WOULD JESUS CARRY? Some thoughts on Gun Control
by Pastor Shah (Clearview Baptist Church)
The horrible tragedy in Newtown Connecticut has brought back the question—“Is it right for private citizens to own some or all kinds of guns?” Those in favor of gun control have argued that guns are the problem—“Remove the guns and you will prevent the crime from happening in the first place.” Those on the other side have argued that guns are not the problem—“Remove the guns and you will increase the crimes against innocent unarmed citizens.” So who is right?
The answer should be examined on three levels: constitutionally, historically, and biblically.
First, it comes down to twenty-seven words of the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The question here is whether the focus is on ‘individual rights’ of the citizens or on the rights of those who belong to the armed services or law enforcements. In 2008, the Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller upheld that the right to possess a firearm is “unconnected with service with a militia” and “militia” referred to “all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense.” U.S. Justice Antonin Scalia further opined that “Self-defense…was the central component of the right itself.” Bottom Line: The Founding Fathers made sure that the people had the right to defend themselves. Listen to the word of George Mason at the Ratification of the Constitution in 1788: “to disarm the people ― that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them…I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people…”
Next, historically, guns have always been a part of the American way of life. In the early days of our nation, individuals and families went out on the frontiers to start a new life. They needed protection against outlaws, hostile tribes, and wildlife. Guns were the great equalizers when outmatched and outnumbered. It allowed honest law-abiding citizens to make a successful living in the face of risks and threats. The same mindset has made us who we are—a people who believe in protecting their loved ones and their property; a people who stand against threats and intimidations; a people who fight back in the face of incredible odds. The Newtown tragedy is a sad reminder that physical force is no match against guns. Overall, violent crimes are much lower in the United States when compared to England and Australia, where guns are now banned. As the saying goes—“When guns are outlawed, only outlaws keep their guns.”
Finally, the Bible does have much to say on the subject. Some people claim that Jesus opposed any kind of self-defense, as noted in Matthew 5:39b, “But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” But the context of the passage reveals that Jesus was opposing vengeance, as noted in the previous verse: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’” He advised his disciples to purchase swords and defend themselves—“he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.” (Luke 22:36) But when Peter attacked the High Priest’s servant, He said, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) What a warning to those who attack innocent people!
So, would Jesus carry? He did—a Cross—because only the Cross has the power to stop a criminal. Until then a gun will have to do.