Church banning members from bringing guns into meeting houses

(Photo courtesy Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is asking its members not to bring guns to church.

Church spokesman Daniel Woodruff told the Salt Lake Tribune on Monday, Aug. 26, that the Church recently added stricter wording regarding gun possession in its handbook.

“Churches are dedicated for the worship of God and as havens from the cares and concerns of the world. With the exception of current law enforcement officers, the carrying of lethal weapons on church property, concealed or otherwise, is prohibited,” the policy states.

According to the Tribune, the Church plans to let local leaders know about the new rules. It will be local leaders’ responsibilities to share the new policy with members.

“Lethal weapons include a number of possible items including guns,” Woodruff added.

While all Church congregations will follow the new policy, it comes on the heels of recent Texas legislation concerning bringing guns to church. Such legislation becomes effective Sept. 1, 2019.

“Under the new Texas law, it is legal to carry concealed weapons in places of worship. However, churches can bar weapons on religious premises by giving ‘effective notice’ verbally or thorough building signs,” reports the newspaper.

The Tribune reported that Church leaders in southwest states have made a decision not to place signs on Church buildings.

The Aug. 22 letter, sent to the Area Seventy in the State of Texas, reads as follows:

“We are asking all bishops in Texas to read the following statement in the sacrament meetings of all units to give effective oral notice to members of the church and visitors that weapons are not permitted,” it said.

The Tribune reported that if anybody shows up with a gun either open or concealed at one of the Church’s meetinghouses, they’ll be asked to remove the weapon from the building.

According to the official Idaho Legislative website, Gem State residents need to be at least 21 years old to carry a gun and be a United States citizen. No state permit is required to carry a rifle, shotgun or handgun. Only those found guilty of violent crimes are prohibited from handling guns.

While it may be legal to carry a gun into a church, churches are private property and have the right to say what can be brought inside, according to concealedcarry.com. It suggests asking for permission to do so.

According to the Idaho Legislative website, places where guns are not permitted in the State of Idaho include a courthouse, juvenile detention facility, adult correctional facility, prison, jail, public school or private school.

According to the Idaho Legislative website, federal law may prohibit citizens from carrying weapons in places like a federal courthouse and airports.

The Tribune article expressed concern about Church of Jesus Christ worship facilities – and any church not allowing for guns inside – to become soft targets for criminals. It also pointed out that Church’s chapels have experienced shootings.

“There have been gun incidents — even deadly ones — at Latter-day Saint meetinghouses through the years,” it reported. “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 of a meetinghouse in Lehi.”

The handbook change took place the first week of August.

As more information on the local impact of the Church’s stricter gun policy is known, the Standard Journal will update this story.

To contact Lisa Dayley Smith write to lsmith@uvsj.com