- The Washington Times - Monday, November 13, 2017

A New York church is encouraging parishioners to carry guns in self-defense after a mass shooting this month at a Texas church left 26 people dead.

“We say it again, we are not a gun free zone,” reads a sign in front of the Lighthouse Mexico Church of God in Mexico, New York. The church’s website also includes a notice that says, “We are NOT a ‘Gun free zone’ — we protect our people! ~ The Pastor.”

The church’s pastor, Ronald Russell, said the message serves as a reminder to parishioners of their Second Amendment rights as well as a deterrent to any potential perpetrators looking for a soft target.

“Ever since Sandy Hook, these individuals — whether it’s in Sandy Hook, whether it’s in San Bernardino — people like to go to gun-free zones to shoot ‘em up,” Mr. Russell told “Fox & Friends.”

“And we’re just putting out a warning that we believe in the Second Amendment and we do carry, and it’s not going to happen in our church,” he said. “It takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun.”

The church started touting its pro-gun policy after the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, Spectrum News reported. Mr. Russell said it’s unlikely these shootings will end, but that churchgoers can take measures to protect themselves.

“Times are changing,” he told Spectrum News. “It’s not the congregation, per se, but the leadership. People say ‘well, pastor, you’re talking about killing some,’ and I say ‘well, if I don’t protect my people, I’m being complicit.’ A shooting here, that’s not going to happen.”

On Nov. 5, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley killed 26 and injured 20 at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. He was shot twice by a male civilian as he exited the church and died from a self-inflicted gunshot to the head after fleeing the scene.

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