Nanny state mayor criticizes LDS church for KSL’s gun-trading policy

Anybody who knows anything about Michael Bloomberg knows he thinks he can tell you what to do with your life. He wants you to eat only the foods he approves of, and he wants you to stop smoking, even if your smoking does not affect anybody else. He also is on a crusade against the 2nd amendment, which clearly spells out a right to gun ownership, a right that is routinely violated in New York.

Now Mr. Nanny State is criticizing the Church because of its ownership of the for-profit company KSL. KSL has an on-line classified section. Think of Craig’s list or Ebay. Among the hundreds of items listed is a section of “Firearms and Hunting.” If you visit, there are several thousand guns listed for sale. There are many more items for recreational vehicles and furniture, so firearms is not central to KSL’s classifieds, but like a Wal-Mart and many other retail operations, they also sell firearms.

Bloomberg claims KSL is the third-largest source of on-line firearms sales. This is impossible to confirm, but let’s just assume it is true. My point is: so what?

It may be shocking to latte-sipping New Yorkers, but people in the West have guns. I know, hard to believe, right? And sometimes when you have a gun, or want a gun, you want to sell it or buy another one. You can go to a pawn shop, but the prices are high — that’s how pawn shops stay in business. Many other places will also buy and sell your used gun (I bought one from Wal-Mart in Colorado), but you can usually get a better price if you sell directly to somebody else.

Let’s be clear: KSL is simply providing an information service putting together willing buyers and sellers. It is just like this web site. Or this web site. If you search, there are dozens of large web sites where people can buy and sell guns.

It is always the refuge of the tyrant to blame the platform for people’s private actions. Being in the telecom business, I remember when people blamed the phone companies for 1-900 numbers. Sorry, telephones were just the platform. Today there are still people blaming the internet for porn or gambling. Sorry, porn and gambling existed long before the internet. KSL is just the platform for providing information for people to do things they would do otherwise, ie buy and sell guns.

Again, shocking information for New Yorkers, but guns make the world safer. I highly recommend that skeptics of this statement read John Lott’s book “More Guns, Less Crime.” He shows without a shadow of a doubt that states with more guns have lower crime rates. As he says: “Concealed handgun laws reduce violent crime for two reasons. First, they reduce the number of attempted crimes because criminals are uncertain which potential victims can defend themselves. Second, victims who have guns are in a much better position to defend themselves.” The causation is clear: when gun control laws were instituted in the 1970s and 1980s, crime went up. As gun control has decreased, crime has plummeted.

I would not be surprised to see KSL back down and take out its “Firearms and Hunting” section. Many newspapers do not allow classifieds for guns because they are run by nanny state liberals who do not know the First or Second Amendments (among other reasons). Same thing with Craig’s List. That would be a shame. Guns will still be bought and sold. The KSL ban will do nothing to prevent that. Let the market work, I say.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

50 thoughts on “Nanny state mayor criticizes LDS church for KSL’s gun-trading policy

  1. For some reason, Mayor Bloomberg believes that eliminating guns in the West will make New York City safer. Isn’t it interesting that Rudy Giuliani was able to greatly reduce crime in New York City without demanding other states increase their gun laws?

    Next thing you know, he’ll be demanding the LDS Church to add fried foods and snacks to the Word of Wisdom!

    This is the danger when people stop focusing on freedom and introduce the nanny state. They do not believe people can manage risk for themselves. I believe Satan also sought to over regulate our lives in exchange for our worship. Does Bloomberg think he’s a deity, since he can be mayor without term limits?

  2. I just shook my head when I read this. KSL’s gun section has nothing to do with NYC crime or crime rates. Bloomberg just likes to hear himself talk and feel important.

  3. I think this is more about Romney than anyone. Which is weird because even most Democrats have fled from the gun issue. Strange Bloomberg is bringing it up. I guess it energizes the base somewhat. Although does anyone think Romney will take New York?

