America’s Founders on Gun Control and the Evil at Sandy Hook

America’s Founders on Gun Control and the Evil at Sandy Hook January 16, 2013

The following post appears courtesy of my friends at Wallbuilders, founded by David Barton. Wallbuilders is an organization dedicated to presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes, with an emphasis on the moral, religious, and constitutional foundation on which America was built.

In the wake of the heart-rending massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a cry has arisen for gun control. But such calls are misdirected.

The lessons of Scriptures and history are clear that the key is controlling what is in one’s heart, not what is in one’s hand. As the great Daniel Webster reminded a crowd at the U. S. Capitol:

[T]he cultivation of the religious sentiment represses licentiousness . . . inspires respect for law and order, and gives strength to the whole social fabric. Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.

The Founders understood that the inside was the most important focus, not the outside. This is why Thomas Jefferson believed the teachings of Jesus were so effective, explaining:

The precepts of philosophy, and of the Hebrew code, laid hold of actions only. He [Jesus] pushed his scrutinies into the heart of man, erected his tribunal in the region of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountain head.

While civil law prohibits murder, the Bible addresses it before it occurs—while it is still only a thought in the heart (see Matthew 5:22-28). As John Quincy Adams explained:

Human legislators can undertake only to prescribe the actions of men: they acknowledge their inability to govern and direct the sentiments of the heart. . . . It is one of the greatest marks of Divine favor . . . that the Legislator gave them rules not only of action but for the government of the heart.

The Founders were clear that only the Scriptures provide effective “rules for the government of the heart” and thus help prevent the crimes which originate internally:

  • Love to God and love to man is the substance of religion; when these prevail, civil laws will have little to do. ~ John Witherspoon, Signer of the Declaration
  • Without the restraints of religion and social worship, men become savages. ~ Benjamin Rush, Signer of the Declaration
  • I have always said, and always will say, that the studious perusal of the Sacred Volume will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands. ~ Thomas Jefferson, President, Signer of the Declaration
  • In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses. ~ James McHenry, Signer of the Constitution
  • Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet. ~ Robert Winthrop, early Speaker of the U.S. House

So if Congress and the media want to have a debate, let it be over what is put into the heart, not the hand – over returning instruction in moral and religious principles to schools and the public arena. In the meantime, there are already some measures that are completely legal and which you can help expand across the country:

  1. Get a Bible course in public schools around you
  2. Start a Good News Club in a nearby public school
  3. Get your legislature to pass a law authorizing an elective course on the Bible, such as those already passed in Texas, Tennessee, Arizona, and other states.


Pick up a copy of David Barton’s The Second Amendment.


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  • Deborah Evans

    Maybe the same folks who don’t believe we should make it harder for the mentally ill to obtain guns and ban assault rifles that have no use except to kill people should apply this same logic to their views on controlling abortion. These founding fathers who believed in the morals of the Bible did not condone establishing a particular religion through the government. Most of these men were self-admitted Deists and not Christians. By the way, I am a pro-life Christian who does not believe has the right to tell other women what they may or may not do in something as traumatic and personal as abortion. If you really want to make a difference, stop spending so much time on “talking” and get out there and feed the hungry, heal the sick, support and/or adopt mothers who see their only alternative as abortion. IMHO….

    • Thanks for your views, Deborah. As point of fact, though, most of the Founders were not self-admitted theists and were, in fact, Christians of various stripes. That point is of little consequence to this particular discussion, however. IMHO….

      May I ask a question of you? Do you think that you have the right to tell someone not to hold up the convenience store on the corner on a matter so traumatic and personal as providing food for their family? Or shoudl you stand by and do and say nothing?

      I’d also suggest that you are setting up a false dichotomy as if speaking truth about abortion and helping those in need is an either/or proposition. I would say both can be done simultaneously.