Quorum Fun

A few months ago this was the calendar, word for word, sent out to a nearby quorum in a sleepy suburban ward (hint: it’s in the US).

March 15th: Concealed Weapons Class, 1pm at the [deleted] home. Joint activity with the High Priests. Punch and cookies served. (Okay I added the punch and cookies bit.)

March 19th: Ward Temple Night

March 23rd: Easter Sunday

March 27th: Ward Preparedness Evening, an evening spent discussing using your stoves and lamps, first aid kits, gardening, etc.

March 30th: Fireside on China

April 5th- 6th: General Conference

May 9th-10th: Fathers and Sons

All pretty routine I thought. Except…wait a minute! Concealed Weapons Class?!!! Were we supposed to bring our wives and kids too?

What amazed me was how I almost missed noticing. Because it was all done so matter-of-factly, part of a list of the usual sorts of events, without apology or eye-blink. And I didn’t hear anyone express any surprise the next week during church either.

I hadn’t felt this lonely since the time my elders’ quorum instructor in Idaho shook his head about a stranded motorist he’d helped that week: “the guy was a professor and didn’t know how to change a tire.” I slid down into the unwelcoming folds of my metal seat. Then he added for good measure (and this one really hurt), “he probably didn’t even know how to skin a deer!” Big laughs all around. I slid down further.

Whether my wife should give her teacher’s-choice lesson on polygamy (about which she wrote a thesis) during Relief Society stirred up a lot more discussion than the Weapons Class.

A series of irrational (but colorful) thoughts started racing through my head, as I began to panic that Weapons Class was just a prelude to everything that followed. Temple Night was right after gun class? Why? To help us figure out how to smuggle one in? Then Easter–was it to liven up the meeting? Ward Preparedness–surely to protect our hard-won supplies? Fireside on China–to prepare for an invasion, because they’re taking over the world? General Conference–packing heat into conference, just in case the church’s leaders needed more protection? Then it all made sense: the big climax was obviously Fathers and Sons, when we would all show our weapons and hiding places to each other and bond.

I didn’t go to the class. But I had my (self) defenses. One, I was out of town. Two, although I believe it healthy to bend our minds, almost every activity I attend feels mind-bending in some way so I get plenty of opportunity to see the world through other eyes (and I have no doubt that when I’m involved in leading something that it’s mind-bending for others. It’s good we get along, especially after that class).

I wondered whether other readers had similarly surprising or double-take sorts of activities, regarding guns or otherwise?

Maybe a recycling night in Utah or something?

108 comments for “Quorum Fun

  1. Here in Arizona, we had an Elders Quorum activity once on “How to change your oil” — but nothing yet on concealed weapons. One of my favorite Fathers and Sons campouts happened a couple years ago. After most people left to go home, a few men and their sons pulled out their handguns, rifles, and antique (19th Century-era) weapons and took turns shootings each others guns. I didn’t have a gun myself, but I was invited to stay. I admit it was fun! And I still have a slight ringing in my ear from firing some large-caliber rifle from the 1870s…. A concealed weapons activity in my stake is certainly not a stretch.

  2. Yes, you should have gone. You’d have glimpsed how some of the rest of us live, and then if you had still been amazed, lonely, and irrational you would have at least been informed.

  3. Our Elder’s Quorum has an annual Turkey Shoot activity that involves firing shotguns at clay pigeons. I think it’s great. I usually do pretty well, even though I don’t own a shotgun and this activity is pretty much the only time I ever fire a gun.

    Of course, I’m in Texas.

  4. Maybe that was a quorum with a lot of avid hunters, retired cops or active duty military. Some rural areas have more avid gun enthusiasts than suburban wards.

    As long as it serves a priesthood purpose (i.e. builds quorum brotherhood.)

  5. In the wards I have lived in here in Central California, shooting activities are not uncommon at all. In fact, they are some of the most popular activities on the calendar. As for concealed weapons permit classes, that would never happen here due to the difficulty of getting one in California. But I imagine that in some other western/south western states were it is not as difficult to get a permit such an activity would occur. There is a very libertarian bent to a lot of citizens (church members as well as non members) in these areas, especially when it comes to gun rights.

  6. Ardis, I think he was at the class! Believe me my glimpses of how others live are overwhelming, but certainly not comprehensive. Sure I can always learn more. I’m mostly interested here in the contrast between how some LDS can regard certain activities as so routine and others as so surprising. Even after all the interacting we do, we still can be surprised, and have to stretch ourselves even further.

  7. Our Elder’s Quorum does a skeet shooting activity fairly regularly. But then, we’re in Idaho.

    Seriously, though, your comment about having mind-bending experiences hit the nail on the head. It may be exhausting at times, but rubbing shoulders with folks we might not normally rub shoulders with is well, worthwhile. Although not sure how worthwhile the proposed “Wii Night” for our Priests Quorum will be . . .

  8. I do wonder how our non-US co-believers would see such an activity? And whether they can reflect on which of their own ward activities American LDS might find surprising or unexpected?

  9. \”You’d have glimpsed how some of the rest of us live.\” Oh dear. Sounds like a load of fun….living with a tool made to kill held closer to your side than your family and friends. A good symbol of how to live for your kids to learn.

  10. Look, I know guns are a divisive issue, but that’s not what I meant with the post. So please try not to condemn the values or decisions of others and try to see a little humor in the whole thing. I know, it’s not a humorous subject for some on both sides of the issue, but I mean in the sense that I can quite easily see the humor in my own feeble efforts to share my world-view with others in my ward.

  11. We had a joint YM/YW gun safety class and then a shooting activity (with all kinds of safety precautions) a year or so ago. As a bishopric though we decided simply to list the activity on the ward calendar as YM-YW joint activity.

