Firearms Banned from LDS Church Buildings

Firearms Banned from LDS Church Buildings

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Sandra Yi reportingThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is taking a firm stance on guns in its places of worship.

The Church's prohibition on guns extends to temples, meetinghouses, the Assembly Hall, the Salt Lake Tabernacle and the Conference Center. And it's consistent with a First Presidency position from 1996.

Different faiths share the ideology, that churches are not a place for guns. Whether churches should post notice of that, is a point of conflict.

The LDS Church today, said it will.

The Church's announcement today, preserves the sanctity of its places of worship. In a letter to local leaders, the Church says:

"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."

The Church will register its position with the State Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Utah law requires churches choosing to ban weapons, register with the BCI or post signs.

Sen. Michael Waddoups/ (R) Senate Majority Leader: "The purpose is so that someone isn't harassed or prosecuted for breaking the law that they didn't know about."

But the requirement to register has sparked controversy among some religious groups.

Last month, a coalition of church leaders gathered to announce they won't comply with that part of the law because it's unconstitutional. The church leaders we tried to contact today were unavailable, but this is what one of them had to say during the December press conference.

Bishop George Niederauer/ Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City: "I think it's kind of a surrender on our part to say, 'Well, you can tell us how we can regulate our worship.'"

Senator Mike Waddoups, who got the law passed, says the Church's announcement may put pressure on other churchs to follow suit.

Sen. Mike Waddoups: "It'll be hard for some of the smaller ones to say, 'Well, we're going to do it our own way and we're not going to do it in accordance with state law.' It will make them appear even more out of touch with people in the state."

Even so, guns rights activists say the law isn't a cure all for guns that fall into the hands of criminals.

Clark Aposhian/ Firearms Instructor: "Whereas I support the church's decision, but let's not be Polyannic to think that there won't be guns in churches. They just won't be carried by concealed permit holders."

Only three other churches have registered with the BCI. They are: The Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church in Park City, and St. Paul's Episcopal Church and Summum Church, both in Salt Lake City.

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