Twenty years ago, the notion that someone would carefully devise a plan to enter a church fully armed with intent to gun down the innocents within would have been practically unthinkable. It’s only in the post-911 age of terrorism that places of worship have become fair game.
Historically, the church has been viewed as a safe place or sanctuary dating back to ancient times.
By the 4th century, the right to sanctuary had been formalized by the early Christians. The churches offered sanctuary mostly to criminals for hundreds of years until being abolished during 1540 as part of the Reformation. The Catholic Church was the lone exception, keeping the sanctuary option as part of its Code of Canon Law until 1983.
It’s a sad commentary on modern times when churches can no longer be considered a safe haven, but it doesn’t mean that pastors and their congregations are powerless to protect themselves. Author and United States Concealed Carry Association Magazine editor Kevin Michalowski explains the mentality that is taking hold in the nation’s churches in his article “Carry Your Gun in Church? Hell Yes!” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“I cannot tell you the number of church groups that have reached out to the USCCA for help and guidance defending their congregations and ensuring those who would defend the flock are also protected from the legal system.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
By its very nature, carrying concealed in church requires due diligence beyond what permit holders practice every day. The pistol must remain absolutely concealed at all times. Becoming the center of attention for all the wrong reasons at church will undoubtedly bring down more restrictions for everyone, but may make for a different kind of sermon the following Sunday.
As most permit holders are aware, having a home defense plan is an integral part of anyone’s overall defensive preparations. Your expertise and training could prove invaluable to your congregation. If you are comfortable enough to talk to any of the congregation members or clergy, you can approach them about discussing some security options.
Even without the assistance of the congregation or clergy, there are steps you can take to better protect yourself and your family. Do not sit near the rear of the church, as this is most likely where any attacker would enter, and stay away from the seats closest to the center aisle to give yourself time to react. Be aware of other entrances/exits that could be used as an escape route.
Whatever action you decide to take, remember that the shooter will most likely be dead or gone by the time first responders arrive.
The U.S. government system has worked well for more than 200 years and one of the reasons for this success is that the Founding Fathers, and those who followed them didn’t hesitate to borrow bits and pieces of what was working best for governments in other countries around the world.
However, there is one government institution that’s almost solely American. In fact, the United States shares this legal entity with only one other country — Liberia, which likely adopted it from the United States, and that entity is the grand jury.
The legal procedure known as the “grand jury” is a term that just about everyone has heard, but very few people actually understand. Many assume it’s just a regular jury for more important cases. Yet the term actually comes from the number of jurors involved, usually ranging from 16-23 citizens. A standard jury is technically called a petit (French for small) jury.
Although the grand jury system is part of the judicial process, its purpose is completely different from the standard jury’s. The members of a grand jury are empowered to investigate whether a crime has occurred and if there’s enough evidence to bring a case to trial.
Yet as author John Caile explains in his article “What is a Grand Jury?” at USConcealedCarry.com, many states do not use the grand jury prerogative:
“Interestingly, while every state has provisions to empanel grand juries, approximately half don’t use them. Instead, they have a ‘preliminary hearing’ to determine if a trial is warranted. However, there are significant differences.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
One of the reasons many states forego grand juries is cost. A preliminary hearing is presided over only by a judge, who hears both sides and determines the viability of going to trial. A grand jury on the other hand, involves the outlay of taxpayers’ money for weeks or potentially even months to compensate a large number of jury members for their time.
Another difference is that the grand jury isn’t required to have all members in agreement in order to make a recommendation. Depending on the jurisdiction, a 2/3 or ¾ of the majority is all that is needed.
If the grand jury does return an indictment, the prosecutor can proceed immediately to the trial stage. Even if an indictment isn’t returned, the prosecution can still move forward, but the burden of proof is higher since the DA’s office must now provide convincing evidence to a judge before a trial date can be set.
In some jurisdictions, there may be cases where both options are on the table and the prosecution will have to weigh the odds. One factor is that the defendant must choose to have a preliminary hearing. This happens when the defense attorney believes the judge will be sympathetic to their case. In other instances, high profile cases such as those involving police officers are often sent to a grand jury to relieve the onus of creating a possible adversarial relationship between the District Attorney and local law enforcement.
For those members of the concealed carry community, a little legal knowledge can be dangerous. It is important to learn as much as possible about the areas of law that may directly affect your life should you ever have to use your weapon. The grand jury is a somewhat obscure process that could significantly alter your future. Learn what to expect now and you will be prepared for the unexpected.
In simple terms, it would seem that infantry combat could be divided into two main categories — long-range and short-range. Naturally, the best weapons for these scenarios would be the long-range rifle and the short-range pistol. These beliefs were the foundation for decades of modern warfare and were basically the only options up until World War I.
