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Pastor packing heat to protect parishioners

Pastor Hansen is ready to save your soul and your life. (WICS)

Fear swept the country after the deadly church shooting in Texas, and it's the scary reality of the world we live in today that anything can happen anywhere, at any time. Newschannel 20's Esther Kwon reports about how a local pastor is reassuring his congregation.

A church is a sanctuary - a sacred place for many. However, we've seen churches - along with schools, movie theaters, and malls - become targets for mass shooters.

At Destiny Church in Springfield, it's not just the pews that are packed. Senior Pastor Eric Hansen is packing heat. "It's not something, I guess, that you ever hope to use," he said. "But I don't hope to use the fire extinguishers that are in this room, either."

Pastor Hansen is ready to save your soul and your life. "The pastor, who is charged with protecting sheep, can have that ability," he explained.

Hansen was trained by Doug Schmidgall, a concealed carry instructor and member of the National Rifle Association. Schmidgall said, "Ministers, like anybody else, they've got the right to defend themselves. Why shouldn't he be able to defend himself just like we can defend ourselves?"

Pastor Hansen said during what could be a very vulnerable time, from where he stands, he has a view that others don't. "You have a different perspective, everyone else has their back to the door. So I see everyone that comes in the door."

Laurie S., who wished to withhold her last name, is a member of Destiny Church. She said she's reassured knowing that her pastor is carrying a weapon. "I know that if something happened, he's going to be the first to draw his weapon and start to protect," she explained.

Also, it's not just the pastor who's ready to protect. "I know a lot of the other people at our church that carry, and I'm quite confident with their skills," Laurie said. Destiny Church has a security team of 25 to 30 people in the congregation with conceal carry weapons. Hansen says the team has a plan and is ready to take action.

Pastor Hansen said, "This is why kids have fire drills at school, why we have tornado drills. Why not - because this is the reality of the day - at least have an idea of what we should be doing when something like this happens?" Something unpredictable and dangerous like a mass shooting. It's something the local pastor is prepared for.

"I'm more than happy to stand up in front of my congregation on any given Sunday and say, you know what, a good shepherd would lay down his life for his flock," Pastor Hansen said.

Destiny Church, along with other churches, has a security team and plan in place. At some churches, there are people at the door, including active and retired law enforcement, welcoming you and also keeping an eye out for anything and anyone that might be dangerous.

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