One local pastor in South Carolina believes security at churches should be ramped up.
Pastor Bobby Hankerson works at his church in South Carolina, but lives in Georgia. The legislation in Georgia allows people to carry guns in church, but not in the Palmetto State. While he has taken precautions for his church, he wants those measures to increase.
Nine cameras keep an eye on what’s going on outside of Hammond Grove Baptist Church in North Augusta, South Carolina.
Inside, Pastor Bobby Hankerson sits in his office checking the monitor, and reading about the killings that happened at place where he works every day.
“We open the doors for everyone to come in and what happened in Charleston could happen anywhere,” said Hankerson.
While security cameras at Emanuel AME Church caught footage of the suspect, Dylann Roof, they didn’t help stop what was about to happen inside.
“The criminal is always going to find away, but we need to be more vigilant, we need to be prepared,” said Hankerson.
Hankerson, a resident of Georgia, took it upon himself to enroll in the Citizen’s Police Academy a few months ago. He took an eight hour gun safety class and is a concealed weapons permit holder.
“I think that’s important that I be able to protect myself if I leave out of my office at 10 o’ clock at night,” said Hankerson.
Although he cannot legally carry the gun inside the church, he says the training taught him valuable lessons.
“That I could be able to teach my congregation or teach the youth that I’m involved with some of the things that they should be very mindful of, how they handle situations when they encounter law enforcement.”
The pastor is hoping a bill passes that gives people the option to carry inside churches, and he wants South Carolina to pass a law that would make his Georgia permit valid across state lines.
“This time it happened with their very own legislators, a senator, so I’m quite sure that this bill will come back to the floor.”
While the doors remain locked at the church during business hours and at night, like many churches, the doors remain open for everyone during worship.
“I think this is going to raise an awareness, will it stop it? I would hope so, but I think as long as we are here on earth and until Christ comes back we are going to have this type of violence.”
The bill that would have allowed Hankerson to carry his concealed weapon in South Carolina died earlier this year. The Senate subcommittee decided more hearings were needed before considering the issue next year.