    FWIW, the only times I have shot a gun have been in connection with youth or scouting activities.

  12. I’ve only shot a gun a few times in my life. The occasion that stands out in my memory was when we first moved to Illinois. My dad was a professor, but he had grown up on an Idaho farm and loved guns. He owned about a half-dozen of them. I remember when I was about 8 going to a farm owned by some fellow ward members, and we all shot guns together (this wasn’t a formally organized church activity, though).

    Other than that, those guns pretty much sat in the closet of his den. After he died, I kept the Berreta as a keepsake, until my own son came along and my wife (rightfully) insisted we get rid of it.

    I would probably go to an EQ shooting activity.

  13. A shooting activity isn’t quite the same as a class in concealed weapons, as many societies have a tradition of hunting with guns. Heck, one of my four (incomplete) merit badges as a scout was in rifle shooting or something, so I’m not totally in outer space about them. I just wondered whether such a class sponsored by the ward was peculiarly American, or western, or whatever. Maybe most people love it, who knows, and as usual I’m the odd one?

  14. The best YW activity I ever attended invovled guns. The second counselor in the bishopric took us Laurels out into the desert to shoot his guns (Colt 45, semi-automatic rifle, 12 gauge, etc…). It beat crafts or modeling wedding dresses (worst YW activity I ever attended…)

  15. I wouldn’t feel obligated to go if I were you, but what an awesome EQ activity. Still, unless you have a registered instructor in your area who belongs to the church, it might be hard to pull off.

  16. I once got the following invitation from my quorum president:

    “Wanna go to the range Saturday and squeeze off a couple hundred rounds, maybe bust some clay?”

    It was great fun.

  17. So, are we talking Texas here? My Texas sister-in-law has a concealed weapons permit, along with perfect pitch, an electric guitar, astounding computer expertise and marvelous daughters. I just love it, although I have none of those. One really should be able to change a tire; I found myself on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge a few years ago with a blow-out, glad I had learned about tires while growing up (not maturing–I still haven’t done that) on a ranch in Idaho. If I’m in a ward where there aren’t people who do weird stuff, I’ll think I’m in the wrong church. That doesn’t mean I enjoy the typical testimony meeting, though. Weird out of self-indulgence or just for weird’s sake isn’t very uplifting.

  18. Shooting activities in my ward happen every couple of years. There are lots of guns in the members homes here in TX. Everything from standard shotguns to semi-auto military style rifles and semi handguns.

  19. When we lived near Seattle, the elder’s quorum and some of their YM aged sons would go up in the mountains outside town with clay pigeons, shotguns, and barbeques. Everyone looked forward to the “meat and skeet” activity. One year, one of the members who was a State Trooper brought his police issue M-4 carbine to the activity and terminated a few tree stumps.

  20. Paintballing is a big deal for the YM and EQ groups around here, and our Teachers Quorum Adviser took our teachers shooting once or twice. My Dad was a big time hunter when he was young, so we had some guns around growing up, and I learned to shoot both with him, and through Boy Scouts.

    I especially enjoyed shooting handguns. A sales guy that used to work for me had a collection of semiautomatic pistols, and we used to go shoot them at the range on lunch hours. My favorite was a Colt .45 Combat Commander.

    However, I no longer have any guns around the house, as I don’t go hunting any more. Gave that up about 20 years ago, and sold my last rifle to get a new guitar. I now have more guitars than my Dad ever had guns, and they get used a lot more often, too. But I don’t ever find “Concealed Guitar” or “Combined 5th Sunday MP/RS Blues Hour” on our ward calendars. And guitars are so much less threatening……

  21. It is interesting to read about all the shooting activities, but I reiterate that I don’t think those are quite the same thing as the CW class, which has quite a different purpose. The M-4 blowing up tree stumps was a memorable image anyway….

  22. On the agenda of a couple of us in my ward: reactivation through dovehunting.

  23. Well, Craig, our bishop once had the relief society cancel a homemaking class on iridology, the science (?) of diagnosing illnesses and the potential for cancer, by examining the iris of your eyes. That certainly seems more harmless, albeit less practical, than a concealed weapons class. BTW, I don’t think you can bring a concealed weapon to church here in Washington, but I don’t know that for sure.

    (In the interest of full disclosure, I actually was that bishop.)

  24. The whole purpose of a CW permit is self-defense, albiet it is self-defense of a last resort. Some may abhore this idea, while others may find it completely natural to want this ultimate protection. Should attending CW classes be a church activity? I suppose that is what Craig is wants the discussion to revolve around.

  25. Some states, presumably including the one where Craig H. lives, will issue “concealed carry” permits to people who meet the qualifications of the law. I suppose that the class was intended to help people meet those qualifications.

    I don’t own a gun, and I haven’t fired a gun often enough to qualify as an “Honorary Mitt Romney Varmint Hunter.” And, frankly, I don’t generally feel safer in the presence of people carrying handguns–not even a 23-year-old wearing the uniform of the New York Police Department. But there are reasonable people who have a different opinion on the matter of carrying weapons for self-protection.

  26. Good job, kevinf! When we returned from our honeymoon, my wife’s first job was with a company involved in iridology. Her first paycheck bounced, and she bounced the job about 20 minutes later. We finally did get the money out of the guy–if not, I’d still be mad, 32 years later.

  27. Kevinf, now that’s the kind of class I’m talking about. Pity that you canceled it—that I would have liked to see! Although it might have been just as harmful, or equally harmless, you’re right.

    Sonny, you’re right, and many others sorts of classes. In college we had once had a clothes consultant come into elders quorum and give an entire lesson on good grooming and dress. We also had an internist talk about healthy bowel movements. We’re full of these sorts of things if we reflected a little.