  4. I have nothing to say about guns, but smoking is something else altogether. It is impossible to smoke in public without it affecting everyone around you. Which is supreme? The right to put drugs into your own system, or everyone else’s right to not have drugs forced into their system without consent?

  5. SR, it is very possible to smoke in public without affecting everyone around you, for example if you are on a beach where the next person is 50 feet away (which Bloomberg made illegal). I HATE cigarette smoke and wish people didn’t smoke, but there is a big difference between smoking in a way that doesn’t affect anybody else and smoking in a way that does. Somebody smoking on a sidewalk in front of a building or in a park is not affecting anybody else. If you catch a wiff of cigarette smoke, you will not get cancer.

    There is another issue that people forget: the right of people to do what they want on their own property. So let’s say you own a bar and you want to allow smokers to come to the bar. You should be able to say: this bar is a smoking bar. If you want to go to a non-smoking bar go next door to another bar. But in Bloomberg’s NY, that is illegal — all bars must be nonsmoking.

    The principle of self-ownership is very important. It is a very slippery slope from “you cannot smoke because it is harmful” to “you can’t eat transfats” to “you must eat broccoli every day because we are all together in this community and your bad health is affecting me.”

  6. I’d also like to add an important point that sometimes gets lost: guns are the great equalizer. A small woman could almost never defend herself against a large man attacking her until the invention of guns (unless she was an expert in martial arts). Guns allow weaker people to defend themselves and build up the principle of self-reliance and nonaggression. Believe me, criminals are afraid of people who may be carrying guns, but they are not afraid of people on, for example, college campuses where guns are illegal.

    The former president of the NRA was a woman who went to my alma mater, Stanford. She was against guns until a guy tried to break into her home. She realized she was completely defenseless against this guy because she *had no way to fight back.* Even a knife would be difficult. She bought a gun and then fought for gun rights because she saw it as a promotion of her right to self-defense. To agree to gun control was to agree that she had no right to fight off people attacking her.

  7. Mayor Bloomberg’s criticism is a bit like the one that got Greg Easterbrook fired by ESPN, which was owned by Disney. As you may recall, in 2003, Easterbrook wrote that Michael Eisner should not promote the violent movie Kill Bill since Eisner is a Jew. As with the essay by Harold Bloom, there is a certain tribe vs. tribe sensibility that the Romney phenomenon may be bringing out in some Jews. Some seem to be musing that despite the many Jews in politics over many, many decades, there has never been one as close to being president as Romney now is.

  8. John M, I am not seeing that. I don’t really see a Mormon connection here. He is going after the church because it will help him promote anti-gun extremism, which has been his cause for many years.

  9. 1) I did not know that NYC had jurisdiction over gun sales in another state. I guess I will have to brush up on my NY law. 2) I think this is a silly attack aimed at Mormons generally and thus Romney. Nice try, mayor Bozo.

  10. I think that Nephi was indeed thinking of guns when he cautioned about putting our trust in the arm of flesh. But if that’s what some need to prove their manhood, good for them.

    There may be correlation between imposition of gun control in some places and an increase in crime, but there’s certainly no evidence to show causation. New York has had strict gun control laws for decades–since well before the 1970s–and crime rates have risen and fallen without regard to those laws.

  11. Mark B, we could have a long, long LONG debate about gun control in NY, but I will concede the point that there are a lot of reasons for the decrease in crime nationwide, and increased gun ownership is just one of them. So proving exact causation is problematic, I agree.

    You comment about gun ownership “proving manhood” is simply idiotic, and you need to be called out on it. My wife loves guns more than I do because they provide protection in case of her being attacked while I am not in the home, and last time I checked she was not a man. Take your ridiculous pop psychology elsewhere please. You are a better man than that comment, and I hope you realize it soon.

  12. Guns are like any other tool. My snow blower is very dangerous — if you stick your hand inside it will be cut off. But it also does a great job of blowing out snow when we get a foot, like we did recently. We don’t ban snow blowers because they are dangerous — we sell them to people and hope they will be smart enough to use them safely. Guns are tools for self-protection, hunting and target shooting. They are not dangerous unless used in the wrong way, just as snow blowers are. This applies to cooking knives, shovels, chain saws and a lot of other tools.

