Friday, January 22, 2016

Carrying At Church

I don’t want to be misconstrued as a slacker. I do not want this article to sound critical or “…commanded in all things…” type of slothful. I fear that it may come out this way but I will plunge ahead.
May I also be a wimp and say that I consider myself a member in good standing of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I think I’m a good Mormon. My family dates back to the early restoration of the Church, all the way through the crossing of the plains. I also feel that my testimony is strong and growing. I am very active in the Church. Now that I’ve told you what a fine fellow I am you won’t misjudge me as an apostate.(tongue in cheek) This could be a sensitive subject that may get me in trouble with readers because it can be viewed as rationalization or justifying my actions. I hope I can put across the way I think and feel without being seen as someone who is trying to get around a policy. Here goes.
I have been a Bishop in the Church and I feel I know a little bit about the Church’s Handbook 1 and 2. Handbook 2 is online for all to use and read. Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops says:
“This handbook outlines the general responsibilities of stake presidents and bishops and provides detailed information about policies and procedures.”
Handbook 2: Administering the Church says:
“This handbook is a guide for members of ward and stake councils.”
“This handbook has been prepared solely for use by general and local Church officers to administer the affairs of the Church.”
“These instructions can facilitate revelation if they are used to provide an understanding of principles, policies, and procedures to apply while seeking the guidance of the Spirit.”
These are only portions of the introduction but I believe it explains the way to use these Handbooks.
One of the things I’ve noticed in these Handbooks is the use of the verbs:
Should - must; ought (used to indicate duty, propriety, or expediency)
May - Used to express possibility, or advisability
I also know that these Handbooks were not put together haphazardly. Time, inspiration, and legality went in to the use of verbiage.
In Handbook 2 there is a policy of bringing a firearm onto Church property and it says:
“21.2.4 Firearms - Churches 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.”
If the Church wanted their policy to read “weapons should not be carried in Church buildings” then that is how it would read. “Should not” would forbid carrying a weapon at Church. I also feel that many things can constitute a weapon and a lethal weapon.
I agree that a weapon is not appropriate in a church of any religion, including an LDS Church. But, and this is where I may be thinking wrong, if I am trained, legally licensed, legally allowed by law, and feel the need, I would carry in a church, LDS or otherwise. I know that in the state of Utah the Church has specifically said “you may not carry”, legally by state law. But in many other states those laws reflect only if the carrier is legally licensed then they may carry in a church. Some states say that if the church, or other public establishment, do not want to allow firearms carried, open or concealed, then they must have appropriate signage. Or, if when someone is found to be armed, and asked to leave the premises, then they must comply by law.
So my feeling is this. I have extensive experience with firearms. I have extensive training, and continue to build upon that training, in firearms. I am licensed legally to carry a weapon in the state in which I reside. The Church I attend does not have any signage indicating that carrying a weapon is not desired in Church buildings. Thus, in spite of my knowledge of the Church’s policy, I carry inside Church buildings. I am not a law enforcement officer.
I have felt for many years that I should do this. Before I knew of the policy, before I was legally allowed, I would carry at Church. I think that was wrong because of the legality. I have since complied with law.
I honestly feel if you feel as I do, and can do so legally, you can choose to carry at Church. I am not giving this as advice, but only as my opinion. I feel also some that have a license have very little training. Just because you can legally carry anywhere your law allows, does not mean you should. I think that you should have adequate training and that means more than one class to get your license, or once in your life time. Shooting is a perishable skill. With time and lack of practice, you may not be able to hit the broad side of a barn! I feel if you take the step to carry a gun you should be responsible enough to become licensed, well trained, and take the time and expense to practice regularly. What is regularly? At least monthly. Although that is really the bare minimum. I practice weekly and I feel that is the bare minimum for me to maintain my 30+ years of training and experience. Monthly will not work for me. Sometimes I miss a week. When I return to the range after missing just a week I know that my weakness will be accuracy and I tend to start to “slap” the trigger. This is just going to the range and actually live fire shooting. There is also dry firing that can and will help immensely with your training program.
I’ve tried to not make this sound like “justification” for my carrying at Church. I’ve also tried to not make this a confession or for someone out there to confirm my feelings or actions. What I do want from this article is to explain my thoughts with someone who might want to carry in a LDS Church. Open carry, if legal where you live, should never be employed at Church in my opinion. If you decide to carry, know your laws where you live. Now you also know the Church’s view of this too. Follow the Spirit. Even pray about your desire to carry at Church. Make sure the answer you receive is really what the Lord would have you do. Don’t try to justify or rationalize your desire. If you still think that you should carry, be legal, get trained, and develop a training program to keep competent.
Again, do not think this is advice, but only what I think is right for me. Find out what is right for you.
Semper Paratus
Check 6