The Smoking Gun Debate

Disclaimer: these are my personal thoughts about guns and gun control. Take it with a grain of salt. My goal is to lay out the argument as I see it, without the memorized rhetoric of any political party.

It’s been a difficult year. There have been several massacres across the US, from movie theaters to elementary schools. While the people and situations have changed, one thing has not: the weapon used. In each circumstance, a gun was used to kill and injure many people. Each time this happens, Americans are quick to voice their opinions about how we need more or less guns and more or less control of them. Sadly, these debates devolve into bitter verbal fights based on political party to the point that we can’t even have a reasonable, adult-like conversation about guns and gun control. Typically, sweeping generalizations are used and rational thought is put away. The point of this post is to lay out a few points about the whole issue so that hopefully some of us can have a reasoned and unbittered discussion about this issue.

Before I start, I want to add a couple of points to my disclaimer at the top.

  1. I grew up in a strong Republican family. I grew up (and still currently live) in Florida and was raised by godly parents who believed in guns. The kids always knew where dad kept his revolver and knew the purposes it was there for (note: it was far out of our reach). I do not come from a “left-side” or “liberal” family. They were/are very conservative.
  2. I am politically independent. Over the last 8 years, I have fully separated myself from any political party, primarily the Republicans (also Tea Party) and the Democrats. I find things that are both right and greatly wrong with both sides. I am not writing this to explain a certain party’s political beliefs. I am writing this as my own personal thoughts on the matter. Regardless of your party, you will find things to agree and disagree with in this post, but in the end, I’m writing it for me.
  3. I am a Christian. This is a huge point for me. How Jesus and the Bible feels about an issue matters to me. Everything else is secondary. Yet, I want my doctrine unblended by politics. If the Bible doesn’t take a position about something, then as a Christian, that has to matter to me. I can’t put words in Jesus’ mouth.
  4. I love guns. While I don’t hunt, I have fired guns for fun and love doing so. I would do so more if I chose to invest the time and money it requires. It’s quite exhilarating and I find much joy in firing guns. So I write this post not as a hoplophobic (afraid of firearms).

Now that I have made these disclaimers, let me try to lay out the rational argument as I see it.

Both sides are being thoughtful.

As I opened this article with, this discussion can turn ugly quick. It is important to remember that both sides of the argument (for guns vs for control) are caring and are passionate to resolve the issue of massacre-by-gun problems our country is facing. “Pro-gun” advocates strongly feel more guns (given to the right people) would fix the issue. They feel people would be able to better protect themselves if they had guns. “Pro-control” advocates strongly feel less guns would fix the issue. They feel people would be able to better protect themselves if guns were not part of the scenario.

The allowance (or control) of guns isn’t a biblical principal.

I stated earlier:

I am a Christian. This is a huge point for me. How Jesus and the Bible feels about an issue matters to me. Everything else is secondary. Yet, I want my doctrine unblended by politics. If the Bible doesn’t take a position about something, then as a Christian, that has to matter to me. I can’t put words in Jesus’ mouth.

This rings true for this issue. The truth is that our second amendment “right” isn’t a scriptural one. The Bible, particularly the New Testament, contain no verses that say “it is God’s will for you to own a firearm.” To look at this gun vs gun control issue rationally, the first thing we have to do is loudly state the obvious: this is not a biblically moral issue. The Bible doesn’t invoke or outlaw the use of guns or people owning them. We shouldn’t try to twist scripture to make it say something that it does not. In fact, the end of the Book of Revelation hints that it might be damnable to do so (Rev 22:18-19).

There will be no weapons in the millennial kingdom.

While the Bible doesn’t give a position over the current debate, there is something that is clear: once Jesus returns, all weapons will be destroyed.

Many people say eschatology isn’t practical, but this point proves them wrong. Let me summarize what happens at the end of the tribulation:

Jesus returns and those who believe in Him are forever changed to be like angels — asexual, forever sinless beings. He also completely destroys all those with the mark of the beast (antichrist). An angel locks the devil in a bottomless pit for 1,000 years. This is what we call the millennial reign of Christ, where Jesus rules and governs the earth, on the earth, for a 1,000 years. He makes all the rules. There will be no law that He doesn’t agree with. There will be no media influence that goes against His character.

