Will Texas Church Shooting Lessons Get Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) To Rethink Deadly Policy?

This past Sunday, two congregants were killed in Texas by an armed loser. The reason the death toll was limited to two victims is thanks to an armed worshiper (serving as volunteer security) quickly killing the shooter as he was preparing to target his next victim(s). Lives were certainly saved by the concealed carrier’s actions.

This would not have happened in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as members are prohibited from effective armed defense. It should serve as a stark warning.

This is how stark of a warning: Two innocent people were killed within six seconds despite having armed security volunteers who responded after two shots. The killer only shot twice before being taken down. It shows that in a shooting casualties are a virtual certainty despite rapid response, precisely because responses take time and the attacker frequently has the advantage of surprise. What would the toll have looked like after twelve seconds, thirty seconds…for law enforcement to respond…

Now think of this at a church with a gun ban policy directing members to run, hide and do their best while they wait for law enforcement to respond. The death toll would have been much higher. No wonder I called the Church of Jesus Christ’s guidelines “inadequate” a few months ago. That was charitable then. Given that the church has still not made any effort to even have those guidelines read over the pulpit, woefully inadequate would be an understatement.

The church’s current policy is deadly and will only serve to exponentially increase effective response time and, therefore, innocent casualties. I again call on their public affairs and attorneys to rescind this lethal policy and respect the lives of lay members.

That said, there are still lessons to be learned from the Texas shooting. Start by reviewing and practicing the resources here. As noted above, they won’t stop casualties, there will still be plenty. Prepare for that. Below, is an analysis of the Texas shooting. It includes video of the shooting (Warning: if you are squeamish about such things, don’t watch the video). The analysis is very good and will help you think through the lessons for us (constant vigilance, shooting response plan in place, preparation, trauma kits, training etc., etc.):

Addendum: Orthodox Jews certainly aren’t fooling around after the NYC Hanukkah stabbing.

UPDATE: This recent Fox13 report may also help in terms of resources (it also notes the Church of Jesus Christ’s lack of preparation): ‘Shift in paradigm’: Utah self-defense trainer says shooting at Texas church shows preparation can save lives

Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) Public Affairs Coming To Terms With Lethal Anti-Gun Policy?

About a month ago, I put up a post continuing a years-long documentation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint’s steps on an unrealistic, deadly policy. The policy also resulted in some members pushing back. This week, it looks like they maybe starting to think of the consequences of public affairs’ political correctness patty-cake. The church is now acknowledging the threat of active shooters:

Updated Security Guidelines for Church Meetings and Events

The update includes a baby step (like a newborn baby step) forward. They now acknowledge the threat and provided some very basic (and, frankly, inadequate) guidance in the above document…in the very last page:

Run. Flee immediately if a safe path is available. Move quickly to the safest exit and away from the building to a safe location. Exit quietly, without drawing the attention of the assailant. Adults are to ensure all children are supervised and accounted for. Do not return to the building or to an office or classroom for personal items. Do not carry anything that could be mistaken for a weapon by responding law enforcement.

Hide. If you are unable to escape safely, hide out of sight of the assailant’s view. If possible, close, lock, and barricade the doors to the classrooms, offices, or other rooms where you are hiding. Turn out the lights, silence mobile phones, and keep low to the floor and away from windows. If there is an exchange of gunfire between law enforcement and the assailant, everyone in the building is to stay in their barricaded rooms until instructed otherwise by law enforcement.

Fight. As a last resort, if there is no time to run or hide, fight back against the assailant. Use
anything available as a weapon, and fight to stop the assailant. If others are present, organize to defend yourselves.

Unfortunately, none of this was read over the pulpit and likely virtually no one knows about it. The media reported on it briefly but there appears to be no plan to provide training or actual security to lay members (not even to get this into the hands of members). Here’s the biggest irony highlighting the double standard from the “Fight” section:

…Use anything available as a weapon…

Great. After they take lay member’s best means of defense and prohibit weapons, they say to…use a weapon. Riiight.

