For Christians, Gun Control Should Be a No-Brainer. Why Isn’t It?

Again, I awake to news of an inexplicable mass shooting, people gunned down in the most mundane of places, this time a movie theater. Again, I read the same worn arguments from anti-gun control folk, who insist that a legally armed citizen might have stopped alleged gunman James Holmes before he killed a dozen people. Again, I wonder if this time the ready availability of firearms in our country will become a topic of thoughtful discussion rather than a mere blip in the news cycle. And again, I wonder why Christians aren’t bringing the same dedication to talking about guns as we do to other issues, notably abortion and homosexuality.

When it comes to gun violence, Christians too often either say nothing, or parrot a conservative political position embodied by the NRA and others who, all evidence to the contrary, insist that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens are more likely to prevent senseless violence than enable it. (Some far-right Christian folk insist on the right to arm themselves against a government intent on destroying religion and oppressing its citizens.)

The gun-wielding-citizen-as-protector ideal is nonsense. Police officers go through hours of specialized training to help them discern when the use of deadly force is justified. As we know from not a few front-page tragedies involving police shootings, despite such rigorous training, even the best-trained officers don’t always get it right. Yet we want to believe that an armed citizen with a few hours of practice on the shooting range will be able to make split-second judgments well enough to ensure that the only people who end up dead are the bad guys. We don’t have to look any farther than an early February morning in a Florida gated community to know that such a belief is sadly misplaced.

Perhaps some well-meaning gun-toting citizen could have stopped James Holmes before he murdered a dozen people. Or perhaps that gun-toting citizen would have been perceived as a threat and gunned down by the police (or another gun-toting citizen). Perhaps that citizen, shooting in a dark theater of panicked people instead of on a quiet shooting range, would have missed the target and upped the death tool to 13 or more. Perhaps he or she would have accidentally killed a teenager with nothing more threatening on him than a box of Skittles.

Christians ultimately look for guidance not only to common sense, but to Jesus and God as portrayed in Scripture. On issues of sexuality and babies, Jesus and the Bible can be a bit murky. Yet Christians consistently speak on these issues with certainty and passion. In contrast, Jesus was crystal clear on the question of whether violence is an acceptable response to violence, on whether arming ourselves with fists or swords or guns is the way to protect ourselves from fists and swords and guns. Nonviolence—turning the other cheek, keeping your sword in its scabbard even under threat, loving your enemy—is a centerpiece of Jesus’s gospel.

And yet Christians (at least, the conservative Christians who frequently represent our faith, however incompletely, on the national media stage) have largely been silent on guns for more than a decade, as the front-page stories have piled up—lone gunmen able to give deadly voice to their rage, alienation, and mental illness by mowing down fistfuls of human beings in seconds, because they could easily obtain weapons that make such fast and furious violence possible.

For about 18 months, I was a regular contributor to a women’s blog hosted by Christianity Today, the premier magazine for evangelical Christians. In January 2011, I told the blog editor that I would like to write something about guns in response to Jared Loughner’s shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others in a Tucson supermarket. The editor was hesitant, but said she would read and consider what I wrote.

I sent this essay* to my editor, and received an enthusiastic e-mail back, in which she praised me for writing a piece that not only put a clear feminine spin on the tragedy, but also raised the issue of gun control gently. On a Thursday afternoon, she wrote, “I’ll post this first thing in the morning.”

That Friday morning, I opened up the blog and found, instead of my piece on the Tucson tragedy, a review of a year-old book about dating. When I e-mailed the editor to ask what happened, she said she had decided to show my post to some higher level editors, who killed it. She quoted them as saying that they felt they “cannot win” on the gun-control issue with their evangelical readership.

Huh. I didn’t realize that winning was the goal of our Christian witness to a violence-saturated, self-absorbed, consumer-driven culture.

My guess is that the editors really meant, “We might lose subscribers if we post an article suggesting that it might be time to reconsider a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines designed to mow down as many human beings as possible in the shortest possible time.” (My tenure as a Christianity Today blogger, by the way, ended eight months later, when editors, tipped off by some particularly venomous commenters, read things I had written on my own blogs and decided that my views were not sufficiently pro-life for their evangelical readership—the term “pro-life” applied solely, of course, to a particular view on abortion rather than a broad concern with how we treat and interact with other human beings, including those on either end of a pointed gun.)

Gun control is not about winning or politics or fantasies of well-played vigilante justice. It’s about taking weapons of mass murder out of the hands of those who would use them for ill (such as James Holmes) as well as those who would use them for good but possess the universal human capacity to screw up (such as George Zimmerman).

Gun control is about following the One who didn’t leave us a clear road map for issues around babies and sex (which doesn’t stop us from preaching our own positions on these topics as God’s will), but left no question about how his people are to respond to violence. We are to put aside our weapons, even when our instinct is to use those weapons to protect the people who are most precious to us.

From Matthew 26:

While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

And those who live by the gun—who look to guns to protect us from guns—will die by the gun. Again and again and again. Until we decide we’ve had enough.

 

 

* You’ll note that my January 2011 essay is quite a bit more measured about gun laws than this one is. Partly, that’s because I originally wrote the 2011 essay for a conservative audience and was seeking common ground. Partly, that’s because in light of the continual occurrence of mass shootings and the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case, I’m becoming more and more concerned with what guns are doing to our citizens and our nation, even in the hands of law-abiding folk.

About Ellen Painter Dollar

Ellen Painter Dollar is a writer focusing on faith, parenting, family, disability, and ethics. She is the author of No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Faith, and Parenthood in an Age of Advanced Reproduction (Westminster John Knox, 2012). Visit her web site at http://ellenpainterdollar.com for more on her writing and speaking, and to sign up for a (very) occasional email newsletter.

  • http://www.kewp.blogspot.com Katherine

    Thank you for this – though I’m in the choir on this issue. I wish this could be read by those whose minds and hearts must be changed. I’m completely appalled that the original piece was killed. I’m having a hard time finding hope that rational gun control will ever be established if the NRA has succeeded in turning it into something Christianity Today can’t even address evenly.

    Such a senseless tragedy in so many ways.

  • Marcie

    “I’ve seen a lot of people talking about how more increased access to guns would stop shootings like in Colorado. I have yet to see discussion about how increased mental health funding would have a similar effect.”
    My 25 y/o nephew Jonathan posted this on his facebook page. He has a very valid point.

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      Absolutely agreed Marcie. Thanks for adding that.

  • Miriam

    Whoa, given your usual measured tone, this is pretty intense for your style of blogging.

    Of course, I totally agree. I don’t know if you know this or not, but historically there was no problem between the idea of gun control and the 2nd Amendment, the NRA turned the entire thing into a black and white issue for their own political gain.

    You should really check out an article written by Jill Lepore called “Battleground America” that was in the April 23rd issue of The New Yorker, it was very insightful on all this.

    I know this is going to sound depressing, but since the other all rate of violent crime has been pretty low for the last 20-25 years or so, I think that saps the energy out of having any real progress on the gun control issue. (Like abortion) the conservative side has turned the entire issue into a zero sum game with no room for compromise in any form. How does anyone work with that? Until the overall rate of violent crime goes up (not just the occasional, high profile mass shooting) there will just not be the political will to do anything. We have these shootings because we culturally tolerate them in favor of “gun rights.”

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      I think you’re onto something with the crime rate. Sad, isn’t it?

  • http://www.revangiem-n.com Angie Mabry-Nauta

    Well done, Ellen. So glad you stayed true to yourself, risking even being released from writing for her.meneutics. It seems that Christians who are vocally pro-gun are choosing the second amendment of the Constitution for their canon (no pun intended) on this topic, and not Scripture. Hmm…I feel a blog post coming on…

    Peace to you, sister!
    Angie

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      Thanks Angie! If you write something on your blog let me know!

  • http://1sealover@comcast.net Terri Kraus

    There’s lots of things for Christians to ponder here related to this issue. However, I must point out that Jesus and the Bible are not “murky” on the issues of sex and babies. Quite the contrary. And I also need to stress what, to Christians, should be the obvious: that more than any of the big problems we are facing, the biggest one we have is a SIN problem. Unless we address the spiritual problem of individuals, and our rebellion against God as a people, the solution for which Christ’s death and resurrection achieved, we can legislate all we want and there will be no hope of redeeming our culture. Furthermore, I wonder how Jesus, who, as you have pointed out, was all for non-violence, feels about the fact that 50 millions babies, in a most violent act, have been aborted legally since 1973. As Christians we believe that every human life is precious—the 12 that were killed on Friday as well as those 50 million, all created in the image of God and loved by him, and whom I mourn equally.

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      Thanks for reading Terri! When I say that Jesus was murky on sex and babies, I meant this: Jesus said loads of explicit and practical things about violence and violent weaponry (as well as about poverty and the responsibility of those who have for those who have not). He said nothing explicit or practical about homosexual relationships or abortion. So I think we as Christians have a much better “excuse” if you will for disagreeing over legislative concerns related to the latter issues than the former. He simply didn’t tell us what he thought about gay marriage or abortion, whereas he told us what he thinks about violence as a tool quite clearly. I have written extensively elsewhere about why I am a pro-choice Christian and also why I think reproductive ethics is a murky area for Christians, requiring gracious conversation rather than position-based preaching, so I won’t go into that here any further, except to say that one factor that makes abortion a murky one for me is that every abortion involves at least two of God’s precious children, not just one.

  • http://theradicaljourney.com/2012/05/18/only-kill-the-bad-man/ Tim

    Ellen, you have hit on so many good points here. Gun ownership and gun use is not a panacaea for combatting violence in society. Did you see the article I wrote on lethal self-defense over at Nick’s place, The Radical Journey? (I linked it through my name above.) It’s purely about self-defense and not defense of others, but it speaks to much of the spiritual aspect of taking a life. (One of the comments there said that in order to love the aggressor I should kill him. Some theology, that.)

    It’s especially interesting to me that you posted this today, because just yesterday I spoke on a related topic. I was filling the pulpit for a friend who’s on vacation and preached on Psalm 137, the one that ends with a call to bash Babylonian babies against rocks. I pointed out that calling for vengenace and justice under the Old Covenant is one thing, but that Jesus did not come to bash anyone against the rocks under the New Covenant. As Paul explained, our battle is not against flesh and blood.

    Blessings,
    Tim

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      I’ll go read your Radical Journey piece, Tim. Thanks for letting me know, as well as sharing a tidbit from yesterday’s sermon.

  • Dave

    > who, all evidence to the contrary, insist that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens are more likely to prevent senseless violence than enable it.

    What “evidence to the contrary”? Guns in the hands of 6 million law-abiding Jews would have prevented their senseless murder in the Holocaust. That’s why Hitler was a big proponent of gun control, outlawing Jews from owning guns in 1938.

    • Smith

      Amen, Dave!!!

    • Miriam

      oh yes, please let’s trot out that tired old horse of Nazis and Hitler.

    • Dave

      Hitler was not ‘a big proponent of gun control.’ Germany already had gun control laws by the time he came to power. His modification of these laws to prohibit gun ownership by Jews was his sole contribution to gun control legislation. He had no further interest in gun control.

      It’s easy to talk about ‘guns in the hands of 6 million Jews’ and forget (a) most of them were women and children, (b) all of them were civilians, (c) very few of them had any training in the use of firearms, (d) they weren’t all conveniently living in one place, (e) there was simply no way of procuring 6 million guns to arm an entire ethnic minority (where could they have bought that much firepower? where would they get the money?), and (f) even if this had been possible it could not have been done without alerting the authorities.

      The Jewish uprising in Warsaw shows that even when the Jews were armed, they had no hope of resisting a professional army.

  • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

    To quote from one of my other articles on this topic:

    “Statistics make clear that private citizens’ guns are much more likely to be used in a homicide, suicide, or accidental shooting [than in defense of self or others]. Gun-control advocates cite FBI and Centers for Disease Control data indicating that there are about 200 legally justified self-defense homicides each year, compared with more than 30,000 gun deaths.”

    That would be actual evidence based on the scientific method, as opposed to your truly bizarre hypothetical argument.

  • Dave

    > To quote from one of my other articles on this topic

    Please quote your actual source, not yourself. For example, in quoting yourself you only mentioned “200 legally justified homicides”, but the real information of interest is “number of homicides prevented because the intended victim had a gun to defend themselves”.

    > your truly bizarre hypothetical argument.

    It is not truly bizarre, nor is it hypothetical. Hitler outlawed Jews from owning guns in 1938. Hitler then killed 6 million defenseless Jews.

    In 1929 Stalin implemented gun control, then killed 20 million defenseless Russians.

    In 1935 China implemented gun control, and by 1987 45 million defenseless Chinese were killed.

    • http://theradicaljourney.com/2012/05/18/only-kill-the-bad-man/ Tim

      Seems post hoc ergo propter hoc to me, Dave. May be causative, maybe not. And allowing those populations to possess weapons does not mean the weaponry would have been powerful enough or widely enough available to avail against a standing army.

      Blessings,
      Tim

      • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

        And not only a standing army, but also an industrial murder complex. While I’d love to think that Jews with guns could have brought that complex down, I’m afraid the nature of the Holocaust genocide makes that difficult to believe.

    • Dave

      Dave,

      >>
      In 1929 Stalin implemented gun control
      >>

      Can you tell me what form this took? It certainly didn’t involve a blanket prohibition of firearms. Please provide details of the legislation enacted in 1929 so we can see exactly what Stalin achieved. Note that Russians never had the right to bear arms in the first place, and most of the population was poor, so it’s unlikely that gun ownership had reached significant numbers by 1929.

      >>
      then killed 20 million defenseless Russians.
      >>

      How do you know they were defenceless? Your claim presupposes that 20 million Russians were disarmed by Stalin’s gun control legislation and would otherwise have been capable of resisting the entire Soviet army, but where is your evidence for any of this?

      The same applies to your claim about China. Where’s the evidence to support this? What form did the legislation take?

      Australia has had gun control for about a century, but we’re still perfectly free, and enjoying life in one of the safest democratic countries on this planet. How do you explain that?

      • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

        Just wanted to thank you, Dave #2, for adding some common sense to this conversation.

  • Dave

    > more than 30,000 gun deaths.

    Here is a link to an article on the topic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States

    Of the 31,224 firearm-related deaths in 2007, only 12,632 were homicides, the rest were suicides.

    Compared to about 13,000 homicides per year, guns were successfully used about 64,000 times per year in self-defense, resulting in the only 200 legally justified self-defense homicides you mentioned.

    If those 13,000 homicide victims had had guns, then most of them wouldn’t have been homicide victims.

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      Not sure where your 64,000 self-defense use numbers are coming from.
      You have no evidence to back up the “If those 13,000 victims…” statement. It is not possible to prove things that didn’t happen.
      I consider suicides to be problematic gun-related deaths, along with homicides—deaths that would occur at a much lower rate if guns were not so accessible.
      My data, as was clear in my original response, was from the FBI and the CDC.
      Your argument relies on correlation, which does not equal causation. Scientific method 101.

      • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

        Found the 64,000 figure. Sounds like that data is fairly questionable.

        The data showing that gun-related suicides and homicides are much more likely to occur in our gun-loving and gun-wielding nation than in other developed nations continues to be the most compelling data to me. And the idea that we live in a gun-wielding nation, so we should arm ourselves with guns to protect ourselves from gun wielders, is a circular argument. And to go back to my original premise, it’s simply not Christian. Jesus preached nonviolence and the tearing down of cultural ideals around redemptive violence. He did not preach self-defense (in its many guises) and told his closest friends to put their weapons away.

  • Dave

    > And allowing those populations to possess weapons does not mean the weaponry would have been powerful enough or widely enough available to avail against a standing army.

    From 1975 to 1979, Pol Pot was able to round up and kill over 2 million Cambodians, many suffocated by plastic bags over their heads, because Cambodia had strict gun control laws. I think law-abiding citizens armed with guns could easily defeat a standing army armed with plastic bags.

  • Dave

    > And to go back to my original premise, it’s simply not Christian.

    I don’t disagree with your original premise. I disagree with the part where you stated “all evidence to the contrary”. All evidence is not to the contrary. In fact, all of the mass slaughters of the past century (China, Russia, Germany, Cambodia, etc) occured where the law-abiding citizens were disarmed by gun control laws.

