How should a Christian view gun control?
Every time there is any kind of mass shooting, debate over gun control is revived. Some want to ban citizens from owning guns entirely. Others only want to find a way to prevent unstable people from acquiring guns. The argument seems to go: if criminals and unstable people did not have guns, they would not be able to kill people, or at least not kill as many people. But, is that true? And, if it is true, is making guns illegal, or much more difficult to acquire, the best solution?
Undeniably, guns are very convenient weapons for someone who is seeking to kill people. However, there are suicide bombs, planted bombs, knife attacks, acid attacks, etc., that demonstrate there are other choices, just as concealable, and even more deadly. If a psychotic individual wants to kill people, he/she can find a way, with or without a gun. Since the very beginning of humanity, people have been killing other people (see Genesis 4). Taking guns out of the equation would not, ultimately, solve the problem.
A friend of mine who lives in a country with very strict and successful gun control laws recently informed me of how many people in that country have been killed in knife and bomb attacks in recent years. It is staggering. The state-controlled media suppresses the news, so it is not widely known. (I am intentionally not mentioning the country in which he resides for his own protection.) This demonstrates that guns are not ultimately the problem. People are the problem (Romans 3:10-23).
At the same time, since we clearly have a people problem, or more accurately a sin problem, what should be done to prevent evil people from doing great harm? What sacrifices should good people be willing to make in order to make it as difficult as possible for evil people to acquire the ability to commit mass murder?
Romans 13:1-7 instructs us to submit to the governing authorities. Whatever nation you live in, you should submit to your government’s laws regarding gun ownership. In the United States of America, it is legal to own guns, as long as you go through the proper legal process. Citizens of the United States should obey these laws.
Most other nations in the world have more restrictive gun laws than the United States. Based on Romans 13, those nations are within the authority God has given them to restrict gun ownership. The Bible does not command that guns be owned. Therefore, it is within the authority of the government to determine what restrictions, if any, should be placed on gun ownership. Should the United States of America one day ban gun ownership through constitutional means, the new laws should be obeyed.
But, let me say it loud and clear, banning guns in the USA would be an extremely bad idea. Criminals, by definition, do not obey laws. Psychotic mass murderers do not obey laws. With the proliferation of guns in the United States, if citizens were banned from owning guns, it would only be law-abiding citizens who would obey — precisely the people we want to have guns. Criminals would keep their guns. Psychotic mass murderers would still find ways to acquire guns. There would simply be fewer people with the ability to stop or deter them.
The vast majority of gun owners in the United States of America have never harmed another human being using a gun, and never will. People use guns for hunting, for sport, or for an absolute last resort in self-defense. The fact that criminals use guns to commit crimes does not mean guns are the problem. Criminals are the problem. If all the guns in the world were taken away, criminals would find new ways to rob convenience stores, commit muggings, terrify people, and commit horrible atrocities and mass murders. No, gun control is not, in and of itself, the answer.
It is interesting, and important, to note that while incidents of mass murder via gun violence in the USA have increased dramatically in recent years, it is not due to guns suddenly becoming available. Guns have been readily available in the USA for most of its history. Something else has changed in the culture that is leading people to commit these horrible actions. We have to ask ourselves an important question. Why is it that only recently did people start committing mass murders at schools, bars, concerts, and shopping centers? Again, the guns have always been around. So, what changed? Those who are proposing gun control measures need to think about this. And, those who oppose any additional gun control measures need to realize that whatever has changed in the culture, this change plus the availability of guns is a volatile combination.
There is another side to this issue that needs to be addressed. I have heard many Americans describe gun ownership as a God-given right. Some of them will point to Luke 22:36, in which Jesus instructed the disciples to buy swords. Jesus’ instructions were for a specific purpose at a specific time. To say that His words give human beings the right to own any sort of weapon at any time for any reason is a serious stretch, to say the least. No, gun ownership is not a God-given right. The extreme hostility from some gun owners to any attempt by the government to limit gun ownership or restrict what types of guns can be purchased is not biblical. Reasonable proposals that attempt to prevent potentially dangerous individuals from acquiring guns should be seriously considered.
"It’s a slipperly slope! If we allow them to implement _______, next they will try to _______!" This is a valid concern. But, if _______ is the right thing to do, if it will prevent even one mass murder, or even it if it will reduce the casualties in a mass murder by one, it is worth implementing. What if that one is a family member, friend, or you?
So, what is the answer? Logistically, I don’t know. It is not the purpose of this post to advocate for any specific changes or additions to gun control law. I just want gun control advocates to understand that guns are not the entirety of the problem. And, I want those who oppose any additional gun control measures to be more open to something being done.
Spiritually speaking, people need Jesus. People need a biblical worldview. People need to value life. People need to forgive.
S. Michael Houdmann
How should a Christian view gun control?