Should the church reconsider its policy against concealed weapons?

Many readers will have heard by now about the Texas church shooting. Here is a picture that I found very eerie because it could have easily taken place in an LDS chapel (although it didn’t — the church involved was not LDS):

To summarize, a man wearing a tench coat entered a Texas church with a shotgun hidden in his coat. The man shot an usher, shot another man and was killed by two members of the congregation who pulled out guns and shot him. The two people shot by the guy in the trench coat died. It should be noted that several other members of the congregation also pulled out their guns right after the shooting and adopted defensive postures to take on the gunman. Guns in church are legal in Texas because of a recent change in the law. The shooters who killed the gunman saved countless lives. As you can see from the picture above, the congregants were sitting ducks who could have been massacred by the gunman.

LDS church policy in Handbook 2 states:

21.2.4

Firearms

Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world. With the exception of current law enforcement officers, the carrying of lethal weapons on Church property, concealed or otherwise, is prohibited.

I have seen some reports that indicate the handbook policy was actually changed in August 2019 to make the policy against guns more stringent. It is worth noting that in September 2018 a church member with a concealed carry permit accidentally discharged his gun in a meetinghouse in Provo, Utah. This accident may have had something to do with the 2019 policy change.

But given that church shooting in Texas — in which people with concealed carry permits saved countless lives, perhaps the Church will consider changing its policy again. This post is intended to politely discuss this issue.

Please note: we at M* do not believe it is our job to counsel the Brethren on Church policy. We do not criticize Church leaders on this policy or any other policy. We believe the Church is led by revelation and that Church leaders receive that revelation. The purpose of this post is, therefore, not to complain but instead to provide a forum for members to present their opinions.

Possible arguments in favor of allowing concealed carry at Church

1)Concealed carry at an LDS church should only be considered in states and countries where concealed carry at church is legal, as it is in Texas. It is worth noting that this means concealed carry would still not be legal in most countries and even in some U.S. states. So, this question only applies to a few locales, not the entire world.

2)Concealed carry permits involve taking safety and training classes. The people with these permits are among the safest gun owners in the world because of this training.

3)The number of guns in the United States continues to climb. I have seen estimates that there are between 300 million and 400 million gun in the U.S. Meanwhile, the homicide rate has gone down. (See the below chart).

With so many guns in the United States, and so many crazy and/or over-politicized people out there, it is reasonable to believe that LDS churches may suffer attacks by shooters.

4)Please do not come on this blog and make inane arguments about gun control. You can take those arguments to other blogs where people believe in unicorns and the tooth fairy. The fact remains that the United States has a constitutional protection for gun ownership, and that will not change anytime soon. There are at least 300 million guns in the United States, and they will not magically disappear because you want them to. In a Zion world there would be no guns (in my opinion), but we don’t live in Zion, we live in a fallen world where bad guys can easily get guns. And as the chart above shows, the more people talk about gun control (under President Obama), the more guns people buy. Let’s deal with the facts as they are, not as we wish them to be. And this post is not about gun control — it is about Church policy towards concealed carry.

5)If bad guys are going to have guns (and they are), good guys with guns will be needed. If bad guys know that the Church is a gun free zone, they are more likely to target our chapels. Many of the most publicized mass shootings take place in gun free zones.

6)Lives will be saved if a concealed carry holder takes on a potential shooter at church.

Possible arguments in favor of continuing church policy as it is

1)The Church is concerned about all lethal weapons in a peaceful church setting. It does not help bring the Spirit to see people around you carrying weapons of any kind. The Church is about worshipping the Prince of Peace.

2)Guns, even those carried by people with conceal carry permits, will sometimes go off, even accidentally. Can you imagine the tragedy of somebody accidentally being killed by a person carrying a gun at church?

3)Guns are not compatible with a Zion society, and this is what we should be trying to create at church. Like it or not, some people are going to feel uncomfortable knowing other people at church are carrying guns.

4)If you favor guns at church, would you favor guns at a temple? I would not personally. Consider this question carefully while you consider whether you want guns in a chapel while the Sacrament is being served.

My take: I am honestly undecided on this issue. I own several guns for protection. I take them to the range once a year to shoot. I am against most gun control, and I favor the 2nd Amendment. It is simply a fact that many attacks take place in gun free zones. But on the other hand, I have tremendous sympathy for those who don’t want to see guns at church. It is also simply a fact that a gun carried by even the safest person can go off accidentally. And I would not want people to carry guns into the temple, so if I don’t want guns at the temple, why would I want them in a chapel? So I can see good arguments on both sides of this issue.

