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Biblical Principles of Gun Ownership and Gun Control

By: Atticus Nguyen

Photo Courtesy of Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

What Is My Family's Background with Firearms?

I'm a Georgia boy, which is pretty obvious if you know me for more than 5 minutes, maybe 30 seconds, when I'm back on campus in Wisconsin. A big part of stereotypical Southern culture is that we value gun ownership, but that is an extremely broad generalization at best.

If you go to my home county in Georgia, not everyone owns a gun. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find at least one person who chooses to conceal carry anywhere you go. Granted, that statement is purely based on personal observation. Perhaps my eyesight is even worse than I remember, or people are way better at concealing their pistol than I thought. The only times I know or deduce someone is carrying is when they make it obvious with the way they dress given the weather or their demeanor.

My mother is against gun ownership, and it is based on a fear of what a gun can do, which I can understand. When he was in medical school in Vietnam, my father was conscripted into a local militia, and he was trained to fire a Kalashnikov (AK) style rifle to defend the country in case another Southeast Asian country like Cambodia invaded Vietnam. My grandfather on my dad's side of the family was also an officer in the South Vietnamese army and was a "Mustang," a former enlisted man who was commissioned as an officer through the South Vietnamese equivalent of West Point. He served as an officer starting 6 months before the fall of Saigon to Communist North Vietnam.

The U.S. and Mass Shootings

As I begin to write this section of the article, it is easy for me to become the cold-hearted clinician version of Atticus that wants to focus on the present and deal with the emotions later. I can't do that. There is this reality to every news story of a shooting; someone who is an image bearer of God died or was close to death. My heart breaks when people die in a mass shooting. It is an injustice, but my heart also breaks and is angered when people forego mourning and quickly use an event like that to selfishly push forward whatever policy they have in mind with firearms, police, etc.

Example: I found it horribly ironic and hypocritical that I saw someone on social media who wanted to completely abolish guns to protect children, but I remember vividly seeing her post weeks earlier advocating for a woman's right to choose to have their baby killed in the womb.

That real-life example happened after the Nashville shooting.

Mass shootings, statistically, are rare and account for a small percentage of gun-related deaths in the United States. More deaths come from suicide annually, and there is a reality that news sources and social media sensationalize and puff up stories about shootings, given their political leanings. There is the reality that there is no common operational definition of what a mass shooting is, so a source could freely use a homicide that involved two people dying and label it as a mass shooting in their story.

I could go on forever about the issues of lying in media today, but I want us to take a look at gun violence statistics so that we can apply Biblical truth later in the article.

  • An FBI study in 2019 showed that 45.7% of homicides are conducted with a handgun and 2.6% with a rifle.

  • The Pew Research Center shows that 54% of gun deaths are from suicide.

  • The Pew Research Center shows that in the statistics of 2021 homicides, 81% of them were done with a firearm.

Statistics like these may produce fear, but we must also understand them with perspective. In the Pew Research Center article I used, these percentages of gun deaths came from a data pool of 48,830 known deaths in 2021. Those 48,830 deaths are extremely small compared to the over 330 million people who currently reside in the United States.

Why the Call for Gun Control?

I understand the heart posture of those who call for gun control or the outright ban of guns. They are tired of seeing people die from firearms, and the removal of firearms seems like the fastest way to end this violence. Except all of the blame in this act of mass murder is placed on the gun, an inanimate object or tool used by the murderer. It would be odd for us to blame a kitchen knife if someone went on a mass stabbing since it would be the individual, not the tool, who would be sentenced in a court of law.

As Christians, we understand the depraved, sinful state of peoples' hearts. Murder begins at the heart (see Matthew 5). Because of original sin, we are not inherently good people who all of a sudden have the temptation to kill people because we pick up a firearm. If those who desire to murder do not have access to a firearm, then they will plan to do so with whatever means like a knife, hammer, etc. When Cain killed Abel, no one in Genesis called for rock or stone control because it was Cain who used an object with multiple uses for homicide.

There is also a belief that anyone could walk into a gun store and leave with a firearm without anything in the way to stop them, which is not true. There are a plethora of gun laws in place, and if you choose to buy a gun through a store, a background check is required at minimum, depending on the state that you reside. Other states require you to obtain a license first, alongside attending a state-certified firearms class. Other states like California require you to heavily modify your gun or limit their residents to a small subset of firearms.

Here is another belief that I have noticed; the same individuals who call for the extremes of gun control also call for the defunding of police agencies. It is contradictory because it is based on the belief that everyday citizens do not need firearms because the police should be the ones who handle matters like defending everyday citizens from criminals and enforcing the law. While they are putting their trust in a law enforcement institution, they are at the same time calling for the reduction of law enforcement resources, leaving them defenseless.

Gun control should occur in a society entirely made up of sinners, which includes myself. Now, for those who are Pro-2A, please continue reading before you click off. It is a good and Biblical principle for criminals or those who have a history of bad mental health to be barred from purchasing a firearm. Even though gun deaths from suicide or homicide are still relatively rare, we should have policies that prevent them within reason. Gun control, however, does not stop sinners who intend to murder with a firearm to try to procure one. Pastor Josh Buice of Prays Mill Baptist Church makes it clear that when citizens have their constitutional right to own a firearm taken away, then the criminals would still have their firearms because they do not want to follow the laws given by the government. Pastor Buice gives a very good explanation for the false paradigm of gun control in his blog article here.

