There's quite a bit of overlap between members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the "prepper" community. Church members are advised to maintain a year's supply of food and water. Preppers often store food, in addition to other items that would necessary in the event of a major social disruption.
Often included on that "other items" list is weaponry. After all, it makes sense that a disruption in government's ability to monopolize violence would require each of us to defend ourselves. I know plenty of church members who include firearms and ammunition on their mental year's-supply list. My wife and I have wondered about the prudence of owning a gun for self-protection. In 2013, we even went rifle shopping once. Ultimately, a combination of our poverty and my mental health have led me to believe that it would be a bad idea for me to own a gun. But I have wondered if this will turn out poorly for my family.
Last weekend, I was browsing the Kindle store for free books, and I ended up getting Abomination of Desolation: The Prophecy of Daniel and Ezekiel in the Latter Days by Monte S. Lyman. Today while reading Lyman's book, I came across a quotation of Joseph Smith that I'd never heard before. I looked up the footnote, saw that it referenced a book I own, and sent a kid to the bookshelf to get the book for me. Sure enough, on Page 365 of Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, I verified Lyman's quote.
He that arms himself with gun, sword, or pistol, except in the defense of truth, will sometime be sorry for it. I never carry any weapon with me bigger than my penknife.
How have I never heard this before? I have read Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, the church manual, and didn't come across this. Given the afinity of some church members for armaments, this seems like a significant teaching that I shouldn't have accidentally come across. My current ward has more than one member who comes to church armed (even though current Church policy is to not have weapons in the building). I had a bishop about 10 years ago who let it be known that his emergency preparedness included firearms, and he recommended the same to others.
Back when I served a mission, we were snowed in for a few days with nothing to read but what we happened to find in the apartment. We had a copy of the April 1976 General Conference Report, so I read some of that. I discovered that General Conference used to include a welfare session, and in a talk from that session, Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone said this:
I should like to address a few remarks to those who ask, “Do I share with my neighbors who have not followed the counsel? And what about the nonmembers who do not have a year’s supply? Do we have to share with them?” No, we don’t have to share—-we get to share! Let us not be concerned about silly thoughts of whether we would share or not. Of course we would share! What would Jesus do? I could not possibly eat food and see my neighbors starving. And if you starve to death after sharing, “greater love hath no man than this...” (John 15:13).
Now what about those who would plunder and break in and take that which we have stored for our families’ needs? Don’t give this one more idle thought. There is a God in heaven whom we have obeyed. Do you suppose he would abandon those who have kept his commandments?
It seems to me that proper emergency preparedness does not include weapons.