  13. Well, since my tongue was at least partially in my cheek as I said that, I’m not going to take it too seriously. And of course it had the desired effect of awakening some people–does that make me a troll?

    More seriously, there is a significant difference between your handgun and your snowblower. When used for its intended purpose (putting target shooting aside for the moment), the effect of the gun is to kill or wound–or to threaten the same. When used properly a snowblower moves the snow off your sidewalk (although I do remember a scene in an old James Bond movie where a snowblower on the front of a train locomotive was used to remove a particularly nasty fellow from the plot).

    And carrying a weapon around which has the primary purpose of killing or wounding (or threatening the same) cannot but affect the way that one thinks about his fellow humans, and about where one ultimately puts his trust. Elder Oaks spoke about being assaulted on the south side of Chicago, and about his belief that he could succeed in wresting the gun from his assailant, but he sensed that doing so would result in the death of the assailant and he felt very strongly that he did not want that on his “record,” no matter how justified he would have been under the law.

  14. “Isn’t it interesting that Rudy Giuliani was able to greatly reduce crime in New York City without demanding other states increase their gun laws?”

    Those of us who lived in NYC under Giuliani remember quite well that he was always lobbying against the lax laws in southern states which were the main source of guns coming into the city. He was just as “nanny-state” as Bloomberg, and only began changing his tune as he comtemplated a presidential bid:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/23/us/politics/23rudy.html?pagewanted=all

  15. I find the “nanny state” a bit much. The gun rights folks are going a bit ridiculous. The best example I can think of was the bill in the Texas legislature to allow high school students and teachers to carry guns on campus.

    As a former teacher for over 30 years, I only had to disarm one student (double barrell 12 guage), but did take away numerous knives and other weapons of assorted types (strangest: wooden bat with a 6 inch spike driven through the barrel). Over the years my compatriots and I had to step into major racial conflagrations and gang fights. Can you imagine what the result would have been if students would have had the right to be armed?

    For Petes sake, look at each situation and determine if a limitation on fire arms is appropriate. What is right for Cheyenne may not be right for New York City.

  16. Mark B, I can only come to the conclusion that you know absolutely nothing about guns or the people who carry them. Guns as tools have four main purposes: target shooting (doesn’t hurt anything except paper); hunting (hurts animals but also promotes conservation and self-sufficiency); defensive use against attack by law-abiding people; and offensive use by bad guys to attack other people or commit a crime. Of course we can agree that the bad guys use guns the wrong way, but they are by far the minority of people who use guns at all. The vast majority of gun usage is for the other three purposes. By limiting defensive usage, which is what Bloomberg promotes, you are affecting all three law-abiding areas but doing absolutely nothing to decrease gun usage in the non law-abiding area. The vast majority of defensive users of guns are like my wife: they spend a lot of time at home by themselves with their kids, and they want an equalizer. When we bought a gun we bought a shotgun with the expectation she would never have to use it. All she has to do is rack a shell (a very loud and scary process with a shotgun), and the bad guy would run away. None of the people who have guns for defensive purposes are doing so with the hope that they will ever use the guns. They are buying a gun with the hope that it will help prevent them ever being assaulted but that they will have a way of defending themselves if they do.

    Really, your level of ignorance about guns is truly astounding for somebody as smart and articulate as you usually are. It is the equivalent level of ignorance of an anti-immigrant bigot spouting off about how he hates Mexicans. You really, really need to do some reading on the subject before writing another comment. I highly suggest reading John Lott’s book “More Guns, Less Crime.” At least you will be able to discuss the issue with some level of intelligence.

    The logic that you are promoting is that legal gun users are maniacs looking for opportunities to hurt people, when in fact the evidence shows that the vast majority are either using guns for target practice, hunting or for purely defensive purposes. And you viewpoint would promote taking guns away from these people, leaving people completely defenseless when faced with bad guys who will easily get guns.

