Church Volunteers Get Firearms Training

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A church in Calhoun has put together a team of volunteers armed with guns in order to protect churchgoers during services and events.

Thirteen members of Crane Eater Community Church are undergoing a 22-hour firearms training and safety course in order to add more security to the facilities. Church leaders said the decision to allow some members to train and carry firearms was spurred by the church shooting in Charleston.

"This is all voluntary," said Executive Pastor Paul Gay. "It's good citizens who are activating their second amendment right to carry firearms as allowed by the state of Georgia law."

He also said the church does not sponsor or pay for the training due to reasons of liability.

"Now we don't make it mandatory that anybody bring their firearm to church," Gay also said, "that's a personal choice and whatever actions they take is a personal decision."

Some members who are taking the training have prior experience with firearms, while others do not. Several members told FOX 5 News they think getting the training to carry concealed weapons is a smart way to maintain safety.

"The Bible says a wise man sees danger and takes refuge, and that's what we're doing, we're just being prepared," said church member Rich Gunderman, who is taking the course.

The training is being offered by certified firearms instructor Rodney Smith. He said interest from churches is growing since the shooting in Charleston and since the passage of Georgia House Bill 60, which allows guns to be taken into churches and places of worship.

"That's what the pastors are doing right now," said Smith, "they're using that right to be able to have guns in their churches; and again, churches are soft targets, and the bad guy goes after a soft target."