After the 1,000 years, the devil is released to tempt the nations one last time to fight against Jesus. They amass themselves and are quickly destroyed. But who are these people that the devil is able to sway? They are people (or children/grandchildren/etc of those) who weren’t saved upon the return of Christ and who also did not take the mark of the beast. These are the people who will repopulate the earth (since the saved will have new asexual bodies) and who the devil will attempt to tempt.

(For more info and scriptures on this, read this, particulary point 3-C )

The implication couldn’t be clearer: even under the perfect rulership of Christ, people will still choose to rebel against Jesus and immerse themselves in their own sin/evil. We’ll come back to this point later and discuss that no law or ruler can keep people from choosing to do evil things.

In Isaiah 2, one of Isaiah’s many chapters about the millennial kingdom, this is what Isaiah says will happen:

It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:2-4 ESV)

Many people love this scripture passage.  They use it as a text regarding nuclear disarmament  But that’s not what it is about. It’s about a total weapons disarmament. Jesus won’t just get rid of nukes. He will get rid of every weapon that’s made for war and death.

That tweet hints at my feelings about guns and gun control, but it’s not a perfect comparison. Why? Because in the millennial kingdom, alcohol will be allowed but guns still won’t be. Alcohol (wine) will be consumed correctly — for celebrating and not to fill a void on the inside — yet guns won’t be “redeemed”. The thinking “guns are for fun and recreational use” is not an eternal truth. It may be allowable now, but there is coming a day where it won’t be.

Again, let me reiterate. The Bible does not take a position on gun vs gun control in our present age. It only takes a position about it when Jesus comes back, and that position is in favor of gun control. I am not saying that we should take this future stance the Bible takes on gun control and apply it as a standard for today (although I believe we should allow it to be part of the debate). What this should show though is that the entire gun vs gun control debate is one based on personal opinions and preferences, not divine principals.

The Christian’s debate: guns for protection vs The Sermon on the Mount.

One of the biggest arguments I hear from “pro-gun” advocates is the need to protect themselves, either from the government, wild animals, or from a thief/murderer/rapist/etc. I cannot speak to a non-Christian about this matter, even though I think my conclusion at the end of this point can be applied to them as well, but I can speak to Christians about this.

In Jesus’ great Sermon on the Mount (SOTM), He says:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:38-39 ESV)

This is the where I think Christians need to debate. Instead of debating gun vs gun control, we should be asking “if Christ didn’t defend Himself against being attacked, even to death, do we have the right to?” Remember, it is Jesus we are to follow and become like. What Moses, Elijah, David, etc did here is irrelevant. They weren’t perfect, but Jesus is. Many times we ask “what would Jesus do?” when we should be asking “what did Jesus do?”. I won’t give you my personal thoughts on this matter since it’s something I wrestle with, especially when thinking of my family being in danger. I’ll be honest and say that’s it’s a conflict inside me between taking protection in my hands and leaving protection in God’s hands. There are many nights where I hear the thoughts of the 1st century martyrs and feel their burden, the same as mine.

However, there is one other question to be answered: does Jesus allow defense of oneself (and family) unto death? It’s one thing to defend yourself and family. It’s another thing to do it in a way that kills the other person. I hear Jesus’ words to Peter when Peter tried to defend himself and Jesus:

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. (Matthew 26:52 ESV)

This is the question I think all “pro-gun” advocates for protection purposes, Christian and not, can be asked:  what about mace or pepper spray? It is something that would completely stop the attacker and yet let them live. If the government does bring stricter gun control or even start banning guns, can’t you defend yourself by other non-lethal means? Pepper spray is far reaching and for the most part, your assailant won’t have a gun either. I personally feel that the “guns for protection purposes” argument is more based on preference and laziness of thought.

Sidenote: if you absolutely don’t care about the assailant’s lost of life, I encourage you to check your heart and your Bible.

Guns kill the people that people kill.

This is probably the point that frustrates me the most. Currently, this is the crux of the gun vs gun control debate: who/what actually kills — guns or people?

It frustrates me because the answer is simple: both.

