Monday, December 10, 2007

Church shootings

I'm sure everyone has heard about the shootings at the Youth with a Mission missionary training center in Arvada, CO, and the New Life Church shootings in Colorado Springs, CO, just 12 hours later. I'm relieved that the shooter (for it seems to have been the same person in both events) was stopped, and kudos to Jeanne Assam, the volunteer security guard who stopped him.

My sister's ward building is very close to the New Life Church, and halfway through church on Sunday she noticed men from the ward standing "guard" in the halls and at the doors. She didn't understand until the trickle of information got to her during the third hour. As we were talking, and discussing how Jeanne Assam was a volunteer security guard--not unlike the brethren at her church, I said. She responded, "But they didn't have guns--or did they?"

I don't know the answer to that. I do know that if I had a concealed carry permit, and was asked to keep an eye on the building after an incident like yesterday's, I would have dashed home or to the car to get my (hypothetical) gun. But would that have been "okay"? What are the rules about guns, concealed or otherwise, in the ward buildings? Does it change depending on city/state rules? Or is there a rule in the Handbook? Anyone know?


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  • In Utah, at least, the LDS Church has made several statements on the carrying of guns in churches.

    In 2004, the First Presidency issued a letter to Utah church leaders saying, "The carrying of lethal weapons, concealed or otherwise, within [church] walls is inappropriate, except as required by officers of the law. Utah law permits churches or other organizations operating houses of worship to prohibit firearms....The church plans to invoke the Utah law and give public notice that firearms are prohibited in the church's houses of worship, including temples, meetinghouses, the Assembly Hall, the Salt Lake Tabernacle, and the Conference Center." (News article here)

    In 1996, the church issued a statement similar to the 2004 one.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/11/2007 8:01 AM  

  • Thanks for the info, Justin! I have to wonder if that is wise, however...

    By Blogger Keryn, at 12/11/2007 9:45 AM  

  • Within the walls - so couldn't armed brethren stand guard outside the doors? Sure, you'd be more vulnerable to an initial attack, but you'd be legit. Perhaps you could hide in one of those sections outside the chapel where the air conditioners are, which is usually blocked off by a wall. Don't know what I'd do, but I'd also be tempted to go home and "lock and load".

    By Blogger Connor, at 12/11/2007 3:06 PM  

  • Interesting letter. I tried to find it last week because I also couldn't remember what the handbook said.

    I'm a CCW holder in another state besides Utah and have carried everywhere except church and work. Work because I'll get fired if caught, and church just because of the probably mistaken belief that God will protect us. Someone on one of the other forums (non-LDS) mentioned to me that maybe the CCW holder in church is whom God has chosen to protect the flock. Made me think.

    Some thoughts, and I don't mean to second guess the First Presidency nor parse their words but I do find their words interesting.

    First the letter was to Utah church leaders, and not to church leaders as a whole. I find this interesting. Did they do this in recognition of some States requiring that a "No Weapons" sign be posted in a conspicuous location in order to be compliant with prohibition of firearms sign?

    Second was the letter cites Utah state law permitting prohibition of firearms in houses of worship, but does not mention any kind of doctrinal issues that might be related.

    Third and finally the use of "inappropriate" was interesting to me as well. Typically when the church says "don't do this" it is usually something along the lines of "we encourage members to not do this thing". "Inappropriate" strikes me as the same thing they would say about yelling instead of using our "church voice" as my mom would say.

    That's my take and wondering if I can/should ask my Bishop if I can start carrying concealed.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12/11/2007 4:02 PM  

  • The letter was to Utah church leaders due to a law passed by the Utah legislature that permitted businesses and property owners to prohibit firearms on their premises. When I was in the bishopric, we had to read the letter over the pulpit. I know of a couple of guys with CCW that continued to carry their weapons to church. Perhaps my bishopric weren't good stewards, but we didn't do anything about these guys.

    By Blogger Scott Hinrichs, at 12/11/2007 5:26 PM  

  • Thanks for coming back with all the information, gentlemen! I guess I could have asked my bishop, but I hate to waste his time with trivia when I would waste YOUR time with it.

    Connor, as a child I was always intrigued with the air conditioner walled-off areas. They seemed a perfect playhouse...

    Dom, I like your parsing of "inappropriate".

    And Reach Upward, I certainly don't think that your bishopric were (was?) bad stewards. I think that is the decision I would make in similar circumstances.

    By Blogger Keryn, at 12/13/2007 10:46 PM  

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