  28. I haven’t read all of the comments yet, but having grown up in rural, central Utah:

    What’s the problem with the class?

  29. “We also had an internist talk about healthy bowel movements. We’re full of these sorts of things if we reflected a little.”

    If that was intentional, it was brilliant; if it wasn’t intentional, it was brilliantly accidental.

  30. Just aiming to please Ray. I think. But I didn’t mean to change the subject. That you see no problem with the class is the whole point, I guess. People from elsewhere have other sorts of classes they’d regard as “normal.”

  31. when I was in YW, we had a Mutual activity teaching us how to change a tire, check the oil etc – it was the only time I was taught how to do those things and I still use that knowledge as an adult
    knowing how to change a tire: necessary life skill
    knowing how to skin a deer: less-than-necessary life skill

    what caught my eye about that calendar was that there was an activity planned every 3rd or 4th day for 2 weeks – no one can over schedule like the Saints

  32. Well where I lived in Idaho, deer-skinning wasn’t less than necessary at all. And I actually can change a flat tire. Barely. It was mostly the guilt by association that caused shame. As another professor friend in attendance whispered to me upon absorbing that comment, “let’s see, the meat’s somewhere on the inside, isn’t it?”

  33. “We also had an internist talk about healthy bowel movements. We’re full of these sorts of things if we reflected a little.”

    Oh, this reminds me of my favorite homemaking/HFPE ever. We had a lesson devoted to promoting healthy bowels by forsaking all artificial cures such as antibiotics and relying entirely on herbs.

    This course of action, we were assured, could cure anything, including AIDS. Poor RS Presidency. Somehow I don’t think that was quite the message they had in mind when they invited the naturalist to address us.

  34. Fantastic, ZD Eve. We’ve got cancer-curers in my neighborhood too, and I’m trying to remember whether they’ve had the floor at church. We did have some presentations, from ward members, on why eating meat was against scripture and the Word of Wisdom, etc., which you can imagine caused a stir.

  35. Once my wife came home from HFPE shaking her head. When I asked her about it, she replied that the guest instructor was the owner of a bra shop, and the lesson had consisted of instruction in how to get a good fit in your unmentionables. Activities had included blouse removal so that all in attendance could see in detail just how you know when a bra fits and when it doesn’t.

    Do LDS women really need somebody else to tell them if their skivvies fit or not?

  36. I guess I live in a non-stereotypical Texan ward (North Texas, which is practically its own state). The idea of a CW class would be met with yawns. Our two biggest EQ activity draws are biking and tennis, and we often have lingering lustful looks at Smart cars.

  37. Someone recently told me about a Relief Society class, not sure whether in her ward, on the subject of How to Light Your Man’s Fire. After it was over, the freak-out-meter went sky high and it reached the ears of Salt Lake. Word came down through the stake president never to have such a class again. I guess guns are more acceptable than fire-lighting.

  38. Craig, I can imagine it did! In the same lesson we also learned that meat was bad, but the main emphasis was on bowels, not scriptures.

    Mark, the real lesson the women of the church need is figuring out the church’s garment sizing system, which as far as I can tell bears no relation to any other sizing system in the entire world, or to any female bodies I’ve ever seen. Perhaps correct measurement and ordering requires experience with differential equations. But now I’m verging on FMH material right here in public at this Very Serious Abstract Intellectual Blog, so I’ll stop before I embarrass myself further.

  39. DavidH (#13):

    FWIW, the only times I have shot a gun have been in connection with youth or scouting activities.

    Did ya git any?

  40. (Of course, my stake is practically “French” in nature. So maybe that explains our lack of interest in guns and interest in biking, tennis, and gas conservation.)

  41. LOL. Also, WOW. I mean, how can you NOT know your underwear doesn’t fit?

    Please, I don’t want to know, so nobody should do me a favor by explaining.

  42. Marks B and IV – My wife supports the claims of the NYT. Most women, she says, don’t buy the right support, and it can make your life miserable, she says. I think the equivalent is if we had to wear a banana hammock every day of our lives — we’d be darn certain to make sure we had one that fit our hips, etc.

  43. There are all sorts of interesting things that are done in the context of Church-sponsored Boy Scout activities. My son’s troop went to a shooting range and learned some basics about gun safety and shooting with AR-15s (it was on a military base); he later joined the Army. When you have a ward or branch that is primarily military people, you get scout field trips where you fly in aircraft simulators or sit in tanks. With enough prior arrangement, you might get to give the Scouts a tour of a military command post. (No, they don’t get to touch the buttons.) We teach our kids what we know from our own lives.

    Frankly, in my experience the biggest dangers to our Church members in activities are in negligence during outings. People who ride rubber rafts into whitewater that is beyond their skills, people who casually try to climb mountains or cross a river on a rope bridge without proper equipment and training, people who let youngsters drive snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles at full tilt, people who let kids wander off by themselves where they can fall down a cliff or be snatched by a cougar, those are the Church activities that kill people. I have never heard of anyone being killed or injured by a firearm during a Church activity, but there have been plenty killed in vehicle accidents, some with Scouts riding in the bed of trucks. We take a very casual attitude toward these activities, but they can be extremely dangerous if we are not prepared, watchful and properly trained.

    My son-in-law’s father is a hunting and fishing guide in Washington. The boat he takes out on the Columbia River is called “Doctor Death”, his hunting nickname. He is also very gentle with our common grandkids, and is teaching them to ride horses. No doubt he will take the boys and their dad out hunting at some point. Knowing how to properly manage a firearm is an important and basic skill in their neighborhood. You can’t get too much education about these things, so hearing some of it in a Church activity is fine by me.