I mentioned this before in a post about a different issue:

There was one phrase that kept coming up from Christians:
If you’re going to have an affair, you’re going to have an affair. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. The issue is the heart, not Facebook.

Every time I hear that phrase, “the issue is the heart, not {insert noun here}” there is always something that doesn’t settle right in my heart. I think it’s because that statement assumes that if you have the desire to do something, you eventually will. I don’t agree with that and I don’t find that statement supported in the Bible. I think the phrase should be: the issue is the heart and what we do with any temptations.

The problem with the phrase ”the issue is the heart, not {insert noun here}” is that it seems to ignore any device of temptation. The Bible takes time not just to speak concerning our evil desires, but also concerning the temptations that would seduce us into sin. In truth, there is a “opportunity cost” in sin. The Bible knows that if we remain in the place of temptation without fleeing it, we will succumb to our evil desires. The Bible pushes us to not only fight temptation, but to proactively flee from it. It commands us to flee “any appearance of evil”.

So there is more to the issue than just the person behind the actual evilness. There is also the method and thing that empowered the person to act evilly. In reality, most people believe that about certain issues. It’s why we have laws and content ratings on TV, even though lust and such are in the heart of the person watching. It’s why alcohol is sold to people 21 years old or older, even though youth who want to get drunk will find a way.

Let me argue out both sides of the question:

Will more gun control laws (or banning them altogether) help prevent murder?

  • NO
    No law will ever prevent the evilness and depravity of the human heart. Until Jesus comes, we will continue to see massive massacres committed by murderous people who are evil and demonic. And like I previous mentioned, even when Jesus returns, people will still choose to do horrible and evil things despite a (being) perfected world. No law or ban can ever stop someone who is committing premeditated and well planned murders.
  • YES
    While laws and bans can’t stop premeditated and well planned murders, it can (1) limit the death count of the massacre and (2) limit the number of local murders that happen every day. Let’s look at both of these statements.

    1. Typically when guns are not used in a massacre, the death count is lower. It takes more time to kill with a knife or other object than with a gun. Also, other weapons are more easily defended against. How many times in the last 10 years has there been a massacre by hand or knife that the death count has been more than 9? If we truly believe that “every person matters and is important”, then this point needs to be taken seriously.

    2. It is truly sad that the only time we hear the gun control argument is when there is a highly televised public shooting/massacre. If the national news networks don’t broadcast it, most people are numb to the murders that happen everyday. People are killed everyday by guns (as wells as other means). Will gun control/banning stop all these cases? No. Again, premeditated murder is rarely stopped, but not all murder is premeditated. Some are from quick fits of rage. Some are accidents, particularly times when kids find their parents’ gun. Some are committed by people who have a documented history of mental problems and issues who should have never been allowed to own a gun in the first place. I do believe that stricter gun control laws or bans could help limit these types of shootings.

Let’s review: we are called to deal with the heart of the person and the temptation that empowers them to do evil. While gun control laws or banning doesn’t deal with the heart, it would help with the temptation, at least a little. And isn’t any help better than doing nothing?

The answer is not more guns or less guns. The answer is Jesus.

Like I just said, laws cannot deal with the heart of a murderer. Only Jesus can do that. Sadly our nation has fully and completely rejected Him and we are left to our own evil. As a nation, every massacre is completely deserved. I mourn with the victims and families at the death and the pain incurred, but I cannot say that we don’t deserve these things. As a nation, we have chosen the side of the enemy whose primary purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. While we should mourn, we should not be surprised. We are reaping what we have sown. Even in the terribleness of these situations, the truth of the Bible is not shaken.

As a church, we need to pray that God would do whatever it takes to draw this nation back to Jesus. He’s the only One who can turn this nation back to Himself.

The conclusion

Now that I have laid out my personal thinking about the issue, let me lay out some of my final thoughts about it.

