CALIFORNIA December 10, 2012 – The tragedy of viciously taking another person’s life is always difficult to understand. But to appear noble and use these tragedies for ideological gain only cheapens the life that was lost. In the high profile murder/suicide case of Jovan Belcher of the NFL Kansas City Chiefs, the complex debate over gun control exploded on cue just like after the Aurora shooting incident (see my article here).
To reduce the number of violent murders, the real culprit must be identified. If it’s purely a matter of a weapon’s existence, then severely limiting their availability or banning them entirely would make sense. In fact, many see guns as equivalent to a flesh eating virus needing to be eradicated at all costs. Others see gun ownership as a fundamental right never to be infringed. Obviously, until a principled, objective and fact based dialogue occurs, any mutual appreciation of a gun’s value and dangers will remain elusive.
Not surprisingly, some Biblical principles help us to understand how to approach guns. First, weapons are never condemned as intrinsically evil; they’re inanimate objects incapable of independent action, just like bricks, razor blades or poison. Second, the devil (John 8:44) and man’s wicked heart (Jeremiah 17:9) are the authors of evil actions, not the weapons they use. Third, unjustified killing is consistently condemned (Exodus 20:13; 1 Timothy 1:8-10). Interestingly, the very first murder in the Bible has all three of these principles present, with God severely judging Cain, not the rock, stick, or hands he used to kill Abel (Genesis 4:8-11). Lastly, we clearly have the right and the duty to protect ourselves and our families, even by lethal means if necessary (Exodus 22:2-3; Luke 11:21).
Now, if guns aren’t evil, does that mean they’re mere toys? Of course not! Deep respect for their lethality, access and safe use must always be taught, just like the need to drive a car responsibly. In addition, nobody wants violent criminals or the mentally unstable to have access to guns, and obviously every parent is concerned about their children and possible gun accidents.
Safe and responsible access and use is one thing, but do we really need guns? The most stringent gun control laws are found in urban areas, with government the sole source of armed protection. Unfortunately, objective data shows that when communities are disarmed, these become the very environments violent gun crime is the highest (see John Lott’s objective research in “More Guns Less Crime”). In the larger context, our nation’s founders guaranteed personal gun ownership in our Constitution because they understood the dangers facing an unarmed citizenry if government power became abusive.
Unfortunately, there’s a self-satisfying nobleness in condemning something considered evil. On the surface it seems compassionate to hate guns and understand the killer. But to say that Jovan Belcher and Kasandra Perkins would still be alive if there were no guns ignores a fact of life: evil people do exist. If guns were removed from the public, then only criminals will remain armed. If our nation can’t secure its borders, which allows in tons of drugs and millions of illegals, why would we ever think guns could be kept away from criminals? To think otherwise is irresponsibly naive.
We grieve for the victims of violent crime. But to diagnose the wrong problem, deny reality, and reject valid purposes for gun ownership is a recipe for disaster by those who claim an idealistic high moral ground. Our Constitutional right to be armed recognizes the nature of man, the danger of unrestrained government and our need to take responsible precautions for ourselves. To ignore these truths is to put even more people at lethal risk.
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