Christians & Guns?

In the wake of the Aurora theater shooting, I was asked this question: “How do Christians reconcile their assault weapon ownership stance with the ‘Thou shalt not kill’ command and Jesus’ teachings?  For instance, what would Jesus do about assault weapons?”

First, it strikes me as presumptuous that my pacifist (an assumption on my part) friend—whom I’ll call Pat for short—would insinuate that assault weapons are the defense of choice of Christians or only by Christians. My first question of him is why make that connection?

His question makes me think of the Pharisees who asked Jesus if they should pay taxes to Caesar. His answer blew them all away, as he exposed the hostility and the hypocrisy of His interrogators … The coin of the Tribute Episode is a fine specimen of Roman propaganda. It imposes the cult of emperor worship and asserts Caesar’s sovereignty upon all who transact with it.

With one straightforward counter-question, Jesus skillfully points out that the claims of God and Caesar are mutually exclusive. If one’s faith is in God, then God is owed everything; Caesar’s claims are necessarily illegitimate, and he is therefore owed nothing. If, on the other hand, one’s faith is in Caesar, God’s claims are illegitimate, and Caesar is owed, at the very least, the coin which bears his image.

Jesus’ counter-question simply invites His listeners to choose allegiances.

All that to say, there is more to Pat’s question than first meets the eye. I am not a scholar, but I will attempt to shed some light.

Pat predicates his question on the less exact term word “kill” as used in the King James Version. The Sixth Commandment is properly rendered “You shall not murder.” The Hebrew word means “to dash to pieces … murder … slay.” Likewise, Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, referred to the prohibition against murder (not against killing). Then he took the commandment further to say that “anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” And yes, the Greek is more exact than English, as this anger of which Jesus speaks is an “uncontrolled rage,” certainly different than God’s anger.

According to the Bible all killing is not murder. Research into Hebrew and Greek dictionaries shows numerous words referring to the taking of human life. God allowed the Israelites to kill other humans under very special circumstances such as punishment for certain sins, for example, murder. God also allowed the Israelites to engage in warfare and even gave them instructions about waging war.

All right, I hope I haven’t confused anyone too much. Let’s move on to matters close to the hearts of citizens who choose to have a firearm in their home or in their possession—Christians or otherwise. I haven’t done a poll (nor have I looked at the NRA website) but I’d wager that most keep a gun handy because of our increasingly unsafe neighborhoods and/or for they sometimes go hunting or target-shooting.

But we’re talking about all this because of the recent Aurora theater shooting, which raised safety concerns across the country.

I agree with the view that this conversation is not about gun control; it’s about people control. Chicago has one of the strictest gun laws in the country–so severe, the laws were deemed as unconstitutional awhile back. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, over Memorial Day weekend 12 people were killed by gunfire and 45 were shot and wounded. In the time it takes to play a major league soccer match (90 minutes), 13 people were shot. By mid-June, murder was up 35 percent from last year with 228 people killed. Statistically speaking, our troops are safer in Kabul than in Chicago.

Less might be more when it comes to gun regulation. According to the Washington Times, violent crime peaked 25 years ago when just “a handful of states” had conceal-carry laws. Gun sales have increased over the past four years, and currently 41 states have gun-carrying laws, yet violent crime has decreased according to the FBI in June. According to PJ Media, “States with the highest gun ownership have the lowest firearms homicide rates” and “States with the lowest firearms ownership average the highest firearm and non-firearm homicide rates.”

This leads me to ask this question of Questioner Pat:  Since you seem to have an aversion to guns, what measures would you employ to protect your family if the bad guys were breaking into your house, screaming what they were going to do to your family?

Before you answer, consider this: In a recent neighborhood meeting after burglars had cleaned out the good stuff from my neighbor’s house during his 25-minute absence, the deputy sheriff told us that our rural neighborhood had 2.5 (that’s two point five) law enforcement officers available to cover 64 square miles—leading one to suspect that a 9-1-1 call might not get help to your house very quickly.

Now, to consider what Jesus would do about assault weapons: I daresay he would do exactly what he did about the Roman legions.

Folks, what would you do in these circumstances? Do you believe guns or no guns or non-religious people or Christians are at the root of our unsafe neighborhoods?


About samuelehall

A follower of Jesus, husband, father of 3 adult children, writer and learner.
This entry was posted in Risking change/changing the risk, Tackling Fears and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Christians & Guns?

  1. Jerry says:

    Although I have tried to bow out of the conversation, I would like one more attempt to bring it back to the specifics of whether we should tolerate military-style assault weapons saturating our society under the guise of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Recall that the Second Amendment was written by people accustomed to the flint-lock, single shot musket (original intent), not our current military weaponry (2012 intent).