Here is your chance to sound off, but please, please, please don’t turn this into a debate on gun control. This is not the time or place.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

50 thoughts on “Should the church reconsider its policy against concealed weapons?

  1. I really, really hate the handbook wording “havens from the cares and concerns of the world” …. I have NEVER felt that my chapel was a haven, ever — if anything it’s a hot mess of the world most weeks. I am legitimately concerned about my safety at church. A few years ago when I was teaching Gospel Doct, a man sat in the back row of the room, drinking (unknown to anyone at the time). By the time the lesson was about to end, he was very, very drunk, and combative. He started swearing, and came up to the front and tried to punch me in the face. Thankfully, some of the men stopped him and held him till the police came — some of them were assaulted in the process. But just because our buildings are supposed to be havens, does not mean they are or will be.

  2. I have a sacred responsibility to protect my wife and children, l do hope the policy is changed and we don’t have an attack on a congregation like in Texas, a don’t ask, don’t tell policy would work.

  3. If you do not want to have church members carrying concealed guns into church buildings you could alternatively have an armed guard ready whenever church members assemble. As long as there is no armed guard I am in favor of reconsidering current church policy regarding concealed carry.

  4. My granddaughter attends a junior high school where they have limited entry to only one entrance. Other schools have permitted personnel with training to carry guns. A few years ago while I was working at the baptistry in the Provo Temple we were told that someone had called and said they intended to come to the temple with a gun and shoot some people. We were given instructions to avoid interfering if that person kept to their threat, but instead should call the police. I could not follow that advice if the event came to pass. I looked around me and located several objects that could be thrown. I knew that several members of the volunteer staff in the baptistry had a military background and would likely take advantage of a diversion if I provided it, even at the risk of my own life. We often had upwards of a hundred young people sitting just beyond a sheet of glass from the baptistry recommend desk. We were never given any training on how to proceed in case of slaughter of the innocents. Perhaps, like Alma counseled Amulek, it is not our place to interfere with evil but leave it to the Lord to judge. However, that is not how I am wired. I will not carry a gun into a church, but I will carry a projectile in my purse when I go to church or any other place where guns are not permitted. My son’s ward has hired an off duty officer to park near the church during meetings. It is not to guard the people but to protect the new copper wiring after the previous wiring was stripped by metal thieves. It would probably also serve as a deterrent to would be assassins.

  5. Hi Geoff and Happy New Year. I love your passion for this blog and for the topics of eternal significance it deals with, including this one. It would have eternal consequences for anyone of us if a shooter came into our chapel and killed or maimed family members or ward brothers and sisters. I appreciate your disclaimers, but you may not be able to prevent varying opinions on gun control in the posts by people who don’t believe in the tooth fairy… : )
    All the more reason for insisting on your disclaimers. I am a teacher and I know that no matter what measures we take, we can only lessen the impact of a shooting should an individual decide to carry out serial murders.
    Still, having one or more armed police officers at school comforts me and preparation will save lives. Quick first thoughts:
    1. Church policy should include training of all adult ward members for active shooter events.
    2. Some chapels have as many as four entrances. Adults taking turns sitting outside these doors? During second hour, ushers/guards needed.
    3. New signs of mental health instability of and threats by known members of the stake taken seriously by family, ward members and leaders. The shooter could be a known member of the Church.
    4. Welcoming guests and odd-looking strangers… Greeters would have the added responsibility of “sensing” danger and acting quickly with the help of others with perhaps a coded message.
    5. This is where I finally answer your question:
    Yes, we live in a dangerous world and where legal, I support good guys carrying a firearm or bear spray to protect our people and our temples. Where not legal, as in my home country, the Church should be able to hire a security guard for 3 hours on Sunday where 2 wards meet, should it not? Could a stake make that decision if the Church had a policy that let individual stakes or areas decide on the level of security they need depending on the political and social climate or war conditions?

  6. I am a Second Generation member of the Church OF Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am a Husband, Father and Grand Father. I believe in the Second Amendment. I have in the past carried concealed at church. No-one other than my family and a few like minded individuals knew I was carrying. I stopped carrying these tools to protect innocents because of Church Policy. I know people who have witnessed a shooter in an LDS-Ward in California. I will honor and respect the wishes of the First Presidency in all regards even when I believe policy to be flawed. I do pray that they will change Church Policy, before we members, who don’t have the benefit of armed security, suffer great tragedy needlessly. I believe that Texas law should be adopted in all fifty states regarding concealed carry in Houses of Worship. I believe that it is the responsibility of all Churches to provide for the security of their parishioners. If Churches don’t allow their people to carry at their will, they at a minimum should provide armed security to protect their flock.

