The news cycle following a mass shooting is predictable. Thoughts and prayers are offered, outrage and demands are expressed, and the cable news stations fill up time with people yelling for or against gun control. The week after Parkland has been no different. Yet, the narrative heats up after each successive shooting, and pressure is mounting on those who defend gun ownership rights. To my knowledge, none of the big-name evangelical organizations, pastors, or leaders have come out to support gun restriction legislation. But in this age of capitulation and manipulation, it’s just a matter of time before we see high-profile articles advocating Gospel-centered gun control. The zeitgeist has spoken, and many will scurry to fall in line.
We all know political conservatives have a vested interest in protecting gun ownership rights—what with the Second Amendment and all that. However, political conservatism and Christianity are not the same thing, significant overlap notwithstanding. The question is this: Do Christians have any unique reasons for supporting gun ownership rights? We do not have a biblical command to secure the right for a people to bear arms. Therefore, this issue falls under the category of wisdom. Is it wise to protect gun ownership rights? Can we reason from the Bible to say so? Yes, for at least the following three reasons.
First, Christians affirm the doctrine of human depravity. At first blush, this doctrine seems to push us toward gun control to mitigate the deprave actions of individual people. But if we think corporately, not just individually, then we see that one consequence of human depravity is oppressive governments. Depravity can be institutionalized in a wicked, authoritarian regime and weaponized against its own citizens. And while people assume that violent oppression cannot happen here just because we are America—presumably people who have read neither the Bible nor a history book—the doctrine of depravity itself teaches us it can. Our humans are no less depraved than those of any other nation. Our forefathers, well acquainted with the darker aspects of human nature, enshrined a protection against a tyrannical government in the second amendment to our constitution. Honoring the wisdom of our fathers, we should not give up that protection so easily. An armed public is a significant deterrent to an overreaching and oppressive government, which is a perennial threat because of human depravity.
Christians should be clear on this point. One of our primary interests in gun ownership rights, in addition to protecting our families, is protecting our citizenry from tyrannical government. Hunting and sport shooting are often brought into the gun control debate—you don’t need an AR-15 to hunt!—but this is a distraction. When this argument is made, the proper response would be to shrug and say, “So what?” We support second amendment gun ownership rights for the same reason we support the separation, checks, and balances of powers: we do not trust Americans. Why? Because of human depravity.
Second, we are commanded by our Lord to love our neighbor. This command has two applications here. One, armed citizens are equipped to love their immediate neighbors in the event of a mass shooting (or any other violent crime). While it’s not foolproof, good guys with guns can indeed stop bad guys with guns. A second application is this: we ought to love our future neighbors—the generations that will follow us—by not disarming them against the perennial threat of oppressive government. We should not put our grandchildren at risk because we came down with a bout of the sentimentalities and couldn’t resist peer pressure. President Trump may not be literally Hitler—as the leftists call the man they inexplicably want to give all our guns to—but that does not mean that such a figure could not rise to power in the future of our disintegrating republic. As Professor Kirke may have said half to himself, “History! Why don’t they teach history at these schools?” Part of loving our future neighbors is not stealing their ability to protect themselves.
Third, Christians, of all people, know that we must deal with the root of sin, not just the fruit. Or, to change the agricultural metaphor, it is not enough to just cut a weed; you must uproot it to prevent it from coming back. Banning or significantly restricting gun ownership is the equivalent of trimming back a few weeds. It is ineffectual. Are our imaginations so stunted that we cannot fathom any other causes for the outbreak in mass violence besides the presence of guns? Do we not see the roots? Fatherlessness, psychotropic drugs, Darwinism, you-can-be-whatever-you-want-to-be-ism, and a culture of death. Until we deal with these and other issues, we will never solve the epidemic of violence in our country. As cathartic as it may be, howling for gun control legislation will not actually assuage our guilt and remove from us the curse of violence. Only Jesus can do that. But when Jesus shows up, He does not settle for halfway measures. Gun control won’t cut it. We need full-out repentance. Down to the root. Down to the heart.
I pray that Christians everywhere will mourn with the victims in Parkland. We ask that God’s comfort and tender mercy be given to those who have suffered so much there. At the same time, let’s not give in to the spirit of the age, and let’s not be ruled by sentimental emotions. Instead, let us be resolute in resisting evil men, even by bearing arms. And then, may we remember that our ultimate trust is not in chariots, horses, or rifles, but in the name of the Lord our God.