    Bill, there is no evidence that I know of that Giuliani was any less of a nanny stater than Bloomberg, and he is a grandstanding warmonger to boot, so I agree with you.

  17. Mark B. some of us carry firearms not to protect ourselves but to protect our neighbors and family. I’m not really concerned with stopping someone from robbing me. But I would use lethal force to prevent death or serious injury of mine and your children, my neighbor etc. If you are not comfortable doing so thats great. I suggest you stay as far away from firearms as possible. Just dont seek to enforce your ways on the rest of us. I long ago decided to trust in the Lord when it came to my safety. But I felt very strongly I have an obligation to protect both those who cant protect themselves and also to protect those who perhaps have not had a chance to come to that same trust in the Lord before some aggressor seeks to rob them of the life experience of coming to that conclusion on their own.

  18. So a person has a right to stake out a radius of 50 feet in a public place by pulling out a cigarette?

    And you may not be very likely to get cancer (that is a question of frequency, not possibility,) but that is not the only detrimental effect you can get from cigarette smoke.

    I’m not saying I agree with Bloomberg. I don’t care about most of what happens behind closed doors in the presence of only consenting adults. But the moment that comes out into public space, is being forced on people without the ability to legally consent, or into my private space (like my lungs,) I have issue.

    In a way, the same thing holds true for guns. I don’t care if people walk around armed to the teeth and looking like porcupines. They can carry all the guns they want and use them all they want, so long as it’s responsibly. But the moment they threaten me with that gun or do anything else with guns that encroaches on my right to live on this beautiful earth unmolested and without fear, you’d better believe I have issue with that, and will support harsh legislation against it. Just like I don’t care if people fill their pockets with cigarettes or illegal drugs, so long as they don’t light up anywhere I have to smell it, or get themselves intoxicated and inflict their bad behavior on me, or compromise their health and make me pay for it, or allow it to fall into the hands of minors, or anything else like that. I wager we’re more in agreement than not on that issue.

    The thing is that appealing to “rights” seems really cut and dry until you start factoring the rights of others into the mix. Then there are gray areas. And I can’t really take anyone’s opinion seriously who doesn’t concede that point.

  19. As a gun enthusiast, Bloomberg’s ranting here can be attributed to his hatred for private party transactions. As JWR says on Survivalblog, (paraphrasing) “Every private transaction is another gun that cannot be tracked by the system, and cannot be confiscated in a SHTF scenario.” Any firearms that I may or may not own would have been purchased in private transactions, with no serial numbers attached to my name. Yes, it’s an extreme view on the world and guns, but the chance of occurrence is greater than zero.

    Why is he singling out KSL’s classifieds? Why not go after other forum communities that conduct private party transactions? I can’t answer for sure, but it probably has something to do with the Church and/or Romney.

  20. Thank you, Geoff, for pointing out the depth of my ignorance. Might I suggest to you and to chris that you spend your time trying to correct me, if you think I need it, for things that I said, and not for things that I did not say.

    Nothing you’ve said even addresses the issues I raised in my comment #15. After your blood pressure has dropped and you’re finished bearing your testimony about the only true and living guns upon the face of the earth, why don’t you read it again and try to understand what I wrote.

  21. Mark B, my blood pressure was not a bit high when I wrote that. Your implication was that people carried guns “kill or wound — or threaten same.” That is simply not even close to being true, and I showed you that very clearly in my comment. Self-defense is clearly sanctioned by the scriptures, by modern-day prophets and the law. As Chris points out, most people who have a concealed carry (which I do not, btw), do it for selfless purposes. They are not interested in protecting themselves so much as their family and perhaps friends from aggressive assault. You misunderstand the purpose of people carrying guns and misunderstand what people who have guns actually do with them (target practice, hunting, self-defense). I’m not sure where else to go from here.

