Two Texas church shootings in two years---2017 in Sutherland Springs and last month in White Settlement---have brought a renewed focus on securing houses of worship. That focus starts with preventing such attacks from ever starting, but in the event they do, ensuring a person or people in the church can fight back to stop it. That's what happened in the White Settlement shooting, where church security volunteer Jack Wilson shot and killed the shooter, likely saving many lives in the process.
Not every church has a Jack Wilson, but many more across Texas do, thanks to a group called the National Organization for Church Security and Safety Management (NOCSSM). The organization, based in Klugerville, Texas, has been around for some 15 years but is getting new attention and interest in the wake of these recent church shootings. "Before, everybody was saying (mass shootings) are a mega-church concern, but when Sutherland Springs and White Settlement happened, people now see it's not just the big churches at risk...it is the small churches," says Chuck Chadwick, founder and president of NOCSSM.
Chadwick tells KTRH the NOCSSM has trained some 500 officers across 100 Texas churches so far. "We've developed what we call the gatekeeper program, where we train church security teams in what it actually takes to be a professional security officer in the state of Texas," he says. "When they come through our training, they are all certified and licensed as personal protection officers, and they are the armed gatekeepers there at the churches."
Texas church security has already seen improvements in recent years. In 2017, just months before the Sutherland Springs shooting, a new state law took effect allowing churches to organize armed volunteer security teams. Chadwick believes more security improvements will come from the White Settlement shooting, because it was captured on video. "This is the first videoed incident like this that we've ever had to be able to study it," he says. "And so you can see what goes wrong, what goes right, and what could have been done better."