    A concealed weapons class, specifically, is about gun safety and learning the laws about when you are permitted to use deadly force, and when you should refrain. It is not a shooting course to help you aim better, or ideas about different kinds of concealed holsters. Yes, it would help you qualify to get a concealed carry permit, but it would be teaching about self-restraint and judgment in the use of firearms, and disabusing people of the “Dirty Harry” vigilante notions they get from all those violent movies made by the anti-war people in Hollywood.

    As for changing a tire, I am amazed that any adult has not had the experience of having a tire go flat on them by age 21. This is not some exotic skill; there are many cases in which getting on down the road can be a matter of life and death, especially in winter. I once changed a tire in 10 minutes in order to catch a plane. I know that Oregon does not allow drivers to pump their own gas (a young woman we know somehow put diesel fuel into a car that ran on gasoline, causing it to break down), but if you are going to drive a car you need to know how to maintain the fluids and the air in the tires, and how to change them if they pick up a nail.

  44. I can see which lesson is capturing imaginations, but let’s get back to other actual lessons maybe? I’d still like to hear from non-Americans, if they’re interested. I have a feeling they may be observing this with utter disbelief and have no idea what to say.

  45. Thanks Raymond, nice information and points. I do hope that everyone will let up on the tire. It was for dramatic effect. Really. And I really was out of town when the CW class happened.

  46. As the guy who is more interested in photography and classic movies than guns, I used to feel bad when there were activities focused on stuff like this. Then I’d cheer myself up thinking about all the hunters in EQ hiking around a cold mountain while I was home in a warm bed reading a good book.

    I’m actually more annoyed about activities that focus on some kind of sport. I can’t remember the last time we had an activity that didn’t consist of Gatorade supplied by the EQ President, and either softball, soccer, rugby or basketball.

  47. OK, back on topic. Re: non-Americans, I work with several people from New Delhi. I brought my Cabela’s catalog to work one day, and they were astonished, as in absolutely knocked over, to learn that I could order a handgun or rifle by calling a toll-free number, and that in a few days, the UPS guy would deliver it.

  48. In my wallet, I have a temple recommend, concealed carry permit and a bar association (attorney not alcohol) card. There must be some good jokes in that!

    I get interesting glances when my clients and I are talking about the types of guns we own. People seem surprised to see a woman with a concealed carry permit. However, women are more likely to be victims of an attack.

    I think the concealed weapons class needs to be held in Relief Society.

  49. #53: I have nothing against someone wishing to have a gun for hunting or sport shooting. Other than that, it is far more likely something bad is going to happen that something good, if you have one around. I hope this is a big part of the classes.

  50. Mark IV – It’s a little ironic that when you call Cabela’s toll-free number, you’re probably talking to your Delhi coworkers’ relatives. ;)

    (I work in outsourcing, so I can joke about it.)

  51. #54 I am not sure that I understand what you mean. I come from a long line of farmers and we have always had loaded guns around and never once was there any mishap. We were just a bunch of ingnorant southerners but even we knew better than to play with guns. But by the same token, if you aren’t prepared to take a life to protect your family, then you shouldn’t have a firearm.

  52. The activity that freaked me out the most was when I was 15, visiting a ward in my dad’s area (though it turns out, I was several stakes off from where I actually should have been.) Alternating YW activities were to be held at Disneyland, owing to the fact that all the active YW had annual passes. Very few girls bothered going to the other YW activities except when they went someplace very expensive and exotic, to my “my mom makes me pay her fifty cents every time she drives me to play rehearsals” mind. I never did go to any of the Disney activities — for me, Disneyland was a once-a-year-at-most experience even when my dad only lived ten miles from the park (the park was NOT in the stake boundaries… but then, CA stakes are incredibly tiny.) I don’t know that there ever were lessons in association with those activities. And all the lessons on Sunday were overwhelmed by the presence of the Girl In Black who insisted on wearing sunglasses in the classroom and deliberately gave nasty/weird answers when a teacher really pushed for participation. I think her parents were going through a divorce or something.

    I did feel like things had gone full circle when my singles ward in CA (eight years later) made it a practice to assign Visiting Teachers and Home Teachers within the Disneyland bubble to one another (that is, my VT worked for the WD Travel Company and I worked in Adventureland; we VT’d each other behind the castle or Toontown.) This was mostly because of the hectic scheduling we all endured… I think they also routinely assigned HTs to their own roommates, especially in the “15 guys in 3 bedrooms” house with the constantly rotating population. But that was a singles ward, and they’re supposed to be strange.

    Come to think of it, the only lesson I definitely remember from California came the day after I left Disney, when I visited church with a friend who lived in a different stake. The high councilman spent his entire talk telling “all the young people” that we really needed to get serious about having real careers and not spend our lives goofing off. My friend kept jabbing me and nodding at the speaker, as though to say “See? See?! Quitting Disney is something you should have done YEARS ago!” It reaffirmed my belief that high councilmen often speak with the Spirit, but sometimes their timing (or maybe my timing) is kind of horrifically bad.

  53. Here’s something you never thought you’d associate with a Church activity: in the mid-80s, our RS tested sanitary napkins for Johnson&Johnson whose New Jersey headquarters was in our ward. My husband remembers the bishopric holding a combined male/female third-hour session so the RS could explain the plan to everyone. Our RS Pres was actually quite progressive because prior to her idea to hook us up with J&J, our RS held an annual bazaar to raise funds, and the sisters sewed all year long to prepare items to sell to ward members and the community. So when Mavis became our new RS Pres, she realized that we could make more money just using the J&J pads and keeping them in a special bag in our home fridge until she collected them for testing at J&J. I remember her coming to my apartment to pick mine up!