  22. I said that when guns were used for their primary purpose, their effect was to kill or wound, or to threaten the same. I didn’t say anything about the motivations of the person carrying the weapon. The fact still stands that (target shooting aside) a gun when used for it’s intended purpose wounds or kills or threatens the same. However noble the motives of the person with the weapon (protecting the lives of the innocent), those motives are achieved because, to paraphrase Patton, you have killed or wounded or threatened some other poor dumb bastard.

    In addition, I don’t dispute what you say about the right to self defense–the common law recognizes that, and the scriptures do as well. But saying that one has the right to do something is different from saying that it is the best alternative. And I think that’s the point Elder Oaks was making, and that I was repeating.

  23. The motivation of people using a tool directly affects its purpose. A kitchen knife can be used as a weapon or for cutting meat, depending on the person using it. Most shot guns are used for skeet and trap shooting, and the person using them would keep them in a bag in the garage never even intending to use them for self-defense. But they could be used for self-defense in an emergency. And so could a knife.

    If your purpose is self-defense, you cannot say that your purpose is to hurt somebody else. This is like saying that if you put up a wall around your house and a person falls from the wall your purpose was to hurt him by building a tall wall that he would fall off. No, he only hurts himself by climbing your wall and trying to assault you. He was the aggressor and the one at fault. The same thing applies to guns — the intent is to build a wall that will protect you in case somebody aggressive comes after you. This is why English common law always recognized the right of self-defense and why the Second Amendment was in that tradition. We do not give protection to aggressive rights that offend others, but we do to defensive rights that protect your natural rights. To see guns as inherently aggressive — when the vast majority are made specifically for peaceful reasons and to provide for self-defense is to fundamentally misunderstand the purpose of guns and what they are made for.

    As for Elder Oaks, I agree with his sentiment. I really, really don’t ever want to have it on my “record” that I killed anybody because there will always be a doubt that perhaps I could have avoided it somehow. And as I have shown with the case of my wife, guns can often *increase the likelihood that nobody will get hurt.* If you can scare somebody away by just racking a shell, then nobody gets hurt and the aggressor is deterred. If she doesn’t have the gun, the likelihood that somebody will get hurt increases, not decreases. The same thing applies to even showing a weapon to an aggressor — by brandishing it in a self-defensive posture you are *decreasing the likelihood that somebody will get hurt* because the aggressor will back off. I am urging you to read “More Guns, Less Crime” because it clearly shows with empirical evidence that if a criminal thinks somebody else has a gun he is *much, much less likely to attack in the first place*. So, to sum up, when you actually study the evidence guns make our current, fallen world safer, not more dangerous.

  24. In a world where more people were like President Oaks, President Oaks would probably have to make a different decision.

    Even in this world President Oaks might have made a different decision in different circumstances, for example, if his assailant’s intent had been more than just robbery, or if the assailant had penetrated into his home.

    The power to kill, along with the power to create, are two supreme and dangerous powers that have been given to men. Guns are just a tool that marginally facilitates one of those powers, but its not guns that are shocking, its that we have the power in the first place.

  25. Not that shocking – so do all the animals. What is a little shocking is that we kill so much less than ever before.

  26. I’m personally concerned about viruses having that power. Bill, I think you make a profound point that needs to be emphasized: even though I think warmongering is way up in society compared to past recent periods, we are actually killing a lot less than we have in the past. War deaths are way down, and crime is way down. How exactly this fits into the end times scenario is difficult for me to fully understand. Perhaps we are living in the calm before the storm, kind of like that peaceful period 5-10 years before the Savior came in the BoM?

  27. I find the church members’ defense for gun rights quite fascinating in light of their arguments against alcohol deregulation and access.

    I guess guns are not as dangerous as a glass of wine or beer stronger than 3.2.

    Ironic.

  28. Jc, I am against prohibition personally, both of alcohol and drugs. I believe in Joseph Smith’s admonition that we should “teach the people the correct principles and let them govern themselves.” So, your comment is aimed at the wrong person.

  29. Jc #32: There are some libertarian Latter-day Saints, like myself, who see the same disconnect and would like to see alcohol deregulated in Utah. There has been talk of ending the state-run monopoly on sales of wine and spirits, and I hope that comes to fruition soon.