  7. You provided a wonderful description of both the advantages and disadvantages of the concealed carry policy. Thanks very much for your thoughtful consideration of the issue.

    As far as I can tell, the risk of being harmed by a gun at a church building is much, much less than the risk I willingly incur when I drive the car from home to the church building and much, much less than the risks I regularly incur around my house. I’m not doing enough to control the more prominent risks in my life (heart disease, weight gain, poor driving, poor sleep, etc.). I’ll continue ignoring this risk while I try to focus on the higher risks in my life.

    With regard to the policy, I’m undecided as well. I will continue to comply with the policy because the risk is low, the benefits to be gained from non-compliance also seem low, and my personal suspicion is that there are individuals that are either unaware of the policy or intentionally ignore the policy. Since it is “concealed carry”, I am confident that those who might carry in the congregation where I worship will not be disclosing that they are carrying.

  8. Good thoughts. I will add some of my own, mostly addressing the points against concealed carry of firearms.

    1) The Church is concerned about all lethal weapons in a peaceful church setting. It does not help bring the Spirit to see people around you carrying weapons of any kind. The Church is about worshipping the Prince of Peace.

    If you are a properly trained concealed carry holder, no one has to know that you are carrying. Furthermore, I personally know a number of members who have been carrying in church and who will continue to do so, in spite of the updated policy. If your worship hasn’t been impacted yet, it is unlikely to be impacted in the future because nothing has changed except a policy. There were, and will be, guns in the chapel.

    2) Guns, even those carried by people with conceal carry permits, will sometimes go off, even accidentally. Can you imagine the tragedy of somebody accidentally being killed by a person carrying a gun at church?

    I am very skeptical about this claim. It’s important to understand what an “accidental discharge” is and what a “negligent discharge” is. I am unaware of any evidence showing a firearm will just “go off” by itself under any normal circumstances. This is simply not possible except in the most extreme and rare circumstances (I haven’t really found any strong evidence to indicate that it happens at all, unless the gun has been modified or is mechanically damaged).

    Here is a link about the issues that can occur.

    https://www.guncrafttraining.com/articles/negligent-discharge-vs-accidental-discharge

    Generally speaking, if your gun is kept in good condition, was made in the past decade of so, and isn’t used frequently enough for wear and tear to compromise the safety mechanisms in place, there is almost no chance of the gun going off even if you drop it. The “accidental discharge” is, in most cases, a “negligent discharge” and is certainly a well-known issue. The person handling the gun has mistakenly taken an action that discharges a round, when it was not intended. These people should not carry guns until they are better informed and/or trained.

    I also fail to see the distinction of a tragedy when a person is shot at church as opposed to any other location where they should not be shot.

    3) Guns are not compatible with a Zion society, and this is what we should be trying to create at church. Like it or not, some people are going to feel uncomfortable knowing other people at church are carrying guns.

    The saints in Nauvoo and other places sought to create a Zion society. Unfortunately, they were still surrounded by Babylon. Unless and until we achieve a state of protection from the outside world, Zion will be in our hearts and homes, not anywhere else.

    If you are a properly trained concealed carry holder, no one has to know that you are carrying. Furthermore, I personally know a number of members who have been carrying in church and who will continue to do so, in spite of the updated policy. There are already guns in the chapel.

    4) If you favor guns at church, would you favor guns at a temple? I would not personally. Consider this question carefully while you consider whether you want guns in a chapel while the Sacrament is being served.

    I personally know several security guards who provide security for the brethren in and around temple square. They are armed. They escort the brethren in and out of the church office building and to and from the temple. There are already guns in the temple.

    Just my thoughts and I understand that others will feel differently. I just hope that there is a rational and factual approach to this topic instead of the emotional and false narrative about guns that we often see.

  9. I have mixed emotions as well about this policy. Perhaps it is a time to pray for heaven’s protection as we worship and trust in the Lord. If we are obedient to the policy I have to believe the Lord is obligated to provide that protection.

  10. Geoff, we’ve discussed this online more than a few times, so I don’t know if I have shared this with you or not. Like you, I believe strongly in the Second Amendment as it was drafted and intended from the beginning. When it comes to guns in Church, and every time I have thought about bringing one, I am reminded of Pres. Oaks’ October 1992 General Conference talk, in which he describes an encounter he had on the streets of Chicago with an armed assailant and how he didn’t take advantage of an opportunity that presented itself for him to wrestle the gun away from this young man because the Spirit told him that if he did, the young man would end up being shot and killed and that he couldn’t have that blood on his hands.

    https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1992/10/bible-stories-and-personal-protection?lang=eng

    This has come back to me on many occasions as I have considered this issue, and as it has I have felt peace with the Church’s position on this. Is there something to be concerned about? Certainly. Is there the possibility of harm? Absolutely. Do I own and occasionally carry guns for protection? Yes. Will I ever do so in Church? I don’t think so, because long before the current policy was in place, I never felt comfortable taking guns there in the first place and every time I thought of it (repeating myself) the Spirit brought this talk to my remembrance.