  54. #56: You are a lucky person if you have never seen a gun death. I handled over 20 gun deaths as an Insurance Adjustor in LA, half the guns belonged to cops, who stored them in their nightstands. Plus, I never saw a \”defensive\” shooting go well.
    My wife\’s family is all cops. When they are over to my home, the top of my fridge is covered with their guns. Two of them have shot themselves by accident.
    I have fired just about every type of gun. My wife\’s uncle, was considered the best maker of concealed weapons leather goods in America.
    Sadly, most likely, your gun will take your life, or the life of a loved one.

  55. One member of my quorum is a Secret Service agent who always carries concealed, including at church. It was a bit funny last week when he was shooting baskets and his extra clip fell on the floor a couple times.

  56. I don’t carry a gun, don’t own a gun, and have only a vague notion of possibility that I ever will. I think carrying a gun fundamentally alters the way you view risky situations – and not for the better.

    That said, I get a kick out of browsing through firearm magazines on occasion. I love reading about military weaponry and stuff. And I’d probably enjoy a concealed weapons class a lot.

    Take life for what it is. Not everything you do has to be a freaking morality statement.

  57. Is Montana another country? The last father/son camp out we had featured shooting clay pigeons with shotguns, which seemed a little prissy to me. Whatever happened to shooting whiskey bottles? I don’t think a CW class would go over. Why hide your gun?

    As far as changing tires, every garage should have a 5- or 10-gallon tank of air, which will usually get you to a station. My theory is that real men don’t change tires. It’s a real failure to get into that situation (though I was there often enough as a callow youth). Earlier this year I was late for work and the parking lot at the school where I teach was full and I pulled into a strange parking lot going too fast while trying to look up the hill to see if students were still hanging around or if classes had started and I hit a curb I didn’t know was there hard enough to break the sidewall on my tire. After class, I was in a real pickle, because the tire was definitely flat. It took me a half hour to remember I had a brother not too far away who would surely have a can of air he could bring to me. I’m pretty sure I don’t have a jack or a lug wrench, and I don’t want either.

    What’s with that SS guy having his weapon in church? I thought the Church had a policy against that. A couple years ago I was working with the county sheriff to have his SWAT team assist with my sister’s funeral at the church because her killer was still on the loose and thought likely to make an appearance. At about the same time, I was working late in my office and heard a sound outside my window–I live in the country and don’t bother with blinds–and realized that I couldn’t just ignore the noise and chalk it up to nerves, because the danger was credible. I decided then to go buy a handgun.

    The noise was a cat and the killer was apprehended before I bought a gun, but I’m less satisfied with just having a 30.06 down the hall in a closet than I once was.

  58. Sadly, most likely, your gun will take your life, or the life of a loved one

    I certainly respect your opinion to see danger in possessing firearms. After all, regardless of how one feels about firearms possession, the fact is they are very dangerous.

    But I can’t figure out how you can say that if one owns a gun, that the gun owner, or one of his/her loved ones, will most likely die from that gun.

    Here are some data from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention on accidental deaths (1999) for adults 20+ years old:

    Handguns 85
    Long Guns 70
    Unknown/Other firearms 455
    Drowning/Submersion 2,209
    Burns 2,764
    Falls 12,926
    Pedal Cycling 543
    Motor Vehicles 34,568

    And the number of accidental deaths that are firearm related have gone way down over the years, even though gun ownership has remained steady or increased.

  59. Meaningless personal anecdote about guns.

    I’ve lived in Tokyo for years now and you can’t own a gun here–many of the police don’t even carry guns. It makes a lot of sense to me and I don’t see a need for anyone to have a gun in this country. This seemingly sensible position, though, feels obviously wrong when I’m back home in Idaho. I went home recently and enjoyed the usual world shift as I moved from the Tokyo airport to successively smaller airports and then to a hay field. The real excitement though was shortly after I arrived when my Dad and I had to shoot a skunk that had gotten itself stuck in the window well. There can’t be any greater contrast than this. On one day I’m surrounded by 23 million people and riding a cutting edge train to work, and on the next I’m carrying a dead skunk on a shovel out into the field.

  60. Law enforcement officers are generally required to carry their weapons, since they are on call at all times. In our first ward after we were married, I was first counselor to an eleders quorum president who was a Salt Lake detective, and had the sad duty to arrest an inactive member of the quorum who had a house full of stolen goods. Occasionally someone he had arrested would make threats against him and his family. You can bet he carried his sidearm even to church.

    I have known FBI agents and Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) agents and regular police in most of my wards, and I darn well hope they are carrying their guns to Church. When we lived in the San Francisco Bay area, a Methodist church in our neighborhood was hit by a couple of thieves who killed the minister. They did a string of holdups of churches, including an LDS wardhouse in Vacaville where all they got was the watches off the missionaries. They were intentionally targeting churches because they figured no one inside would be armed.

    That is why there are so many attacks on churches and schools, precisely because ordinary people are told not to have firearms in those establishments. So I am comforted when I know there are trained law enforcement agents in my ward who can respond if some idiot thinks of my ward as a shooting gallery. Thank goodness that there was an armed, off-duty policeman at Trolley Square who confrotned the shooter and interrupted his attacks on civilians, and thank goodness that the Salt Lake Police know that the Columbine syndrome of sitting around while shooters use up their bullets is the way to maximize deaths and injuries. You can bet no gunman in his right mind would try to start shooting up a biker bar or a cowboy hangout.

