[The American Vision] …
The right to bear arms: American Vision flash position papers, No. 2 |
In response to questions from a reporter on the topic of gun violence and gun control, I thought it best to position the answers in the form of a brief position paper article.
1. How would you describe your position on gun rights and the Second Amendment? For example, do you support new gun legislation?
I would describe my personal position as that of constitutional carry. Based upon our commitments to the positions of liberty represented in Scripture and the English Common Law and Reformed Christian traditions, constitutional carry would probably best describe the position of American Vision as well.
In general, the Second Amendment’s phrase “shall not be infringed” should be understood strictly. It does not allow our governments to place requirements or regulations upon law-abiding citizens regarding the ownership, possession, or bearing of arms.
Further, we believe the right was not originally restricted to militias, but intended to describe the right of individuals. Even if it did originally describe only militias, the right would still inhere naturally in individuals by virtue of the nature of what a true militia is, and the Constitution was recognizing that right fundamentally.
In light of all this, we would not only not support any new gun legislation, we would favor the removal of a large amount of existing gun laws.
Free individuals should not be required to submit to any government for permission to own or carry firearms openly or concealed. Private property owners should be able to set rules for carry in their own premises under their own authority, and government should honor, support, and protect these rights.
2. In your reading of the Bible, what/where do you see your views on gun ownership reflected in it? Why is supporting the Second Amendment and personal gun ownership not contrary to your faith commitments?
The Bible teaches that our highest social priorities include the defense of life, liberty, and property. These are God-given rights and duties as individuals and families, and they are fundamental to his laws (the Ten Commandments, et al). Guns are therefore a pro-life and pro-liberty issue. Governments exist to help protect these rights, which means they must also honor and abide by them themselves.
The Bible upholds the use of lethal force in preservation of home and of life (Ex. 22:2–3; Prov. 24:10–12; Est. 8–9; Neh. 4; cp. John 15:13–14).
Jesus taught that perpetrators forfeit their life by attempting violent crime (Matt. 26:52).
Those who possessed weapons in Scripture are seen to be well-skilled in the use of them (Judg. 20:15–16; 1 Chron. 12:1–2, 21–22).
To be disarmed is to be enslaved and forced into a disruption of the economic order due to government regulations and monopolies (1 Sam 13:19–22).
On the contrary, the mere presence of a couple weapons had psychological effects that put criminals to flight (1 Sam 13, 14). (See my sermons on these chapters in my Commentary on 1 Samuel, or here online for free.)
There is a reason why Scripture tells these stories: they illustrate the defense of life, liberty, and property in the midst of a fallen world and fallen human government.
Ultimately, the goal of the Christian faith includes world peace in which the law of God flows forth from Zion to all nations, and nations disarm and do not even learn war any more (Isaiah 2:1–4). Until that time comes to pass in the Lord’s pleasure, citizens must maintain the right to protect life, liberty, and property by arms equal to the threats posed to them, and this right shall not be infringed.
For more on both American history and biblical views on these topics, see:
3. What would you say to your fellow Christians who believe (for their own theological reasons) in stronger gun control or that guns in general should not be part of society.
Obviously, this depends entirely on what their reasonings or arguments may be. The Bible upholds even the use of lethal force in protection of life, liberty, and property. Any claim, specific or general, that guns should not be a part of society would be addressed not only in that light, but also in regard to its own specific biblical meaning, context, analysis, etc.
What we hear most often are general emotional appeals regarding suffering, victims, etc., or else views we consider contorted, misguided, or downright political spin. The best way to answer the question of responding to opposing views, theological or otherwise, is to provide some of the examples where we’ve done just that:
4. Regarding school shootings (from a theological position) how do you address the source of, and solution to, these situations?
We believe that only an increase in faith in Christ and Christian liberty will improve the safety and well-being of our society in any lasting or meaningful way.
The Bible provides one general solution to the problems of sin, anger, hatred, rage, madness, bullying, envy, revenge, and violence. That is conversion. The heart must be changed. Beyond this, the Bible teaches the need for strong families, communities, home and private schools, churches, charitable organizations, businesses, and last of all civil governments. If the principles of love, self-government, and individual responsibility are not first taught and reinforced in all the primary places just listed first, attempting to create laws in civil government to regulate guns is virtually pointless, and actually only punishes innocent and law-abiding citizens, and destroys liberty.
We believe that the primary focus on coercive laws that require support of civil-government schools and other coercive tax-funded institutions places violence and threats at the foundations of society. These are the sources of social malaise deeper and more impressing than the random acts of violence which spring from them. These should be replaced by freedom, love, incentive, and justice.
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