During the chaos of an active shooter situation, seconds matter. However, in such a situation, many people are frozen by fear and do nothing. In light of this, Chief of Security John Nichols says preparedness is essential. To be prepared is to form a plan, consider potential scenarios, be aware of exits in a building, and even participate in an active shooter course.

Nichols was one of three panelists at a Grindstone discussion, March 22, where students had the opportunity to ask questions concerning guns, general safety and defense. Panelists were Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Seminary; John Nichols; and Evan Lenow, assistant professor of ethics.

“[Active shooter courses] help prepare you to know what your body and your brain will do when you hear gunshots and when you see a threat,” Nichols said. “Folks are surprised to find themselves frozen in their seats when they hear gunshots. The people who take action by fleeing the building or heavily barricading themselves in a room are usually the ones who survive.”

Following this topic, discussion transitioned to how Christians should think about the possibility of using deadly force, even if justified by the defense of self or others. “A lot of people have never thought through that scenario before,” Patterson said. “What if you had to kill someone in order to save lives? I pray every day that I do not have to do that, because if I have to shoot someone, there is a very good chance that the man is not saved and would go to hell. I have spent my entire life trying to get people into heaven, so how could I ever be happy about that?”

Lenow added that when people think of self-defense, they must also consider the defense of others. “If you are the one carrying a weapon and are going to act, you are the one putting yourself in the line of fire,” Lenow said. “Those who are willing to step up and defend others must ask themselves if they are willing to do so at the risk of their own lives.”

Next, a student prompted the topic of the use of lethal force in defense of property. Although allowed by Texas law, Lenow said he would hesitate to use such force. He clarified that in a situation of home invasion where the criminal intent was unclear, he would take necessary steps to protect life and property. “But if a TV is being stolen, and the guy is fleeing to a car, shooting the guy in the back isn’t going to do any good,” he said.

Concluding the discussion, Patterson said, “Nobody is ever killed by a gun. People are killed by other people. You can’t build an army big enough to keep it from happening. The only thing you can do is change men’s hearts. And only God can do that [through you].

“He called you into the first line of prevention of crime and evil in the world. He made you a witness for Christ. Whatever it is you do, you do it for the Lord; it is the first line of defense. The fact that we carry a pistol or something like that is absolutely secondary.”