    • Dave

      Dave,

      >>
      In fact, all of the mass slaughters of the past century (China, Russia, Germany, Cambodia, etc) occured where the law-abiding citizens were disarmed by gun control laws.
      >>

      But you have not even begun to prove this. It’s just an unsubstantiated assertion, all based upon the ridiculous assumption that all of these countries had well armed civilian populations (demonstrably false) who were completely disarmed by gun control legislation (demonstrably false) and would otherwise have been capable of resisting professional armies despite being untrained civilians (demonstrably false).

  • Berean

    Every one seems to forget thatJesus also preached the right of self defense. Next to the bow and arrow, the sword would be the mid-east equivalent of a fire arm. Take note;

    “Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. ” Luke 22:36 (NKJV)

    Taking guns away from sane, safe, law abiding citizens will not eliminate tragedies like Aurora.
    This is a human heart issue.

    • Dave

      > Every one seems to forget that Jesus also preached the right of self defense. … “… and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. ” Luke 22:36 (NKJV)”

      In all my years as a minister’s son doing lots of Bible reading, I don’t remember ever reading that verse, but sure enough, there it is, Jesus advising his followers to arm themselves for self-defense because they will soon “be numbered among the transgressors”.

      I guess if Jesus thought swords were okay for self-defense, then that answers the question I was going to ask about anyone knowing if Jesus thought it would be okay to use weapons to defend others. I presume the answer is yes.

      • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

        Yes, but….

        So Jesus made clear it’s OK to use a weapon in self-defense. Fine. I have absolutely no issue with that.

        The problem is that our nation’s gun laws don’t stop with letting law-abiding citizens have a handgun to protect their families from intruders. Our politicians and citizenry, including Christians, have been unwilling to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines–weapons that have only one use (mass murder) and that are utterly inappropriate for a civilian setting in which self-defense rather than large-scale murder is the stated goal.

        “Taking guns away from sane, safe, law abiding citizens will not eliminate tragedies like Aurora.” – Actually, I’m pretty sure it will. Because not every gunman who goes on a shooting rampage has been identified as “insane” (and those who have been identified as mentally ill have nevertheless been able to obtain their weapons easily, a la Jared Loughner). By early accounts, the Aurora gunman obtained his weapons legally. Sorry, but I’d rather that law-abiding folk have to jump through a few more hoops and have their choice of weapon quite limited than wake up again to a headline about people being gunned down in the most normal and mundane of settings by someone exercising their constitutional right to own weapons of mass murder.

        As the old (not very funny joke) goes: Remember that time a guy murdered a dozen people and wounded 50 more in a movie theater with a bunch of knives? Yeah, me neither.

        It is reasonable for Christians to disagree about whether people should keep a handgun at home for self-defense (and whether they, as Christians, want to own a gun themselves). It is simply not reasonable for Christians to support the gun lobby in their effort (talk about insane) to ensure that nearly any citizen can get nearly any weapon they want.

        • Chris

          Ellen:

          First, I want to thank you for having the courage to talk about this issue in a public forum. I have been researching the topic of “Christian Gun Control” as it relates to my own life and have compiled the following:

          First the evidence. Keeping in mind that anything in the Bible is subject to interpretation and can be used by anyone to prove or disprove anything if one so chooses. I have gathered up these verses from various readings (both for and against gun ownership) in the hopes that I can weave a coherent picture on which further dialogue can take place.

          I am not taking a position of right or wrong at this point. Just compiling the facts as I have discovered them.

          Cases of Personal Injury
          Exodus 21:12-14
          12 “Anyone who assaults and kills another person must be put to death. 13 But if it was simply an accident permitted by God, I will appoint a place of refuge where the slayer can run for safety. 14 However, if someone deliberately kills another person, then the slayer must be dragged even from my altar and be
          put to death.

          There are a couple of things I find interesting about this passage.
          1. Murder is not condoned. By murder we are talking about the death of somone in a pre-meditated fashion whether that pre-meditation is the act of murder itself or as a result of another crime.
          2. The death of one person at the hands of another can be classified as an “accident” permitted by God. This to me seems to point to the “shooter” in our example, as an instrument of God. I am not implying that all “shooters” are the instruments of God or even that I know that God works this way, I am merely pointing out that the text seems to imply that God’s plan includes for the accidental death of another.

          Protection of Property
          Exodus 22:2-3
          2 [c]“If a thief is caught in the act of breaking into a house and is struck and killed in the process, the person who killed the thief is not guilty of murder. 3 But if it happens in daylight, the one who killed the thief is guilty of murder.

          The act of killing someone in defense of your property or family is justified. The delineation between night and day is noted to mean being able to identify the thief, as its harder to ID someone at night, when you may not have any available light.

          I don’t believe that the Word is saying in this instance that all day time break-in do not warrant lethal force. Obviously if the thief is armed and your life is at risk, you need to act. I do believe that it is implying in Daylight you have a better chance of determining and if you determine incorrectly you could be guilty of murder.

          Luke 11:21
          21 For when a strong man like Satan is fully armed and guards his palace, his possessions are safe— 22 until someone even stronger attacks and overpowers him, strips him of his weapons, and carries off his belongings.

          Jesus was challenging the religious leaders of the day that were saying he was driving out the demons in Satan’s name. I don’t think we should ignore the vicious cycle that these versus imply. There will always be someone stronger with more guns…etc. We should not assume because we can defend ourselves that we are not vulnerable, and therefore if armed should not be seeking to conquer others with are strength but instead use it for the protection of ourselves and others…defensively.

          Personal Defense
          Luke 22:36-38
          36 “But now,” he said, “take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! 37 For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’[d] Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true.”
          38 “Look, Lord,” they replied, “we have two swords among us.”
          “That’s enough,” he said.

          I think these versus are among the most used to make the case for and against gun ownership. I have read arguments both ways. A lot of folks take these passages at face value, some tie in other versus for and against.

          To me I see it this way. The sword was “the” killing weapon of the time. The fact that the disciples had them and Jesus never told them to get rid of them or that they wouldn’t need them, speaks volumes. A cloak was a pretty valuable asset to have in Jesus day, selling it would have been a big deal to the owner. This to me underscores the necessity of personal protection.

          People argue that a sword and a gun are not comparable, that the lethality of one is far greater than the other. To me thats just a way to divert attention away from the issue. A sword is just as lethal as a gun and vice versa. In the time prior to firearms a skilled swordsman could go on a killing spree if they so desired which could only have been stopped by another skilled swordsman engaging them.

          One other point, I would like to make is that no one seems to be concerned with the lethality of the bow and arrow or crossbow. Both of which when introduced to modern warfare changed the face of wars and proved to be incredibly effective at killing.

          Responsible Use
          Matthew 26:47-52
          Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested
          47 And even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. 48 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” 49 So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.
          50 Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.”
          Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 51 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.
          52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword.

          These versus also used quite a bit by those for and against gun ownership. It is clear the Peter did a “bad thing”. But was the bad thing owning a sword? I don’t think so. Jesus told him to put the sword back in it place (sheath), not throw it away.
          Clearly living by the sword (gun) is not a wise thing, as violence begets violence. However, there is not a direct correlation between gun ownership and increases in violence. In fact, studies indicate that increases in gun ownership actually lower incidents of violent crimes, as the guns act as a deterrent.
          It also important to point out, that in the history of the world, when great acts of evil have been perpetrated against large groups of people (Jews, Africans, Russians, Cambondians..etc…on back to the Bible) they have occurred after the regime has disarmed people. People that can’t defend themselves are easier to control and eliminate. In many instances, this occurred under the guise of peace…”trust the government for your safety, you don’t need your weapons anymore.” I think its a grave mistake to ignore history and assume because these great unspeakable acts have occurred in the past, that somehow we have moved beyond them. The Bible is pretty clear about the heart of man and the effects of sin on the world.

          John 18:11
          But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”
          Same verse as before, different writer. I think its interesting to see how each writer of the Gospel saw the situation.
          Again, Jesus tells him to put it away and then rebukes Peter for trying to stop what had to happen. (Jesus arrest and death)

          The Future
           Isaiah 2:4
          The Lord’s Future Reign
          2 This is a vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
          2 In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house
              will be the highest of all—
              the most important place on earth.
          It will be raised above the other hills,
              and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
          3 People from many nations will come and say,
          “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
              to the house of Jacob’s God.
          There he will teach us his ways,
              and we will walk in his paths.”
          For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion;
              his word will go out from Jerusalem.
          4 The Lord will mediate between nations
              and will settle international disputes.
          They will hammer their swords into plowshares
              and their spears into pruning hooks.
          Nation will no longer fight against nation,
              nor train for war anymore.

          A prophetic look into the future sees a time when there will be no more need of weapons.
          However, the inverse can be implied, that until that time, weapons are a necessary evil. Again, you have to take in the totality of scripture to connect these dots, because it would be far to easy to justify killing and war with these versus otherwise. That is to say, because the Lord hasn’t come it’s ok for there to be war and training for war. I am not saying that it is not, but there have been a number of wars who’s motivations for have been purely driven out of greed and control. The Word is not against war by any stretch of the imagination, but I am of the belief we should not go looking for it.

          Revenge
          Exodus 2:22-25
          22 “Now suppose two men are fighting, and in the process they accidentally strike a pregnant woman so she gives birth prematurely.[c] If no further injury results, the man who struck the woman must pay the amount of compensation the woman’s husband demands and the judges approve. 23 But if there is further injury, the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life, 24 an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, 25 a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.

          Matthew 5:38-42
          Teaching about Revenge
          38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’[p] 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile,[q] carry it two miles. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.

          By far, these versus are the most quoted when it comes to making a case against gun ownership. The argument goes something like this: Jesus is advocating pacifism and as a commandment we should lay down our arms and not defend ourselves, or there is no need to defend ourselves because God is in control.

          I included the verse from Exodus, where these teaching originated, to show that the intent of this versus deals directly with Personal Revenge and not self defense. Vengeance belongs solely to God and is not our right. The behavior that God wants from us is that of forgiveness.

          How God enacts vengeance is wholly another matter for a different discussion. However, I think that in modern times, guns are used as the means…among other things. While the thought of that may be distasteful, the reality is the Bible in many places…Old and New Testament portray God using violence as a means to enact his vengeance and justice. Jesus in the Book of Revelations is seen with a double edged sword coming out of his mouth and striking down the ungodly.

          To the argument of leaving everything up to God because he is in control, I say we have free will…and can use that to make wise and unwise decisions. Clearly if I can defend myself it might be stupid to do otherwise.

          Government Disarmament
          1 Samuel 13:9-22
          9 There were no blacksmiths in the land of Israel in those days. The Philistines wouldn’t allow them for fear they would make swords and spears for the Hebrews. 20 So whenever the Israelites needed to sharpen their plowshares, picks, axes, or sickles,[e] they had to take them to a Philistine blacksmith. 21 (The charges were as follows: a quarter of an ounce of silver[f] for sharpening a plowshare or a pick, and an eighth of an ounce[g] for sharpening an ax, a sickle, or an ox goad.) 22 So on the day of the battle none of the people of Israel had a sword or spear, except for Saul and Jonathan.

          These versus are just to punctuate what was said previously about Government Disarmament. The Philistines were afraid an armed Israel would be a threat.

          Images of God
          There are many instances in the Bible…too many to start listing…where the sword is used as imagery to describe God or something that God uses as a weapon or deterrent.

          Flaming sword guards the tree of life.
          God appearing with a sword strapped by his side.
          God using the sword to cleans Canaan (through the Israelites)
          God using the sword to cleans Israel (through their enemies)
          God using the sword to cleans Israel (by their own people…Exodus Golden Calf incident)
          Psalms of David – trains my hands for battle and fingers for war
          gives me strength to bend a bow of bronze

          I grew up with guns in my house and hunted when I was a kid. I owned a bow and arrow and used to shoot regularly in my yard in the field across from my house. I owned an air rifle and got very proficient at using it. To me that are tools that serve a purpose, of which self-defense is one of them.

          While I do agree that there are some stupid and evil people in the world that do not treat firearms with the respect they deserve and unfortunately horrible things happen as a result, the same thing happens with cars and drunk drivers.

          Do I think that Christians can own guns? I am a lot closer to yes than I was a week ago. Do I think its right for everyone? It’s a personal choice, and either way I respect whatever choice you come to. I do think that history has proven when a persons rights are taken away by the ruling government that it becomes a very slippery slope and in some cases has been the basis for unspeakable evil.

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    • Stephanie

      I totally agree… someone sent me a photo of a fetus and written on it was “Pretend I’m a gun and fight for my rights.” I agree with you Ellen but would like more scriptural evidence so that I can help my Christian friends realize this. I’ve spent some time researching and of course while I realize the Character of God speaks to the fact that Christians are making too big of deal out of the gun debate, I cannot find specific passages. I’d love input.
      Thanks

      • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

        You might be interested in the social media coalition I have started around gun issues. We have used several things that Jesus says in Luke 22 to support the idea that Christians ought to see armed protection as somewhat limited and secondary to other ways of promoting communal and personal safety. Here’s the page on my blog that explains this further: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/ellenpainterdollar/itisenough-coalition-on-gun-violence/
        Thanks!

      • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

        You might be interested in the social media coalition I have started around gun issues. We have used several things that Jesus says in Luke 22 to support the idea that Christians ought to see armed protection as somewhat limited and secondary to other ways of promoting communal and personal safety. Here’s the page on my blog that explains this further: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/ellenpainterdollar/itisenough-coalition-on-gun-violence/
        Thanks!

  • Grizzly Adams

    You asked a question and deserve an answer. Your question was why do (some) Christians not support gun control. The answer….
    It’s been tried many times and leads to disaster.
    Guns enable the weak and outnumbered to defend themselves, and others, from the strong and mighty. Gun control disarms the weak and law abiding.

    I find it interesting that, in the garden, our Lord told Peter to not use his weapon, but didn’t seem to object to him “packing” before that day.
    Perhaps, he would have thought there was nothing wrong with carrying a pistol, nor using it for defense, but would have advised not to use it for prideful retaliation, vengeance or extortion.

    Although I question the 200 number, even if true it would not surprise me. An attacker is motivated to succeed and will often use a weapon to accomplish his goals. A defender is simply interested in stopping an attack and doesn’t need to kill to accomplish his goal.

    An attacker will disengage once he realizes that what he thought was a pushover has teeth. Guns mean Grandma and a 200 pound aggressive attacker are on even ground. She doesn’t have to pull the trigger to prove her point.

    Finally, if, God forbid, I’m forced to take a life defending an innocent like Grandma I will gladly accept the consequences, in this life as well as the next.

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      Thanks for answering the question. It gives me some insights into the mindset of some Christians that I didn’t understand before.

      I still object to the mindset. Seems to me that Christ’s message of finding power in weakness was not about arming the weak (i.e., supplementing weakness with cultural notions of what makes for strength–muscle and weaponry) but rather about embracing the subversive power of turning cultural notions of strength on their head. Christ saved the world through the ultimate act of nonviolent retaliation in the face of violence. There’s got to be something in there for us to learn from, beyond the atonement for sin.

      I also think that when we look at human history, incidents of weaponry being used to further oppress and enslave the weak are FAR more prevalent than incidents in which the weak fought off their strong oppressors.

      A fundamental difference I’m noticing between me and Christians who support gun control is that I don’t subscribe to the fear that our government wishes to disarm us to oppress us. But hey, I’m a Democrat. What would you expect?

      Thanks for this. Lots to think about.

      • Smith

        I’m a Democrat and a staunch opponent of gun control. While I may not think our government would oppress us, gun control is still not the answer, becuase it will never keep criminals and crazies from obtaining guns.

        • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

          Maybe so, but that’s a pretty fatalistic way of seeing the rule of law in a civil society. There will always be drunk people who get behind the wheel, so let’s not bother with laws about drunk driving. There will always be speeders who don’t get caught, so let’s trash those laws too. Our laws against murder haven’t stopped murderers from killing, so what good are they?

          Might we at least TRY to make it a little harder for criminals and crazies to get their guns? And what about the folks who are neither criminals nor obviously “crazy,” that is until they unload their legally obtained automatic weapons in a theater full of people?

  • Chris

    Ellen:

    Apologies, I posted this first as a reply to someone else’s post.

    First, I want to thank you for having the courage to talk about this issue in a public forum. I have been researching the topic of “Christian Gun Control” as it relates to my own life and have compiled the following:

    First the evidence. Keeping in mind that anything in the Bible is subject to interpretation and can be used by anyone to prove or disprove anything if one so chooses. I have gathered up these verses from various readings (both for and against gun ownership) in the hopes that I can weave a coherent picture on which further dialogue can take place.

