How do we stop gun violence?
Every time a tragedy happens that involves guns we immediately go to the wrong debate. We talk about gun control vs. gun rights. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be sensible limits to gun ownership. But we never talk about how hearts have become so evil. We have always had guns (well since the middle of the 15th century). You’ve seen old pictures of rifles and shotguns mounted in the truck windows in the High School parking lot in days gone by. Those guns may not have been the cool military-looking rifles that are available now, but think about what that says about how the world has changed. Why is no one asking why we could trust students to have rifles in their vehicles or have shooting clubs in NYC schools until 1969 where students often brought their own guns to school, and we hardly ever had a problem? Are we just accepting that we are producing more and more violent students and young adults without asking how that could change? Can we not have a conversation about what can be done to change the things about our culture that are producing so much mental illness, so much evil in hearts, so much hopelessness and so much anger? America has always had plenty of guns, so why is this issue only becoming an epidemic over the last 20 years?
To me, this is the central question that we must ask and answer if we ever hope to see a turn in these tragic incidents. However, we are pretty much not allowed to have that discussion. We can’t ask what effect moral relativism has had on our culture over the last 50 years. We can’t ask how declaring the biblical nuclear family to be irrelevant has affected the children we are raising. We can’t talk about how the Marxist philosophy of creating victim groups has given those at the bottom of the intersectional hierarchy permission to do whatever they wish to their “oppressors.” We can’t talk about the way that mainstream media has been stirring up anger toward anything that appears to be “mandating” traditional morals for decades. We can’t ask questions about the blurred lines between sin and mental illness. We can’t have discussions about the consequences of the Supreme Court errantly enshrining “Separation of Church and State” as Constitutional (When it was never in the Constitution and the current interpretation goes against the First Amendment - see article), thus pushing out any moral teaching based on a Judeo-Christian worldview from the public square and most importantly schools. We cannot admit that there is one way to run a country where most of the citizens take responsibility for themselves and others, and there is another way to run a country where people are devoid of personal accountability and responsibility.
In other words, we can’t talk about root issues at all. So that brings us back to the guns. It appears that the easy solution would be to ban guns. I said “ban” and not “get rid of” because you can’t get rid of all guns, all you can do is ban them. I’ve never heard anyone that supports that position even try to make the case that banning guns would take the guns away from the bad guys. Now think this through - we are doing nothing to change the morality of the nation, help more kids be raised in stable homes, teach people to take responsibility for themselves, encourage people to find peace and deal with sin and guilt through religion, stop celebrating wickedness that leads to more mental instability, secure the border to slow down the flow of drugs, or see each other as fellow Americans instead of divided intersectional groups, but we do want to take guns away from people who have gone through the proper channels to obtain them and care about following the law.
Just imagine for a moment what kind of world that will be. Our culture is becoming more and more evil at heart, and those people who do not care about the law or other people will still have guns, but no one else will. Will violence decrease? No. There’s no reason it would. Bad guys will still have guns, and they would know that no one else does. There is no reason that criminals would not become even more brazen. We already see that many of these attacks occur where the chances of encountering armed resistance are low. And overall violence is out of control in cities that have the most restrictive gun laws. One of the things that is most mind-boggling is that those most interested in banning guns also do not have any desire to secure our borders. This makes absolutely no sense. Without control of our borders, there is no way we could stop criminals from continuing to get any weapon they want.
So far I have come at this from a purely logical approach. But I want to briefly hit the biblical perspective on the issue of self-defense. I often hear Christians say things like, “God wouldn’t ever want us to defend ourselves in such a way that someone else might be hurt or killed.” Or, “If someone broke into my house they could just have my stuff, my stuff is not worth their life.” Or, “The Bible says to turn the other cheek, so we should never worry about defending ourselves.” Those sound nice. Those sound kind of Christian. The last one even uses a verse. But I don’t believe those statements line up with God’s perspective on the issue of self-defense.
You can get an in-depth explanation of this in my book Christ in Culture, but here’s a brief overview of the biblical evidence. First of all, I discovered in preparing for the book that the language used in the “Turn the other cheek” passage in Matthew 5 refers to a backhanded slap of insult, not a personal physical attack where your safety is in jeopardy. If you are slapped on your right cheek, the typical right-handed person would have to slap you with the back of their hand. The Bible is full of verses that say that is not our job to get vengeance. If someone wrongs us or insults us, we don't plot to get even. But biblically, that scenario seems to be different than an attack that could seriously injure you or your loved ones.
But some will say that Jesus told Peter to put his sword away, so Jesus must have been against self-defense. The only problem is that in Luke 22:35-38, Jesus tells His disciples to make sure they have a sword for protection. Why then would Jesus tell Peter to put his sword away when Jesus was being arrested? Maybe because these are government authorities (the religious authorities were also the government authorities), and because Jesus knew that this was God’s plan for Him.
I could give several more passages, but let’s just focus on two more:
When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. Luke 11:21 NIV
Jesus uses this as an illustration in the middle of His teaching. There are two interesting principles here. First, Jesus seems to have no problem with you arming yourself. Second, Jesus seems to think it makes all the sense in the world to protect your possessions with force, unless we are supposed to believe that Jesus was for having weapons, but not using them when the threat came.
If the thief is caught while breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no bloodguiltiness on his account. But if the sun has risen on him, there will be bloodguiltiness on his account. He shall surely make restitution; if he owns nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. Exodus 22:2-3 NASB
This passage is very interesting because it indicates that there is not a problem if a thief is killed while breaking into someone's home. As I said earlier, people often say, "My stuff isn't worth someone's life." There are two problems with this line of thinking. First, you don't know what lengths that person will go to get your stuff. People who are willing to break in while people are at home are dangerous people. Second, God is indicating here that the thief should have asked, "Is this person's stuff worth my life," because God says the thief will be responsible for his own death. The King James Version says that if he is smitten and dies there shall be no blood shed for him. Clearly that means no one needs to pay for the loss of the thief's life. The verse goes on to say that even if he is injured, if he survives to see the sun come up he must make full restitution even if it means selling himself.
There are several other passages that we could talk about. Again, I encourage you to pick up the book. But it does not appear that God has a problem with law-abiding citizens arming themselves to defend themselves, their families, and even their possessions. Because we live in a sinful world, and it is only getting worse, the idea of disarming those who follow the laws seems like a recipe for disaster. No amount of restrictions will stop calculated evil. Until we can be honest about how we got here, we aren’t getting out of this any time soon.