One thing I've learned from writing about entrepreneurs is that tragedy can sometimes turn into opportunity.
The tragedy is that people in this country are getting shot while worshipping in their churches. In December, two parishioners were killed in a church near Fort Worth by a gunman. In 2017, another gunman killed 28 innocent worshippers -- and injured an additional 20 -- in and around another Texas church. Eight people were shot in a Tennessee church a few months before that. A white supremacist killed nine black worshippers in a Charleston, South Carolina, church in 2015. Four people were killed in a Colorado church in 2007, and another seven were killed while praying in Wisconsin two years before that. These are just church shootings, by the way, and don't include mass killings at synagogues and other religious institutions throughout the U.S. over the past decade.
There's no debate that gun violence is on the rise in the U.S., and religion -- regardless of faith -- is under fire. But one small-business owner is doing something about it. His name is Chuck Chadwick, and he's the founder and president of the National Organization for Church Security and Safety Management, an 18-year-old company that's steeped in Christian faith and not only encourages but also teaches parishioners and worshippers to take their safety into their own hands through conferences, workshops, and individual training programs.
Chadwick, according to his website, is a trained security professional who "believes that incorporating combat-proven, solid tactics with live-fire training is the only way to meet today's challenges for Christian security."
"I saw there was a real need for a low-cost alternative to private security for churches," Chadwick told the Texas Tribune. He said that his organization only works with "Judeo-Christian" organizations.
And his customers are lining up for the help. According to the Tribune report, more than 500 licensed security guards at about 100 churches -- mostly in Texas -- have paid about $800 to fully certify and train each person through Chadwick's school. Chadwick's full program costs $620 and state licensing runs about $180. His classes teach peaceful worshippers how to keep an assailant away from children, the ins-and-outs of hand-to-hand combat, the proper way to use a police baton, and how to safely and effectively shoot a variety of handguns.
Chadwick's company has capitalized on a Texas state law passed in 2017 that now allows churches in the state to organize their own volunteer security using congregants who have licenses to carry firearms. "We're seeing that lots of other churches that had not thought about this are putting together security teams," one church member told the Tribune. "It's a terrible thing that we have to do that, that you have to think about it, but it's been proven over and over again, that it's possible it could happen."
It's a sad state of affairs when churchgoers need to be trained on how to defend themselves from attacks while praying in their house of worship. But where there's a need, there's surely an opportunity for an entrepreneur like Chadwick to step in and teach them how. Considering the trend, I expect that Chadwick's company will be facing a growing number of competitors nationwide over the next few years.