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The Constitution and the Christian – Gun Rights

Here’s my 2 cents worth on the whole gun issue, as if there’s not enough opinion out already. I’m going to go the extra mile and annoy both sides, so read it to the end.

From a political perspective, the current broo-ha is spectacularly ill-thought out. It’s the definition of mob mentality. Politicians and activist want to ban semi-automatics like the AR-15 and other so-called “assault rifles.” But there’s no such thing as a semi-automatic assault rifle. There are assault weapons – I know because I shot at people with them – but they were never semi-automatic only. I’m convinced that the only reason these “assault rifles” are being targeted is because they look scary. That’s it. Personally, I think the AR-15 is a hobby toy that makes people feel cool. There are other legal weapons that could have been far more devastating in a club than the low power, low caliber Sig Sauer that was used in Orlando. But I guess a person looks a lot scarier with a gun that’s faux military, so ban it.

And would banning “assault weapons” fix the problem? Should we abandon this line of mitigation just because it’s not 100% effective? That’s a straw man. The real question is: At what level of ineffectiveness should we cease trying? Because we did this once already. “Assault weapons” were banned in 1994. The bill was allowed to expire in 2004 because it had no effect whatsoever.

There are middle ground areas, like putting all semi-automatic rifles under the 1934 National Firearms Act. Passed to keep mobsters from getting automatic weapons, it has strict requirement for ownership, like fingerprinting, approval of a local sheriff, registration, etc. This is more like what Canada has. Personally, I don’t think that this type of regulation will fly with the American public, though it would be worth a… ahem… shot.

And that brings us to the 2nd Amendment. The purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to provide for an armed people, in the case that if it becomes “necessary to alter or abolish” a government. I absolutely agree that an AR-15 is a terrible hunting weapon. But the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with hunting. In fact, if keeping with spirit of the amendment, the American public is woefully under-armed compared to its government. Some may argue that the 2nd Amendment only applies to militias (though today’s National Guard is a far cry from the municipal militias of the 1770s). However, the Supreme Court ruled against this interpretation in District of Columbia v Hellar, and frankly, the amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, regardless of the reason for it. But the reason is valid. The purpose of maintaining state militias after 1788 was to protect against overreach of the U.S. federal government. That falls in line with the Declaration of Independence’s justification of rebellion against Britain, and with current interpretations for the right to own semi-automatic weapons. The 2nd Amendment is a core part of our government; included in the Bill of Rights, demanded by Patrick Henry, and strongly supported by Jefferson. A simple examination of other writings at the time of the drafting of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights will strongly support this.

The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.

Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (1787).

Ok, with all that being said, here’s my Christian viewpoint:

I think the American Revolution was an unjust war, fomented and supported by a wealthy elite who wanted to maintain the trade advantages of salutary neglect. I’m not saying that they thought of it this way, but the blood of thousands was spilt over a political position on trade. It was hardly a war of self-defense or an attempt to stop rabid aggression and destruction.

The social conditions that generally are supposed to lie behind all revolutions—poverty and economic deprivation—were not present in colonial America. There should no longer be any doubt about it: the white American colonists were not an oppressed people; they had no crushing imperial chains to throw off.

Gordon Wood, The Radicalism of the American Revolution (1991)

On the other hand, there’s a chance that if we hadn’t rebelled the British could have ended slavery much sooner and with no bloodshed, as they did in their other colonies. Our rebellion and the idea that we should overthrow unjust governments by force have been the seed of much conflict in this country.

There is also no justification for rebellion in scripture. The opposite, in fact. We are to obey those who God allows to be in authority over us. “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,”1 Christ said, and “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”2 Paul wrote, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God,”3 and “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”4

For a Christian, we don’t have a dog in this fight. We already know what we should do, and it doesn’t include shooting other people in a civil war. So from that perspective, it doesn’t really matter if the 2nd Amendment stands or falls. “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.”5 Our constitution is the example of the Lord Jesus Christ. You may ask about self-defense, but I don’t think that the right to own a handgun is going to be an issue for a while, and even in that case, our ultimate protection is the will of God. Betsie ten Boom once said, “There are no ‘ifs’ in God’s world. No places are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety.”

So what is our calling? We are to be lights and salt. We should never excuse the sin around us, and especially not our own, but we should also follow Christ’s example of love to the lost. He told the mob, “He who is without sin cast the first stone,”6 but he told the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more.”7
The world is only going to become more corrupt. It is the nature of man. Our time is limited, and the time of those souls without Christ is limited. Let our actions be focused on eternity without distraction.

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. Romans 13:11-14


  1. Mark 12:17 []
  2. Matthew 5:10 []
  3. Romans 13:1 []
  4. Romans 13:7 []
  5. Hebrews 13:14 []
  6. John 8:7 []
  7. John 8:11 []

2 Comments on "The Constitution and the Christian – Gun Rights"

  • Vicki Marchman says

    Well said. I know I have hung on the fence, one side of me supports people’s right to own guns and at the same time a spirit inside me that tells me that this is just a security blanket some people need. I once owned a gun and realize that it was not sound idea for the particular time. A couple of bad experiences made me give up my gun. I will never say never but I do not intend to own one again. I do not want to infringe on other rights, just to help them see reason and the risks they infer when owning a gun. My gun became a security blanket for me. Now with all the technology there are many ways to make a home safe as it can be. It does not have to be expensive either. A gun is no guarantee unless you are the thought police and know when something is going to happen. If you have keen ears, do not sleep heavy and can get to your gun in time, then it might help you otherwise you probably just gave a weapon to the one you were trying to protect yourself against. I love the presentation you made and hope that the conversation will continue to be civil. I just have trouble picturing Christ carrying a gun. There are arguments even within scripture about carrying a weapon, I have heard them too. For me I will be as smart as possible about my safety but in the long run I will trust Christ.

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