  • Since we don’t want Jesus as a nation, we are left with our own laws and rules. I think some laws/rules can be put in place to help limit murder-by-gun, at least on a local level.
  • As a Christian, “guns for protection to kill the assailant” isn’t permissible for me. So the only purpose that I can see that guns would serve is recreational, either for hunting or joyful target practice (which I currently enjoy). Recreation (aka entertainment) isn’t a good enough reason for me to oppose gun control, regardless of how much fun I find it. Since people are important, they should matter more.
  • If very strict gun control/bans are made, I think the law should allow for government-watched gun ranges and hunting parks where people can still enjoy guns but do it in a safe controlled environment. In fact, make it a private business initiative. If the only place that civilians were allowed to use guns were an authorized gun range/park, capitalism ensures that these places would have great guns and would be quite enjoyable.
  • If sudafed is under government watch because you could possibly make meth from it (something that affects the individual), why are we allowed to purchase and own guns (something that can affect others) without stringent government watching?
  • I understand that banning/limiting guns to help limit murder has the same consequence as limiting/banning alcohol to prevent drunk driving: the loss of pleasures for those who are using it responsibility. But (as a Christian) remember: many things are permissible but not all things are beneficial.
  • I should get some serious pepper spray for my house/family.

41 comments on “The Smoking Gun Debate

  1. Dale says:

    Excellent article. As a former Christian and Theological student I was certainly able to follow the theological arguments and biblical references. There is excellent material here to help convince Christians that gun proliferation and culture of violence is antithetical to the teachings of Jesus. Two suggestions, however, are: (a) simplify the message so it’s easier to read and therefore will reach a wider audience, and (b) don’t be so quick to assume that this message wouldn’t also resonate with non-Christians. Most non-Christians, to the extent they understand his teachings, value the contributions of Jesus; their issue isn’t regarding the teachings of Jesus, but rather his ontology — i.e. that his person is part of the god-head is unnecessary for them. But, that is theology, not message. The message of the person of Jesus, to “turn the other cheek”, “to pray for your enemies”, and his actions of freely going to his own demise because of his belief that peace and happiness cannot be achieved by violence resonate very broadly. The message of Jesus has been so completely distorted that so many of those who claim to follow him spend their lives working against the very things he stood for. It is refreshing that this article presents a much need counterpoint.

  2. Robert Byrne says:

    He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.
    Luke 22:36

    • Matthew says:

      I would argue context on this one. AND at the same time, remember that Jesus rebuked them for fighting and using the swords that *here*…He told them to use!

  3. James says:

    Hi Matthew,

    I like your thoughtful post! There are a couple of points I’d like to add to the conversation. It’s not a comprehensive argument; I’d write my own blog post if I was doing that.

    The first is the idea of social vs. asocial violence. Social violence happens within a context of talking or some interaction, the escalation of anger unto a physical altercation, with typically with some invested emotional connection. Asocial violence, on the other hand, is only interested in harm, perhaps for some benefit– be it sexual assault, theft, bigotry, etc. I believe that Jesus was speaking of social violence in the Sermon on the Mount, not asocial violence. Being struck on the cheek doesn’t threaten someone’s life; the lasting reaches of the injury are more social and emotional than physical.

    You’re right that the Bible doesn’t talk about the right to guns or how guns should be banned, especially since guns weren’t invented until the 12th century in China. However, in Luke 22:36, Jesus says “He who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.” We know the disciples didn’t project themselves from persecution for the faith, since James was killed by Herod and Peter was also detained likely for the same purpose (Acts 12:1-3). So if they weren’t protecting themselves from the persecution, why would they need a sword? My best guess is that it was for protection from bandits along the roads as they went to preach the gospel. The bandits wouldn’t have been persecuting them for their faith; they would be robbing them. Maybe they’d need protection from wild beasts too.

    I think your “guns : murder :: alcohol : drunk driving” analogy breaks down here: Alcohol at best only makes one’s heart glad (or maybe it could be sustenance in a pinch), while guns have the ability protect life (by stopping an assailant that may or may not also have a gun).

    Thanks for writing this!

    • Matthew says:

      Thanks for commenting James!

      I agree that the Luke scripture needs some deeper research to it, but I also don’t find any post-Christ incident where the disciples defended themselves or had weapons…..and they had plenty of reasons to use them. Like I mentioned to Robert, I think there’s a context and meaning that we’re not seeing with that verse (Luke 22:36).