    With respect to the concerned about the danger to those who own firearms: I agree that you don’t want to leave guns accessible to children or people who are emotionally disturbed or just plain irresponsible. And some people are just too casual about how they handle firearms. But the notion that police would be safer if they went around without firearms to protect themselves and us is odd. Everytime they make a traffic stop, there is a risk that the reason the driver was speeding or acting erratic was that they were on drugs or had committed a crime, and are carrying an illegal weapon. I want the policeman to have a bulletproof vest and a firearm so he can return fire and stop the shooter before he goes down the road to my house.

  61. We had an outstanding YM President a couple of years ago who did great activities and often combined them with the YW. He taught things like rewiring a lamp, how to use a table saw, and car maintenance beyond the oil change.

    We had a combined RS/EQ/HP defensive driving class earlier this year. (It’s a class on driving safely, not doing defensive tire-squealing 180º turns like in the movies.) It reduces your driver’s insurance by 10% for three years and removes three points from your drivers license if you have tickets. It was also fun to hear each other’s stories of car accidents and near misses. :)

  62. Sheesh, I go to bed and another gun fight breaks out. See bossy post 12 above. Nice though, mlu, on why Montana doesn’t like CW, that was good. Nice contrast gaijin. Matt, aren’t those the kinds of things you’d expect? Or maybe not? I’m wondering what people don’t expect.

  63. “Sadly, most likely, your gun will take your life, or the life of a loved one.” Please give me the data for this assumption as I find it to be outside of reality as I have personally observed it. I do not have the least bit of fear of my children and firearms. They are older now but even when they were little it was never an issue. We are just raised differently.

  64. E, Not beyond, let’s see, the skin’s on the outside, and the meat’s on the inside. Right?

  65. #70: # 64 has some data: 610 accidental deaths (1999) for over 20 year olds. I would multiply that by 5 for under 20 year olds. I have no idea how many private parties have killed a bad guy, I would think few.
    I have skinned a deer in Montana. I have done ‘Combat Shooting’ with a 45. I have fired every type of weapon from a 22… to a tank.

  66. #73,

    I actually presented the accidental death figures for adults (20+ years) because it was the highest figure, and I wanted to give that to you. For time and space I did not include all the age groupings (about 4 of 5 groupings under 20 in the data chart I had). I am at work right now, but I can tell you that number of accidental firearm deaths for those under 20 were less and were in about the same proportion to the other forms of accidental death that were presented for the 20+ age group.

    Bottom line: having a firearm in the home, if stored safely and everyone is well trained, is statistically less risky than your last comment in #59 would indicate.

  67. A couple months ago the teachers and priests shot rifles and shotguns for a Wednesday night activity. My oldest deacon was a couple weeks shy of the magic age 14 and was jealous. I told him it was definitely not a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

    He continued to moan, so to drive my point home, I looked around the crowded hallway and asked our bishop, his first counselor, and the YM president in succession how many guns they each had at home. The boy seemed impressed. I could have continued to randomly pick people from the ward, but the point was made.

    I told the wannabe 14-year-old that his dad and I (and the teachers’ quorum advisor) were probably the only ones in the ward who did *not* own a gun. And this is in the suburban Minneapolis area.

    Regardless, I’ve always been a pretty good aim, and at Scout camp last week, my five shots with a .22 rifle ended up making one big hole, rather than five separate holes (up and to the right, as usual). I’ve thought about taking a concealed-weapons training course, purely for the education — I still don’t think I could ever actually own a gun, let alone in my own home.


  68. “I have skinned a deer in Montana.” To be open, I was on my Mission in Montana, and the farm boys made me help them. (But I did great!)

  69. In 2 of my wards, we’ve had a “manmaking” night (which was more clever when the women actually had a homemaking night). We encouraged different members of the quorum to present/demonstrate/share in their “manly” expertise, whether it be dry-walling, electrical, computer accessories or car maintenance or repairs. The activities were well attended and successful and we all learned about things that we often end up paying somebody else for. Of course, we still got laughed at by the ladies for the name of our activities, so, I supposed we also provided some entertainment. All in all a raging success.

  70. How about taking Young Men into a Cadaver Unit at the local Medical school to look at dead people. Yea,.. happened here! Tennessee!

  71. # 49: I’m non American, and speechless. on more than one count. Try the gun thing here (UK) and you’d be arrested.The only time I’ve ever held a gun wa sin Texas, and that at my hosts’s insistence- maybe 5 seconds, so as not to offend. Never again. Try the deer skinning thing here: and no-one would show up, eeewww. Deer roam the glens and look pretty, so we leave them there, thanks. Try the RS underwear fitting thing here: and ditto, as no-one would be prepared to show any hint of their ‘bits’. We have a hard enough time looking for volunteers for the occasional makeup makeover.

    The very thought of guns in a church setting appalls me, quite frankly. Just horrendous.

  72. Thanks Anne. Very interesting. Can you think of any activities you all might do that American Mormons might find equally speech-silencing?

  73. LOL, well Craig one which silenced me when I heard of it, but only because the outcome was so dreadful (promise me my stake leaders won’t read this) was a few years ago in a previous ward. The Mechizedek priesthood weren’t doing much, activity wise, and they had a very zealous convert of just over a year as EQPres. One of his counsellors convinced him it would be a great thing for the Quorum to enter a team in the local pub darts league, so they did. Now you all know what our pubs are like- at that time there was no smoking ban as there is now, so even if you went in one to be sociable with colleagues after work, you came out stinking,and that was without the attendant evils of tobacco and alcohol. So for several weeks, apparently the Quorum faithfully turned up on darts night to participate, build bridges within the community and get less active priesthood out and fellowshipped. Except, it turned out, one of the presidency had had previous challenges with alcohol, prior to baptism..and the nights led him to fall off the waggon. we haven’t seen him since. When it all came out in ward council I sat there speechless, as did most of the rest of the membership, but the counsellor concerned blithely recounted events, seemingly unaware of the horror around him.