Meanwhile, higher church officials will continue to enjoy armed security details. This sure looks like members are being “divided into classes” with some worthy of armed protection and others not.

Finally, start with the above guidelines and please review and practice the resources here.

Member Push Back On Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) Anti-Gun Policy

The Church of Jesus Christ recently formalized and publicized their dangerous policy for meetinghouse security (or the lack thereof) and now there may be push back. The social justice movement has undoubtedly been successful with the church on illegal immigration and LGBT issues and the church continues to cater to them as it embraces a globalist posture. Many of these policy directions have come at the expense of undermining individual rights/choice, the doctrine on a divinely inspired US Constitution, and in seeming conflict with current and past instructions to members along with the accompanying double standards.

Interestingly, there may be push back from members who have quietly put up with all the policy shifts. Taking a page from the ‘social justice’ protesters play book (e.g. ‘wear pants to church’ day), I’m hearing of personal protests related to the policy. Thus far I’ve heard of civil disobedience (ignoring the policy), carrying a visible, empty holster (bad idea, IMO), walking out, calling church HQ and a ‘soft walk out’ (my term for it).

I like the soft walk out best (it can be combined with calling church HQ). Here’s the soft walk out theory: The church meticulously watches its weekly attendance. The attendance clerk typically runs the count immediately after the sacrament is passed. To coincide with the week of Constitution Day, on September 22nd, protesters would quietly walk out for a bathroom break or to get something from their car and return to their seat once the count was completed. Walking away from the count would be even easier if you sat out in the foyer rather than inside the chapel.

I have no idea how many will do any of these let alone how many know or have thought of the above. I don’t really care. I’m sold on the soft walk out, I’m tired of being pushed around and getting hit by friendly fire from the public affairs virtue signalers. Regardless of what you do regarding this policy or how you feel about it, please review active shooter training and be vigilant.

The Church of Jesus Christ Enacts Lethal Policy, Ensures Meetinghouses Are Soft Targets (Update)

I’ve been documenting this dangerous policy for years, including the beginning of this year.

This new announcement  isn’t much of a change from the current policy but strengthens the gun ban and extends it to all “lethal weapons” (a vague policy letting them pick and choose what they ban). Either way, it means attending members are left defenseless in an advertised soft target. The Salt Lake Tribune has a very good article by Kathy Stephenson and Peggy Fletcher Stack on this. Read the whole thing:

LDS Church makes it clear: No guns in its meetinghouses

The article mentions two shootings that took place at a Church facility:

There have been gun incidents — even deadly ones — at Latter-day Saint meetinghouses through the years. In July, a 48-year-old man opened fire inside a church in the northern Nevada city of Fallon, killing one man and wounding another. A decade ago in Utah County, a pregnant woman was shot and killed by her estranged husband in the parking lot…

Not one of these incidents would have been prevented by the new policy. It won’t stop a criminal/murder. Worse, it reduces security. It ensures a disarmed, vulnerable set of victims to be slaughtered, particularly in a space with poor egress. This is a very tempting target for a criminal or terrorist.

This begs a few questions:

1. What will the church do to secure their facilities and ensure congregants are protected?

2. Will church leadership (including President Nelson) lead by example, eschew armed security and adhere to the policy and risk their lay members are subject to?

3. Does this reveal a significant policy/doctrinal change on the divinity of the US Constitution?

Finally, please click this post from January on this issue and I implore you to review the potentially life-saving training and resources in the last half of the post (as a start). You’re a sitting duck, best be prepared and aware.

UPDATE: The church is well aware of the threat and, in 2017, was provided a white paper through their lobbyist, Marty Stephens, on options regarding their dangerous no self-defense policy (View/download here: “Protecting LDS Church Members Against Church Shootings“). The document has plenty of background resources as well (read the whole thing including appendices). It is also noteworthy that one of the churches mentioned in the paper quietly rescinded their advertised no gun policy last year.

