team in Florida churches, and it’s worth the five-minute watch.
To view our complete risk management library of articles for churches and non-profits, click here.
John Keller, CRM ARM CIC AAI is Client Advisor & Risk Manager at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in non-profit and religious organizations. John works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis and guidance. Comments and questions are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
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