    However, there is a point to be made in that the Constitution specifically enumerates an individual right to keep and bear arms (per the 2nd Amendment, as interpreted in McDonald v. Chicago), while alcohol sales and consumption are left to the states to regulate as they see fit (per the 22nd Amendment, Section 2). So I would suspect that many conservative Latter-day Saints would see gun ownership as a constitutional right, while alcohol consumption is not.

  30. Correction: I meant the 21st Amendment, not the 22nd. Sorry, slip of the fingers there.

  31. All I’m saying is that if you exchanged the word alcohol for the word gun in the arguments made on this board most Mormons would be outraged.

    By the way my comment was not directed at any one person, rather the Utah Mormon culture and it’s expression in these comments.

  32. One more thought, I hate to sound self-righteous, but what would Jesus do?

    Do we really believe he would profit from gun sales (and alcohol sales by the way). Would he invoke comstitutional law or follow a higher law.

    I don’t agree with the guns situation on ksl, but I am especially shocked it is done by a church!

  33. JC, Jesus has left the fallen world for us to manage until He comes again. This means that many policies that He would encourage aren’t going to happen now, but we can look forward to them during the Millennium. Will there be guns during the Millennium? Well, I mentioned there are four uses for guns, and three of them will presumably be unnecessary during the millennium. The last one, target practice, may not happen much because everybody will be spending their time with families and doing temple work, although as somebody who likes to shoot paper it is fun to think that guns will still be around to do that. Anyway, there are a lot of things that will not happen during Jesus’ reign that are nevertheless the best we can expect now. You achieve absolutely nothing by shutting down KSL’s classifieds. Guns will still be traded and sold on other fora. This is exactly the same point regarding prohibiting alcohol sales and drugs: anybody who has ever been a teenager in the last 40 years or has a teenage kid or visiting a high school knows that getting alcohol and drugs is very easy despite prohibition. Meanwhile, we have created an oppressive police state to stamp out drugs. The better solution would be to decriminalize and teach people not to use drugs. Personally, I believe drug consumption would go down, not up.

  34. if you exchanged the word alcohol for the word gun in the arguments made on this board most Mormons would be outraged.</i?

    But if you exchanged the word cars Mormons wouldn't be outraged. As far as I know guns and cars aren't against the Word of Wisdom, while alcohol is.

  35. Bloomberg is going out of he’s territory here…

    I’ve read many for and against gun control ( I do plan on having one ) but I’m still unsure on where I stand on this 100%. Does anyone know why Europe’s crime rate is lower then that of the US yet they have stricter gun control laws? Or is this an overstated statement ?

  36. Phill, the crime rate is an extremely complex subject, and the reality is that even people who study it for a living don’t understand fully why it goes up and down. Gun control is only one variable. Culture, amount of people in prison, drug use, illegitimacy, the abortion rate — these are the factors that, as sad as it may seem, also must be in the mix when looking at crime rates.

    The latest figures I saw show that violent crime rates are very, very low in places like Asia and Europe where there is gun control. (But keep in mind that pickpocketing and other crimes are much higher). But in many countries where there is extremely strict gun control (Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria), the violent crime rate is extremely high. So you can’t just focus in on gun control when discussing violent crime.

    It is worth considering that in many of these countries you do not have a right to defend yourself with a gun in your own home when somebody attacks. You literally must give in or you go to jail. That is definitely not the type of society I want to live in, personally.

  37. Interesting that that article is written by McKay Coppins of Mormon Times/Deseret News fame.

  38. Although Bloomberg is for sure out to tackle the 2nd Amendment, his concern with this particular cite was the ease in which someone could buy *illegal* guns. Geoff, although I’m sure you place insincere motives on the Mayor, wouldn’t you agree that the illegal sales of fire arms is a problem for everyone? (esp. those who use firearms responsibly)

    Another problem with this article: Why does the Church have a for-profit arm in the first place? I’m sure there’s some faith promoting “answer” out there, but can’t think of what it could possibly be.