  11. Many of the Lamanites who voluntarily buried their weapons were killed when their oppressors came against them. Yet more were converted than were killed. The grand designs of Heaven can be far different from what we usually suppose. While I feel we will be blessed for following the brethren, I don’t count on it including protection from injury or death. Too many of my ancestors and others I know have suffered and died while living righteously and following the guidance they were/are given. I know my Savior lives and Russell M. Nelson is his prophet whatever may affect me personally.

  12. I have one big issue with the current policy.

    Many years ago, my now-ex-wife made specific threats against me (though they did not rise to the level where I could take legal action). She knew both where I worked (only a few blocks away from her office), where I lived, and where I went to church.

    The current policy makes no consideration for such specific threats, other than to allow active-duty law enforcement to carry. This then forces me to choose between my safety (and potentially the safety of my fellow churchgoers) and obedience to the policy. I could carry at home. I could carry to and from work (and worked in a secure facility). I could carry generally when out and around town. But the policy prohibits me from carrying in a time and place when I would be particularly vulnerable, and it would be known that I was vulnerable.

    With very few exceptions, my usual recommendation to organizations is to just follow whatever state law is. If it’s not prohibited by state law, there’s no need for you to set a separate policy against it. If it is prohibited, then you still have no need to set a separate policy.

  13. I will follow the Brethren no matter what. That being said, the new safety guidelines that were released back in October annoyed me a little bit. They basically adopted the run, hide, fight philosophy saying, “Use any available materials or tools as a weapon. Fight to stop the assailant.” It was annoying because obviously the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.

    Also, we’ve been taught, continually, that the Constitution is an inspired document. Does that mean we should revere the Amendments as well? Even the Second Amendment? I believe we should.

  14. All the church properties in Brazil are gated. During meetings someone would watch the gate to let latecomers in. During the weekday we had someone get in with a gun when the driver got out of his car to close the gate as he was leaving and someone got in and stole his car at gunpoint. After that, all gates were made to open and shut without getting out of the car. It wasn’t the perfect answer but the best one can do in a country where only the criminals and ineffective police have guns.

  15. A good compromise is to have bishops assign certain members to conceal carry. This could be police officers, former military, etc.

  16. One of the aspects I haven’t seen covered yet in the comments is suicide. I believe that a high percentage of police shootings are suicide by cop (30%?). A high percentage of mass shootings are also suicides. I don’t know if the Texas situation was or not, but I worry that it could be a trend. I wonder if having known concealed carry would encourage suicide by means of church attendees. There is something both hideous and appealing to dying so in a church setting.

  17. D&C 45:70 (68-70) seems to suggest *something* keeps warring evil away from Zion.

  18. I also support the second amendment, and come from a family of hunters and gun owners. I support the right of individuals to own guns, but not necessarily weapons of mass destruction. There is a line somewhere between giving automatic weapons to the mentally unstable and banning hunting rifles.

    But guns do go off by accident. I know because my brother was permanently brain injured by a holstered gun when the safety was on. He was in a moving vehicle and they hit a bump and the gun discharged. The injury eventually killed him, and did I say that the gun was in its holster with the safety on, and everyone on the hunting trip had an NRA gun safety course and years of experience hunting. Accidents do happen with guns, so don’t pretend they don’t.

    As to the question, I have mixed feelings. Would I personally feel safer if there was a good guy with a gun? No, because accidents do happen and idiots also happen. Just because someone is a good guy doesn’t mean he cannot be an idiot with a gun. I am more afraid of a good guy idiot than a bad guy, because so many gun injuries are due to negligence, not a bad guy. I think of some of the gun toting nincompoops that I know and yes, I am more afraid of them than a church shooter. Church shooters are rare, stupidity isn’t. My husband’s family has had two fatal hunting accidents due to negligence/stupidity. So, personally, I am more afraid of accidents or stupidity than a church shooter, but I understand not everyone has my history and I am sure that if my family had a death due to a church shooter, I would feel differently.

    Having said all that, I live in a city where arson attacks have burned Mormon chapels. So, there is hatred out there and I would like armed guards at church buildings. But the church won’t hire janitors, let alone security guards, so we are back to trained individuals with concealed carry permits.