Since war is neither black nor white, it was soon discovered that mid-range weapons were useful for troops that weren’t necessarily engaged on the front lines. These included artillery units and certain other support personnel.
The Winchester M1 Carbine was developed to fill this void and it did so in a spectacular manner. Its combat prowess soon earned it a legendary status as possibly the best handling short rifle ever made. Even in the modern world, there is still a place for a specialized weapon like the M1 Carbine, as author Scott W. Wagner points out in his article “Inland Manufacturing M1 1945 Carbine: Handy Property Defender” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“I know it is an AR world, but there is still room for competing designs that offer some advantages over an M4 AR-15 in terms of weight and controllability. The 1945 M1 Carbine from Inland offers those advantages.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
Getting your hands on one of the original M1 Carbines will cost you a pretty penny, probably upwards of $2,000. Luckily, Inland Manufacturing Company in Dayton, Ohio is now producing excellent replicas of the historic M1; their 1945 M1 Carbine. Inland Manufacturing was a subsidiary of General Motors during the war and was actually part of the home front effort, producing the original M1’s up until 1945. The replica is modeled after the last rifles shipped overseas as the war was ending.
Inland’s version of the M1 is so realistic that the front of the barrel behind the sight is stamped with the company name to avoid confusing it with an original. It features a walnut “GI-style” stock, a high-quality Parkerized finish, and a fully adjustable rear sight that accommodates tweaks in both windage and elevation. A blued 15-round magazine is also included.
During range testing with two types of .30 caliber ammo, results were mixed. Using Hornady 110-grain FMJ ball ammo, the 1945 M1 would only allow about 10 percent of the bullets to feed. Further examination revealed that the rounds were longer than the length needed for proper feeding. However, the similar Remington FMJ ammo cycled without a hitch. Accuracy was superb with 4-inch groupings attained at 100 yards.
The Inland Manufacturing 1945 M1 Carbine is an outstanding mid-range rifle that can still compete with automatic weapons because of its weight and maneuverability. If you want to accessorize the rifle with modern conventions, Inland now markets a Scout model with a Picatinny rail for mounting scopes, lights, and other add-ons. If you are interested in picking up a replica of a historic rifle at a price significantly lower than the original, Inland can set you up for about $1079.
One of the most legendary guns of WWII was the STG-44. Manufactured as the Sturmgewehr 44, the rifle was innovative in that it allowed selective fire and is widely considered to be the first modern assault rifle and forerunner of the AK-47.
The STG did not make it to the front until late in the war, primarily due to Nazi infighting, but immediately proved its combat worthiness on the Eastern Front against the Russians.
The STG-44 gave line soldiers increased volume of fire compared to standard issue rifles and a wider range than submachine guns. Luckily for the Allies, the STG-44 never made it to the Western Front in any significant numbers or the outcome of the war may have been quite different.
Today, even if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one, the cost of an original STG-44 is prohibitive. A gun brokerage recently posted one online for sale at $6000. Realizing that most working people don’t have an extra 6K under the mattress, American Tactical Imports (ATI) has contracted with GSG, a German company specializing in firearm replicas, to import their facsimile of the famous rifle. The replica can be yours for a tenth the cost of an original, listing at $624.95 and comes in a custom made wooden case just like the original.
The GSG replica not only looks just like the original STG-44, but feels like it. It’s so similar that GSG felt the need to add a new name, calling it the Schmeisser. The replica functions in either automatic or semi-automatic mode. There is also a protective heat shield on the barrel to protect it during extended fire in automatic mode.
All of the controls on the STG-44 replica follow the original design. The thumb safety is on the left side, along with the charging handle, which is situated on the receiver. The magazine release button is also on the left side. Magazines are made from polymer and hold about 25 rounds.
At the range, the STG-44 replica loaded with a variety of .22LR ammo easily equaled or bettered any .22 rifle on the market. Accuracy is aided by excellent sights. The rear sight allows for windage adjustment with a small control knob on the side which is spring-loaded. The gun hit point of aim at 50 yards using the 400-yard elevation mark on the rear sight.
The STG-44 Schmeisser can be an effective home or property defense weapon, as author Scott W. Wagner points out in his article “American Tactical GSG STG-44 .22 LR Carbine” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“With the weight, it is a serious gun and not for younger or smaller shooters. If used as a home defense arm, its appearance alone is sure to deter any intruder! First bad guy thought – ‘What the heck is that?!’ Second thought—‘Run!’” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
While the caliber is a .22, keep in mind that there are 25 at your disposal, which is probably enough to stop even the most persistent intruder. Or you could make the WWll armament buff in your family really happy this Christmas when he unwraps a replicated piece of history.