The incidents read like a horror movie marquee: First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs; Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh; Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston; all shootings at places of worship where there were multiple victims and no defense.
Rarely does anyone hear about the New Life Church incident in Colorado Springs, because an armed woman and former peace officer Jeanne Assam drew her legally-carried sidearm and shot Matthew Murray as he entered. He subsequently took his own life.
In response to these and other tragedies, a traveling course called Sheepdog Seminars as created by retired police officer and Southern Baptist minister Jimmy Meeks. That seminar will be visiting the Cedar Park Assembly of God in Bothell, a suburban city northeast of Seattle, this Friday and Saturday, April 26-27.
Appearing at the event will be retired Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, Texas pastor Frank Pomery, Texas peace officer Greg Stevens and church safety expert Carl Chinn.
According to Meeks, this team has been “traveling the country helping churches to be prepared for violence.”
“I know of its horrible consequences,” Meeks said via email. “I was married in a church where in 1980 a man entered during the morning worship service, shouted ‘This is War,’ and then shot 15 worshipers – killing five.”
Perhaps coincidentally, this weekend will also see the Washington Arms Collectors hold its monthly gun show at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. Saturday is typically the busier of the two days, as people sleep in or attend church services on Sundays.
Churches are supposed to be sanctuaries where this sort of thing doesn’t happen. Good luck with that, because they’re actually considered “soft targets” for disturbed people intent on mayhem. The times are Friday 1-5 p.m., 6:30-8:30 p.m. and Saturday, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
MEANWHILE, in the Washington State Legislature, an emergency bill has been filed by rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley) that would prevent release of names and other information on people who turned in bump stocks for $150 reimbursement from the state.
A Public Records Act (PRA) request from someone apparently using a fake name was filed to get access to that information.
The email request came from someone identifying himself/herself as “Yati Arguna.” The message said this individual wanted to “obtain the names and addresses where checks will be mailed for the bump stock buy back (sic) program. My intent is to create a searchable database and map of Washington state to overlay the locations. The public has a right to know that these dangerous devices may have been in neighborhoods that the (sic) live in and who has previously owned such devices.”
Gun rights activists are furious, arguing that this is the sort of thing that would discourage anyone from obeying a gun control law. Participants in the bump stock buyback program don’t think it’s anyone’s business whether they own firearms.
Gun Owners of America has also reportedly filed for an injunction to prevent the release of the information.
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