    So, I have mixed feelings.

  19. The fallacy of a gun just going off by itself is simply untrue. I have shot well over 60,000 rounds in training and competitions, and I have carried a loaded firearm for many, many years and not once has a gun ever done anything other than what I told it to. If you don’t pull the trigger, it doesn’t go bang. It really is that simple. Every single so called “accident” was actually lack of knowledge or failure to follow the rules of gun safety. Period. User error. Mechanically, modern firearms are incredibly reliable and safe. That is not a valid concern. They aren’t just going to go off by themselves.

  20. Jacom, I sure hope you are not calling me a liar, because it kinda sounds like you are. The safety malfunctioned and a bump in the road made the gun go off. Gun malfunction, not anyone pulling the trigger. You have simply never experienced a gun malfunctioning before. Your lack of that experience doesn’t mean it never happens. I will acknowledge it is probably rare. But it is not unheard of, because when my family reported what happened, the police said it had been known to happen with that model gun before. They even named the death.

  21. I’ll admit this new policy has given me a lot to chew on. But I just wanted to make one small point: remember that President Nelson is not unfamiliar with being physically threatened. Ten years ago he was attacked while on assignment in Africa. He and his wife were having dinner in the mission president’s home in Mozambique when armed robbers invaded the home and assaulted them and stole their belongings. President Nelson was pushed on the ground and kicked in the face. The mission president’s wife suffered a broken arm.

    https://www.heraldextra.com/news/local/lds-leaders-attacked-in-africa/article_fd2193f6-9850-53e1-af13-12cc9998c9f6.html

    I think one takeaway is that President Nelson is not oblivious to violence in a religious setting. He’s looked it in the face. If the Brethren have made a policy like this, it’s not in ignorance or apathy. I’m positive they weighed the pros and cons very carefully.

  22. There are a number of thoughtful and rational discussions in the comments on this topic. Rather than talk about the Church’s policy on concealed carry in Church, I would like to address two comments in the original post: 1) “In a Zion world there would be no guns (in my opinion)”; and 2) “Guns are not compatible with a Zion society.” My question is, why not? A gun is an inanimate object like any other tool or sporting equipment. It is neither good nor bad, it just is. It obviously can be used for good or bad, but that is not inherent in the nature of the object so why should the object be “banned” or not allowed in a Zion society? Are those who enjoy the sport of trap shooting or skeet shooting or any other of the shooting sports (most of which are in the Olympics) to be unable to participate in these leisure and hobby activities in a Zion society? Why would that be? Is your idea of a Zion society or a Zion world devoid of leisure activities or hobbies at all? If so, what is the doctrinal basis of that belief? It certainly is not my idea of how a Zion society would operate. I understand that the above two statements were probably made without actually thinking them through, but I would really like to hear why I should even consider them to be doctrinally sound.

    Now, as for the policy on concealed carry in LDS chapels, in my state (Colorado) for a prohibition on concealed carry to be enforced on private property (a church), the land owner must post that prohibition in writing at the entrances of the building and then if someone conceal carries on the premises they can be asked to leave. If they refuse, they can be charged with the misdemeanor of trespass. If the Church wishes to actually make their policy of legal force they need to post it on the building entrances. Otherwise, there just remains the moral question of whether a person will obey the policy (and the Brethren) or not, but it is not illegal to conceal carry in a LDS Church in Colorado at this time.

  23. You might be right about the legal issues. However when the first presidency issues or changes an administrative rule (we are not talking doctrine here) it is not about a legal issue but about a moral one (i.e. whether or not you obey the rules the church sets forth).

    Especially as church members we should yield to the expressed wishes of general authorities even when we disagree. At least be so honest and speak with your bisphop about that you are going to carry. He ultimately will have to decide whether or not he is going to permit it.

  24. Among all the reasons for the Church’s policy, one that is unmentioned is financial liability. The Church does not want the financial liability that would come with allowing armed parishioners in our litigious society. Perhaps this reason trumps all others.

  25. Why should the Church become liable for something one of its members does? I don’t really get it.

  26. Seb,

    If a member wants to carry, contrary to Church policy, he or she should not burden the bishop with that information. The bishop must enforce Church policy, and really cannot give anyone permission to carry. If a member wants to disobey Church policy, let him or her do it secretly and let him or her bear any and all responsibility for his or her disobedient choice.