  39. @Christian J, #44: There are good reasons why many non-profit organizations, especially churches, have “for profit” or rather “income producing” arms or subsidiaries.

    The main reasons are to protect the many non-income producing (or income-“consuming”) assets, and as a hedge against downturns in donations, and as a “doomsday” preparation scenario. After all, we _do_ believe in cataclisms and all sorts of “bad things” coming in the final years preceeding the 2nd Coming.

    One way to think of it is income diversification, so as not to rely soley on donations to fund the church’s purposes.

    The problem with relying solely on donations is that even at the start of mildly bad economic times, donations will quickly show a decrease. Other revenue streams help mitigate that.

    The fast growth of the church requires huge expenditures in terms of acquiring land for chapels and temples, and then the expense of building chapels and temples, and then the expense of maintaining chapels and temples.

    Established areas of the church have to provide the seed money to buy land and build chapels/temples in developing areas. For instance, at least for a while, no way is the tithing donated by the saints in Nigeria going to pay for all those chapels and the temple built and being built there.

    Since land prices pretty much always go up (there is essentially no increase in the supply of land, yet the demand keeps increasing), it is financially advantageous for the church to buy land when it is cheap in places that the church expects to grow.

    And, if the church can’t buy land where it believes it will be needed, it can buy land elsewhere, and then _trade_ or _sell_ when the time comes to get the land in the right spot. (IE, sell some farmland to a corporation in order to buy some land in the city for a chapel.) Sort of like buying several cheap properties when you can, early in the Monopoly(tm) game, and trading/selling them to get the ones you really want later on.

    Remember, the church plans on growing exponentially from now on (and has planned so ever since early on) and throughout the Millennium.

    If the church has the ability to replace reductions in donations with income from income-producing assets (for instance, renting out farmland), then that protects the maintenance cost of chapels/temples should donations drop off.

    And, if the donation drop off is long-term, or the assets can no longer be used or rented out to produce income, they could be _sold_ to generate funds to cover the maintenance cost of the “income-consuming” assets such as chapels.

    Also, the revenue from the incoming-producing assets has allowed the church to fund more things through tithing, instead of asking members to donate more. It used to be that local members had to pony up 50% of the construction cost of a chapel, and temple-district members had to pony up XX% of the construction cost of their temple.

    (I assume you’re LDS, right?) Would you rather pony up $2,000 as your family’s share of your new chapel, or would you be thankful that the church’s investments have produced enough income that members aren’t asked to contribute that $2,000 above and beyond tithing?

    Also, ward budgets now come out of tithing. Those use to be local donatinos, above and beyond tithing too.

    There might also be a day when 50% of the LDS members in the US are out of work, and need to go on some form or degree of church welfare. If you’re part of that 50% wouldn’t you be glad that the church has huge reserves of assets (either cash, or things that could be sold for cash/food) that could be used to feed needy members?

    This isn’t just the LDS church doing this “thing” of having income-producing assets. This is a very wise, and financially sound and well-accepted practice that is implemented by all large non-profits, including hospitals, charitable foundations, and national/world churches in order that they may continue their mission/purpose in good times, bad times, and middle-of-the-road times.

  40. @Christian J:

    First off, why assume that the gun sales facilitated by the classifieds are illegal? That has not been established.

    Second, both you and Bloomberg conflate three things: “illegal _guns_” and “illegal _sale_ of guns”, and “illegal _possession_ of guns.” Those are all three different things, and none of them has been demonstrated in the case about the classifieds.

    There are very few illegal _guns_ per se, that in and of themselves are illegal to possess under any circumstance. Most types of firearms require no permit or license to own. Of the small remainder (such as full automatic, or calibers greater than .50) , they may be owned with the proper federal (and possibly state) permit or license.

    Fully automatic rifles, and even “destructive devices” (calibers larger than .50 cal, grenades, etc.) may be legally owned with the proper federal license. Possession of a fully automatic weapon without the federal permit does not make it an “illegal weapon”, but rather an “illegally _possessed_ weapon.”