Church President Russel M. Nelson, Personal Opinion And Inspiration (UPDATE: PBS Report On Congregation Security)

I had a recent experience on Sunday where Church of Jesus Christ President/Prophet Nelson attended our service. The talks were really good and President Nelson offered a few concluding words. His words were an example that the Church President is a man and is fallible.

President Nelson noted he had recently visited church members in Sri Lanka and the sadness he felt for the despicable attack on Christians. He then stated how grateful he is that we are ‘fortunate to live in a country where we can worship in peace and safety’.

I assume he was not aware of the attack (Saturday – the day before) on the California synagogue that left one dead and maybe forgot about the Tree of Life synagogue attack six months ago along with the other shootings that have occurred at US Christian/other churches over the years. Then there’s ISIS’ explicit threat on Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints facilities. At least, I sure hope he was made aware of these items and not oblivious to them.

Basically, he was wrong. I agree that we are blessed to live where we do and all of us take it for granted but we are absolutely not safe in a church anymore. To think so doesn’t acknowledge the reality on the ground. He was ‘ad-libbing’ and some of his words were inspired but others were simply misinformed. It’s a good example that church leaders (to the highest level) may be good folks but they’re certainly not omniscient and it’s unfair to them (and lazy) to suggest all blindly agree with everything they say (hint: Nephi didn’t buy off on Lehi’s teaching/directions, he questioned it and spent some time praying to get confirmation, meanwhile, it appears Laman/Lemuel just went along for the ride without seeking personal confirmation and it didn’t end well).

It is also easy for President Nelson to say we’re safe when he happens to have an armed security detail that protects him in church. I’ll admit that doesn’t sit well with me at all. The rest of us are prohibited from effective means of self-defense, so we’re all sitting ducks when we go to church. It’s also particularly ironic that the prior day’s synagogue shooting was interdicted by a malfunction and an armed congregant and another brave soul who rushed the shooter (I expect several people owe their lives to their actions).

Again, I call on President Nelson and the church to terminate the dangerous and ridiculous gun ban*.

*Click on the last link for active shooter resources – it could save your life.

UPDATE: First, PBS updated a good background report (How safe is your place of worship?). The data on Jewish congregations addressing security is reflected locally: Once Soft Target For Terror In Utah Hardens Itself

Better yet, PBS just ran a report today that starts with a list of attacks on churches in the US: Amid rising attacks on places of worship, how religious leaders are responding (video and transcript at the link). Church leaders discuss the issue with Bishop Sutton noting a church shooting (of a priest and secretary) in his diocese. The discussion turns to security. Pastor Elmore discusses experienced, armed congregants as part of their security plan which begins in the parking lot. As Rabbi Marcus states:

In the end, we made that choice to move to armed guards, for a number of different reasons. One, as was demonstrated at Chabad, first of all, it decreases the appearance of being a soft target. And people who come in to do these attacks often flee immediately when they are confronted with other people who are armed and trained.

So we didn’t do this because we glorify violence or we celebrate guns. We’re very much not in favor of a violent culture. We made the transition to switch to armed guards because we felt that it was the best way to keep everyone in our community safe.

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.

Once Soft Target For Terror In Utah Hardens Itself

At the beginning of the year, I put up my (now) annual post warning of the dangers of feel-good gun bans by churches, particularly related to terrorism or mass shooting/casualty situations. As I noted then, the LDS Church was only one of two religious organizations in Utah that advertise they ban lawful citizens from carrying guns. At the time, the only other church to do so was Congregation Kol Ami.

They are now off BCI’s list of those banning a lawful and effective defensive means. It may have something to do with this (Congregation Kol Ami in SLC heightens security after three anti-Semitic incidents):

Congregation Kol Ami says they are increasing security measures in response to several incidents of anti-Semitism that occurred within a short period of time.

I won’t pretend to know much about them, but there appear to be plenty of their faith who advocate for individual defensive means in the face of bigoted threats.