      Good thoughts. I enjoyed reading this. :)

  4. Realist says:

    While I am not a Christian, I do want to thank you for being thoughtful about this subject. One point that I can’t agree with you on is that “Both sides are being thoughtful”. In my opinion, large numbers of people do not think deeply about issues such as the gun debate. They tend to go with what seems to be the “correct” answer on the surface without fully and logically considering the matter.

    My conclusions in the gun control debate are quite different than yours. I do have a deep respect for life but killing an assailant to protect my life or other peoples lives is permissible for me. At Sandy Hook, it took police time to respond which allowed the killer more time to shoot children. If the teachers had been trained, armed and willing to kill a killer, it’s possible that many lives could have been saved. In my opinion, willing, responsible teachers should be trained and armed so they have the capablity to help protect our children.

    • Matthew says:

      Thanks for your comments and thoughts.

      While I disagree, I believe your points are valid. I just believe that if there were no guns used in last week’s school shooting, then there would of been far less deaths.

      • Sadly you’re incorrect. On the same day as the tragedy at Sandy Hook there were 20 school children slashed to death in China. Yes the daeth toll is slightly lower but the consequenses for the children are the same, they’re dead. Perhaps a few adults could have been saved? While that would be amazing and wonderful it doesn’t change that evil can and does do tremendous damage even without a firearm. You should take alook at Israel’s school violence statistics, they’re some of the lowest and they arm the teachers. Also, 2 of the most gruesome and “worst” school massacres in history occured in Europe, sans firearms.

        Thanks for the thoughtful piece, I appreciate your opinion. As a Christian I strongly disagree with you and believe Jesus expects us to protect our children and families from the evil in the world.

      • Ron Pogatchnik says:

        Very good.

      • Matthew says:

        FLMom:
        According to this article (http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/121214/knife-attack-at-chinese-school-injures-22-children), they were slashed, not killed.

        Also, comparatively, how often does this kind of thing happen in contrast to massacre-by-gun? I’m not saying that massacres are not happening at all by any other weapon. I am just saying that they are happening less than when guns are involved and the damages are less, even slightly. 20 kids cut is better than 20 kids dead.

        Also, again, pre-meditated murder is almost impossible to stop. If someone wants to kill bad enough, they will. Gun control (1) will make it a little harder to kill as easy and as many people and (2) help stop local crime and fatal accidents.

      • Ryan says:

        He could have easily killed many people with a machete, car, or a homemade explosive, so should we ban everything that is capable of causing harm? I guess we should cut down all the trees because a baseball bat could have easily taken out quite a few children. Oh, but then he wouldn’t have killed as many, so that’s OK. I’m not sure which side is more naive: liberals or fairy tale story followers. I’m being a bit sarcastic here, but the point is clear:

        Those willing to give up liberty for temporary security deserve neither.

      • Matthew says:

        Ryan,
        A few things:

        1. I’m not a liberal. Really.

        2. As I have said in the post and many times in these comments, premeditated murder is almost impossible to stop. People who want to kill will find a way to. All we can do is try to stop those that aren’t premeditated and to try to limit the damage when they are premeditated. That’s exactly what the above “China slasher” story shows. Same day, same type of pre-meditated murder, except in China, no one died. That should matter to us; at least enough to start discussing whether we need gun control (instead what we are currently doing and calling people names).

        3. Regarding “those willing to give up liberty for temporary security deserve neither.”:
        Liberty does not equal preference. You can defend yourself by many means. The limit of just one of those means doesn’t mean we no longer have liberty. And we’re not talking about temporary security. We’re talking about something that will take a while to implement and we may not see dramatic effects until our children have kids in school. I admit that gun control is not the only issue that needs to be addressed, but it is something that can be addressed right now while we work out all the other issues that are contributing to murder (as a whole, not just these premeditated ones).

  5. Ron says:

    What about the idea behind the 2nd amendment? In numerous cases throughout history, disarming a population was the first step in their government attacking them. You mention having “government watched ranges”, which I personally find very scary. We need less government, not more.

    • Matthew says:

      I would argue that most 1st world nations have very strict gun laws and have not seen the effects that you have described here. Personally, I find the thought of evil government instituting martial law to not be realistic enough to ignore all these people being killed.

