My Gun Goes to Church

I live in Las Vegas and am a member of a very large protestant congregation. I enjoy going to church and listening to our learned and dynamic pastor deliver the messages of our Christian faith.

Yet, I also carry my handgun with me when I go to church on Sundays. It’s not that I don’t trust my fellow church members. Actually, the truth is I trust them completely. They are a wonderful group of people. The problem is Las Vegas has been rumored to be, as well as discussed, as a target for terrorists. The Christian faith in and unto itself is also a target for certain religious zealots. Our faith makes us infidels and targets in the eyes of these terrorists. As I have said, our church is here in Las Vegas, which is a possible target city. The church has a large congregation. A few hundred people listening to the gospel or participating in communion, makes any church not only mine, a target rich environment.

I have almost 25 years in law enforcement. As a result, I have been trained to be prepared for emergencies and to watch for them before they occur. I once read the wise words of a firearms instructor given to a new police officer who inquired about carrying a firearm when off duty. The instructor informed him, “You can either carry your firearm always, or don’t carry your firearm at all, but don’t carry it sometimes.” Add a bit of Murphy’s Law to this logic, and it will prove the time you don’t carry the handgun will be the time you need it.

Now some people may say a church is no place to bring a firearm. My feeling is God has blessed me with skills to know how to use a firearm. I don’t display my gun. I don’t brag about carrying it. Only my wife knows I’m carrying. I just keep it concealed and listen to the sermon.

I hope and pray our church and the members of the congregation are never targets of terrorists, but if they are, I want to be prepared to deal with the threat to my fellow church members, my wife and myself. So, when I go to church on Sundays, my wife and I are accompanied by Smith and Wesson.

Keith Bettinger is a retired Suffolk County, NY police officer, and has a Masters Degree in Human Relations with a major in Clinical Counseling. His thesis was A Practicum Experience in Post Shooting Trauma Counseling. He developed a peer support program for officers involved in shooting incidents.

Keith is a writer of short stories and articles – both fiction and nonfiction. He is also the author of three books and has contributed stories to five different anthologies. He has received 19 awards for his writing.        

During his time with the department, he served in many different capacities in both uniform and plainclothes assignments. He received numerous awards during his police career. He started writing for law enforcement publications during his police career. After his retirement, for a period of time, he taught criminal justice classes at his alma mater, New York Institute of Technology.