According to a church violence researcher and ministry security consultant, when it comes to the longstanding debate about weapons in houses of worship, the numbers speak for themselves.

In 2012, there were 135 “deadly force incidents” resulting in 75 deaths in faith-based gathering places — a 36-percent increase over 2011 — says Carl Chinn, who has tracked deadly force incidents at churches since 1999 on his website,

Chinn, a frequent seminar speaker for the National Organization of Church Security & Safety Management, says churches and religious organizations should consider hiring armed security guards or arming designated church-goers during services.

“People’s lives were saved because the security guard had a gun,” he writes, referring to recent incidents. “Just because we pray for God’s protection before driving does not mean we speed or dismiss the value of seatbelts. Likewise, faith-based organizations must intentionally provide for the safety of staff and visitors.”

On Sept. 10, Chinn will lead a seminar in Oak Creek, Wisc., the same community where a gunman opened fire in a Sikh temple, killing six people and wounding four others, in August 2012.

In his book, “Evil Invades Sanctuary,” Chinn also lobbies against laws in 22 states that prohibit firearms in churches and other faith-based gathering places, claiming they imperil innocent church-goers.

Twenty states allow guns in churches because “right to carry” laws don’t specifically exclude churches from restricted areas and 10 states — Arkansas, North Dakota, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming — specifically name churches as places where people can legally carry.

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