    I am not taking a position of right or wrong at this point. Just compiling the facts as I have discovered them.

    Cases of Personal Injury
    Exodus 21:12-14
    12 “Anyone who assaults and kills another person must be put to death. 13 But if it was simply an accident permitted by God, I will appoint a place of refuge where the slayer can run for safety. 14 However, if someone deliberately kills another person, then the slayer must be dragged even from my altar and be
    put to death.

    There are a couple of things I find interesting about this passage.
    1. Murder is not condoned. By murder we are talking about the death of somone in a pre-meditated fashion whether that pre-meditation is the act of murder itself or as a result of another crime.
    2. The death of one person at the hands of another can be classified as an “accident” permitted by God. This to me seems to point to the “shooter” in our example, as an instrument of God. I am not implying that all “shooters” are the instruments of God or even that I know that God works this way, I am merely pointing out that the text seems to imply that God’s plan includes for the accidental death of another.

    Protection of Property
    Exodus 22:2-3
    2 [c]“If a thief is caught in the act of breaking into a house and is struck and killed in the process, the person who killed the thief is not guilty of murder. 3 But if it happens in daylight, the one who killed the thief is guilty of murder.

    The act of killing someone in defense of your property or family is justified. The delineation between night and day is noted to mean being able to identify the thief, as its harder to ID someone at night, when you may not have any available light.

    I don’t believe that the Word is saying in this instance that all day time break-in do not warrant lethal force. Obviously if the thief is armed and your life is at risk, you need to act. I do believe that it is implying in Daylight you have a better chance of determining and if you determine incorrectly you could be guilty of murder.

    Luke 11:21
    21 For when a strong man like Satan is fully armed and guards his palace, his possessions are safe— 22 until someone even stronger attacks and overpowers him, strips him of his weapons, and carries off his belongings.

    Jesus was challenging the religious leaders of the day that were saying he was driving out the demons in Satan’s name. I don’t think we should ignore the vicious cycle that these versus imply. There will always be someone stronger with more guns…etc. We should not assume because we can defend ourselves that we are not vulnerable, and therefore if armed should not be seeking to conquer others with are strength but instead use it for the protection of ourselves and others…defensively.

    Personal Defense
    Luke 22:36-38
    36 “But now,” he said, “take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! 37 For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’[d] Yes, everything written about me by the prophets will come true.”
    38 “Look, Lord,” they replied, “we have two swords among us.”
    “That’s enough,” he said.

    I think these versus are among the most used to make the case for and against gun ownership. I have read arguments both ways. A lot of folks take these passages at face value, some tie in other versus for and against.

    To me I see it this way. The sword was “the” killing weapon of the time. The fact that the disciples had them and Jesus never told them to get rid of them or that they wouldn’t need them, speaks volumes. A cloak was a pretty valuable asset to have in Jesus day, selling it would have been a big deal to the owner. This to me underscores the necessity of personal protection.

    People argue that a sword and a gun are not comparable, that the lethality of one is far greater than the other. To me thats just a way to divert attention away from the issue. A sword is just as lethal as a gun and vice versa. In the time prior to firearms a skilled swordsman could go on a killing spree if they so desired which could only have been stopped by another skilled swordsman engaging them.

    One other point, I would like to make is that no one seems to be concerned with the lethality of the bow and arrow or crossbow. Both of which when introduced to modern warfare changed the face of wars and proved to be incredibly effective at killing.

    Responsible Use
    Matthew 26:47-52
    Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested
    47 And even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. 48 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” 49 So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.
    50 Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.”
    Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 51 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.
    52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword.

    These versus also used quite a bit by those for and against gun ownership. It is clear the Peter did a “bad thing”. But was the bad thing owning a sword? I don’t think so. Jesus told him to put the sword back in it place (sheath), not throw it away.
    Clearly living by the sword (gun) is not a wise thing, as violence begets violence. However, there is not a direct correlation between gun ownership and increases in violence. In fact, studies indicate that increases in gun ownership actually lower incidents of violent crimes, as the guns act as a deterrent.
    It also important to point out, that in the history of the world, when great acts of evil have been perpetrated against large groups of people (Jews, Africans, Russians, Cambondians..etc…on back to the Bible) they have occurred after the regime has disarmed people. People that can’t defend themselves are easier to control and eliminate. In many instances, this occurred under the guise of peace…”trust the government for your safety, you don’t need your weapons anymore.” I think its a grave mistake to ignore history and assume because these great unspeakable acts have occurred in the past, that somehow we have moved beyond them. The Bible is pretty clear about the heart of man and the effects of sin on the world.

    John 18:11
    But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?”
    Same verse as before, different writer. I think its interesting to see how each writer of the Gospel saw the situation.
    Again, Jesus tells him to put it away and then rebukes Peter for trying to stop what had to happen. (Jesus arrest and death)

    The Future
    Isaiah 2:4
    The Lord’s Future Reign
    2 This is a vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:
    2 In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house
    will be the highest of all—
    the most important place on earth.
    It will be raised above the other hills,
    and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
    3 People from many nations will come and say,
    “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the house of Jacob’s God.
    There he will teach us his ways,
    and we will walk in his paths.”
    For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion;
    his word will go out from Jerusalem.
    4 The Lord will mediate between nations
    and will settle international disputes.
    They will hammer their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
    Nation will no longer fight against nation,
    nor train for war anymore.

    A prophetic look into the future sees a time when there will be no more need of weapons.
    However, the inverse can be implied, that until that time, weapons are a necessary evil. Again, you have to take in the totality of scripture to connect these dots, because it would be far to easy to justify killing and war with these versus otherwise. That is to say, because the Lord hasn’t come it’s ok for there to be war and training for war. I am not saying that it is not, but there have been a number of wars who’s motivations for have been purely driven out of greed and control. The Word is not against war by any stretch of the imagination, but I am of the belief we should not go looking for it.

    Revenge
    Exodus 2:22-25
    22 “Now suppose two men are fighting, and in the process they accidentally strike a pregnant woman so she gives birth prematurely.[c] If no further injury results, the man who struck the woman must pay the amount of compensation the woman’s husband demands and the judges approve. 23 But if there is further injury, the punishment must match the injury: a life for a life, 24 an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, 25 a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a bruise for a bruise.

    Matthew 5:38-42
    Teaching about Revenge
    38 “You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’[p] 39 But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. 40 If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. 41 If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile,[q] carry it two miles. 42 Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.

    By far, these versus are the most quoted when it comes to making a case against gun ownership. The argument goes something like this: Jesus is advocating pacifism and as a commandment we should lay down our arms and not defend ourselves, or there is no need to defend ourselves because God is in control.

    I included the verse from Exodus, where these teaching originated, to show that the intent of this versus deals directly with Personal Revenge and not self defense. Vengeance belongs solely to God and is not our right. The behavior that God wants from us is that of forgiveness.

    How God enacts vengeance is wholly another matter for a different discussion. However, I think that in modern times, guns are used as the means…among other things. While the thought of that may be distasteful, the reality is the Bible in many places…Old and New Testament portray God using violence as a means to enact his vengeance and justice. Jesus in the Book of Revelations is seen with a double edged sword coming out of his mouth and striking down the ungodly.

    To the argument of leaving everything up to God because he is in control, I say we have free will…and can use that to make wise and unwise decisions. Clearly if I can defend myself it might be stupid to do otherwise.

    Government Disarmament
    1 Samuel 13:9-22
    9 There were no blacksmiths in the land of Israel in those days. The Philistines wouldn’t allow them for fear they would make swords and spears for the Hebrews. 20 So whenever the Israelites needed to sharpen their plowshares, picks, axes, or sickles,[e] they had to take them to a Philistine blacksmith. 21 (The charges were as follows: a quarter of an ounce of silver[f] for sharpening a plowshare or a pick, and an eighth of an ounce[g] for sharpening an ax, a sickle, or an ox goad.) 22 So on the day of the battle none of the people of Israel had a sword or spear, except for Saul and Jonathan.

    These versus are just to punctuate what was said previously about Government Disarmament. The Philistines were afraid an armed Israel would be a threat.

    Images of God
    There are many instances in the Bible…too many to start listing…where the sword is used as imagery to describe God or something that God uses as a weapon or deterrent.

    Flaming sword guards the tree of life.
    God appearing with a sword strapped by his side.
    God using the sword to cleans Canaan (through the Israelites)
    God using the sword to cleans Israel (through their enemies)
    God using the sword to cleans Israel (by their own people…Exodus Golden Calf incident)
    Psalms of David – trains my hands for battle and fingers for war
    gives me strength to bend a bow of bronze

    I grew up with guns in my house and hunted when I was a kid. I owned a bow and arrow and used to shoot regularly in my yard in the field across from my house. I owned an air rifle and got very proficient at using it. To me that are tools that serve a purpose, of which self-defense is one of them.

    While I do agree that there are some stupid and evil people in the world that do not treat firearms with the respect they deserve and unfortunately horrible things happen as a result, the same thing happens with cars and drunk drivers.

    Do I think that Christians can own guns? I am a lot closer to yes than I was a week ago. Do I think its right for everyone? It’s a personal choice, and either way I respect whatever choice you come to. I do think that history has proven when a persons rights are taken away by the ruling government that it becomes a very slippery slope and in some cases has been the basis for unspeakable evil.

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      Chris –

      Thanks for this review. It is truly helpful. And thanks also for your tone.

      “While I do agree that there are some stupid and evil people in the world that do not treat firearms with the respect they deserve and unfortunately horrible things happen as a result, the same thing happens with cars and drunk drivers.” – The thing is that with guns, the statistics consistently show that privately owned guns are MUCH more likely to be used for “horrible things” (homicide and suicide) than for good (self-defense). So although drunk driving is a serious problem and our car accident injury and fatality stats are higher than they should be, the stats indicate that you’re much more likely to drive your car to and from your destination safely than get hurt or killed by a drunk driver.

      We can argue all day about how guns SHOULD be used. I’m arguing that the way they ARE used should be a serious wake-up call to Christians who should give a rip (a big, big rip) about the culture of violence we live in, and how guns enable that culture to kill too many people for no good reason at all.

      • Chris

        Ellen:

        Thanks for the reply. This is obviously a hot button issue for everyone, Christians and non-Christians.

        I think its important to delineate the difference between responsible gun ownership vs non-responsible ownership. I am sure you have heard the quote…and its probably in this thread someone…”Gun’s don’t kill people, people kill people.” It may sound trite and cliche, but the reality is that the issue is intent, not the method of carrying out the intent. Do guns make it easier? It’s debatable. The 911 terrorists hijacked 4 planes with only box cutters and killed 2996.00 people. The truth is that if someone is bent on going on a kill spree they are going to use whatever means they can, be it gun, knife, bomb, poison…etc.

        I also think what is lost in the mix here is that criminals and gangs have various means to acquire guns legally and illegally…sometimes from our own Government! I have doubts as to whether gun control is going to be able to effectively disarm the “bad guys”. And lets say, just for the sake of argument, that a gun control law was past that guaranteed there were no guns available to anyone other than the Government. What would the criminals do? Find another means to carry out their crimes. Home invasions would likely rise as criminals would know they weren’t going to get shot and could take the house with clubs or knives. Sure you may have a better chance at fighting back, but at what cost?

        Here is a link to a very well done paper entitled: “DOES GUN CONTROL REDUCE CRIME OR
        DOES CRIME INCREASE GUN CONTROL?” http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj26n1/cj26n1-6.pdf This study, like may other studies, come to the same conclusion.

        I went to a Christian college and took a course on Theodicy (the Justness of God). Before I entered that course I was pretty much clear on what I thought….naively clear. At the end of the course I was left with more questions than answers, but one thing was clear…the problem of evil.

        Many moons have past now and I have two small children. If put in the situation where I have to defend them by taking a life, I will not hesitate to do so…be it with a gun, a stick or my bare hands. I want to have the right to defend them the best way that I can with whatever means necessary. I don’t want to leave the decision of the means in the hands of someone else who is “supposed” to have my best interest at heart, when the criminals don’t give a rip about laws, gun control or otherwise. I would rather meet my adversary on a level playing field.

        Again, each one of us has the right to choose our course. We don’t have the right to dictate the rights of others. In the end, it is I who stand before the Lord and give account for my life.

        Thanks again for the courage. This is a tough issue and the answers are not black and white. Just to be far, here is a video from a police incident in Annaheim that took place yesterday I believe.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZV3iyMz470

        No matter who it is, governement or civilian, lethal force can be used for good or evil…even by the “good guys”.

      • Scott

        Yea, just like forks and spoons enable people to get fat. Considering the epidemic of obesity in this country maybe we should ban those too….

  • Dave

    > Our politicians and citizenry, including Christians, have been unwilling to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines–weapons that have only one use (mass murder) …

    False. Mass murder isn’t their only use. If an oppressive state has assault weapons, then assault weapons are the best defense that civilians have against oppression by the state.

    > … and that are utterly inappropriate for a civilian setting in which self-defense rather than large-scale murder is the stated goal.

    Jesus didn’t command his disciples to arm themselves for a civilian setting. He commanded them to arm themselves to defend against state oppression: “… if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.” Luke 22:36-37

    > Seems to me that Christ’s message of finding power in weakness was not about arming the weak …

    Seems to me that Christ commanded his disciples to arm themselves.

    > I also think that when we look at human history, incidents of weaponry being used to further oppress and enslave the weak are FAR more prevalent than incidents in which the weak fought off their strong oppressors.

    That’s obviously true, because
    Strong oppressors = have guns.
    Weak oppressed = not have guns, i.e. law-abiding citizens disarmed by gun control laws.

    Christ commanded his disciples to get swords, therefore he didn’t want them to be weak and oppressed.

    > But hey, I’m a Democrat. What would you expect?

    Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, and the Democrats, teach a gospel of gun control, thereby disarming law-abiding citizens and making them weak against oppression.

    Christ teaches a gospel of arming yourself to defend against oppression.

    We think everyone should for pray for the souls of those misguided Christians who place the teachings of man and party above the teachings of Christ.

    • http://keriwyattkent.com/soul/?p=1161 Tim

      “Christ teaches a gospel of arming yourself to defend against oppression.”

      No he doesn’t. If we are called to do anything regarding armament as his followers, it is to put on the armor of God not guns. (Eph. 6:10-18.) Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the dark forces of this world and the spiritual powers in the heavenly realms. (Eph 6:12.) Christ’s gospel is the gospel of peace, where a lamb triumphs by virtue of being slain. (Rev. 59-12.)

      To turn Christ’s gospel into a message of arming ourselves against oppression is a severe misunderstanding of that gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. Even more, it’s heresy. That’s not to say someone can’t come up with a good argument for lethal self-defense, but to say that doing so fulfills the gospel of Christ is just wrong.

      Blessings,
      Tim

      • ymoore

        Thanks, Tim. I see your post is in July 2012. It’s January 2013 now and 20 5 to 6-year-olds and six of their teachers were killed in another mass shooting in Connecticut in December. President Obama is putting forth legislation that would require background checks for all gun purchases. The NRA is countering by calling him everything but a child of God.

        To Dave, I can understand people having differences of opinion, but why do you have to pin your opinion on Jesus? Just say what you mean, and if it’s opposite of what Jesus taught, then just say, “I don’t agree w/Jesus on this matter.” To pick up a verse where Jesus, who is about to be arrested and soon crucified, is warning his disciples of the dangers ahead, and twist that verse into a Christian call to arms is just so pernicious. In the Luke 22 Scripture you cite, the disciples pull out two swords and Jesus says, “Enough.” Now, Dave, you’re a good assault-weapons loving, fight the government type of guy. Jesus was facing the Roman Empire. Could two swords beat the Roman Empire? Jesus’ “Enough” couldn’t possibly have been an affirmation of TWO LITTLE SWORDS as a defense against the Roman Empire! That “enough” was his frustrated reaction to the disciples, once again, misunderstanding what he was talking about — after all their years together. Apparently, folk called by Jesus’ name are still misunderstanding him — and often quite willfully. The notion that in this one verse Jesus meant to reverse all that he lived and taught during his 3-year ministry is more than mind boggling. It’s a strong desire to believe a lie.

