Faith leader, lawmakers react to mass shooting at Texas church

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Heads of local churches say they are reevaluating their security plans in the wake of the Sutherland Springs mass shooting.

Reverend Malachi Walker, the co-pastor at the Great Commission Church of God, says he plans on upgrading the security at his church immediately.

“We have to come up with some better type of systematic way of securing the building,” he said.

Walker says it’s time for churches to reexamine their “open-door policies” which have typically been the hallmarks of religious institutions. Adding that the need for the change is particularly strong for smaller churches like his, which don’t have the resources for security like a larger church, or “mega-church” would.

“Every church needs to be more vigilant now and we’re sorry to say that but we’re living in a day and time now where extra security will help a whole lot,” he said.

Walker says his plan will likely include additional people posted at entrances, upgraded exit plans in case of an active shooter, and some form of partnership with local law enforcement.

Indiana lawmakers are also weighing in on how to prevent more mass shootings.

Congressman Todd Rokita says he’s a proponent of more people carrying a gun in places like a church, or public venue. He contends that in the event of an active shooter situation, an armed person can help stop the threat.

“They can stop the carnage, they can stop the threat, and that’s how the threat in Texas got stopped this weekend,” Rokita said.

Rokita added that stricter gun laws would not be the answer to protecting more American citizens.

“The answer to this thing isn’t taking away the rights of good people,” he said.

Meanwhile Congressman Andre Carson says he would like congress to look to more legislative solutions. He advocates for stricter gun legislation like background checks as a way to help prevent mass shooting.

A statement he sent reads:

“I join Americans and the world in mourning the victims of yesterday’s shooting in Texas. As we add Sutherland Springs to an ever-growing list of mass shootings, it is inexcusable for us to offer our sympathy without taking any action to prevent the next tragedy.

America’s gun violence crisis is not normal - and it’s not inevitable. Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed by a gun than people in other developed nations. In fact, no other country like ours comes close.

I know no single gun law will prevent every shooting, but there are proven solutions that are effective at reducing gun violence. Policies like universal background checks and prohibiting dangerous people, like domestic abusers and terrorists, from accessing guns - will make our communities safer. Every day that we fail to act puts more innocent lives at risk. It is long past time to fix our gun laws. Congress has a moral responsibility to act and address the daily tragedy of gun violence in our communities.”

As for Malachi Walker, he says moving forward he wouldn’t be opposed to members of his congregation being armed during church services, but only as long as they keep the weapons concealed and are legal to carry.