    I don’t think the priesthood have had an activity since. we don’t have any YM in our ward, but when we did, they spent every Tues night playing computer games, as the Scout programme doesn’t run in church here..there, would that be gobsmacking?No Church Scouting programme? also the YW camps in the Summer are usually just one day, a far cry from the week-long events we had in my youth.

  74. Thanks Anne, sheesh that’s rough. Very eye-opening. Some of our big-ward American activities just seem so frivolous in light of such things. I mean they’re trying so hard and it turned out so sadly.

  75. I’m a girl and not entirely comfortable with firing a gun. That said, I grew up in a family that had many guns, went hunting most years (usually birds), and enjoyed target shooting off the back 10 (before there were houses built back there…). My brothers are also ace bow shooters. However, my dad insisted we all know how to handle a gun safely, including his number 1 paramount rule–never, never EVER point a gun at someone, even in jest. I have known this since my most distant memory, and because of that I have always known that guns are serious. We instituted the same serious attitude and #1 rule with our kids, and though our sons are both crack shots and love shooting, they both handle firearms very carefully. I think the operative idea here is education–that if kids are taught from the point they can toddle that guns are not toys and not to be handled unless under very specific conditions, then guns can be safely managed in a household with children. To be honest, I personally worry more about the children of those who don’t own guns, because I always wonder how appropriately they will be when they do handle one. (And just to be extra safe, both with our littlest kids our visitors, we keep our guns locked in a special safe, only husband and I know where the keys are kept.).

  76. I’ve no doubt whatsoever that the majority of US gun owners are responsible, but doesn’t it honestly strike anyone as incongruous to have activities involving guns at Church?

    Craig, yep, the difference between big ward American activities and those in other parts of the world need to be experienced to be believed. it’s hard sometimes to see the looks on new US missionaries faces when they realise ‘this is it?’. our ward was disbanded very recently, and we now have to attend one a 10 minute drive away- if you have a car. if not, the vagaries of public transport on Sundays turn the 3 hour church Sabbath experience into a 6 hour nightmare. The new Bishop is trying to work out how to transport those without cars (myself included) but for those of us in that position, it means we are now forever dependent on others for our church attendance…or attempt the 6 hour horror. It’s hard to get anyone to understand how frustrating that lack of independence is. Certainly evening activites will be car owner dependent, as there is no public transport to the ‘new’ ward building after 6pm.
    They are merging the Europe North and West areas on 1 August. Seems to be the way of things here just now; the argument is, they need the money for the areas like South America where the Church is growing.Meanwhile, our 40 year old building will be cleaned out after the holiday, and we have been told to walk away.

  77. OK, Craig, here is one from a Belgian Ward, Relief Society…

    March 23 – Visit to Middelheim: the nudes of Rodin
    June 5 – Calendar Girls, shown in the chapel

    Just in case someone is not sure about the last item, read here

  78. Very sympathetic to Anne’s situation. Our ward building is a 30-40 minute drive for most of the members of our ward and many members do not have cars and there is absolutely no public transportation. Basically, those with cars transport those without. A little persistence is necessary on the part of the carless, but they have their regular routines and those who want to go to church are there every week.

    Our ward activities are very prosaic for the United States: a flag raising on the fourth of July, a memorial day picnic, a few book-group or play groups for the Relief Society, nothing for the EQ. No guns. No nudes at the nearby Rodin museum. No iridology. Not even a couple of classes on massage, like we had in a former ward.

  79. I am 60 years old and was born and raised in Utah. I still have the 20 ga. shot gun I got for my 14th birthday and the 303 British Enfied I got for my 16th birthday. My dad traded a 3 hp. Evenrude outboard motor to a gunsmith to have the enfield sporterized and a 3-9 power Redfield scope with side mounts put on. Before I could get my hunting license I had to pass a NRA safety class that was held at the elementary school (yes NRA and elementary school in the same sentence). The time I spent with my dad, brother-in-laws, friends and neighbors hunting pheasants, duck, chuckers, doves, dear, elk and consuming them will be a part of my youth forever. In addition I am not afraid of guns, I was taught at a young age to respect a weapon, how to handle it, what they were made to do (kill things) and the damage they can do. I even learned how to butcher on the kichen table the dear and elk that was brought home. So many valuable lessons learned at such a young age because of a weapon. But the lesson I feel most fortunate to have learned is the value of life and how fragile it is. Be it animal or human.

  80. Anne, you realize, don’t you, that when Mormons in the US have an activity firing guns we’re not killing people or animals? that we’re shooting at paper targets or bottles on fenceposts or clay pigeons? It’s a high-tech game of darts. In the fresh air, without the atmosphere of a pub.

  81. Wilfried, fantastic! I can see the Belgian ladies trooping out to see these cultural wonders, without a second thought or blink. Neither activity would fly in much of the Mormon west, I suppose, not as an official church-sponsored thing anyway; maybe in the northeast US somewhere. Or with wimpy professors. I think I like those better than CW class.

    Anne and Researcher, nice question: I think the gun part has everything to do with being American, and not Mormon, but it’s easy to conflate the two and assume that the one justifies and informs the other (I suppose like seeing Rodin without a second thought has more to do with being raised with European sensibilities than it does with being raised on Mormon sensibilities; if you didn’t know, some Rodin nudes were banned from BYU). And very sobering assessment of church logistics. It makes me even madder that our entire ward lies within 2 blocks of the church and almost every single person drives.

    Dennis, nice account of your youth, thanks. Weapons safety, rifle hunting are, again, old sport around the world. Didn’t that put the R in NRA after all? Rather than assault weapons and hidden weapons? I think what bothers some, and what surprised me, was the easy assumption that here was an unremarkable and inoffensive church activity, whose intent is not quite rifle hunting. But as I said, anyone is potentially capable of doing the same sort of thing with their own beloved activity as well.

