January 16, 2004
To: Area Presidencies, Area Authority Seventies, Temple Presidents, Stake Presidents, Bishops, and Branch Presidents in Utah
Firearms in Houses of Worship
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.
Utah law permits churches or other organizations operating houses of worship to prohibit firearms. Any person, including a person licensed to carry a concealed firearm, who knowingly and intentionally transports a firearm into a house of worship or who, while in possession of a firearm, enters or remains in a house of worship where firearms have been prohibited, is guilty of a crime. An exception will be provided for law enforcement personnel, as contemplated by law.
The church plans to invoke the Utah law and give public notice that firearms are prohibited in the church's houses of worship, including temples, meetinghouses, the Assembly Hall, the Salt Lake Tabernacle, and the Conference Center. Scouting merit badge and other activities where firearms are legitimately involved should be held in facilities other than houses of worship.
Once such public notice is given, persons who bring firearms into a church house of worship should be informed of the church's position and politely asked to take their firearms to another safe location. Persons who refuse to take their firearms from the house of worship or repeatedly ignore the church's prohibition should be referred to local law enforcement officers for possible criminal prosecution. However, every reasonable effort should be made to avoid confrontation and to defuse emotional situations so as to prevent violence and misunderstanding. Questions regarding particular situations may be referred to the Church Security Department and the Church's Office of General Counsel at church headquarters.
Sincerely your brethren,
Gordon B. Hinckley
Thomas S. Monson
James E. Faust
The First Presidency