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:
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.