    As Justice Scalia has brought up, there is another weapon which could, under the current general argument of gun-rights advocates, be considered by the Supreme Court a legal weapon for average, law-abiding citizens to own. That weapon is the shoulder fired rocket-launcher, capable of bringing down aircraft. The conversation is now that the rocket launcher is an extreme example and should not be considered as likely to be approved for the general citizenry. The rapid-fire, high-capacity assault weapon was once considered an extreme example and was banned from the general population’s ownership for a ten-year period (1994-2004). Now, it is no longer considered extreme, although just as extreme in its risk to society. The conversation has wandered back to general gun ownership, not military-style weaponry, because it is easier for the gun advocates to argue under the generalities than the specifics, it seems. As they might might argue,

    Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.
    Assault weapons don’t kill people by the dozens. People kill people by the dozens.
    Rocket launchers don’t kill people by the hundreds. People kill people by the hundreds.

    Where do we stop, folks?

  2. Doris Minard says:

    I said it before and I’ll say it again. NO citizen needs an assault weapon (machine gun). Those types of weapons are not needed for hunting or defending house and family. On the other hand, maybe it should be legal to own a tank??

    • samuelehall says:

      Thanks, Doris. You like to make me squirm, don’t you? Well, something came up the other day about Justice Scalia supporting hand-held rocket launchers capable of taking down a plane. Turns out he didn’t say that but what he did say was that the SCOTUS would eventually have to address such a thing. Why? Because the 2nd Amendment gives the right to bear arms. “Bear” arms means they must be hand-held. So, if you have a hand-held tank, I guess it’s allowed.
      While you’re at it, can you and your tank do something about these gophers in my yard?

  3. Bonna says:

    Sam, of course I’m sure you know where this household stands on having guns in the home! We have them and are prepared to use them. My comment is more about imploring those who do have guns in their homes to know how to properly and safely use them and store them. No one should “just” have that gun in case there is a need. Please take time to fire them often so that in a stressful event you know what to do and also that it will be in good working order. Also I would offer the advice if you don’t know for sure that you could use your gun, don’t have one. Trust me the “bad guy” will sense your hesitancy and use that to his or her advantage. Living on the ranch, there have been a number of times I have used a gun on “varmints” of the 4-legged variety, plus a few snakes. I pray that I never have the occasion to have to use one on a 2-legged one but if the need should arise I am ready and able. Bonna

    • samuelehall says:

      Hey, Bonna, good words of advice. And yes, I trust you know how to use that shootin’ iron.
      All right, men, by the comments received, it’s clear the ladies are prepared for any eventuality. Way to go, gals!

  4. Herb Hofmann says:

    Sam, I do own a gun. it’s a 1904ish colt 22 rifle that I inherited 40 years ago. I fully support those who choose to live out the 2nd Amendment by owning a firearm and choose to protect their family and property through gun ownership. For me personally, I don’t know that I could take a life in a life-or-death situation. I’ve determined to trust in God’s protection to keep evil from my home and have determined that if anyone enters my home unlawfully, I will simply alert them to whom my home actually belongs to. That individual will have Someone “bigger and badder” to deal with than me and some arsenal of weapons. This is my choice. I would never presume to try and force this choice on others, and I would appreciate it if those who advocate for gun control would do the same! Lord bless you Sam.

    • samuelehall says:

      Thank you, Herb. To avoid regrets, we need to do what you’ve already done–think carefully what you would do ahead of time. Then be prepared for that eventuality and leave the results to God.

  5. Bonnie Leon says:

    Good post, Sam. And to the question of would I have a gun? I do have gun, more than one. And if it came down to the bad guy or my family — I’d shoot. That’s not what I want to do, but I have a responsibility and right to protect not only myself but my family. And definitely Christians are not at the root of our unsafe neighborhoods. But we contribute to the countries sad condition when we don’t become involved in our communities–helping the hurting, hopeless and the sick. And we hurt our communities when we don’t use the wisdom given to us by the presence of the Holy Spirit to vote for those who are entrusted to lead.

    • samuelehall says:

      Thanks, Bonnie. You’ve laid it out on the line–excellent!
      The knowledge that you may have a gun on the premises would deter most, if not all, bad guys from even making an appearance. Thus, your firearm has served its purpose–without even pulling it out of your holster.

  6. Sam, the question is far more complex than guns or no guns as you know. Religion or patriotism is not at issue; it seems to me. I believe the culture’s embrace of radical individualism along with the loss of civics and virture provide a perfect breeding ground for actions such as you mention. Education ceased to focus on forming good citizens and has cast off the Humanities in exchange for training people to simply make money and get what’s coming to them. Society’s malaise grows worse. Aurora is one more example.


    • samuelehall says:

      Thanks, Mark. Thoughtful comments. Indeed, far more complex than the gun question. However, Pat the Questioner seems to believe religion is an issue; why do you think not?
      “Embrace of radical individualism”? Do you or other bloggers want to comment on that?
      Do you have citation(s) or explanations re the demise of education and increase in materialism?
      Don’t break your pick to answer; that’s such a good comment, I don’t want to discourage you …

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