    And in 1986 (or sometime in the 80’s), the total number of fully-automatic weapons in civilian hands were frozen. All existing ones were grandfathered, and no new manufactured or imported fully-automatics could then be subject to the federal permitting/licensing process. Only military and police could get new fully-automatics. Since that date, the price skyrocketed, and has been going up ever since. Only the very rich can now afford to obtain a full-automatic weapon.

    And last I checked, there were only 2 or 3 instances (since the 1930’s) of fully-automatic weapons that were properly posessed by a permit holder that were used in crimes. And at least one of those was by a police officer.

    Possession by a convicted felon, of a weapon that does not require a federal permit, is another case of illegal _possession_, but the weapon itself is not illegal.

    Further, private sale between individuals, who are not prohibited by law from possessing weapons (ie, who are not convicted felons, etc.), and who are not transferring weapons that require government permits for owning/transfering, is not illegal. On the federal level, John Doe has every right to privately buy a privately owned weapon from Joe Schmoe. That varies by states, and some states do require registration of private sales, or rather that Joe Schmoe sell it to a registered dealer, and then the dealer sells it to John Doe, and the dealer records the transaction coming in and going out. But most states don’t require registration or recording of private sales.

  41. Thanks for the explanation ‘Slinger. I buy it – mostly.

    However, I can’t see the doomsday motivation being legit – unless we really believe that the wealth of this world will have anything to do with cataclysmic survival (at least in the long run).

    Also, I agree that its good that I’m not asked to pay more when donations go down. However, I would offer a better solution. Scrap the flat-tithe and ask people to pay (as Luke 12:15 instructs)proportionate to their increase and blessing. 10% for the very poor is a lot. For Mitt Romney (for example), its a drop in the bucket. The widow should not be asked to give her mite (everything), when others live like kings and could give a lot more. /tangent.

  42. Christian, You’ve got a point. Tithing is the “lesser law.”

    If I understand the scriptures and church history, the Lord would actually rather us live the Law of Consecration (United Order) than the law of tithing.

    As far as doomsday scenarios, if I understand the scriptures correctly, whatever cataclysms lead up to the 2nd Coming (ie, the 3.5 years of “tribulation” spoken of in Revelation) will be over with on the morning of the 2nd Coming, the righteous (Celestial Kingdom-worthy, according to section 76 and another section I can’t pinpoint right now) dead will resurrect that morning, and the Terrestial-Kingdom-worthy will resurrect that afternoon. (The Telestial-Kingdom-worthy who are still alive that morning will all be killed off, burned up, by the glory of the Lord’s arrival.)

    And the next 3.5 years will be spent “cleaning up the mess” of the previous 3.5 years of tribulation.

    Gee, how’s that for topic drift?

  43. I’m not saying that all non-profits are preparing for that 3.5 years of pre-2nd-Coming tribulation, but the world is going to get pretty messy even before that.

    Professional accountants, financial experts and actuaries are well aware of the cyclical recessions and depressions. The Great Depression that started in 1929 is still classified as modern history. And conscientious (sp?) professional planners on the corporate and non-profit large scale level know that it will happen again, likely in an even larger scale. Therefore, large organizations have long been planning for the long term by taking the lessons from the Great Depression into account. You can’t tell exactly when it’s going to happen (or maybe you can, if you’re smart enough and know the “inside info”), but you know that your organization has to be prepared to survive it.

    By having lots of “hard” assets such as land, cash in the bank, fully owned subsidiaries (KSL, etc.), and a diversified stock portfolio (which is essentially “partially owned” subsidiaries), the LDS church is doing nothing that other large institutions, profit and non-profit and other churches, are doing, and which has long been generally accepted as wise and prudent financial planning appropriate for such large organizations.

    People who understand the financial planning for large organizations are _not_ laughing at or mocking the LDS church for owning farms and other properties, or even the billion dollar downtown Salt Lake City thing that the church is taking heat for.

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