      Also, and again, there are other forms of protection that can be used. And if you want to keep guns in case of a government take-over, they won’t help much against tanks, planes, and bombs if (God-forbid) it came to that.

      Just my opinion about the matter.

  6. Ron Pogatchnik says:

    It is simple enough. We live is a vicious world. Jesus did not say that we should turn the other cheek in all cases. If he did then the other half of the world that is Muslim would have made Christianity extinct by now. Had any of those heros that died trying to protect the children been armed the outcome may have been different. Christians want to earn their way to heaven by living a godly life. Muslims want to earn their way by killing infadels. The police in this country never prevent murder. They just show after it all goes down. I wish to carry a weapon to protect myself from evil people.I do not believe assault weapons should be allowed. Any person that thinks they can take on the government in this country and win is insane. But, then again look at hte rebels in Syria. There is no easy answer to this. God gave man free will and I am afraid (sure) man will destroy himself using it.

    • Matthew says:

      Ron,
      There is no verse in the Bible that says “turn your cheek…..but not in every scenario”. Again, most believers went to their grave because of these words that Jesus spoke.

      I also don’t think Muslim vs Christian history is favorable for your view (think “Crusades”).

      I definitely agree that the government can’t fully stop these things, but we should ask them to try. :)

  7. Sandra says:

    Thank you for this posting. While I am not a christian, I am spiritually committed to living with an open heart. What I notice is that when I choose to open my heart to other human beings, even though they may hurt or wound me, that I gain a benediction of heart and spirit that lives in love, that is connected to other souls, and from which life is an incredible blessing even while it’s true I could be harmed or killed. It’s a transcendent experience. I notice that when I am too afraid to do this and I close my heart and focus on protecting myself, the whole world changes. That world is indeed “vicious” because then all I can see is that which might harm me, to see only the threats and not the rest. I become hardened, paranoid, fearful, bitter and violent. There is indeed no easy answer! If I am only focused on preparing for the worst humanity can offer, then I have no vision or capacity for the best. Where I am putting my attention is where and what I become. Sometimes as human beings we do need something outside ourselves to hold us steady enough to perhaps develop the inner “muscle” of trust needed. If it is not something religious (and I think Ron’s post says exactly why that is NOT working in the world) then I believe gun regulation would help.

  8. Thomas says:

    Mathew, You sound like someone who is struggling with a large issue and it is. Let me remind you that Jesus told his disciples to arm themselves for protection from evil first reality. They didn’t allways take up arms but individuals and the government both arm themselves for the greater good whether it is protection for you family or protection from anothe country that would war against you. Both of these have legitimate reasons for being and purposes that have been ordained in scripture. The conflict is between what is reasonable as relates to personal liberty / responsibilty and governmental interference / regulation, and the effect they will have on society?
    To fight evil within is our response to God and it effects how I behave with others. To fight evil in society we should be armed as a last resort to protect what we are responsible to God for, ourselves, family, and community at large. You are responsible to know how and when to use the force that needs to be used. There are no easy answers to this question but I am not inclined to give up more of my liberties so that simple minded peolple can FEEL better about a problem that is not really solved at all!

    • Matthew says:

      Thanks for reading and commenting Thomas and for your kind words. I agree with much of what you said. I think I can’t justify purely scripturally this statement you made:

      To fight evil in society we should be armed as a last resort to protect what we are responsible to God for, ourselves, family, and community at large.

      That’s kind of the crux of the matter cause without that justification, we are preferring “gun fun” over people’s safety.

      • Thomas says:

        Mathew, I probably am not writing clearly, but the “gun fun” is not what I am talking about. It is about our liberties and responsibilty of having and using guns.
        We have been given the charge to not only instruct our children but to protect them. Can we do that 24/7 no, but at no time are they not are ours to protect. To leave them in this day and age at a place like school for the amount of time they spend there and not have a reasonable expectation for them to be safeguarded until we have them in our care again is what this debate is over as to how to effect the most reasonable outcomes. We cannot prevent all or protect all life as much as we would want to and still have any real liberties. Gun control laws are not the answer protection of children and how to best do it is! Declaring a gun free zone is a joke , and having the police minutes away is not working. I suggest someone who can protect our children effectively at schools is the starting point see how unarmed protectors are not very effective.