  82. “It’s a high-tech game of darts. In the fresh air, without the atmosphere of a pub.”

    Classic, Ardis.

  83. #89: I too belonged to the NRA as a youth, when gun safety classes was their main activity. Again, I am not aganist guns. But here in the city (LA), those who keep guns to protect their homes, keep them loaded and handy, usually in their nightstands or bedrooms. There are very few gun safes. To me, a gun should be keep in a safe, unloaded, and the bullets locked up in another part of the house. But that offers little protection from an intruder.

  84. Ardis, I’ve actually heard (third hand) of one Relief Society food storage activity where the difference between “pet rabbit” and “food” was demonstrated using a pistol. The ward in question was far from Utah, but still in the U.S. (and the activity was considered a bit over the top). So nearly all the time people are shooting at inanimate objects…

  85. Which category do dozing high priests fall into?

    (Really, I have no reason to doubt that you heard such a report, but given the daintiness of so many brethren participating on this thread, to say nothing of the sensibilities of every group — not individual, but group — of women I know, I absolutelydo not believe that such an event occurred.)

  86. Reading these comments has reminded me of some events that happened in our area in Mesa. Since I have spent a majority of my years in the YW organization, I have countless to add. One time my counselor gave a lesson to the girls and somehow used the analogy of her breast augmentation surgery (going into great detail I might add) to explain how there\’s hope for even the most hopeless of situations! I\’m quite certain that wasn\’t in the manual. Another occasion resulted from a big uproar in the stake about how immodest the girls were dressing and the panic to do something about it. Our ward decided to have a \”modesty fashion show\” for HFPE in hopes of inspiring the mothers to be more aware of the problem. Several of the women in the ward were asked to dress \”inappropriately\” and model these outfits to make a point of showing the \”don\’ts\” of choices of attire. As they paraded out on stage, really vamping it up for the audience, it was quite awkward to see that one of the women in our ward, who was a spectator, was sporting the exact same outfit as one of the Don\’ts! Just a few examples of good intentions gone awry.

  87. Didn’t some quorums/youth groups/RS groups play some kind of game with dice? Something with a name that sounds like Bonkers? When I heard someone describe it I wondered if it had brought about President Hinckley’s gambling talk from conference a while back, but maybe I am a gambling prude. Sounded like it was the rage along the Wasatch Front for a while.

  88. I think I have this story straight – a friend of mine resident in Greece a couple of years ago attended an Enrichment where one of the new members, a very experienced belly-dancer taught the sisters the basics – she was dressed quite modestly. She was so good that they invited her to perform at a Ward Social, thinking she would be dressed the same – yes, you’ve guessed it. In order to give a good performance she had on professional very revealing belly dancing dress, and provided the works, put her all into it. This was in a very small room, with only about a couple of dozen members. Some sloped out, and the rest who stayed showed various stages of embarrassment.

  89. I own guns, my family business sold hunting rifles and shotguns, I was in a ward-sponsored scout troop that went rabbit hunting regularly, but guns, like politics, should otherwise be kept out of the chapel, the church, the temple, church-sponsored activities and anything else related to the church. I respect the bretheren completely on this. What people choose to do with guns on their own is their business. The bishops I had growing up in Utah — one of the gunnest darn states in the whole USA — would never have allowed such a class.

  90. WillF, it’s bunko, a big rage in Utah maybe a decade ago?

    Ukann, were all the embarrassed people in the ward foreign residents, or natives? I’m wondering whether natives would find it that difficult.

    Sam, interesting point.

  91. Ardis (#95): The event did, indeed, happen at a Relief Society campout in my home ward in Arkansas. The enrichment lesson was about food storage, and we had a wonderful sister who was trying to give a variety of ideas for food storage. They raised rabbits for food, and she brought one along and stroked it as she talked, then said that sometimes things are pets, and *bang!* sometimes they’re merely food storage on the hoof. It wasn’t *too* out-there because a number of years earlier there had been an attempt at a ward food project to raise rabbits for that purpose (although I don’t think enough people could really handle dealing with them at the end, and it fell apart). But still–a lot of people were um, horrified, and I think if I or my mom ever had to find food that way, we would quickly learn to concoct complete proteins from acorns and wild grass seed.

  92. I have to comment – in a way giving the Americans reading this (if anyone gets this far) some idea how different cultures in the world are. Some time ago in my home ward (in Europe, try to find it on Google Earth ;-D) we had a married couples’ night, and the theme was frank talk about sex. I guess it would have put many Americans’ freak-o-meter pretty high, but it sure didn’t raise it with us, it just sits in our culture (and no, I don’t see it being really that much more promiscuous, either, just less likely to have hang-ups about sex).

    As for guns, we have one of the highest rates of gun ownership, but violent crimes where firearms are involved are pretty rare. Most guns are hunting rifles, and they are usually stored in locked cabinets and kept unloaded. I don’t currently own guns myself, but when I was younger I was a crack shot – but I have never shot at a live target. I’m more of a fisherman. And no, we don’t have home invasions, either so there’s no reason to keep a loaded gun on hand. Other than that, violent death is pretty common – usually old friends getting sore with each other after spending the night drinking and the weapon of choice is a knife.

  93. Thanks Velska, exactly what I was trying to say on both points. Some things are taken for granted in one culture, and rifle hunting is not the same as CW class. And Rose, thanks for confirming the reality of the food storage program. Just another day at Relief Society. Well, kind of.

    I think we can officially begin a new series at T&S, On the Wackiness of Mormon Life.

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