        • ymoore

          One more thing, Dave, in that same chapter you kept quoting, one of the disciples uses one of the two puny swords they have and cuts off the ear of one of the folk in the group that came to arrest him. Jesus touches the man’s ear and heals him. From Luke 22:

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          The Message (MSG)
          The Passover Meal

          22 1-2 The Feast of Unleavened Bread, also called Passover, drew near. The high priests and religion scholars were looking for a way to do away with Jesus but, fearful of the people, they were also looking for a way to cover their tracks.

          3-6 That’s when Satan entered Judas, the one called Iscariot. He was one of the Twelve. Leaving the others, he conferred with the high priests and the Temple guards about how he might betray Jesus to them. They couldn’t believe their good luck and agreed to pay him well. He gave them his word and started looking for a way to betray Jesus, but out of sight of the crowd.

          7-8 The Day of Unleavened Bread came, the day the Passover lamb was butchered. Jesus sent Peter and John off, saying, “Go prepare the Passover for us so we can eat it together.”

          9 They said, “Where do you want us to do this?”

          10-12 He said, “Keep your eyes open as you enter the city. A man carrying a water jug will meet you. Follow him home. Then speak with the owner of the house: The Teacher wants to know, ‘Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ He will show you a spacious second-story room, swept and ready. Prepare the meal there.”

          13 They left, found everything just as he told them, and prepared the Passover meal.

          14-16 When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, “You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It’s the last one I’ll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God.”

          17-18 Taking the cup, he blessed it, then said, “Take this and pass it among you. As for me, I’ll not drink wine again until the kingdom of God arrives.”

          19 Taking bread, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, given for you. Eat it in my memory.”

          20 He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.

          21-22 “Do you realize that the hand of the one who is betraying me is at this moment on this table? It’s true that the Son of Man is going down a path already marked out—no surprises there. But for the one who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man, this is doomsday.”

          23 They immediately became suspicious of each other and began quizzing one another, wondering who might be about to do this.

          Get Ready for Trouble

          24-26 Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest. But Jesus intervened: “Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It’s not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant.

          27-30 “Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner? You’d rather eat and be served, right? But I’ve taken my place among you as the one who serves. And you’ve stuck with me through thick and thin. Now I confer on you the royal authority my Father conferred on me so you can eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and be strengthened as you take up responsibilities among the congregations of God’s people.

          31-32 “Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat. Simon, I’ve prayed for you in particular that you not give in or give out. When you have come through the time of testing, turn to your companions and give them a fresh start.”

          33 Peter said, “Master, I’m ready for anything with you. I’d go to jail for you. I’d die for you!”

          34 Jesus said, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, Peter, but before the rooster crows you will have three times denied that you know me.”

          35 Then Jesus said, “When I sent you out and told you to travel light, to take only the bare necessities, did you get along all right?”

          “Certainly,” they said, “we got along just fine.”

          36-37 He said, “This is different. Get ready for trouble. Look to what you’ll need; there are difficult times ahead. Pawn your coat and get a sword. What was written in Scripture, ‘He was lumped in with the criminals,’ gets its final meaning in me. Everything written about me is now coming to a conclusion.”

          38 They said, “Look, Master, two swords!”

          But he said, “Enough of that; no more sword talk!”

          A Dark Night

          39-40 Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives. The disciples followed him. When they arrived at the place, he said, “Pray that you don’t give in to temptation.”

          41-44 He pulled away from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?” At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.

          45-46 He got up from prayer, went back to the disciples and found them asleep, drugged by grief. He said, “What business do you have sleeping? Get up. Pray so you won’t give in to temptation.”

          47-48 No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a crowd showed up, Judas, the one from the Twelve, in the lead. He came right up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said, “Judas, you would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”

          49-50 When those with him saw what was happening, they said, “Master, shall we fight?” One of them took a swing at the Chief Priest’s servant and cut off his right ear.

          51 Jesus said, “Let them be. Even in this.” Then, touching the servant’s ear, he healed him.

        • http://timfall.wordpress.com/ Tim

          Thanks ymoore. You can see what I wrote on the Connecticut shootings if you like here (Ellen is the one who prompted me to get this post back on line) and here (a very short comment on the aftermath of the tragedy).

          Tim

  • Dave

    > No he doesn’t. … (Eph. 6:10-18.) … (Eph 6:12.) … (Rev. 59-12.)

    Yes he does. The verses you cite are not the words of Christ. What Christ said was:

    ““… if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.” Luke 22:36-37

    > Even more, it’s heresy.

    First, accusations of heresy. Next, burning of the heretics. Several oppressive states started that way.

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      Sorry Dave. I’m sticking with the Jesus that preached strength in weakness, redemption through sacrifice, valuing the least of these, and that “those who live by the sword will die by the sword,” not the one about arming ourselves to protect ourselves. I’m afraid your gospel of self-protection-focused armed defense will ultimately lead to more front-page stories about the massacres of innocents in a movie theater, or grocery store, or preschool, or the many other places where our culture of guns has had the upper hand.

      And I find it strange that you are fingering Tim for accusing you of heresy, despite the fact that you have accused those who feel differently than you do of heresy (“I pray for the misguided Christians….”). Interesting that his accusation portends cultural collapse while yours is just good Bible-informed common sense.

      • Dave

        > I’m sticking with the Jesus that preached strength in weakness …

        Where did he ever preach “strength in weakness”? I’d appreciate citations to his actual words. I’m of course familiar with his teachings about interpersonal relationships (blessed are the meek, turning the other cheek, etc), but I can’t recall him ever recommending “strength in weakness” against state oppression.

        > “those who live by the sword will die by the sword,”

        Law-abiding citizens who arm themselves to defend against state oppression are not “living by the sword”. Hopefully, they will never have to use their sword. It is the oppressors who “live by the sword”, and if the law-abiding citizens are armed, then the oppressors will “die by the sword”.

        > … you have accused those who feel differently than you do of heresy …

        I didn’t accuse you of “heresy”; I accused you of being “misguided” for placing the gun control teachings of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, and the Democrats, above Christ’s teaching: “… if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.” Luke 22:36-37

        • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

          Good gravy Dave. Surely you know your scripture better than this response indicates.

          “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – This is, of course, Paul, not Jesus, but I’m speaking on the assumption that as Christians we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ as interpreted by Paul and canonized by Scripture.

          Jesus, of course, told parable after parable, and had interaction after interaction, in which the weakest folk (children, sick and mentally ill people, the poor) as opposed to the strong (people with money, power, and weapons) were conduits for the spirit and exemplified the peaceable kingdom. Whereas the folk who used their strength, authority, and weaponry to protect and promote themselves and their way of life were consistently portrayed as being out of touch with God’s purposes.

          Jesus was the target of “state oppression.” He didn’t just preach about responding to state power nonviolently, he did it. And thus showed us the ultimate power in weakness, in the resurrection after he was executed by an oppressive state. His disciples wanted to respond to that “state oppression” with violence (the sword in Gethsemane) and he said, “Nope. Not what I’m about, brothers.”

          Honestly, if you don’t get “power in weakness” from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then you and I are clearly living out a very different faith.

          • Dave

            > This is, of course, Paul, not Jesus …

            In other words, Christ Himself did not preach “strength through weakness” against state oppression. What Christ actually said was: “… if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.” Luke 22:36-37

            > He didn’t just preach about responding to state power nonviolently …

            Apparently, He didn’t preach at all about responding to state oppression nonviolently, because you haven’t provided a citation to His actual words.

            > … and he said, “Nope. Not what I’m about, brothers.”

            No, that’s what you say he said. What Christ Himself actually said was: “… if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.” Luke 22:36-37

            > then you and I are clearly living out a very different faith.

            Yes. I follow the teachings of Christ as quoted in the Gospel. I’ll continue to pray for those misguided Christians who place the gun control teachings of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, and the Democrats, above the teachings of Christ Himself.

          • Smith

            See below from Ron Rhodes

            THE BIBLICAL CASE FOR SELF-DEFENSE. It is noteworthy that the Bible records many accounts of fighting and warfare. The providence of God in war is exemplified by His name YHWH Sabaoth (“The LORD of hosts”–Exodus 12:41). God is portrayed as the omnipotent Warrior-Leader of the Israelites. God, the LORD of hosts, raised up warriors among the Israelites called the shophetim (savior-deliverers). Samson, Deborah, Gideon, and others were anointed by the Spirit of God to conduct war. The New Testament commends Old Testament warriors for their military acts of faith (Hebrews 11:30-40). Moreover, it is significant that although given the opportunity to do so, none of the New Testament saints–nor even Jesus–are ever seen informing a military convert that he needed to resign from his line of work (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 3:14).

            Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus revealed to His disciples the future hostility they would face and encouraged them to sell their outer garments in order to buy a sword (Luke 22:36-38; cf. 2 Corinthians 11:26-27). Here the “sword” (Greek: maxairan) is a dagger or short sword that belonged to the Jewish traveler’s equipment as protection against robbers and wild animals. A plain reading of the passage indicates that Jesus approved of self-defense.

            Self-defense may actually result in one of the greatest examples of human love. Christ Himself said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:14). When protecting one’s family or neighbor, a Christian is unselfishly risking his or her life for the sake of others.

            Theologians J. P. Moreland and Norman Geisler say that “to permit murder when one could have prevented it is morally wrong. To allow a rape when one could have hindered it is an evil. To watch an act of cruelty to children without trying to intervene is morally inexcusable. In brief, not resisting evil is an evil of omission, and an evil of omission can be just as evil as an evil of commission. Any man who refuses to protect his wife and children against a violent intruder fails them morally.”

            The Complete Book of Bible Answers, by Ron Rhodes

        • http://theradicaljourney.com/2012/05/18/only-kill-the-bad-man/ Tim

          Dave, to call Jesus’ words on armed self-defense the Gospel is my sticking point. In Luke 4 he talks of his way of peace:

          16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
          18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
          because he has anointed me
          to proclaim good news to the poor.
          He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
          and recovery of sight for the blind,
          to set the oppressed free,
          19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
          20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

          That’s the Gospel, not the teachings on armed self-defense. Christ brings justice while nurturing bruised reeds and smoldering wicks. He is worthy to receive glory and honor and power and praise because he was slain (Rev. 5), not because his followers were permitted to use deadly force in self defense.

          And as for relying on all of Scripture and not solely the books that record Jesus’ words, I do that because the Bible says to do so. Every word in the Bible is from God, given by his will, the will of the very Word himself by the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of the Father. Here is the gospel in the word of God, found in 1 Corinthians 15:

          1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
          3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures

          That’s the gospel: Christ died for sinners. The good news is not that we can use deadly force in self defense; people already knew that. The good news is that Christ died for us.

          About using the word “heresy”: it’s a perfectly good word when used correctly. If you think using it – correctly or otherwise – automatically leads to oppression, then this word and many others should just be banned. But banning words is also the mark of oppression, and I am sure you are not advocating oppression by shutting down the use of certain words just because they (like everything else, including firearms) can be misused.

          Blessings,
          Tim

          • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

            Dave, you seem to think that quoting (and re-quoting, and re-quoting, and re-quoting) a SINGLE line from Christ’s life is an adequate argument. It’s not. The quote you gave is NOT what he said in the garden of Gethsemane when one of his disciples chose to fight back against the state with a sword. I’ve already quoted exactly what Jesus said at Gethsemane which I why I didn’t quote it again. I’ll concede that this line that you insist on quoting over and over and over and over again shows that Jesus doesn’t categorically oppose the use of weapons in self-defense (a point I already conceded somewhere earlier in our conversation). But there is so much more to Jesus’s message and the Gospel than that one line, consisting of things he said and did, things his followers said and did, and I stand by my assertion that all of those things, taken together, preach a Gospel in which the “weak” (nonviolent, poor, sick, young, marginalized folk) are closer to the Kingdom than the “strong” (armed, powerful agents of the status quo who use violence, weaponry, and threat to get their way).

  • crankypaul

    Christians, as with most religious zealots, take a typically hypocritical stance whenever it comes to things that many of us see in a more logical way, hence the frustration with the guns and jesus thing. Just as a stereotypical right winger defends the use of force to pound their views into others while complaining about anything left leaning that forces THEM to do anything, religious nuts have a “do as I say not as I do” position that is baffling to any sort of logic except their own.

    Then again, they are probably trying to convince themselves that religion is a legitimate thing in the first place.

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      Smith:

      “Theologians J. P. Moreland and Norman Geisler say that “to permit murder when one could have prevented it is morally wrong. To allow a rape when one could have hindered it is an evil. To watch an act of cruelty to children without trying to intervene is morally inexcusable.” – Amen and amen. Data indicates that, in 21st century America, lax gun laws more often lead to unjust acts against innocent people (homicide) or the tragic taking of one’s own life (suicide) than to justified self-defense. Again, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be allowed to keep a handgun if they believe they can use it to defend their family. But they don’t need assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. (And they need to understand that their gun is more likely to be used in their teenager’s suicide attempt than in self-defense. And I probably won’t let my kid play at their house because it’s more likely that the gun will hurt or kill someone in an accident than in justified self-defense.)

      But in failing to support reasonable gun restrictions, Christians are absolutely failing to prevent the murder of innocent civilians and are watching acts of cruelty to children, failing to intervene. All in the name of defending themselves and their own loved ones. When we follow a guy who made it pretty clear that protecting our own asses is NOT our primary call as people of God.

      • Smith

        No, I am saying that if more sane Christians carried guns, they could stop the murder and injury of scores of others, like those in the Aurora theater or at Virginia Tech. Not just their own family. I think it is unfortunate that many gun control advocates would not stop at just your suggestions of banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, two ideas which I have no issue with. I think both sides could reach some common ground if there were not so many extremists in both camps.

        • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

          “I think it is unfortunate that many gun control advocates would not stop at just your suggestions of banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, two ideas which I have no issue with. I think both sides could reach some common ground if there were not so many extremists in both camps.” – Absolutely agreed.

          I think a big problem is that defining who is a “sane Christian” is far more easily said than done.

          And my original post goes into detail as to why the idea that a responsible gun owner could have protected people in Aurora is pretty ludicrous. I’ve even read some comments by police officers who say that, given that Holmes was wearing body armor and that the event took place in a dark, smoky theater, the chances of anyone taking him down with their own gun were slim to none. I’d rather live in a world where no one brings a gun to a movie theater, law-abiding citizen, cop, or nut job.

          • Christian

            I fully agree with you Ellen on all points here, but the problem is that gun control laws won’t mean that the nut job can’t get his hands on a gun. Or barring a gun, he obviously had knowledge of explosives so would gun control laws have prevented him from throwing home made pipe bombs into the theater? I think it is dangerous to base laws and policies off of the actions of nut jobs who if they are intent on causing mass harm will most likely find a way to do it. To Smith’s point there is common ground to be had but the idea that gun control laws will create that world where there is no violence is a bit optimistic.

      • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

        This is a reply to “Smith” above, not you “crankypaul.” Not quite sure what to make of your comment, but, um, thanks? (Not clear on what you mean by Christians having a “do as I say not as I do” way of approaching things.)

  • Dave

    > “to set the oppressed free”

    And when Christ’s disciples were about to be oppressed, to keep themselves free He told them to arm themselves: “… if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.” Luke 22:36-37

    > And as for relying on all of Scripture and not solely the books that record Jesus’ words, I do that because the Bible says to do so.

    But Christ did not say to do so. Therefore, you are placing the teachings of the men who wrote citations you quote above the teachings of Christ.

    > If you think using it – correctly or otherwise – automatically leads to oppression …

    I don’t think that using it automatically leads to oppression. But that has been a common historical pattern in the formation of an oppressive state: first, accusations of heresy, then burning of the heretics.

    • http://kingdomcivics.com/2012/07/06/o-canada/ Tim

      I’m glad to see that you do not think that I am on the road to oppressing others, but merely that some people who have used the word heretic have also been oppressors. I think some people who have used guns are oppressors, but I don’t think your advocacy of gun use means you are on the road to oppressing others. Then again, I’m not sure why you brought up the oppressive states issue regarding heresy if you did not think I was an oppressor. Unless you were trying to tar me and my arguments with that brush – you weren’t, were you Dave? That would not be a fair mode of discussion, but rather an oppressive one.

      I think it’s dangerous to build an entire doctrine out of one verse. In any case, since you don’t read the same Scripture I do, or at least not all of it, I think my discussion with you on doctrinal points is at an end.

