Friday, August 3, 2018

LDS Church: Surviving an Active Shooter

         Maybe I've just been too tied up with work lately, but I didn't see anything in the news about the July 22, 2018, shooting at an LDS church in Fallon, Nevada. Based on reports, the shooter, John Kelley O'Connor had entered an LDS church prior to services, then after services had started, shot Charles E. "Bert' Miller several times, killing him. O'Connor then left the church building to return to his house nearby, where he later surrendered to police. The two men knew each other, but police have not yet determined a motive according to the news reports I've read.

        Of course, certain liberal members went into histrionics over the incident, attempting to draw from it some grand theory that church members have a problem with guns, and Utah Mormons in particular need to accept more gun control. What Fallon, Nevada, has to do with Utah, I don't know, but the author of the cited article did graduate from Columbia University, so her world view is probably very limited. In any event, as anyone with lick of sense knows, "[a] blanket ban or making it hard to acquire guns, as history provides evidence, does not necessarily make the world safer. It mostly identifies who has power and who doesn’t."

      The Church has a gun policy that discourages, but does not outright ban, weapons. It states: "Our chapels are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world. The carrying of lethal weapons, concealed or otherwise, within their walls is inappropriate except as required by officers of the law." However, activities involving firearms, including those for merit badges, cannot be conducted on Church property. If you can't tell by now, the Church is self insured. In any event, the Church apparently has stated that it doesn't have any plans to change its policies in response to this shooting. There is a certain irony to this as Brigham Young warned members:
As for this people fostering to themselves that the day has come for them to sell their guns and ammunition to their enemies, and sit down to sleep in peace, they will find themselves deceived and before they know, they will sleep until they are slain. They have got to carry weapons with them, to be ready to send their enemy to hell cross lots, whether they be Lamanites or mobs who may come to take their lives, or destroy their property. We must be prepared that they dare not come to us in a hostile manner without being assured they will meet a vigorous resistance and ten to one they will meet their grave.
      In Utah, people are prohibited by law from carrying a concealed weapon into LDS churches or buildings (it has to do with organizations being able to register their premises as non-permissive environments and not some perquisite limited to just the LDS Church). So employees and volunteers do not completely feel like sitting ducks, the Church does offer on-line training on "Surviving an Active Shooter" (Flash required). It is a series of slides, with a short video mid-way through that apparently was produced by the Houston P.D., and followed up with a short quiz. (I have to appreciate the dark humor of whoever edited the video, because it shows the active shooter walk right past a sign prohibiting firearms on the premises). It teaches the near universal "run, hide, fight" tactics popular with risk managers throughout the corporate world and government. But if you're disarmed, I guess there is not much more you can do.


  1. Mormon scripture is fairly plain about self defense. There are many instances were it is discussed in the scriptures, but these two will suffice:

    The Book of Mormon, Alma 43:47, states: "And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion."

    The Doctrine and Covenants, 134:11, states: "We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all wrongs and grievances, where personal abuse is inflicted or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same; but we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded."

    1. Thank you for pointing those out. Notwithstanding the Churche's CYA policy, I still carry.