Up until very recently, while I never really liked guns, I supported the right to own them, granted by the second ammendment of the U.S. Constitution. In other words, while I myself never intended on owning a gun, I never really had a problem with other people owning them. My rationale for this is the same for many issues: I don't want the government making decisions for me. I don't want the government to control what I see or what I do. I want to be in control of my own decisions, and, by extension, that means I want other people to be in control of their own decisions as well. So, naturally, I didn't want the government to restrict the ownership of guns either.
But that is now no longer the case. In the past two weeks, there have been two major shootings, and if you look at the number of mass shootings that have occurred in the United States 1, you will be deeply saddened by how long the list is, and it's only May. The fact that civilians can own guns in the United States has resulted in a massive loss of life, and I am very troubled by this.
So, the main reason I no longer support the second ammendment is because people do bad things with guns. Not all people, of course, but too many. But as I have been thinking about this issue more, I've come up with another reason as well, and it is that I cannot think of any moral reason to own a gun. While I know that the vast majority of gun owners are not a threat, I simply don't see the value in allowing guns to remain in this country. Many normal—by that I mean not homicidal—gun owners justify their gun ownership by claiming they are a necessary insurance for self defense. But is self-defense a moral reason to take the life of or seriously injure another human being?
I don't think so. At least, not according to the Christian worldview. No Christian in good conscience can use a gun against another person, because no matter how evil they may be, their right to life is no less than our own. Jesus didn't say "smite thy enemy if he smite thee," in fact he said just the opposite:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if a man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
— Matthew 5:38-41
So I have good reason to believe that there is no Biblical commandment to violent self defense. This is not to say that we have no right to self defense at all; on multiple occasions in Acts, we see Paul defending himself, but he does so with words, not with physical violence, even when physical violence is done to him.
The Bible makes it very clear that murder in any scenario is wrong, even that of self defense. Exodus has many examples:
He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall surely be put to death.
— Exodus 21:12
And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.
— Exodus 21:15
And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand; he shall be surely punished.
— Exodus 21:20
What gets really interesting is the laws about livestock, though. Not only is a human being forbidden from killing another, but an animal is also killed if it kills a person, and in some cases, the owner of that animal should be put to death too:
If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit. But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.
- Exodus 21:28-29
Again, these passages in and of themselves are not to say that Christians can't defend themselves. But they do say that we should be incredibly wary of the use of violence. Violence should be an absolute last resort, and in the vast majority of cases, is not necessary at all. The Bible also makes it clear that we are to submit to authority, which is something that politically conservative people—the same people that want to own guns—really struggle with. And indeed, I too have struggled immensely with this.
I won't copy the verses themselves here, but here are a number of references that point to places in the Bible where violence is prohibited, or submission to authority is required. Just to be clear, this is only a few:
Christianity involves living a moral life. Because of the goodness of Jesus Christ, we can do nothing but serve him.
I'm not saying that the government should abolish all guns, just like I've never said the government should abolish infanticide. But I am saying that we need to judge our hearts and consider our ways. We must be wise, and follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not call us to be violent, or overthrow authority. He did not tell us to take up weapons so that we might strike down anyone that gets in our way, even if they threaten to take our property or even our lives.
We are to live peacefully with all. There is very real loss in our country that I mourn, and I realize that it would not have occurred if we didn't cling so tightly to our supposed right to bear arms. Just because we have the legal right to do something, does not mean it is morally right to do it. The Constitution of the United States is not a moral authority. It was not written by Christians, and it is not at all a Christian document. It is foolish of us to assign the same moral authority to the Constitution that we do to the Bible. When the two conflict, the Bible must take precedence, no matter the cost. Even if it costs your life.
I am so very sad for the families that are paying such a high price for our nation's problems. We have a lot of mentally ill people—many of which became such during the pandemic when everything was locked down—and a lot of guns, and that is not a good combination. I do think that we need to look into mental health, and we do need to make it a priority, but we can also remove guns, so that mentally ill people are not so dangerous. And ultimately, what we really need as a nation is to refocus ourselves on God. We have strayed far from our intended purpose, and as a result, we are suffering immensely.
Up to date as of the date of this blog post: List of Mass Shootings in the United States in 2022 ↩
© 2019-2023 Jordan Bancino.