Colorado church forms armed security unit to protect congregation from shooters

Police lead suspected shooter Dylann Roof into the courthouse in Shelby, North Carolina, on June 18, 2015. Roof, a 21-year-old with a criminal record, was accused of killing nine people at a Bible-study meeting in a historic African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina.Reuters

A church in Colorado has created its own armed security force to protect its members from armed attackers.

Rev. Brady Boyd of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs said he now feels safe as the 30-acre church grounds are guarded by police officers and armed safety team composed of about 20 people including Special Forces soldiers from a nearby military base, Fox News reported.

Boyd has a 24-year veteran Green Beret as his personal security guard.

Several churches in the U.S. are arming themselves in the wake of church shootings including the shooting of a pastor in Dayton, Ohio last Sunday and the killing of nine people inside a South Carolina church last year.

Boyd remembers back in December 2007 when a gunman killed two people outside the church and entered the building armed with an assault rifle, two handguns and up to 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

The killer, Matthew Murray, was eventually shot by Jeanne Assam, an armed volunteer security guard.

"I saw him coming through the doors, and I took cover, and I waited for him to get closer," Assam said then. "I came out of cover, I identified myself and engaged him and took him down."

Boyd said over 100 lives were saved that day.

"I love the people that I pastor. "I want to protect them," he said.

But other churches are not convinced that allowing guns in the church is the answer.

Rev. Kristine Eggert, co-founder of God Before Guns, said there is no evidence that arming guards would result in a safer church.

Concealed weapons are banned in churches through laws or church policies. However, states like Arkansas, Louisiana and North Dakota have laws that allow permit holders to carry concealed weapons in churches.

Rev. John Elford of the University United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas, is against guns in churches.

"We feel the open carrying of weapons is part of a violent culture and we kind of want to push back against open carry and gun violence. We welcome you to worship. We love the fact that you're here, but please leave the gun in the car," he said.

The FBI trained 165 faith leaders at its Dallas headquarters last month.

"The key is to be proactive and plan for it ahead of time and train for it ahead of time, so in the unlikely event something does happen, you're ready and prepared to deal with that situation," said John Smith, risk management director with the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.