The Mormon Way of Doing Gun Control

The Mormon Way of Doing Gun Control December 11, 2015

In 2012, prominent author and Mormon, Jeff Benedict published “The Mormon Way of Doing Business: How Nine Western Boys Reached the Top of Corporate America.” The cover of the book displays a picture of Mitt Romney and a trumpeting angel Moroni. Here is a brief blurb from the promotional rollout of the book.

“The Founder of JetBlue. The former CEO of Dell Computers. The CEO of Deloitte & Touche. The former Dean of the Harvard Business School – and now a US Presidential candidate in Mitt Romney. They all have one thing in common. They are devout Mormons who work long hours but always spend their Sundays exclusively with their families, and always put their spouses and children first. How do they do it? Critically acclaimed author and investigative journalist Jeff Benedict (a Mormon himself) examines these highly successful business execs and discovers how their beliefs have influenced them, and enabled them to achieve incredible success. With original interviews and unparalleled access, Benedict shares what truly drives these individuals, and the invaluable life lessons from which anyone can benefit.”

In the book, Benedict recommends that there is a Mormon way of doing business. That religious convictions & commitments—in this case Mormon religious convictions—just may have the influence sufficient to lift a Latter-day Saint businessperson to a level of success envied by others. Of course, Benedict’s general propositions are very open to debate. Even so, I am intrigued by the title of his book. Slide business off the table and place gun control questions front and center. I think there is a case to be made for a general Mormon ethic that may be applied to questions relative to gun control. A Mormon way of doing gun control.

On December 3, my post on the heels of another mass shooting, was entitled “Gun Control? Yes, Something Has to Give.” Many people responded on comment boards and in personal conversations. The vast majority of the discussants (at least 90%) were practicing Mormons that read Civil Nations. I’ve been having these conversations for years and I appreciate the open exchanges with friends, family, other members of the Church, and other interested parties. Through it all, I am particularly interested by how frequently Mormons lead (it is first and foremost in argumentation) with a world-view that heavily favors lethal force against humanity in the face of confrontation. Justifications to shoot AND kill human beings span the following—and more: I may need to kill to protect my family from home intruders; I may need to kill to protect my food storage in times of acute shortages; I may need to kill to assist police because they don’t arrive at a confrontation fast enough or there are not enough police available (an uninvited self-commissioned deputation, if you will); and the government may need to be overthrown and, if necessary, I may need to kill to preserve the Constitution.

I get it, but as a Mormon, and in the face of Mormon/Christian teachings, why LEAD with the rationale that you may need to kill? Why not make that a second or third or fourth order justification for your position? Especially since there are several good reasons to support Second Amendment rights that do not include shooting to kill a man or woman. Such as target shooting, gun collecting, firearm restoration, ammunition reloading, and hunting to name a few. Then waaaaaaay down the list of reasons to oppose gun control measures (whatever they may be) could be a need to inflict lethal harm on another human being. This suggested ordering is very significant because Mormon teachings strongly, and I mean strongly, discourage the use of deadly force. Therefore, why do so many Mormons in the United States maintain implicit and explicit militaristic and violent leanings as primary justification to preserve robust gun rights?

So, I think there is a Mormon Way of Doing Gun Control and reasons to justify my position are guided by teachings of Jesus, teachings found in modern revelation, and teachings of modern prophets. By the way, I know you can create a similar list of scriptures and teachings that oppose what I am about to chronicle. But why lead with the clear exceptions rather than the very clear rules in your argumentation as a Mormon? Consider the following:

 

*Blessed are the peacemakers (Matt 5:9; 3 Nephi 12:9).

* “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44-45).

*Renounce war and proclaim peace (D&C 98:34).

*Sue for peace, not only to the people that have smitten you, but also to all people (D&C 105:38).

*Lift up an ensign of peace and make a proclamation of peace to the ends of the earth (D&C 105:39).

*And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably (Mosiah 4:13).

*Messiah shall be called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).

*Converted Lamanites bury weapons of war for peace (Alma 24:10).

*And make proposals for peace unto those who have smitten you (D&C 105:40).

*Spencer W. Kimball taught, “The False gods we Worship” (Ensign, June 1976). We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel—ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become antienemy instead of pro-kingdom of God . . .” (“The False Gods We Worship”, Ensign, June 1976).

*Russell M. Nelson taught, “Peace can prevail only when that natural inclination to fight is superseded by self-determination to live on a loftier level. . . . Now, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what does the Lord expect of us? As a Church, we must “renounce war and proclaim peace.” As individuals, we should “follow after the things which make for peace.” We should be personal peacemakers. We should live peacefully . . . we should live by the Golden Rule” (“Blessed Are The Peacemakers”, Ensign, October 2002).

Is there a Mormon way of doing gun control? The answer appears to be “Yes.” Mormon scripture and teachings of current and former Latter-day Saint prophets and apostles all instruct members to be peaceable first, warlike second (if at all). So argue against gun control measures all you like, but it behooves Mormons to lead with peaceful justifications (the joy you find in  shooting targets such as clay pigeons, legally hunting wild game, and collecting) and far, far less about lethal harm to a fellow human. Lift up an ensign of peace to the ends of the world and lead with peace. These are the guiding principles of any Mormon way of doing gun control.

Let the discussion continue.

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