WASHINGTON (RNS) For the first time, the federal government has issued written guidelines for houses of worship that are confronted with a homicidal gunman.

Vice President Joe Biden released the new rules on Tuesday (June 18), six months after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 26 dead, including 20 children.

Beyond seeking shelter and waiting for police to arrive, as many Newtown victims did, the new rules also advise adults in congregations to fight back — as a last resort — in a bid to stop the shooter. The new federal doctrine is “run, hide or fight.”

After Congress failed to pass a slew of gun safety measures in April, Biden said the executive branch is doing what it can, promising to put gun control legislation back in lawmakers’ hands, and pointing to 21 executive actions to beef up gun safety taken by the administration since Newtown.

He also unveiled three new federal guidebooks to keep institutions safe: one for schools, one for colleges and one for houses of worship.

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