How Should the Christian Respond to Gun Control?

Let's say this blog article doesn't change the world and the minds of everyone in the U.S., shocker right? If the U.S. were to completely ban firearms or continue restrictions, what should the Christian do?

When I read Pastor Buice's article, I was certainly convicted of the reality that unless the government bans me from sharing the gospel or congregating with fellow believers, I'm called to submit to the governing authorities (see Romans 13).

I would rather live and die for the glory of Christ than for an amendment of a nation that is, in the words of Pastor Tony Wood, going to hell in a handbasket. I believe it was John MacArthur that said only the nation of Israel will remain at the return of Christ. I'm sure, as Pastor Buice points out, that there are a plethora of so-called professing Christians who would ultimately choose their guns over Christ. There are those who may insult me by calling me one of the "sheep" for writing this article, and I only have one response: amen. By His grace alone, I am one of His flock whom He will sustain so I may have my faith turned to sight.

I say this again before I continue; as ridiculous as gun laws can or will become, we as Christians are called to submit to the governing authorities and only rebel when our Biblical calls to worship and evangelize are restricted or banned.

Biblical Gun Ownership and Stewardship

Is it a sin to own a gun? No, and here is another key point: you don't have to own one.

The Bible does not ban the ownership of weapons (see Luke 22:35-38), and we see God instructing His people in the Old Testament to have weapons to defend Israel in a time of war. Please note that I am not comparing Israel to the U.S. in geopolitics or claiming that the U.S. is the continuation of Israel in the New Testament era. I don't think I need to say the handbasket quote again.

The principles I'll share come from these questions and heart postures:

  1. How can I glorify God with gun ownership?

  2. How can I love my neighbor by stewarding the gun(s) I own?

I'll answer the first question primarily as an everyday citizen who does not currently serve in the military or law enforcement. We can glorify God as current or future gun owners by using it to provide for and protect ourselves and those around us. I'm not going to share my opinion on hunting for sport at this time, but there is much value and much necessity, depending on where you live, to hunt for protein sources. Men, should the Lord allow you to raise a family, there is something natural and right according to God's design to have you, the head of the home, to find out what is the bump in the night and act accordingly. If it is an intruder intending to harm your family, then we must apply the principle of loving your wife as found in Ephesians 5. You are called to stand in the way of anyone that wants to hurt her, and there is a reality that you may need to give up your life so she may live.

That transitions to my next point. We can love our neighbors with our gun ownership by being properly trained in how to operate it. I've seen more than my fair share of irresponsible gun handling that makes anyone's soul cringe. However, it isn't just about marksmanship and tactics; it also involves wisdom and gentleness. I know that sounds weird, but we Christians are not called to act like gruff and tough special forces stereotypes with our heads constantly on a swivel. Conceal carrying or owning a firearm does not excuse that. Oftentimes, we need to turn the other cheek and forgive offenses directed towards us. The Bible does not condone revenge since vengeance belongs to the Lord (see Romans 12:19-21), but that is different from defending our families, friends, and other neighbors should physical harm come their way.

My benediction to end this post if you will are these calls to action: Instead of meditating and focusing on hypothetical scenarios and signing up for that next tactical training class, be sure that you are first meditating and focusing on Godly wisdom and discipleship.

To God be the glory alone!


In Christ,

Atticus

 

REFERENCES

  1. Ali, S. (2023, May 15). Why are mass shootings on the rise this year? Slate Magazine. https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2023/05/how-to-make-sense-of-the-recent-increase-in-mass-shootings.html

  2. Answers In Genesis. (2013, April 1). Tragic reminders. Answers in Genesis. https://answersingenesis.org/sanctity-of-life/mass-shootings/tragic-reminders/

  3. Buice, J. (2015, December 8). Gun Control Isn’t Fixing This. G3 Ministries. https://g3min.org/gun-control-isnt-fixing-this/

  4. GotQuestions.org. (2022, January 4). GotQuestions.org. https://www.gotquestions.org/self-defense.html

  5. Gramlich, J. (2023, April 26). What the data says about gun deaths in the U.S. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2023/04/26/what-the-data-says-about-gun-deaths-in-the-u-s/

  6. Grantham-Philips, W. (2022, June 5). What is a mass shooting? There’s no consensus definition, but here’s what you should know. USA TODAY. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2022/06/05/mass-shooting-defined-meaning/7481731001/

  7. Mcateer, E. (2013, February 16). Squaring the Bible and the Second Amendment. Panama City News Herald. https://www.newsherald.com/story/opinion/letters/2013/02/16/1-96470/33948442007/

  8. Weapons that are most commonly used for homicides. (2023, June 15). Joslyn Law Firm. https://www.criminalattorneycolumbus.com/which-weapons-are-most-commonly-used-for-homicides/


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