      Blessings,
      Tim

  • Dave

    > you seem to think that quoting (and re-quoting, and re-quoting, and re-quoting) a SINGLE line from Christ’s life is an adequate argument. It’s not.

    Sure it is. I am arguing for Christ, which is why I quote him. Gun control advocates are arguing against Christ, which is why they quote Paul or make up what they think Christ should have said.

    But if you’d like another direct quote from Christ, here is Mathhew 10:34: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

    • http://kingdomcivics.com/2012/07/06/o-canada/ Tim

      “Gun control advocates are arguing against Christ”

      Oh dave, now you’re just being silly.

      Blessings,
      Tim

  • Christian

    Ellen,
    I found your article very interesting as well as the comments discussion with Dave. There are many valid points on both sides and taking it to either extreme seems to be wrong. I would agree with Dave that Christ does speak of his disciples arming themselves for self defense, but obviously that is not the core Gospel message (to Tim’s point). It is a scriptural principle that can definitely be applied to our lives.

    As to the statements that having more guns in the Aurora theater would have prevented the tragedy I would have to disagree since we have no idea if the first armed citizen would have identified the right attacker and then would the second armed citizen identify the actual attacker or the first armed citizen as the assailant? There is validity in the historical evidence that there have been great tragedies committed against unarmed citizens (which I truly believe is why the Founding Fathers put the second amendment into the Constitution), but you’re right that we can’t say for certain that if the populations had been armed it would have prevented any such tragedy. At the same time you can’t have it both ways because we also can’t know that tougher gun laws or gun control would have prevented the Aurora tragedy either… to claim otherwise is just as speculative as saying that more guns would have prevented the tragedy.

    I don’t fall into the category of fearing that government is out to get us, but again there is validity in the stats that guns do act as a deterrent to home invasions (i.e. – the distinct sound of a shotgun raking a round is usually enough to scare most people away and if it doesn’t then that home invader is probably in a frame of mind and intent that would most likely turn out badly for the home owner regardless of whether they had a gun and I would prefer to have the chance to defend myself and my family at that point).

  • Dave

    > Oh dave, now you’re just being silly.

    Do you think so?

    2 million Cambodians, 6 million Jews, 20 million Russians, and 45 million Chinese were disarmed by gun control laws and slaughtered under Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.

    Arguing for gun control is condoning the deaths of those people, and arguing as a Christian is arguing that Christ condones those deaths.

    I don’t think Christ would have condoned their deaths; I think Christ would have armed them so that they had a fighting chance. “… if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.” Luke 22:36-37 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Mathhew 10:34

    Oops, there I go again, quoting Christ Himself.

    • http://kingdomcivics.com/2012/07/06/o-canada/ Tim

      “Arguing for gun control is condoning the deaths of those people”

      No it’s not, and neither is your argument in opposition to gun control condoning the deaths in Colorado.

      Blessings,
      Tim

      • Dave

        > No it’s not …

        Yes it is.

        > … neither is your argument in opposition to gun control condoning the deaths in Colorado.

        The deaths in Colorado are not an argument for gun control, they are an argument against gun control, because Aurora’s gun control laws made it illegal for anyone in the theatre to be carrying a concealed weapon (#4 below). The killer sounded pretty sophisticated about bombs and guns, so he must have known that all his victims were unarmed. Funny how many murders seem to happen in the areas with the most restrictive gun control laws (Aurora, Chicago, DC, Nazi Germany, Cambodia, Communist China and Russia, etc).

        Aurora
        1. “Dangerous weapon” includes firearm
        2. Revocation of license for furnishing a firearm to a minor or someone under the influence.
        3. Window displays cannot include firearms with barrels less than 12 inches long.
        4. Unlawful to carry concealed “dangerous weapon”
        5. Unlawful to discharge firearms, unless by law enforcement on duty or on shooting range.
        6. Unlawful to possess firearm while under the influence of intoxicant
        7. Unlawful to have loaded firearm in motor vehicle.
        8. Unlawful for a juvenile to possess a firearm.

        http://www.coloradoceasefire.org/munilaws.htm

        • http://kingdomcivics.com/2012/07/06/o-canada/ Tim

          Just curious, Dave. What do you think of number 6? Someone who is in favor of that one is in favor of controlling guns: controlling them by prohibiting their possession while intoxicated.

          Also, what about a federal law that prohibits felons from ever possessing a firearm, no matter how remote the felony conviction was and regardless of whether the conviction was for a horrifically violent crime or merely for bad checks? Someone who is in favor of that one is in favor of controlling guns: controlling them by prohibiting any felon from ever possessing them. And if a person is only in favor of felons convicted of violent crimes being prohibited from possessing them, it’s still a type of gun control. Or maybe it’s just felons who are still on their parole for violent crimes? Yep, still a type of gun control.

          What about a law that criminalizes use of sawed off shotguns or possession of hand grenades? Someone who is in favor of that one is in favor of controlling guns: prohibiting the possession of a weapon that is easily concealed and whose main use is sneaking up on others and killing them.

          Like I said, just curious.

          Tim

  • Dave

    > Someone who is in favor of that one is in favor of controlling guns: controlling them by prohibiting their possession while intoxicated.

    I am against gun control for law-abiding citizens. I don’t think that someone who is intoxicated while handling anything dangerous (a car, a gun, a construction crane) is law-abiding.

    > what about a federal law that prohibits felons from ever possessing a firearm

    I am against gun control for law-abiding citizens. I don’t think that someone convicted of a felony is a law-abiding citizen.

    > What about a law that criminalizes use of sawed off shotguns or possession of hand grenades?

    I am against gun control for law-abiding citizens. If someone is law-abiding, I see no need to criminalize either sawed-off shotguns or hand grenades.

    • http://theradicaljourney.com/2012/05/18/only-kill-the-bad-man/ Tim

      So you are in favor of gun control, Dave; you just draw the line in a different location (law abiding citizens can have them, others can’t) than someone else might. Good to know.

      Blessings,
      Tim

  • Dave

    > So you are in favor of gun control, Dave …

    Please quote where I said “I am in favor of gun control” instead of putting words into my mouth. What I said was “I am against gun control for law-abiding citizens”. It is pointless to be for or against gun control laws for people who aren’t law-abiding.

    For example, consider the laws against murder. A law-abiding citizen becomes a criminal when they murder someone.

    Now consider gun control laws. A law-abiding citizen would become a criminal for possessing a gun. I am against that.

    Christ commanded His followers “… if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!” Luke 22:36-37, and I am against laws that make law-abiding Christians into criminals, like Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot did. Yet apparently some misguided Christians want to do follow the teachings of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot more than they want to follow the teachings of Christ.

    • http://theradicaljourney.com/2012/05/18/only-kill-the-bad-man/ Tim

      I see that you keep using that passage, but you admitted above that you never noticed it before reading it in the comments on this page. I’d engage in careful study of a newly discovered verse before trying to use it as a platform for a doctrinal position.

      As for putting words in your mouth, you know I did no such thing. Instead, I characterized your position (which is very different). You want to control guns so that non law-abiding citizens like ex-felons can’t have them. Is this not so? Yet the Second Amendment nowhere says that ex-felons do not enjoy its protection. It refers to “the people” and the last time I checked even ex-felons are people. You seem to be taking control of firearms farther than the plain language of the Constitution.

    • http://retiredsenior rubenoff

      any person that has no criminal record or mental health issues, is capable of Buying for their own sensible use, a hunting rifle 6 bullet capacity, to collect big game for food if they desire. a shotgun for game birds if they desire, and a hand gun for home protection, That should serve the needs of most citizens, No where have we read or heard this was going to be taken away from us, But the question really is if we have a good record, why would we need a assault rifle that will shoot 60 to 100 bullets at the blink of an eye Its a bit of overkill to have access to these assault rifles that were designed for the armed forces and the police That will Kill many many people very quickly

  • Dave

    > You want to control guns so that non law-abiding citizens like ex-felons can’t have them. Is this not so?

    Yes, that is not so. Denying guns to non-law-abiding citizens is no more “gun control” than denying a trip to McDonalds to a prisoner in solitary confinement is “McDonalds control”. It is the law-breaker being controlled, not McDonalds.

    • http://theradicaljourney.com/2012/05/18/only-kill-the-bad-man/ Tim

      Blessings on you, brother.

      Tim

  • Dave

    > Some far-right Christian folk insist on the right to arm themselves against a government intent on destroying religion and oppressing its citizens.

    I think that is what Christ clearly meant when he said “… if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.” Luke 22:36-37

    Beyond that, the blessings multiply like loaves and fishes.

    Consider the theatre in Aurora; the management there declared it a “gun-free zone”. In Christ’s day, that would be a “sword-free zone”. Since Peter carried a sword, and Christ commanded his followers to get swords, they would not have been allowed inside, making it a “Christian-free zone”.

    In Aurora’s Christian-free zone: 12 killed, over 50 wounded.

    Other Christian-free zones: Virgina Tech (32 killed, 17 wounded) and Columbine High School (12 killed, 23 wounded).

    Now consider a Christian-friendly zone, in the same city of Aurora, where following the words of Christ averted a massacre:

    “On April 22 of this year a just-released felon went to the New Destiny Christian Church in Aurora, Colo., and killed the mother of Pastor Delano Strahan before being killed himself by a congregant carrying a gun.”

    http://news.investors.com/article/619196/201207231853/aurora-colorado-theater-gun-free-zone.htm

  • Dave

    Today in the national news, a demonstration of why Christians should follow Christ’s command: “… if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!” Luke 22:36

    Gun carrying man ends stabbing spree at Salt Lake grocery store

    A citizen with a gun stopped a knife wielding man as he began stabbing people Thursday evening at the downtown Salt Lake City Smith’s store.

    ….

    Then, before the suspect could find another victim – a citizen with a gun stopped the madness. “A guy pulled gun on him and told him to drop his weapon or he would shoot him. So, he dropped his weapon and the people from Smith’s grabbed him.”

    Dozens of other shoppers, who too could have become victims, are also thankful for the gun carrying man.

    http://www.abc4.com/content/about_4/bios/story/conceal-and-carry-stabbing-salt-lake-city-smiths/NDNrL1gxeE2rsRhrWCM9dQ.cspx

  • Moose (aka Parrot)

    “When it comes to gun violence, Christians too often either say nothing, or parrot a conservative political position embodied by the NRA and others…”

    Maybe Christians are all too silent on gun violence, however some of us actually try to look at all of the facts and make an informed decision and are not just “parrots” as you call us. Insinuating that we are just regurgitating conservative talking points is an insulting statement made in the dark to people you do not know. I own guns and legally carry a gun often. I have a right to own a gun but I consider it a privilege to carry one, albeit concealed, in public (at least in my state). The decision to own and carry a gun is one I arrived at after countless hours of thought, prayer, and training and it is a decision that I continually reevaluate less I become complacent in my ideals and actions. Maybe you should take the time to get to know us “parrots” before you make statements about us. For an article that is trying to reach out to pro-gun Christians on considering more gun control measures leading off with an insult is not a good way to start and sad to say what you say in the rest of it does nothing to let you redeem yourself.

    “…who, all evidence to the contrary, insist that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens are more likely to prevent senseless violence than enable it.”

    First, let’s see the evidence. Post some facts and then we’ll talk. There are countless more examples of law abiding citizens preventing violence and protecting life than there are examples of tragedies such as what happened in Tuscon and Aurora. But wait, I’m just parroting the talking points which you are evidently so well versed in. Second, if you actually read what most people are saying on the issue it is that the this tragedy in Colorado may have been prevented by a citizen with a gun. May have been prevented. I and most others carry a gun not to play hero, but to provide a means of last resort if the lives of my family or I are threatened. Don’t confuse people saying that this tragedy may have been prevented by an armed citizen as meaning that people should walk around armed specifically to prevent such a thing.

    “The gun-wielding-citizen-as-protector ideal is nonsense.”

    You’re right, it is nonsense but that is not what the pro-gun groups promote and that is not what they have been saying. What they do promote is the option to have a means to defend one’s life if and only if it is absolutely necessary. You go on and on about this for a few paragraphs and you completely miss the point of those that promote a citizen’s right to own and carry a gun. Do your research. Having citizens that are armed to defend themselves simply presents the opportunity that perhaps a larger tragedy may be preventable, that is a fact. Find me one example of a major pro-gun group that promotes citizens being the public hero as part of their stance on protecting 2nd Amendment rights. Take a look at the training they themselves teach. Have you ever taken an NRA class (for the record I am not a member of any pro-gun organization)? If you ever do you would find that it is heavily emphasized that using a gun in self defense is a last resort and should only be employed when all other options have been exhausted. On a side note, George Zimmerman acted stupidly and not as we by and large are taught. His one action should have been to call the police and stay put, the Stand Your Ground Law notwithstanding. I know of no major pro-gun group that support his actions entirely, only that they support the law that he says (falsely in my opinion) gave him the right to do what he did. They support the law, not his actions or even his interpretation of the law.

    You also make several points about the different outcomes that may have resulted had there been an armed citizen that decided to take action, all of which are plausible and even reasonable. You are also correct to say that most armed citizens do not have the level of training to handle a situation such as what happened in that theater in Colorado (most police do not either by the way). Please, do yourself a favor and take a gun class, I’ll even send you a check for the tab. What you’ll find may shock you. Gun classes teach shooters a very disciplined methodology for the employment of a firearm. These rules always apply whether at a range for practice or in a real life scenario. One of the rules is to know your target and what is beyond it. Unsure about your target or what may be near it or beyond? Don’t take the shot, it’s that simple. Again, I will also reemphasize that the use of a firearm is taught as an option of last resort not as one to be employed by the citizen hero. The classes teach specifically that we are not the police and the broader job of public safety is not our duty. That does not absolve us, especially those of us who are Christians, of our moral duty to help our neighbor if possible. Florida law allows a citizen to use deadly force to prevent a forcible felony either to oneself or somebody nearby. The choice to defend oneself is obvious. The choice to defend others is not so obvious and many factors must weighed before taking action. The consensus taught in gun classes is that almost 100 percent of the time the best course of action is to flee the area and call for help.

    You portray the pro-gun groups as promoting the minimally trained gun toting citizen hero ready to protect all in offensive combat. What they actually promote is the well trained and well informed citizen who chooses to take on the responsibility of self defense in a responsible manner, and perhaps in the right situation maybe prevent or minimize a tragedy. The facts are that we live in a violent and fallen world and I no more than any other wish to contribute to the violence. I hope and pray to God that I never have to harm another person even if it is to protect myself or somebody I love. That being said I for one would not be able to live with myself or face God with the knowledge that I could have had a means to protect my family or myself and instead chose ignorantly to believe that I would be protected or was doing the “Christian” thing because I “turned the other cheek.” I for one do not claim to know the answers on gun control but will admit that there are certainly measures that can be taken that would allow for both the basic self defense of every citizen and yet minimize the harm that those deranged enough to be so inclined may bring to others. However, your article has not been about gun control and only half of the argument about the Christian tenants of how we should act in society. It has been a roundabout attempt to guilt Christian gun owners into conceding to your fact-less points and your vilification of pro-gun groups.

    “Some far-right Christian folk insist on the right to arm themselves against a government intent on destroying religion and oppressing its citizens.”

    This is actually a fundamental tenant of why the founding fathers, Christian or not, added the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. Since your article was supposed to be about gun control as it relates to our ability to hurt each other or protect ourselves I’ll ignore it other than to point out that the founding fathers were quite wise to include the 2nd Amendment if for no other reason that this.

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      “Post some facts and then we’ll talk. There are countless more examples of law abiding citizens preventing violence and protecting life than there are examples of tragedies such as what happened in Tuscon and Aurora.” – If you read through the comments you’ll see I’ve addressed this already. There is ample statistical evidence that privately owned guns are FAR FAR more likely to be used in an act of violence (homicide or suicide) than in defending self or others. What happened in Tucson and Aurora is relatively rare, yes (though frankly I’d rather live in a democratic nation where such things occur even more rarely–and there are nations that fit that description, because their gun laws are not insane). But gun-related homicides, suicides, and accidents are not rare. That fact, in and of itself, is reason enough to me to question the idea that gun ownership enhances public safety.

      In the aftermath of Aurora, the “gun wielding citizen as protector” was precisely the argument I saw parroted in the media, by Christians and others, in response to the idea that, golly gee, maybe if it wasn’t so easy for people to get weapons of mass murder, we wouldn’t have mass murders of this sort. That’s why I targeted this argument in my piece.