  27. Seb,

    Perhaps you don’t live in the U.S.? Here, a shooting may easily result in a lawsuit looking for a deep pocket, and the Church would certainly be seen as a deep pocket. If the Church allowed or encouraged parishioners to carry firearms so that they could shoot threatening people on Church property, it would be an easy lawsuit target after a shooting, whether purposeful or accidental. The brethren are smart enough to know this, and to avoid the liability.

  28. Great article, a thoughtful approach that recognizes reasonable people could take both sides of the issue. Like the author, I too am conflicted on this, and for the same reasons. Sacrament meeting is supposed to be a sacred space for worship, for remembering the sacrifice of God’s Son for me. Maybe a small gun on my hip won’t interfere with my worship, but I also don’t like the idea of a knife and gun club around the sacrament table. Are we living in the Wild West again?When I started going to the temple I was taught to take my watch off as a sign that I was leaving the world behind and to help me focus on the temple and not on my to-do list for the day. If it applies to a watch does it apply to a gun? On the other hand if I were in the congregation at that church in Texas I would be very grateful for all the people who carried their weapons in church that day.

  29. I’m not a lawyer. So I see things through the eyes of a normal person. But Walmart sells kitchen knifes. So would Walmart possibly be liable if somebody kills another person with the just purchased knife? Or what if somebody accidentally injures another one with a shopping cart he uses at a Walmart store?

  30. ”So would Walmart possibly be liable if somebody kills another person with the just purchased knife?“

    Yes, possibly.

    ”Or what if somebody accidentally injures another one with a shopping cart he uses at a Walmart store?”

    Yes, possibly.

    There are several attorneys among the brethren. They understand these things. I am glad they are protecting the Church.

  31. Gregg Kay, I think you make some decent points. I would imagine there could be guns used for sport in a Zion society. But when I imagine a Zion society, I imagine a place where guns are no longer needed at all for self-defense or for defense against a tyrannical government. That is what I am referring to (and I say this as a proud gun owner opposed to gun control).

  32. Good point, jl. Isn’t the hotel where the Las Vegas shooter holed up currently being sued (or perhaps settled, I can’t remember) by the victims and families?

  33. I do not own a gun, nor have I ever had any legit experience or training with using a gun. My guess is that’s true for the majority of Church members in the U.S., so I appreciate seeing a balanced view of both sides of the issue. All legal and social opinions aside, I have to ask, “What would Jesus do/say?”

    If we turn to Matthew 26 we see Jesus betrayed by Judas, and accosted by soldiers and high priests hoisting weapons, staves, and torches. He requests the soldiers to arrest him and let the 11 apostles go in safety. Peter rashly takes a sword and awkwardly chops off the ear of Malchus (If he meant to kill or maim, we don’t know…). Jesus rebukes Peter, saying, “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (v. 52). What if we put “gun” or insert any weapon in the place of “sword”? Is that what He would say to us today? If I interpret His meaning correctly, He is saying that violence begets more violence, so we should make sure we are not found guilty of taking a life out of anger, fear, or even in self-defense (with the exception of defensive warfare as with Captain Moroni). He is the Prince of Peace who abhors violence of any kind.

    I could stop there and rest my case, and yet, just a few minutes before his betrayal, He has a conversation with his 11 apostles that seems to indicate His advocacy of weapons for protection, “When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing?” And they said, Nothing… “But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”… And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And He said unto them, It is enough (Luke 22:35-36, 38).

    Here the Lord is not encouraging everyone to bring their sword, but because He knows what is coming, He appeases to their need for armed protection, even though He is right there with them, and knowing that not even two swords would be sufficient to deter the soldiers or the outcome. Then he rebukes Peter for trying to protect Him and heals the solider’s ear.

    For our dispensation, “And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety” (D&C 45:68). How many of us actually own a sword? The “sword” clearly means any weapon, especially guns, and they are everywhere. Psychologically, I believe we have become so dependent on guns/weapons for safety, “the arm of the flesh,” rather than on the arm of the Lord.

    So I conclude that, as saints, we are not to be counted “among the wicked,” but to build up Zion by proclaiming peace and non-violence, even as a means of self-defense, and to rely on the Lord for His protection. I’m sure others have different scriptural interpretations. Lives were definitely saved by gunning down the shooter in Texas, but I’m not sure I’d want to be a member of a church that allows concealed carry. So, yeah, I don’t know, I think the Brethren have the policy right. In our society that places such a high priority on safety, I think our spiritual salvation is more important than our physical safety.

  34. That is utterly insane. And I do not mean it is not true what you are saying about the legal implications. I’m not a lawyer and so I have to believe you. But it is utterly insane .

  35. @Tiger:
    So you are basically saying self-self-defense (oder the defense of your family, friends, neighbors) is against the will of God. Do I understand you correctly? Or did I get something wrong here?