      • Matthew says:

        Sorry Thomas, I think I wasn’t that clear. What I was saying is that without any scriptural support (actual NT verses and chapters) proving that Jesus calls us to protect our family from violence with violence, then the only reason to have a gun is for preference or fun. That’s what I dealt with, particularly on the “Christian’s Debate” and “Guns Kill The People That People Kill” points.

        I *personally* don’t find that the Bible supports or negates the use of firearms in this present day. The New Testament’s words on violence tend to place the emphasis on “be harmless as doves” and “don’t strike back”. In reality, that’s where the crux of the matter is. Does Jesus allow protective violence in the life of a believer?

        Regarding our ability to fight evil: I wrote about this (kind of) here: http://manchesterfamily.wordpress.com/2008/08/16/mercy-the-beginning-of-true-change/

        I talked about how God asked me “do you really think you can do more in your flesh than you can do in the place of prayer asking Me to intervene in this situation?”

        Many times we look to fix the situation ourselves by force. Recent global history has shown us that force doesn’t usually work to fix a problem.

        ————–

        Again, this Sandy Hook incident is a poor example since premeditated murder is almost impossible to stop. But there are murders that happen everyday close to where we all live that could be stop if guns were taken out of the scenario.

  9. Matt, you have one again given a very thoughtful analysis of how you see this issue.

    I am glad that you post stuff like this, you really do make a lot of sense. I really do agree with the majority of this article, and have given me something to think about.

    There needs to be a dialogue once emotions subside a bit about gun control. Emotion never leads to productive conversation, or sound debates either.

    • Matthew says:

      Totally agree Chris. I wish our leaders would set a future date and say “on this day, we’re going to look at the entirety of the issue — guns, mental health, policies, school safety, etc.” What’s been happening is they’ve been postponing the talk and never addressing it. How long has it been since Aurora? Sometimes it helps to get things at least started before they become a forgotten memory.

      Thanks for the comments.

      • That makes sense. Though we the people of the United States either 1) Have a short attention span, usually lasting as long as the media covers something, or 2) Worry about what Snookie is up to this week. -__-

        #firstworldproblems

  10. Matthew says:

    Kinda surprised I haven’t got a comment stating “criminals will just buy weapons on the black market and the only ones who will be gunless are the ones obeying the law.”

    No offense, if you think this…..I don’t think you know how the black market works. It’s not Walmart.com. :)

  11. warren says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful post. I too am a Christian, and a bit dishearten by the ‘2nd Amendment, right to bear arms’ being treated as scripture. Thanks again.

  12. Bill in NC says:

    Unfortunately, chemical sprays have not proven as effective as promised.

    Tests have shown a prospective assailant can still draw and fire a weapon after being doused with pepper spray, which explains why tasers are now the choice of law enforcement.

    But ultimately, access control was the failure that resulted in so many deaths in this instance.

    The gunman easily accessed the first few unlocked classrooms, but after that he found the other classroom doors locked and so chose to commit suicide when confronted by police.

    Our small private school requires classroom doors be locked in session, which paid off last year when a mentally ill local person was roaming the halls shouting “it’s all lies!” – he was not able to enter any classroom.

    Per code these are fire-rated doors, mounted in metal frames (no one’s kicking them down)

    • Matthew says:

      I think your ideas on security by locked doors and such are great. It’s another thing that can be done that, when added to the other things, it will make our schools more safe.

  13. 1215 says:

    If I limit my perspective to the individual self protection level, then all of Matthew Manchester’s logic is good. However, the founding fathers put that 2nd Amendment in place for an entirely different reason, a reason that prevents wholesale slaughter of Americans.
    If you only count the unarmed citizens murdered by their own governments during the 20th Century, it tallys up to 170,000,000. That’s more than the combined total of all other unnatural deaths such as wars, private murders, and accidents.
    Uncontrolled governments are always murderous.
    The real purpose of the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with self protection on an individual level. It has to do with balancing the power between the government and the people.
    In “Animal Farm”, George Orwell portrays how “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Lord Acton also expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”
    Thomas Jefferson said, “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”
    Good government is what you have when you have a good balance of power between the People and the Government.
    That is why the 2nd Amendment exists. I do not want to see another 170,000,000 people killed by their own government during the 21st century.