      As for what the founding fathers intended, others have argued more eloquently than I could about why people arming themselves with assault weapons and high-capacity magazines was not exactly what our forebears had in mind.

      Keep in mind that I actually don’t have a problem with law-abiding citizens owning a handgun for protection, as long as they get adequate training. It sounds like you are a model gun owner, and I have no interest in taking away your gun.

      Our liberal gun laws, however, go far beyond allowing good citizens to arm themselves in a reasonable way. It’s our overly permissive gun culture, and the talking heads (Christian and otherwise) who insist that any limits on private gun ownership go against the 2nd amendment, that I’m targeting with this piece.

      And ultimately, I’m arguing that people who claim to give our allegiance first and foremost to someone who so clearly preached non-violence and illustrated the emptiness of violence as a solution to society’s ills (who, indeed, died at the hands of a society that believed, as ours does, in the myth of redemptive violence) should be on board with criticizing overly permissive gun laws based on a misreading of history and a willful ignorance of the facts concerning how guns are ACTUALLY used (in homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths) vs. how they should be used.

      And whether or not responsible gun owners approve of what George Zimmerman did or not, the fact is that an overly permissive gun law based on the myth of the armed citizen as protector is what left a 17-year-old unarmed boy dead.

      I will continue to argue against permissive gun laws because they so infrequently lead to their intended result (increased safety and justified self-defense) and so frequently lead to tragic deaths via homicide, suicide, mass murder, or deadly mistake.

      • Moose (aka Parrot)

        ““Post some facts and then we’ll talk. There are countless more examples of law abiding citizens preventing violence and protecting life than there are examples of tragedies such as what happened in Tuscon and Aurora.” – If you read through the comments you’ll see I’ve addressed this already. There is ample statistical evidence that privately owned guns are FAR FAR more likely to be used in an act of violence (homicide or suicide) than in defending self or others. What happened in Tucson and Aurora is relatively rare, yes (though frankly I’d rather live in a democratic nation where such things occur even more rarely–and there are nations that fit that description, because their gun laws are not insane). But gun-related homicides, suicides, and accidents are not rare. That fact, in and of itself, is reason enough to me to question the idea that gun ownership enhances public safety.”

        Fair enough, you did post some data in the comments (which I will admit I have not and will not read it their entirety). It is interesting that you question data presented to you when it does not support the conclusion you want to be true (“Found the 64,000 figure. Sounds like that data is fairly questionable.”). The source of that data was from a highly respected and pier reviewed journal. Did you read that journal article? Was their methodology not sound? I want you to read my words carefully (and reread what I wrote above) and understand that I’m making a very specific rebuttal to your statement “the NRA and others who, all evidence to the contrary, insist that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens are more likely to prevent senseless violence than enable it.” I honestly don’t think that anybody truly knows the actual statistics regarding gun deaths or violence perpetrated by somebody with a gun. However, note the word “law-abiding” in both your original statement and mine. Show me evidence that law-abiding gun owners do more harm than good. You made the following statement: “There is ample statistical evidence that privately owned guns are FAR FAR more likely to be used in an act of violence (homicide or suicide) than in defending self or others.” Again, it seems that the available data refutes that if not at least calls it in to question. There is a huge difference between “privately owned guns” and “law-abiding citizens.” There certainly may be more gun violence on the whole than there are good defensive acts with a gun. Data that was presented to you seems to suggest otherwise (even though you refute it as “fairly questionable”) but I will concede that all data is flawed to some level. You make one argument against data supporting the law-abiding citizen with a gun and then try to back up it later using generalizations about gun violence as whole, those two things are inconsistent. Again, I will make this very clear, show me data that illustrates that legally purchased firearms are used to do more harm than good.

        “In the aftermath of Aurora, the “gun wielding citizen as protector” was precisely the argument I saw parroted in the media, by Christians and others, in response to the idea that, golly gee, maybe if it wasn’t so easy for people to get weapons of mass murder, we wouldn’t have mass murders of this sort. That’s why I targeted this argument in my piece.”

        I think you misread those statements, or otherwise misinterpreted them. I read many statements that said “could have prevented” or some similar language. Sure, a few nut jobs that nobody takes seriously said they could have stopped it, but whatever. Those statements were taken out of context even further by not understanding what is actually promoted on the whole by pro-gun organizations. Your counter argument is somewhat true as an individual statement but not as a response to the promotion of the armed citizen by pro-gun groups or individuals. The promotion of the armed citizen was not made as a means to protect the right to “weapons of mass murder” as you call them but as general statement of fact regarding the event as a whole. There are certainly cases where if a person had not had access to certain weapons, large magazines, etc. then a specific tragedy would have been prevented, not as severe, or at least would have had to been attempted by other means. I know of no argument that has been made that to protect the right of somebody to own “weapons of mass murder” as it relates to the potential for an armed citizen to protect others in such as situation as what happened in Colorado. You argue for something that may in fact be good, or even “Christian” but you do so in an illogical manner using statements and talking points out of context repeated what the anti-gun movement pushed for right after Aurora. Who is the parrot now?

        “As for what the founding fathers intended, others have argued more eloquently than I could about why people arming themselves with assault weapons and high-capacity magazines was not exactly what our forebears had in mind.”

        Agreed, but that is not what you said. You said: “Some far-right Christian folk insist on the right to arm themselves against a government intent on destroying religion and oppressing its citizens.” You made no mention of “assault weapons and high-capacity magazines” or anything about our founders. My statement in my original reply refutes your exact words as originally stated.

        “Keep in mind that I actually don’t have a problem with law-abiding citizens owning a handgun for protection, as long as they get adequate training. It sounds like you are a model gun owner, and I have no interest in taking away your gun.”

        I appreciate that. Between you and me, I could probably use more training than I have had. I also appreciate your support of gun ownership on some level but you seem to be inconsistent in that regard. Above you state: “But gun-related homicides, suicides, and accidents are not rare. That fact, in and of itself, is reason enough to me to question the idea that gun ownership enhances public safety.” How can you reconcile the statement with not having a problems with lawful gun ownership? What I take offense to in your article is that although you state than now you certainly do not seem to make any mention of supporting that right until now (at least in this article, perhaps you have in past writings). I see your portrayal of the Christian gun owner as being pretty one sided. Perhaps that is not how you actually think, but it is certainly what comes across.

        “Our liberal gun laws, however, go far beyond allowing good citizens to arm themselves in a reasonable way. It’s our overly permissive gun culture, and the talking heads (Christian and otherwise) who insist that any limits on private gun ownership go against the 2nd amendment, that I’m targeting with this piece.”

        I am honestly internally conflicted on this, I don’t yet agree or disagree. I do have a sense that we take the right to bear arms a little arrogantly although that is more of a gut feeling than a fully formed opinion at this point. I have actually stated that to most people that I talk “guns” with. I usually don’t get much of a response. I actually appreciate your opinion and we agree on more things than not. I disagree on how you went about making your points. You used what I consider to be illogical arguments and you broadly attacked Christians and pro-gun groups as a whole by taking statements and talking points out of context, even to the point of denying data when it was presented to you. I just didn’t think it was a fair portrayal of the facts.

        “And ultimately, I’m arguing that people who claim to give our allegiance first and foremost to someone who so clearly preached non-violence and illustrated the emptiness of violence as a solution to society’s ills (who, indeed, died at the hands of a society that believed, as ours does, in the myth of redemptive violence) should be on board with criticizing overly permissive gun laws based on a misreading of history and a willful ignorance of the facts concerning how guns are ACTUALLY used (in homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths) vs. how they should be used.”

        Again, I disagree with your “facts” but nonetheless agree with the rest of your statement. The pro-gun lobby, and Christians who are pro-gun especially, should be out there offering real solutions to these issues. That they, and we, are not doing it and I guess making statements that although may be true about what might have been doesn’t do much to help their cause. It is a fact that if there was less access to certain firearms and accessories that there would be less violent acts of this kind due to guns. Nobody can refute that, but please make sound arguments based on facts. If it is your opinion then state that. Alienating the very group your trying to reach will not help your cause, just as the pro-gun lobby is not able to reach you because truth be told there is no justification to certain currently legal weapons other than because people want them. Understand also that it frustrates the millions of responsible gun owners when people try to take rights away from them without understanding who they are. Most gun violence is committed with handguns (sure some have high capacity magazines, depending on what your definition of high capacity is), not what this guy used. So your going to have to make a very good and convincing argument why we should take something away from law-abiding citizens because of what ONE person did or what TWO people did even if it is the right thing.

        “And whether or not responsible gun owners approve of what George Zimmerman did or not, the fact is that an overly permissive gun law based on the myth of the armed citizen as protector is what left a 17-year-old unarmed boy dead.”

        This is where your flat our wrong. George Zimmerman may be trying to use that as a defense but the reason he is in jail is because the people that oversee that law disagree. It was not “an overly permissive gun law based on the myth of the armed citizen as protector” that left a young boy dead. You and I both know it was much more complicated than that. Ultimately it was the decisions of people (maybe just one person, George) that led to that kid dying. The Stand Your Ground Law has absolutely nothing to do with the “citizen as protector.” George Zimmerman acted on his own, violating the law, common sense, and the rules of the neighborhood watch that he was purportedly working for. Stand Your Ground allows, no protects, the right of a free person to defend their life if threatened in the case of last resort. It does not promote one being a hero and certainly was not meant to protect what George Zimmerman did. Again, he is in jail because of it.

        “I will continue to argue against permissive gun laws because they so infrequently lead to their intended result (increased safety and justified self-defense) and so frequently lead to tragic deaths via homicide, suicide, mass murder, or deadly mistake.”

        Again, we are on the same side more than you know, just use facts or in lieu of facts openly state your opinion. Nobody, acting under the protection of law, causes a tragedy like Tuscon or Aurora. A “permissive gun law” may have made it easier for the attacks to be carried out. I’ll provide you with the opportunity one more time. Provide facts that show that legally purchased weapons of any kind are used more for murder, suicide, what have you than for defensive or peaceful purposes otherwise I suggest you stop making those kind of statements.

        I appreciate you taking the time to respond.

        • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

          You raise some great points here and I’d like to respond, but want to give it the time it deserves. So I’ll be back, hopefully later today, maybe not til tomorrow. Just wanted you to know I’m not ignoring you…just preoccupied with a house full of kids!

        • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

          OK, I’m going to try to clarify a few things.

          To clarify my argument against gun advocates “who, all evidence to the contrary, insist that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens are more likely to prevent senseless violence than enable it.”

          I think the phrase “law-abiding,” which I used without enough thought, is what confuses people here. Here is what I meant by that: The prevailing argument I hear and read from people who argue against stricter gun laws is that guns, in the hands of well-trained good folks, can actually prevent violence. I am arguing that statistics (from places including the CDC, FBI, and Bureau of Justice Statistics) show that privately owned guns are more likely to be used in homicides, suicides, or other nonfatal criminal uses [this is an important category that I failed to name in my original post] than in defense of self or family against criminals. Statistics also show that gun-related homicide is far, far lower in democratic, high-income countries with strict gun laws than in the U.S. So from a cost-benefit analysis, the cost of liberal gun laws (high rates of gun-related homicides and suicides) are not worth the benefit (occasions in which someone uses a gun to protect themselves or others). This is a big-picture analysis, of course. For that person who defends himself or his family with a gun, of course the benefit outweighs the cost. But in a larger cultural sense, a nation awash in guns is going to have a higher than acceptable level of gun violence. While the stats on how often guns are used in legitimate defense of self or other are disputed to some extent, there’s no doubt that sometimes people do use guns to protect themselves and others. But this does not make our society overall a safer one, just a more violent one.

          A more accurate way to phrase my point would have been this: I’m arguing against gun advocates who, all evidence to the contrary, insist that widespread gun ownership is more likely to prevent senseless violence than enable it. Our liberal gun laws, purportedly designed to allow people to defend themselves and thus make our society safer, make our society less safe, if you look at the statistics on the thousands of gun-related homicides, suicides , and other gun-related crimes that occur every year. Or to paraphrase Jesus, a culture that lives by the gun dies by the gun. In countries where gun ownership is much less prevalent, gun violence occurs much less often.

          And yet, our nation has repeatedly been unwilling to institute even the broadest, most obvious rules to curb gun violence, such as banning automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines, or closing the so-called “gun show loophole” by which people can buy guns at gun shows without having to meet federal requirements for waiting periods and background checks. All in the name of the second amendment (which was arguably not intended to allow citizens to own any gun they want without restriction) and the “armed citizen as protector” myth.

          Another concern I have with the idea that law-abiding folk should not face restrictions on gun ownership is that, in many cases, gun owners are law-abiding until they murder someone with their gun…or someones, in the case of Aurora shooter James Holmes who, as far as we know, did not have any sort of violent record nor was he diagnosed with a mental illness. He was a law-abiding gun owner until the morning he walked into that movie theater and murdered a dozen people. I sure wish it hadn’t been so easy for him to get his weapons.

          As for George Zimmerman, his murder of Trayvon Martin had everything to do with “Stand Your Ground.” Not only was Zimmerman not arrested for days as prosecutors cited that law, but Zimmerman appeared to feel empowered by his fellow citizens who approved a law in the belief that gun-carrying citizens could prevent crime.

          And finally, there’s the whole Christian side of this. Understanding American history and the Constitution, I know that gun ownership is a treasured part of our culture. As an American citizen, I’m arguing that citizens should have the right to own guns, but that we should institute some common-sense restrictions, such as an assault-weapons ban, limits on concealed carrying, and waiting periods/background checks that apply to everyone who buys a gun, no matter where.

          As a Christian, though, I think that Jesus was arguing for a radical way of living in which violence—”justified” or not, self-defensive or not—simply has no place. Yes, he advised his followers to take swords with them on the road, but only two swords for the whole lot of them. Perhaps we can stretch that scripture to argue that Jesus has no problem with self-defense via weapon. But the bigger picture with Jesus was a completely different way of relating to each other as human beings, a way that is cooperative instead of competitive, that is peacemaking instead of warmaking, that looks for power in weakness instead of in the traditional measures of human strength (armies and governments and weapons and winning and self-defense), that is more about connecting with the “other” than defending ourselves against him. That is pie-in-the-sky, unbelievable stuff, yes, but as a follower of Jesus I have to believe it is both true and better than the way we humans have chosen to order our lives and societies.

          And finally, to go back to the heart of my original post, I’d like to see Christians get as vocal about curbing gun violence as they do about gay marriage or abortion, given that Jesus had a lot to say about violence, war, self-defense, and peace and very little (or nothing at all) to say about sex and babies. Yet we’ll make a stink and stand in line for hours to buy a chicken sandwich in defense of “traditional marriage,” and remain silent when our overly permissive gun laws allow someone to arm themselves in order to murder people watching a movie. I think we’ve got our priorities way messed up.

          • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

            Oh, and two things I forgot:
            1) I am simply not concerned arming myself against the government. I do not perceive our current government as overstepping its bounds in any way. So while I understand the protection intended by the Second Amendment and why it’s there, I just can’t be sympathetic to the right-wing argument that gun control equals the government disarming the citizenry to oppress us. Just don’t see it.
            2) In an earlier comment, I confused two different studies looking at how often guns are used in defense and/or prevent crimes. The study with the 64,000 annual figure looks pretty solid. The Gary Kleck study, which says that guns prevent over 2 million crimes annually, is the questionable one. I worked for a police chiefs’ association in DC for four years and the Kleck study was a topic we discussed often.

            One of the big things I learned from working there, by the way: Most police chiefs fully support stricter gun laws for citizens, largely because they see the bloodshed that results from permissive laws. (I’m sure the more paranoid among us would chalk it up to their being part of the oppression-loving government.) And police chiefs aren’t exactly known for their bleeding heart liberal ways, you know?

  • http://kingdomcivics.com/2012/07/06/o-canada/ Tim

    Hey Ellen, since the Second Amendment has as its explicit basis the importance of maintaining a militia, which is a type of army, I want to have military weapons.

    I want a tank.
    … and a ballistic missle.
    … and a fully stocked, armed and staffed aircraft carrier.

    Yeah, that should about do it for me.