    If you were indeed saying this I would ask you to read the BoM and the revelations of modern day prophets and apostles about this issue.

  36. Just in case you refering to my posting where I made uss of the the word “insane”: My words were not targeted against anyone who has commented here. If – coming back to my example – Walmart could possibly be held liable if a cutsomer who bought a kitchen knife there later killed a person with it, well, then THAT is absolutely and utterly insane. The laws allowing this are insane.

  37. @lehcarjt:
    The hotel in Las Vegas is a complete different case. The shooter had been stacking weapons and ammo there for days before he started to kill all the innocent people. Staff must have seen the weapons (something that will certainly will be brought up in the trial) but allegedly failed to report it.

  38. I grew up duck hunting starting around the age of 6, and hunted off and on until I was 16 or so. Haven’t seriously hunted in almost 40 years now. I am fairly comfortable with rifles and shotguns; pistols weren’t really a thing in our home growing up, though my father kept a pistol in his nightstand. I handled it a couple of times, but knew enough about firearms to not play with it. Fast forward to my early 50’s, and I decided to get my concealed carry permit. Purchased a couple of pistols, got my permit, and have been carrying for about 6 years. I don’t carry all the time, nor do I carry everywhere. In fact, usually the pistol doesn’t even have a bullet in the chamber — I’d have to rack it. (I usually envision myself as being in situations where I don’t need to quick draw my gun, though I’m getting warmed up to the notion that I need to have it ready to shoot at all times.) I’m fairly accurate to about 20 feet, then start dropping off a little. Fifty feet out and I could still probably wing you. All that is to say although I received decent training to get my CCP, the bottom line is that unless you shoot on a regular basis, you probably aren’t that good of a shot. (That retired FBI guy in the recent Texas shooting was super accurate.) Nonetheless, I would like to conceal carry in church. My rationale is that even if I can’t hit a gunman, I can certainly get his attention. Though I think most gunmen are mentally unstable and have a death wish, I think most of them have an innate self preservation mode that would kick in and cause them to retreat or take cover if someone was actually firing back at them. (Which is why most of these shootings are occurring in gun free zones — the shooter knows the risk of getting return fire is slim.) I am a good enough shot that I don’t think I would hit a bystander. No one likes the prospect of friendly fire, but if it would save countless more lives, then it would be worth it. That’s the kind of decision making that is handled case by case.

    I’d like to see the policy changed along the lines of “we greatly discourage the carrying of weapons at church. However, if the local jurisdiction allows concealed carry, then members may do so upon having complied with applicable laws…”

    It’s difficult to weigh the odds of someone attacking FP/Q12 versus the odds of someone attacking a Sunday congregation. Leaders have a platoon of security personnel who are armed. I think they can allow us to carry at least in the chapel. Not as worried about the temple because every recommend desk has a panic button that alerts authorities….. presuming the brother working the desk can get to it before being incapacitated. As for the position of “Have faith, let God take care of it….” The FP/Q12 don’t take that approach. I don’t know why we should. However, everyone has their agency. I don’t believe in forcing someone to take up arms in these kinds of situations. I’ve lived a pretty good life and if I’m shot dead, then so be it. But I mostly have a fight reaction (like Sister Chiu). I’m not prepared to see some maniac cut down my children or grandchildren and me stand by helpless.

  39. “we at M* do not believe it is our job to counsel the Brethren on Church policy”

    Do you really think it’s a policy from the Brethren instead of Kirton-McConkie?

  40. JPV, it is policy in the handbook, and the Brethren regularly look at and review polices in the handbook, so yes, it is a policy approved by the current prophet and apostles.

  41. I currently serve in the Nursery, and always have in the back of my mind the idea of those babies — the ultimate innocents — being hurt or becoming hostage to someone of ill intent and my not being able to do anything about it. I’ve never aimed at a human being, hope never to have to, but am pretty sure I could under in-extremis circumstance.

    And now the brethren seem to have publicly announced us as easy targets and made my calling even more vulnerable. But obey I do, and will learn why later. Maybe.

    So now I have to resort to alternative means.
    Ergo, I’m making a large Nursery Apron, with many pockets on the outside and some strategic ones on the inside fitted to be instantly but covertly accessible. The stealth pockets will include items made to disable at a distance and bladed tools for close-quarter interaction.

    Do you think the bad guy would expect threat from a little old lady (late 60s) in a flowered apron? I’m hoping not (really don’t want to get blood all over my apron). Maybe I should line the whole thing with kevlar….

