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Pastors with Guns

These photos will surely bother some of my friends in the HM. Sorry.

Actually, there’s been an interesting discussion on that post. Some of the members of the HM have weighed in, as have some chaplains. In answer to some of the questions that have been raised:

  • No, I do not get paid to be a chaplain (which, I suppose, allows me more freedom to stay true to my own commitments that I if I were paid.
  • Yes, I have a badge. (Well, not a real badge. It’s embroidered on my jacket.)
  • No, I do not carry a gun.

But about once a year, the other chaplains and I go to the range and shoot, as we did last week. Why? Because a big part of being a chaplain to cops is to understand what it’s like to be a cop, to walk in their shoes, to live a bit of their experience.

Last Thursday, we were instructed on the service weapons used by the Edina cops, the Glock G22 and G23. A couple things struck me as we learned about the pistol and fired a few dozen rounds a piece. The first is the incredible technology involved in a modern gun. Another chaplain asked if there’s a safety switch on the gun and we were told that all of the safeties on a Glock are internal. That is, it won’t misfire if it’s dropped or hit or jostled. And it’s got a double trigger system which deactivates the internal safeties.

In other words, if you pull the trigger, the gun fires.

And that got me to thinking about what it must be like to carry a loaded weapon all day, everyday (yes, most cops carry a weapon even when they’re off duty). I imagine that invokes some serious anxiety. At first. Then I suppose it becomes normal. Maybe they even forget about it at times.

Having been a police chaplain for the last decade, I think I’m beginning to understand what being a cop does to someone’s psyche. As you might guess, it leads to a twisted sense of humor. Too often, it also leads to broken relationships and a suspicion of most other persons. (To write more, I think, would be a betrayal of my friendships with them.)

This is the very thing that leads my Anabaptist-leaning friends to say that Christ-followers should stay away from these professions. That carrying a weapon changes a person, and not for the better. I get that argument, but I wonder what planet they’d like to live on. Because, since I’ve been a chaplain, two officers have shot and killed dangerous, gun-wielding subjects (“bad guys” is how they’re referred to at the EPD), and that’s in my sleepy Midwestern suburb.

So, what’s the option?

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