The LDS Church changed policy around a decade ago to ban guns within church buildings. As with most other gun-free zones, the policy realistically applies only to law-abiding citizens as criminals couldn’t care less about such things. Basically, gun-free zones typically equate to victim zones. Back then, the worst case outcome would likely be one or two victims from someone ‘settling a personal score’ or a score dead from an outright loony (such as in South Carolina).
Fast forward to today. With the San Bernardino and France terror attacks, we are well passed the loony killing and on to groups that will carefully seek out soft targets where they maximize victims. Carefully seeking out targets involves surveillance, reconnaissance, skillful planning/practice, and effective tactical execution. These are efforts well beyond those of the aforementioned loony/madman. Welcome to the new reality.
When it comes to security, the goal is always to harden your personal circumstance or facility to a higher level than those around you. You present a less appealing target so that plotters pick the one next door.
In Utah, LDS churches are “the one next door”. Without going into great detail, there are portions/times in the building that present a predictable, high density, virtually defenseless set of victims with poor means of egress (depending on attacker/device positioning – positioning which isn’t very hard to figure out). While victims will have egress problems, attackers will not and, if a modicum of planning is performed, they will also have several avenues of movement to either evade capture or move to the next target.
I would hope the church would review policies to become a less appealing target and enable members/visitors a fighting chance at survival. Ideally, another entity would become “the one next door”. In the meantime, it would be very wise for members to review the video (Recognizing 8 Signs of Terrorism) published by the Utah Department of Public Safety and carefully watch for the clues presented. Additionally, come up with a survival plan for various attack scenarios (hint: naively going with the instinctual “it will never happen here” is not a plan). Godspeed.
UPDATE (7/2016): Only the naive think that surely terrorists would never target a peaceful church: Isis releases new kill list with 1,700 names targeting members of US churches and Jewish synagogues
…targeting members of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues in the US. The list, like others released in the past, calls on pro-Daesh supporters to “kill them all” and “slay them”, in efforts to promote more lone-wolf attacks in the West.
UPDATE (8/2016): Another report on this matter. Churches take new security measures in face of terror threats
UPDATE (12/2016): A year out now and Daesh reaffirms targeting you and your family in your place of worship: Exclusive: ISIS Puts Out Holiday Attack List Of U.S. Churches. We’re sitting ducks.