    Ultimately, though, we have to depend on the Spirit for protection, warning, and advice. If a personal prompting ever comes to pack and carry on a particular day or for a particular event or calling, I think I’d feel perfectly justified but still would never do or say anything to call any attention to myself.

    The BoM and NT both seem to suggest submitting to and enduring evil on a personal level as the Savior certainly did (to become legal witness at the Pleasing Bar of God?), but then the BoM provides prodigious evidence of the Lord’s support for the righteous and vigorous defense of “Our God, Our Religion, and Freedom, and Our Peace, Our Wives, and Our Children.”

  42. I suspect that the church will not go in the direction of allowing those with CCPs to carry. It looks like 16 states allow unrestricted concealed carry (i.e., no permit required). For simplicity, it’s probably an all or nothing situation and the church opted for nothing rather than doing something like allowing concealed carry for those that have been properly trained.

  43. “Do you think the bad guy would expect threat from a little old lady (late 60s) in a flowered apron? ”

    @Chris, It depends if the bad guy is familiar with this:

    The Female of the Species

    WHEN the Himalayan peasant meets the he-bear in his pride,
    He shouts to scare the monster, who will often turn aside.
    But the she-bear thus accosted rends the peasant tooth and nail.
    For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

    When Nag the basking cobra hears the careless foot of man,
    He will sometimes wriggle sideways and avoid it if he can.
    But his mate makes no such motion where she camps beside the trail.
    For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

    When the early Jesuit fathers preached to Hurons and Choctaws,
    They prayed to be delivered from the vengeance of the squaws.
    ‘Twas the women, not the warriors, turned those stark enthusiasts pale.
    For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.

    Man’s timid heart is bursting with the things he must not say,
    For the Woman that God gave him isn’t his to give away;
    But when hunter meets with husbands, each confirms the other’s tale—
    The female of the species is more deadly than the male.

    Man, a bear in most relations—worm and savage otherwise,—
    Man propounds negotiations, Man accepts the compromise.
    Very rarely will he squarely push the logic of a fact
    To its ultimate conclusion in unmitigated act.

    Fear, or foolishness, impels him, ere he lay the wicked low,
    To concede some form of trial even to his fiercest foe.
    Mirth obscene diverts his anger—Doubt and Pity oft perplex
    Him in dealing with an issue—to the scandal of The Sex!

    But the Woman that God gave him, every fibre of her frame
    Proves her launched for one sole issue, armed and engined for the same;
    And to serve that single issue, lest the generations fail,
    The female of the species must be deadlier than the male.

    She who faces Death by torture for each life beneath her breast
    May not deal in doubt or pity—must not swerve for fact or jest.
    These be purely male diversions—not in these her honour dwells—
    She the Other Law we live by, is that Law and nothing else.

    She can bring no more to living than the powers that make her great
    As the Mother of the Infant and the Mistress of the Mate.
    And when Babe and Man are lacking and she strides unclaimed to claim
    Her right as femme (and baron), her equipment is the same.

    She is wedded to convictions—in default of grosser ties;
    Her contentions are her children, Heaven help him who denies!—
    He will meet no suave discussion, but the instant, white-hot, wild,
    Wakened female of the species warring as for spouse and child.

    Unprovoked and awful charges—even so the she-bear fights,
    Speech that drips, corrodes, and poisons—even so the cobra bites,
    Scientific vivisection of one nerve till it is raw
    And the victim writhes in anguish—like the Jesuit with the squaw!

    So it comes that Man, the coward, when he gathers to confer
    With his fellow-braves in council, dare not leave a place for her
    Where, at war with Life and Conscience, he uplifts his erring hands
    To some God of Abstract Justice—which no woman understands.

    And Man knows it! Knows, moreover, that the Woman that God gave him
    Must command but may not govern—shall enthral but not enslave him.
    And She knows, because She warns him, and Her instincts never fail,
    That the Female of Her Species is more deadly than the Male.

    http://www.potw.org/archive/potw96.html

  44. The church handbook also says we should keep the Sabbath day holy. How many of us do that as well as we should, even though it’s a simple enough directive.

    It also gives guidance on ward councils, quorum and organization presidency meetings and so on, which are rarely followed properly. I’ve never met a person who was ignorant of something the handbook says they should do, who didn’t later claim the necessity of local adaptation for reason they were neglecting to follow policies or procedures they never knew.

  45. ji, I couldn’t agree more!
    Mr. Kipling, many thanks for your keen perception, and for those verses that made me giggle.
    Being mistaken for a little old lady tickles me. Those who know me don’t make that error so I guess I’ll just have to hope that the bad guy is a stranger.

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