    Tim

    • Moose (aka Parrot)

      “…since the Second Amendment has as its explicit basis the importance of maintaining a militia…”

      Tim, you are not correct in stating that the 2nd Amendment has as its basis a relationship to maintaining a militia.

      From http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights.html
      “During the debates on the adoption of the Constitution, its opponents repeatedly charged that the Constitution as drafted would open the way to tyranny by the central government. Fresh in their minds was the memory of the British violation of civil rights before and during the Revolution. They demanded a “bill of rights” that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens. Several state conventions in their formal ratification of the Constitution asked for such amendments; others ratified the Constitution with the understanding that the amendments would be offered.”

      Note that the bill of rights, of which the 2nd Amendment is part of, is intended to protect the rights of individual citizens, not states groups of people organized at any level.

      Amendment II
      “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

      Notice the comma that separates “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” from the rest of the sentence. The delineates that part as being separate from the phrase concerning militias. Also, it is “the people” that have the right to bear arms, not the militia, the state, etc.

      • http://kingdomcivics.com/2012/07/06/o-canada/ Tim

        Moose, I know the Bill of Rights and its purpose in protecting individual rights, but while that is a handy generalization not every clause in the first ten amendments fit neatly into that general construct. If a well regulated militia were not necessary to the security of a free state, by its own terms everything after “State” would be irrelevant. They could have written the Second Amendment without the first half, but they didn’t. Since they didn’t, then the words are there for a reason and must be applied in looking at the amendment as a whole.

        Blessings,
        Tim

        P.S. Besides, that comment above was supposed to be a joke … you know, because it’s ridiculous to own an aircraft carrier.

        • Moose (aka Parrot)

          Yeah, I’m not a grammar expert so maybe I’m wrong. Dave’s response seems to firm up my position though. I got that it was a joke, but interpreted it as sarcasm and an opinion against the belief that the 2nd Amendment is interpreted correctly when it allows individual citizens the right to own guns.

          • http://kingdomcivics.com/2012/07/06/o-canada/ Tim

            Actually, I think the intent of the 2d Am. is interpreted correctly when it supports the individual’s right to keep and bear arms. I also think the text shows that the purpose for keeping and bearing arms is within the context of a well regulated militia, so the government’s ability to pass regulations on keeping and bearing arms is inherent in the 2d Am.

            The sarcasm, which you rightly saw, though was really aimed at the position that the 2d Am. was written for military purposes: have weapons that are sufficient to provide for a militia that can fight wars. For people who insist the their weapons are necessary in case we need to fight against a tyrannous government, I suggest they stop fooling around with popguns and insist on weaponry that will do the job. Then again, in a non-sarcastic vein, I caution them against such desiring such weapons as it will only lead to mischief.

            Cheers,
            Tim

  • Dave

    > If a well regulated militia were not necessary to the security of a free state, by its own terms everything after “State” would be irrelevant.

    Not by the rules of English. For example, consider the following sentence:

    “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the ability to hunt, being necessary to get venison, the ability to defend your household against robbers, being necessary to a stable neighborhood, among many other reasons, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    The leading clauses are sufficiency clauses, not necessary or exhaustive clauses.

    Which is interesting, but is a little off the topic of the main reason Christians should be against gun control: because Christ was. “… if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.” Luke 22:36-37

  • Dave

    > In countries where gun ownership is much less prevalent, gun violence occurs much less often.

    In countries where gun ownership is much higher, gun violence occurs even less frequently. More guns = less violence.

    Therefore, if gun violence is to be the deciding factor, then Christians should not only be against gun control, but Christians should be in favor of requiring everyone to have a gun.

    In other words, Christians who are against violence should simply follow Christ’s command: “… if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’” Luke 22:36

    Switzerland
    Pop: 7.6 million
    Assault rifles: 420,000
    Semi-automatic rifles: 320,000
    Other semi-automatic arms: estimate hundreds of thousands
    Minimal estimate of privately owned guns: 1.2 to 3 million
    Gun crimes: 34 killings or attempted killings/year
    Knife crimes: 69 killings or attempted killings/year
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_politics_in_Switzerland#Gun_crime

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      We could argue stats all day, as there are plenty of stats comparing gun violence (which includes suicide, and not just “gun crimes”) in high-income nations with much lower incidence of both gun violence and gun ownership. HOWEVER, gun violence rates are NOT the deciding factor. As I’ve made clear over and over in my responses, for me the deciding factor is how we, as followers of Jesus Christ, are to approach the world and each other. You keep trotting out a single quote from Jesus that can be interpreted as either a defense of self-defensive weaponry or a questioning of it, depending on your viewpoint. I’m appealing to his entire life, message, and death, to argue that a reliance on violence to ensure our and our loved one’s safety, with any sort of weaponry, from swords to guns to words, is antithetical to what Jesus preached, how he lived, and how he died.

      • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

        Which is not to say that it’s not acceptable for Christians to own guns. I will never own one, but won’t condemn those who do. But what that overall way of approaching the world DOES mean is that, as Christians, we’ve got to stop being silent on gun control, stop just accepting the NRA-backed message that any attempt to limit gun ownership (even banning assault weapons or closing the gun show loophole) is a dangerous threat to the Constitution, and stop preaching paranoia of government oppression instead of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, which was about trust, vulnerability, peacemaking, inclusion, powerlessness, and the questioning of a world order built on the opposite–distrust, power, strength, exclusion, hierarchy, “might makes right,” etc.

  • Dave

    > I’m appealing to his entire life, message, and death, to argue that a reliance on violence to ensure our and our loved one’s safety, with any sort of weaponry, from swords to guns to words, is antithetical to what Jesus preached, how he lived, and how he died.

    Who is advocating a “reliance on violence”? Having guns to defend ourselves “prevents violence”. And preventing violence is obviously not antithetical to what Jesus preached, how he lived, and how he died.

    That perfectly reconciles Christ’s command: “… if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one! For the time has come for this prophecy about me to be fulfilled: ‘He was counted among the rebels.’” Luke 22:36 …

    … with his later admonition to Peter to put his sword away. Peter used his sword to start violence (as do people who “live by the sword”), not to prevent it: “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” Matthew 26:52

  • Dave

    > I will never own one …

    Have you ever gone out shooting? Guns are fun to shoot. My kids go out shooting every month or so.

    True story: one of ladies I used to work with was very anti-gun. One Christmas her young daughter sat on Santa’s lap and when Santa asked her what she wanted, she replied “I want a gun so I can kill my Barbie!”. Fortunately, my co-worker had a sense of humor and told us all about it. Maybe her daughter was just more pro-feminist than anti-gun?

  • Dave

    It’s too bad for the people in Milwaukee that Wisconsin had such strict gun control laws (no concealed carry at all).

    Then instead of a massacre, perhaps one of the congregants could have shot the killer (as in the Aurora church incident mentioned above, where only one person was killed because one of the congregants was armed).

    However, Wisconsin may not have as many people killed in the future because about 9 months ago it finally started allowing concealed carry (the 49th state to do so). It looks like that wasn’t soon enough for all the law-abiding Sikhs who were killed. But I imagine gun sales will greatly increase in Wisconsin now that law-abiding citizens don’t have to be law-abiding victims.

    P.S. Check out Vermont. It has the laxest gun control laws in the US (you don’t need a permit for concealed carry). Like Switzerland, there are more knife killings in Vermont than gun killings. In 2009, there were no gun killings at all in Vermont — all of the murders were either knives or hammers. It is too bad that more Christians in other states don’t follow the command of Christ: “If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!” Luke 22:36

  • Dave

    P.P.S. If Wisconsin became the 49th state to allow concealed carry, which state doesn’t allow it?

    Out of curiousity, I checked and it’s Illinois (and also DC, which doesn’t count as a state). Those two areas have some of the strictest gun control laws in the US.

    And sure enough: “Twenty percent of U.S. homicides occur in four cities with just 6% of the population—New York, Chicago, Detroit, and Washington, D.C”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_control

  • Dave

    Saw in the news today, more people killed by a shooter at Texas A&M University.

    And yes, Texas A&M University is covered by strict gun control laws (it’s a “gun free zone”), just like the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, the theater in Aurora, Virgina Tech, and Columbine High School.

    Too bad for all of the innocent victims both in the US and worldwide (for example, as in strictly gun-controlled Hitler’s Germany, Mao’s China, Stalin’s Russia, and Pol Pot’s Cambodia) …

    … that more Christians don’t live up to their Christian responsibility: “If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!” (Luke 22:36).

  • Dave

    > The gun-wielding-citizen-as-protector ideal is nonsense.

    From the news today:

    “Armed bystander stops stabbing outside school”

    http://www.woai.com/mostpopular/story/Armed-bystander-stops-stabbing-outside-school/6zTYMpy8pUOeyrbElEBOTQ.cspx

    “Police say a bystander who happened to be a concealed handgun license holder pulled his weapon and ordered Barron to drop the knife. Barron surrendered and was taken into custody by the bystander and a school district officer.”

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      OK! OK! Uncle! I don’t want to block you from my blog because I’ve only done that to one person and she SO deserved it. But can we agree to disagree in a spirit of Christian charity? Please? And can you stop posting every single time you see a news story that supports your viewpoint? I could do the same but I have to move on to other topics. Please? Thanks!

      • Dave

        > I could do the same …

        Actually, I don’t think you could.

        So far this summer, all of the mass shootings that I’ve seen in the news have occured in heavily gun-controlled areas. If that’s incorrect, could you please post a link to an article about a mass shooting in a lightly gun controlled area, such as Vermont, Maine, or Utah?

        And, contrary to your hypothetical “Perhaps that citizen, shooting in a dark theater of panicked people instead of on a quiet shooting range, would have missed the target and upped the death tool to 13 or more.” …

        … none of the uses of self-defense by private citizens that I’ve seen in the news incurred any bystander casualties at all. Zero. Most of the cases of citizen self-defense involved no shooting at all: the presence of an armed citizen was enough to stop the crime.

        In fact, the only case of bystander casualities that I saw in the news was due to the police: “All nine bystanders wounded in Empire State shooting hit by police” http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/27/us-usa-shooting-empirestate-police-idUSBRE87Q04X20120827

        But again, since you said you could keep posting links to news stories that back up your viewpoint, please post a link to a story this summer about bystanders getting shot by an armed citizen defending themselves or others.

        > I have to move on to other topics.

        Please feel free to move on. I only post stuff here when something relevant in the news reminds me of it; I wasn’t expecting any response.

        P.S. This webpage seems to be being cloned by spam websites, which I think means that it is getting enough internet hits to be noticable. When I go to Google and search for:

        christian gun control no brainer

        … a couple of sites (celebrityballa.com, christianvideos.net) are listed ahead of yours, and it looks like they stole your title.

        P.P.S. I read your post about Maine, and I agree with your comments on beach vs. Acadia Nat. Park. My wife and I (pre-kids) visited there and had a great time laying on a mountainside above the bay while eating wild blueberries.

        • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

          Hi Dave.

          When I said, “I could do the same…” I meant that I could also come back and post a comment every time that there is a news story in which a person in possession of a weapon, and particularly the type of weapon that I believe needs to be banned outright (assault weapons), kills people in a scenario in which the same person, without a gun, could not possibly have inflicted as much damage as he did. Happened again just a few days ago.

          I appreciate your tying gun violence to the type of gun control laws on the books in various states, though it still seems to me that you’re talking about correlation and not causation. That is, is there any proof that the leniency or strictness of state gun laws directly affect incidences of gun violence in those states?

          I will also say that, in the future, I will be more careful about citing statistics and which statistics I use to support my gun control arguments. Some of the initial stats I cited were indeed not strong enough to hold the weight of my arguments, and for that I apologize.

          Fundamentally, though, I remain in favor of tighter gun laws for both practical and philosophical/theological reasons. In practical terms, I believe that guns are a problem and should be more tightly controlled because of their very nature as weapons capable of allowing people to kill other people without physically touching them, from a relative distance, and in the case of guns that shoot multiple bullets quickly, to kill or wound many people in a very short time. As the old not so funny joke goes, remember that time a guy went into his old workplace and stabbed 10 people before anyone stopped him? Yeah, me neither. Guns make possible a level and type of violence that is simply not physically possible with other types of individually owned weapons. Guns, again by their very nature, are also too often tools in accidental deaths and suicides. If a young child comes upon his father’s hunting knife, he might end up getting hurt, but he’s unlikely to accidentally stab his little friend to death. But if that child comes upon his dad’s loaded gun, an accidental death is much more likely. (And yes, I know that responsible gun owners lock up their guns, etc. etc., but many of our laws are built on the idea that it’s part of the social contract to take measures that lessen the harm from the action of irresponsible individuals, even if those measures also affect responsible individuals). Or in my own family history, in which one of my brothers-in-law and his girlfriend shot themselves to death with the gun that my father-in-law owned for protection when he took the money from his small business to the bank. That gun never stopped a robbery, but it killed two people. And while my BIL had a lot of demons and might have ended up dead some other way, some other time, it seems clear that simply having a gun at their disposal was the key factor leading to him and his girlfriend dying as they did, when they did.

          And I still think the myth of the armed good guy stopping the bad guys is mostly a myth, even if now and then in such a case things work out well. I hold up George Zimmerman as an example of that, again. I know you poo-poohed that example, saying that lots of gun advocates see his behavior as illogical. Well, that’s exactly the point. People are often illogical, unprepared, doing things in the heat of a moment. And when flawed people have guns at the ready, tragic things happen, because guns enable stupid decisions to become deadly, whether we’re talking about Zimmerman acting against a perceived threat or my BIL and his girlfriend having a fight with a loaded gun nearby and too many drugs muddling their thoughts. While I’m grateful for those instances in which an armed person coolly does the right thing and prevents a crime, I’d rather we live in a society in which guns are so rare that we don’t need those occasional heroes. Other weapons simply don’t pose the kind of threat to public safety that guns pose.

          Then on the philosophical/theological side, I again say that Jesus taught a topsy-turvy theology in which all the things that we tend to put our faith in, including state power, physical might, violence, and money, are undone by the things and people that we tend to see as weak and powerless. He took the myth of redemptive violence, of might makes right, and turned it on its head. I just don’t think that arguing in favor of using violent means to keep people safe is ultimately a Christian way of looking at things. And there I know we disagree, and ask if we can let this discussion lie understanding that.

          You also need to understand that, while you may not have been looking for a response, it’s hard for me not to respond. A blog is a funny thing. It’s out here on the big wide Internet, but it’s very intimate. When I post, it feels like I’m inviting people—many of them strangers—into my living room to chat. So I behave as if people are in my living room, which means I don’t tolerate some really nasty behaviors, and also that I feel obligated to respond to the extent I can. So from my perspective, when you keep popping in to remind me of the latest hero with a gun, it feels kind of like I’m in my living room talking about something else (tattoos and vacations and books) and you’re in the hallway, popping your head into the living room now and then to shout, “Hey! Another hero with a gun! What do you think of that?!!!”

          I hope this makes sense. I do appreciate your comments on some other topics. It reassures me a bit about your intentions.

  • Erik

    Our inherent right to defend ourselves, and our duty to defend our families, comes from our Glorious Creator who designed us and gave us our human rights. Besides, anyone who advocates gun control is helping the criminal who wants to victimize you, as well as helping the future dictator seize power. The answer is not to take away the people’s ability to defend themselves, but rather, tho teach the people Christian morality so that they will not use guns to commit crimes.

  • Luke

    You’re meaning to tell me the Bible doesn’t say anything about homosexual relations or abortion (murder)?

    • Calle Alanaca Ries

      THANK YOU. Somebody finally said it. There are absolutely clear stances on homosexuality and abortion alike.

  • Sarah Davis

    Thank you for this intelligent article and for quoting scripture. It’s sad that after so many mass murders peoples priorities are still on keeping automatic weapons :(

  • AdoptiveParent

    Well… here are a fwe thoughts as to why it is not: http://reformed-theology.org/html/issue10/why_i_am_pro.htm

  • Eric

    Very very well said!!! We need more voices like yours!

  • http://www.firewoodcentre.co.uk Justathought

    These types of incidents [mass shootings] only seem to happen in America. I don’t know anybody that owns a gun in the UK and surely that’s why things like this almost never happen? According to. In England and Wales there were 41 homicides by a firearm last year, a country in which citizens are not allowed guns. In the United States there were 9,146 homicides by firearm last year, a country in which you can buy a gun from your local Walmart. I’m not saying it will be easy, but the solution seems clear to me (take guns out of the equation), or am I missing the point?

