Monday, August 15, 2011

LDS Member Tanielu Atuai Convicted On One Count Of Possession Of An Unlawful Weapon In American Samoa

Radio New Zealand International and report that a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who serves as a first counselor in his bishopric in American Samoa has been convicted on one count of possession of an unlawful weapon.

Tanielu Atuai was arrested in July 2011 before boarding a return flight to American Samoa after airport security found a .45 magnum revolver and five bullets in his handbag. He admitted to the charges, and has been ordered to pay a fine of more than 1,000 US dollars.

RNZI describes Atuai as the first assistant of a bishop in his church in Malaeimi". This means he serves as the first counselor in the bishopric; the reporter in the story is obviously not familiar with LDS terminology. The story also doesn't denote which ward; there are two wards in Malaeimi, under the Pago Pago Samoa Mapusaga Stake.

Since no further details of this incident are available, this is most likely the product of a "brain fart" by Atuai. Had he possessed any malevolent intent, he wouldn't have been let off with a $1,000 fine. This means it's basically a status offense, although it seems to be common knowledge that you don't pack a firearm in your carry-on baggage before boarding an aircraft.

Consequently, while Atuai is likely to be released from his position as first counselor, I don't anticipate any action against his membership. Disfellowshipment or excommunication is unlikely.

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