Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Packing heat and praising Jesus are cornerstones of an unusual local church where hundreds worship every Sunday by singing, dancing and screaming out messages delivered, they say, by the Lord. But when Calvary Christian Church members raise their hands to heaven, Bibles aren't the only thing under their Sunday blazers.

Pastor Mark Byers urges the congregation to get concealed weapons permits and carry firearms to church. The pastor also urges his flock to hit the firing range so their shooting skills are up to snuff, and he admits that he permits senior staff at the church's day care and elementary school to carry guns - which police say is illegal. "I believe 100 percent in the Second Amendment," Byers said in his spacious Troy home on Thursday. "I think it is a great privilege to be entrusted with the right to bear arms. I encourage anyone who will listen to get a CCW (concealed weapons permit)."

Royal Oak police investigated what some say is a dangerous situation led by an egotistical minister who follows his own rules. Byers is accused of destroying a family, alienating staff and sending people fleeing to other congregations. The pastor defends himself as an upright man of God and says he needs armed protection from local crime. Byers also has a fiery message and pushes ultra-conservative values in a world where guns stop violence, traditional families are revered, and Jesus speaks to the faithful. "If you cannot get behind the vision of the leader ... you are in the wrong church," the pastor's son, David Byers, said from the pulpit last Sunday.....

Royal Oak police looked into the gun policy at Calvary after complaints that Mark Byers carries a gun under his jacket while he preaches, as do church elders and many in the congregation. Former members said they got a letter after they were established in the church that invited them to carry weapons during services to help with "security". The letter warns not to cause "unnecessary alarm" by talking about the weapons.... Guns are forbidden in most local churches, but the law says a weapon is legal in church with permission from the presiding official. At Calvary, the pastor is the official.

This ministry came to Royal Oak in 1983 when Byers replaced his father-in-law at the helm of Calvary Christian. Byers, 54, married the Calvary pastor's daughter, Sharon DiMusto, in the 1970s. He had been raised in Detroit and graduated in 1970 from Elim Bible Institute, according to the church's Web site.

More here


State Rep. Suzanna Gratia Hupp, R-Lampasas, doesn't think Texans should have to disclose that they are carrying a concealed handgun. The Texas House of Representatives on Thursday agreed by a 113-30 vote. Texans would no longer be able to find out who holds a concealed handgun license under Hupp's House Bill 318. The bill, similar to one passed by the House in 2003, deletes the requirement that the Texas Department of Public Safety must release the identity of a license holder to the public.

Hupp, whose family was murdered by a gunman in a Luby's restaurant in Killeen more than a decade ago, said the legislation is necessary to protect the privacy of concealed handgun license holders. She said she's concerned that knowing a license holder's name, date of birth, gender, race and ZIP code is sufficient to locate a person's address. She said a stalker or a burglar could find out whether a potential victim has a gun. "There's an element of surprise, concealment, that is lost," Hupp said. "When government requests private information, it shouldn't give it out."

The DPS still would provide information on license holders to other criminal justice agencies. Reporters and researchers could continue to collect statistical summaries on the 236,499 Texans who hold licenses. In 2004, the DPS received 136 requests for the identity of license holders.


DEA clown: "An agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency was been suspended after video surfaced showing the man shooting himself during a gun safety class in front of a group of Orlando fourth-graders, according to Local 6 News. An investigation has been launched to determine who leaked the home video of the undercover DEA agent shooting himself at an event sponsored by the Orlando Minority Youth Golf Association. Before the shooting, the agent was videotaped talking about how certain weapons are popular with rap artists. 'This is a Glock 40,' the agent said on the tape. 'Fifty Cent, Too Short, all of them talk about a Glock 40, OK?,' he said. 'I'm the only one in this room professional enough that I know of to carry this Glock 40.' Seconds later, the agent shot himself in the foot."

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