Annual Warning: LDS Church Publicly Announces Soft Target Status, Demonstrates Some Lives More Valuable Than Others

Each January, I check to see if the LDS Church has renewed it’s firearm ban and publicly announced itself to be a soft target for terror and/or other violent crimes (and, yes, islamic terrorists have specifically named the LDS Church as a target). The trend continues this year. However, there is something else I picked up on during the last year and I was reminded of when reading their January 9, 2019 legal notice:

NOTICE OF FIREARMS PROHIBITION Notice is hereby given that, pursuant to Section 76-10-530 of the Utah Code Annotated, firearms are prohibited in all houses of worship, including temples, meetinghouses, chapels, stake centers, tabernacles, the Assembly Hall, the Tabernacle and the Conference Center, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the “Church”), except for firearms in the possession and control of individuals who (a) are specified in Section 76-10-523(1)(a)-(e) of the Utah Code Annotated or (b) are otherwise engaged in the protection of Church members, visitors, personnel or facilities and hold a written authorization issued by the Managing Director of the Church’s Security Department. This notice is effective upon publication and shall remain in effect until revoked or the first anniversary of the publication of this notice, whichever first occurs. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 50 East North Temple Street Salt Lake City, Utah 84150 1238909 UPAXLP [Emphasis added]

First, “members” with “written authorization” does not apply to general membership. Trust me, if you’re not in upper church leadership that bold section doesn’t apply to you. You’re expendable.

Earlier this year, I attended a couple of meetings where the church’s president was in attendance. Both were in a church facility where the gun ban applied. In both instances he had an armed security detail. They either were advertising to potential trouble makers that they were armed or didn’t do a very good job concealing their weapons. It’s another instance of “good for me but not for thee”.

Members should be aware of three things:

1. Upper leadership is afforded protection that you and innocent members (particularly children) are not. Apparently, their lives aren’t as valuable as others (‘some lives are more equal than others’?…). As far as I’m concerned a child’s, middle-aged mother’s, or sleepy 75-year-old member’s life is just as important as the Prophet’s or other General Authority’s life. If they refuse to let members protect themselves, they should at least either provide security or active shooter (and first aid) training.

2. Just because an armed security detail is in a meeting you attend, do not count on them protecting you or your family. Their priority is the individual(s) they’re assigned to. If crap hits the fan, they’ll get them out of the danger which may mean neutralizing the threat (if you’re lucky) but more likely, just getting out to safety. It’s possible they’ll come back to engage the threat but there will be a long delay (they have to secure their client) and most of the damage will be done. Basically, you’re on your own.

3. Given the two items above, you need to plan for your own security, reaction and egress. You should hold a family home evening on it. I would also suggest looking into some sort of trauma first aid training to help in the aftermath if you survive. Here are a few resources to start off:

Everything You Think You Know About an Active Shooter Situation Is Wrong
Recognizing 8 Signs of Terrorism
How Situational Awareness Can Save Your Life In A Terror Attack

Notes on the videos:  In Auburn’s you’ll notice everyone concentrate in one corner of the room. That isn’t best practice IMO (see the Ohio video where they mention spacing out). Also in Ohio University’s video, note the “…bring along a weapon in case you encounter the shooter along the way” comment. The best weapon (IMO) has been denied to you so grab what you can quickly (don’t waste time evaluating/looking for something, however). Remember, ALICE  means Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.

There are plenty of other resources so check them out but be sure to apply them to your situation as each method will have deficiencies for different scenarios (e.g. differing room type, size, configuration, obstacles, number of shooters, etc.). Try to play out realistic scenarios in your mind (don’t get into fantasy where you come out the hero). Plan on casualties and steel yourself mentally for the screaming, gore and likely death you will encounter.

Finally, The LDS Church remains one of only two churches in Utah with this dangerous policy. I hope the LDS Church will reconsider their policy just as another congregation did when faced with a threat. It should also be noted that prior to the change a few years ago, concealed carry had been allowed for decades in LDS facilities without incident.

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