  • http://manchesterfamily.wordpress.com Matthew

    A Christian’s thoughts on the gun control debate:
    http://manchesterfamily.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/the-smoking-gun-debate/

  • Bravo

    I am a evangelical Christian who leans very libertarian. But after Conn. I want to fix the problem. I am coming around on gun control… However, many NRA Christians would counter your verses w/ Jesus’ command to a buy a sword.

    Secondly, our culture has to change. What roll does violent rap, rock, video games play? Gun control will do little unless we chane our culture v

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      Agreed on your second point. Mental health services, especially for troubled children and their overwhelmed parents, is the other biggie that must be addressed. As to your first point, please see this post, which offers a much different interpretation of that verse about Jesus telling his disciples to get a sword:
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/ellenpainterdollar/2012/07/five-lessons-from-my-post-on-gun-control/

      No matter how you interpret it, cherry picking verses isn’t the way to read the Biblical narrative. What was Christ’s overarching message? What values did his actions point toward? I think it’s clear that Jesus did NOT believe that violence or threat of violence is the preferred approach to violence.

  • Jeff

    All i got out of this is a very judgmental holier than thou type of write up. I actually save a prayer of thanks for every duck I shoot and every deer I shot.

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      Gun control is not about ducks and deer.

      • Jeff

        You’re right and Christianity isn’t about gun control.

      • Jeff

        I see from your blog you consider yourself liberal on social issues. That’s enough said right there to know this has absolutely nothing to do with Christianity and has everything your social beliefs.
        Your social beliefs are one thing and I can respect that, but please don’t bring “as a Christian” into it. It is indeed a holier than thou thing to say.

    • http://retiredsenior rubenoff

      we all have the rights to own reasonable gun’s ie’ a rifle for hunting, a shotgun for game birds and a hand gun for home protection, if we have a clear criminal record and no mental issue’s we should have no problem pre qualifying in the background check prior to the purchase of the guns we want to fullfill the wishe’s in our rights, We then have the responsibility to ensure all these guns are secured in a steel lockable gun safe away from children, and if we want the children to use the rifles, we must for safety send them to gun safety training courses, seems pretty basic stuff, Guns will not be taken away unless we abuse their use in criminal activitie’s in which we have abused our own right’s and must suffer the action’s of the prevailing law’s

  • http://nowebsite Ann K

    I am very glad that you are taking a strong stand on this. I am praying that American Christians will open the eyes of their hearts and realize the truth about guns. Human life is more important than peoples’ rights to guns

    • Calle Alanaca Ries

      If human life is more important than peoples’ rights to guns, then why shouldn’t someone who is skilled with a gun be allowed to defend THEIR OWN LIFE from someone trying to harm them? Backwards logic.

  • Triadsense

    Good Post.

  • shel duan

    Fully agree. Don’t understand why so many Christians in the U.S. are against gun control. The U.S. is a different country from most other countries???

    • Jeff

      The U.S. is a different country from most other countries because of the Constitution and the importance of the Right to Bear Arms. How would america have fought against the Tyranny of the British rule and become an independent nation if it were full of a bunch of gutless anti-gun ninnies. Absolutely we should not be quick to pull the trigger. But if a man with evil intent walks in and points a gun at me (we mustn’t be fooled into believing a criminal can only acquire a weapon legally) and my family, you can bet I’m going to pull my trigger. Whether or not I would use deadly force would be determined within that moment, so help me God. How much easier for tyranny to pervade when the people drop their pitch forks and staves and cry “Peace” when peace is no longer possible. Jesus said, ” as much as it be possible for you…” to live peaceably with all men. I don’t support violent protests or anything of the sort. We MUST put prayer above all else. But in the end, when an army comes marching down our streets threatening to fire upon us, I think those who are seeking the Lord’s will will know it. Those who so vehemently oppose the 2nd amendment don’t pause for a moment and acknowledge that a criminal will carry out devious murder by any means he sees fit. Whether with a gun, a bomb, a toothpick. Many seem to be so intimidated by a weapon because it makes a loud ‘bang’ and looks kinda scary and has been hyped up by Hollywood and images of war so much that we have become quick to shake our finger at it. It’s just as easy for some 15 yr old kid to google “how to make a bomb” and find out that it can be as easy as mixing household ingredients together and pouring them into an enclosed tube. No one with a sense of morality supports violence. Not even the unbeliever. But gun control is not the way to solve the problem. Thomas Paine said, “If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace.” If I lay down and die instead, that may not happen. If by chance God reveals at that time that is his plan, so be it. But look at the Harvard study that analyzes other nations and proves clearly that gun control does not reduce violent crime.
      Yours in Love.

  • http://www.myprogressivefaith.com Onix Sosa

    Well stated its time we reclaimed the cross and ministry of Christ from those who seek a salvation in the here after and are so quickly willing to disregard the here and now. I will share it on my Facebook page and if you concent on my blogg (All credits given ofcourse). God bless and may your faith continue to grow strong. http://www.facebook.com/MyProgressiveFaith

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      You are welcome to share. Thanks for asking.

  • Constitution

    The right to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT be infringed.

    • Jason

      I think what strikes me most about your arguments is this. You have an article written from a Christian perspective about what Jesus (the person that Christians says is their lord and savior) would say about this. They point about bible verses, and actual quotes from him. Instead of going to the bible to prove your points, because you can’t, you bring up the 2nd amendment over and over. All I can take away from this is, in truth being a Christian isn’t your primary focus, and the Bible is not your primary source of inspiration. Instead it conservatism, and the 2nd amendment. I don’t want to attack, but as an outsider looking into the church, the modern conservative movement has done little but bring harm to their church. Greed, guns, and good old fashioned patriotism has take the place humility, faith, and piety. If peace came from the end of the barrel, then Jesus would have taken a much different path. Instead of a guideline and how to live, your actions paint the Bible has a story that can be tossed aside if it doesn’t fit your needs. Peace.

  • Constitution

    he catholic church defends peace between nations. BUT, to see your house being broken in and your family raped and then just stand there, looking at the criminal and saying “I’m for peace!” is not a christian atitude. Christianity has always been about fighting to protect what is good. Remember, be peaceful, but not a pacifist (speacially if you are up against EVIL).

  • Phil

    Is there a Christian church or denomination that embodies the things you believe on this topic?

    • http://www.ellenpainterdollar.com Ellen Painter Dollar

      Not sure what you mean by “embodies.” The National Council of Churches and a number of denominations have consistently published statements in favor of the kinds of common-sense gun legislation that I also support. The Presbyterian Church has done a particularly good job of making resources available and writing about the theology behind Christian support of gun control.

  • http://www.myprogressivefaith.com Onix Sosa

    I can’t say why for sure. But clearly our religious leaders are failing us an defaulting on their anointing and calling. IN my blog we ask the questions: Where are the disciples of Christ in the gun debate? Where is the voice the cries out in the wilderness? Where are the prophetic voices that proclaim “Thus saith the Lord”? http://www.myprogressivefaith.com/2013/02/where-are-disciples-of-christ-on-gun.html

  • http://www.myprogressivefaith.com Onix Sosa

    Where are the diciples Christ on the Gun debate? http://www.myprogressivefaith.com/search/label/guns

  • Alex

    HI Mrs. Dollar. God bless. As a Southern Baptist Christian I must say I not only disagree with you but It appears you have little to no understanding of the legal interpretation of the Second Ammendment. While tragedies tend to excite the emotions and expressing ones emotions is healthy, one must be careful not to base opinions on emotion.

    The right of an individual to defend his person and family with a fist, knife, firearm, etc is not in no way contradictory to the teachings of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Our Faith prohibits murder but it does not prohibit killing in self defense.

    This is a very simple matter really but the modern day media, with its constant glorification of Violence, death, sex and murder has taken a harsh psychological toll on the ability of man to think logically regarding matters that are very emotion-centric.

    As a firearms owner, I not only believe in the right of humans to self defense, I also believe in the right of a free people to be prepared to fight against a tyrannical, oppressive State.

    If you truly believe that police and military should be the only humans allowed by the State to utilize firearms, then logic would dictate that you believe that human beings in places like North Korea are better off because they cannot own firearms. Do you aggree?

    I am an avid shooter, practice at the range at least once a month and have been shooting since I was 12 years old. I can say that I’m a better shot than most police officers too (local PD practices at the same range I do). Furthermore, most firearms owners I shoot with are very experienced as well. Seems to me you have little to no experience associating with the people you judge and your claims are, as I said earlier, purely emotion based. Got to a range some day, take some lessons, talk to REAL firearms owners rather than basing your opinions on what you see on televison and read on the internet.

    I hope I’m not coming off judgemental. This is a very important matter to me and millions of law abiding, responsible Americans.

    In closing, I’d like to refer you to a little tidbit written by Judge Alex Kozinsky:

    “My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late.

    The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed – where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.” Silveira v. Lockyer, Kozinski, J., dissenting.

    God Bless,
    Just a guy from California

    • CynthiaL

      So, as a conservative Christian, you are total for gun rights & shooting anyone YOU deem necessary, because it is your right under the LAW. However, you totally disregard & continually fight, argue, gripe, whine, & constantly disagree with others having their freedom to legally have an abortion under the LAW & using obtaining healthcare (Obamacare) which is under our LAW! Sounds like cherry picking to suit your own personal agenda to me & nothing to do with Jesus or God or Christianity.
      It breaks my heart to see my fellow conservative Christians having amnesia on what a Christian is. FYI: A Christian is someone who believes in, gives their heart & soul to Him & attempts to follow Jesus Christ teachings & actions. By the way, leave the Old Testament out of all this unless you are Jewish. (S. Baptist x 21 yrs, Catholic x 20 yrs, now Unity Church d/t their main focus is to teach & PRACTICE to love & others, help the less fortunate & actively promote PEACE!). Thank goodness it appears this Pope may be able to enlighten his flock & bring them back to what Jesus taught. I pray for conservative Christians d/t they do not know what they do!

  • karla

    Hi Ellen,
    I wondered if there was a useable link that you could send me re: the article you wrote for the women’s blog? I want to be able to post an educated article on social media that is not TOO offensive so as the conservative Christians can’t “hear” it. It sounds like that might be the one! :)

  • Beth Janelle

    It’s this type of far left, liberal socialism, that is leading this country in the direction of progressive ideology. AKA, communism. To suggest that guns should be banned simply because people don’t have the safety training? Well, that is ridiculous. We have a criminal justice system in place to admonish the evil people who commit these horrific crimes. You subscribe to the notion that “security” is more important than “freedom”…to that I say, you deserve neither!

    Further, the 2nd Amendment is the only right that protects us from Tyranny. Without it, you would not be allowed to write the buffoonery piece as noted above. Your first amendment would be gone. That’s the troubling disconcertion I have with Christians who prefer the divide and conquer method simply by political ideology. Perhaps some research is in order on your part. Both parties are moving left and mirroring one another.

    You appear to be a full supporter of the feminist movement. Have you studied Betty Friedan?

    Betty Friedan (February 4, 1921 – February 4, 2006) was an American writer, activist, and feminist.
    A leading figure in the women’s movement in the United States, her 1963 book The Feminine Mystique is often credited with sparking the “second wave” of American feminism in the 20th century. In 1966, Friedan founded and was elected the first president of the National Organization for Women, which aimed to bring women “into the mainstream of American society now [in] fully equal partnership with men”.

    That’s not all she did. In fact, her purpose was to attack full time home makers, get them out of the home, make them feel like victims. She attempted to convince women that they are victims of an oppressive, unjust patriarchy. While she claimed to speak for all women, including herself, she in fact supported a more sinister movement. In the early 90′s, the truth came out that she was a member of the communist party U.S.A. and a staunch supporter of Stalin. She subscribed to the Marxism ideology. Karl Marx was an atheist and the greatest mass murder of all time. Your socialist speak, as a far left progressive, moves you eerily close to the ideology of communism. Even if you don’t see it. Turns out, Friedan was simply doing her part to dismantle families.
    Guns are not the problem. Taking them away is not the solution. Ridding this nation of the sinister evils, of men and women who support abortion, homosexuality, and Authoritarians would be a good start.

  • sir kodak

    The right of an individual to defend his person and family with a fist,
    knife, firearm, etc is not in no way contradictory to the teachings of
    our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Our Faith prohibits murder but it
    does not prohibit killing in self defense.

    Tony

  • Rainbo_Dash

    Hi Alex,

    As a gun owner myself, I agree with the article and would like to point out a few concerning arguments you have laid out.

    First, the gun-related ideas; simply due to the fact that many of us sport shooters may have a far better shot or mastery of firearms than military or police personnel, does not mean we are more qualified to deal with a high-stress situation. Everyone makes mistakes. In the case that you feel you are qualified, I would encourage you to become a police officer, as your desire for justice and order is in keeping with that profession, rather than as a vigilante.

    Second, and vastly more importantly, you are basing your position off of your constitution first, and the bible second. I need only point to the fact that you mentioned Jesus only once in your entire response, focusing primarily on a document written not only by man but by non-Christians.

    If you are a true Christian, you know that the bible was directly or indirectly inspired by God. As a true Christian the Bible takes precedence over all laws made by man, which are to be followed only if they do not break God’s law:

    “Every person should place themselves under the authority of the government. There isn’t any authority unless it comes from God, and the authorities that are there have been put in place by God. 2 So anyone who opposes the authority is standing against what God has established. People who take this kind of stand will get punished.” – Romans 13:1-3 CEB

    God has not called us to be a militia. He does not call us to rise up in rebellion if the government infringes upon our “rights”. You say you believe in the “right” for people to defend themselves against a tyrannical, oppressive state; where does this belief originate from? Is it from the American constitution, or is is from the teachings of the Bible?

    Romans 12:18-19 says; “If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people. 19 Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath”.

    Let me ask you this; if you truly believe that God is all powerful, and if you believe in him he will provide everything you need, how does it reflect your faith if you prepare for an apocalypse with weapons and ammo? Are you not expressing your faith in yourself to survive, rather than in God? If you keep guns at the ready in your house in preparation for someone to break in, are you not, in essence, telling God that you don’t trust him?

    Ask yourself this – if Jesus lived today, would he be a gun owner?

    Turn to the Gospels for the answer to this; “One of those with Jesus reached for his sword. Striking the high priest’s slave, he cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, “Put the sword back into its place. All those who use the sword will die by the sword.” – Matthew 26:51-52.

    In conclusion – is it wrong to own a gun? No. Jesus never publicly criticized any of his followers for owning swords. He did, however, oppose using them in their defense of him.

    I’m going to be rather blunt in my rebuke. Jesus instructs us to turn the other cheek, not to return fire. From what I can tell in your argument, you do not agree with that. I would advise you to take a close look at your faith, because if the constitution takes centre stage in your stance on gun control and self defense, then you in no way represent a Christian view, you represent an American view.

    I encourage you to let the bible be the judge of your position if you are indeed a Christian. In this I would also warn you not to go to the Bible seeking confirmation of your belief, but to go there in search of truth.

    I will end with this; the constitution is not Christian. It is not Biblical canon, it is not sacred, it is not Holy; it is a set of secular laws, just like the laws of any country. And as a Christian we are to (as I already pointed out) follow the laws if and only if they do not oppose the Bible.

    Just remember, you are a Christian first, and an American second.

    Blessings

  • turning fifty3

    Thanks Ellen. I agree. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on my blog on this topic:

    http://thegoodbookblog.com/2013/nov/18/seek-the-welfare-of-the-city-the-biblical-argument/

    I appreciate your concern to think “christianly,” as opposed to simply parroting a partisan political perspective.

  • Calle Alanaca Ries

    First off, I would like to address your statement of “On issues of sexuality and babies, Jesus and the Bible can be a bit murky. Yet Christians consistently speak on these issues with certainty and passion.” That is absolutely ridiculous. The bible has CLEAR statements about God’s stance on homosexuality and abortion. Homosexuality is a sin, an “abomination” to use precise words. In the Old Testament, Leviticus 18:22 specifically. And in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:10-11, and many others. Let’s not also forget the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the two cities God absolutely annihilated because of homosexuality and sexual immorality.

    Second, if all humans have a right life, shouldn’t we also have a right to defend that life? Do you mean to tell me that if someone broke into your home and was about to kill you, you would just let them kill you? You wouldn’t try to find a weapon to protect yourself with?


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