A Northern California man is reportedly offering free gun safety classes to religious leaders.
Geof Peabody, who owns a gun range in Placerville, near Sacramento, told CBS News that he’s provided the training to some 500 ministers and church security teams over the past eight years.
“Safe and saved,” Peabody told CBS News. “We can accomplish both with the right training.”
Sacramento television station KOVR also covered Peabody’s story, reporting that the owner saw “a dramatic increase” in interest in recent months. Peabody told KOVR a recent class attracted nine different churches, who collectively sent about 25 students to learn introductory training.
The classes cover more than firing weapons. Peabody told KOVR he also teaches his clients certain defense techniques, which can be used to stop someone else from shooting.
The news comes at a time when America is feeling particularly jittery.
A recent Public Religion Research Institute poll, conducted in the wake of the San Bernardino mass shootings, found that 47 percent of Americans believe they or someone in their family will be the victim of a terrorist attack. And data available on Google’s website indicates that more Americans have performed searches for concealed carry permits, which allow people to carry hidden handguns in public, this month than they have at any other point in the past 11 years.
CBS News reported Peabody’s graduates can carry concealed weapons, and many of them bring their guns to church. In addition to San Bernardino, another incident is undoubtedly fresh in the minds of some of the church personnel who receive training from Peabody. Nine people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, back in June.
But there is conflicting evidence on whether concealed carry permits actually curb gun violence, particularly in chaotic active-shooter situations like those in San Bernardino and Charleston, as well as conflicting ideologies about whether firearms belong in church under any circumstance.