U.S. Releases Planbook For Faith Houses Facing Shooters

Run, Hide, or Fight

First U.S. Government Guide Released For Confronting Gunmen in Houses of Worship

June 20, 2013

On Tuesday, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden announced the government’s first guidebook instructing faith congregations to prepare for an armed shooter situation. Speaking at an emergency preparedness event on gun violence, Biden detailed the 38-page document’s purpose in response to the recent rash of gun tragedies in school and faith settings.  The “Guide for Developing High Quality Emergency Operation Plans for Houses of Worship” outlines strategies to appoint and train congregation members on: 

  • assigning congregation members to assess immediate threats,
  • determining the best places for shelter and useful hiding spots
  • identifying who should run, who should hide, and who should fight back
  • planning effective evacuations in the event of an armed gun attack
  • depicting “scenarios” and considering response options in advance 
  • developing survivor mindset to increase the odds of surviving

DOWNLOAD Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship

Developed in consultation with clergy from the United States concerned about mass shooters, the guide attempts to address fears rising since summer 2012, when a gunman shot and killed six Sikhs inside the gurdwara of Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The team of agencies collaborating to produce the document include Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation It is addressed that training through the guidebook may become mandatory for faith houses receiving federal funds.

We invite you to discuss this landmark move by the U.S. government with us on Facebook. 

What kinds of questions do you have about the guidebook? Would you ask your faith leaders to implement this training? Does the guidebook seem helpful? Do you think completing training like this increases security, or perpetuates fear?

If you are in the New York-area this weekend, we hope you will join the premiere of Faith Against Hate: A Day of Interfaith Learning and RelationshipPresented in partnership with the Interfaith Institute of the Islamic Center of Long Island Saturday, June 22, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY. 

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