    • Recent events and history point to the fact that weapons used in revolution only escalate the violence in the conflict, look at Syria and Lybia. Yet in Egypt (and Poland in the 1980’s) there was no similar blood shed, because a violent revolution necessitates a violent response. You can point Pal Pot, and Cambodia, yet it was not the lack of arms but the maniacal ruler. Look at Sadam Hussein, he used chemical weapons on civilians, what level of arms are you advocating? In America the tyranny of racial segregation was overturned not with weapons, but civil disobedience.

      The founding fathers were overly focused on the conflict with England, and the French revolution when discussing the need for arms to protect against a tyrannical governments. Yet when the governments can direct the use of chemical weapons, scuds, and air strikes, the effectiveness of a AR-15 Bushmaster Semi-Automatic pales in comparison. (there is no Balance of Power)

      There is not a modern example of a civil war without significant casualties. Yet recent history shows that non-violence can and does overthrow despots.

      Christianity, needs to be different, a reliance on arms is not our salvation, or our source of ‘Liberty’. God had heaven armies to save Christ, but instead showed the power of sacrifice.

  14. Mary Sue Abbott says:

    Is it possible the most critical issue relating to guns is that manufacture and sales of firearms is a hugely profitable business? Businesses want to make and sell any product the public will buy without regulations concerning quality or safety. Any controls affecting the kind or number of guns sold to any individual interferes with profit. This strong ideology that has always been present in republicanism keeps me a democrat. The far right makes many sounds about family values but the most important human value Jesus addressed was greed. Too many very regular church attending Christians who “sing the loudest and pray the most” would rather talk abortion, homosexuality, prayer in school (while abandoning our public schools and trashing dedicated teachers) than about the real teachings of Jesus. Greed is at the core of all sin and the issue of money making in the gun industry is the sin we don’t address. The hunter and the home protector can acquire adequate weapons and we can certainly frustrate more effectively the ability of the deranged to acquire a Bushmaster. If our military and law enforcement are effective in protecting us they are necessarily going to have the weaponry to overwhelm us. We can’t all have access to nuclear warheads. That means we must be intelligent, well informed voters to practice the best self defense.

    • Matthew says:

      While I believe that the gun business should be profitable, I don’t think they should be allowed to lobby. I think that is the crux of your argument. The people who profit from guns sales shouldn’t get a voice in the debate. That’s my personal feelings about it.

  15. I have been researching this issue a lot lately as I am very much against gun control, but not so much as protection from criminals, but from tyranny. I do believe that Jesus was referring to vengeance more than self defense in the sermon on the mount, but then again I read your article because I am seeking answers, but here is my other concern. If Jesus was so against violence where does that leave someone like me who is in the Army and has gone to war twice for this country? Also if Jesus was against violence, why would his disciples even carry swords? A sword serves no purpose but offense and defense. A spear and knife are valuable weapons against wild animals and usable tools, but a sword is simply an implement of war. I realize that Jesus told Peter to sheath his sword when he was arrested, but Jesus also knew at the time that he was sent to us to die for our sins, so obviously he would not allow Peter to interfere when it was time. Also there is a difference between living by the sword and maintaining one for defense.

    • I guess I phrased that wrong, yes he was clearly against violence, I should have said weapons of war, or in modern times a proponent of gun control.

    • Matthew says:

      Thanks Bill for your comments and those are some great questions.

      As for the “why would the disciples carry swords?” question: I’m not sure. I wonder if it was something cultural that Jesus slowly trained them out of. Again, outside of that one verse in Luke, you never hear them carrying or using swords anywhere else in the NT…and they had plenty of reasons to.

      As for being in the Army and violence, first of all THANK YOU for your service! My brother is in the Army, so you are in my prayers as well. Secondly, I (personally) believe that there is a difference between violence committed for national/war reasons and ones committed for personal reasons. David killed many people in war. It wasn’t till he killed a few in a non-war setting that God took issue with it. Same with his top commander. Those are just my thoughts on the matter. It would take another blog post to go through it all. lol

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s