Two years ago yesterday, U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in a Tucson, Arizona parking lot. There have been 11 mass shootings in America since. Gun violence kills more than 30,000 Americans every year.
In response, Giffords and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, have written an op-ed in USA Today in which they announce “Americans for Responsible Solutions.” Its purpose is to prevent gun violence and protect “responsible gun ownership.” Giffords and Kelly note that they are gun owners themselves. They discussed their initiative yesterday on ABC News.
In a related story, the man behind a petition to deport CNN talk-show host Piers Morgan appeared on Morgan’s show Monday night. Morgan has been pushing for stricter gun control regulations since the Newtown tragedy. Alex Jones has responded by posting a petition on the White House website that accuses Morgan of being “engaged in a hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution by targeting the Second Amendment.” His petition has more than 100,000 signatures.
Are more restrictive gun laws a good or bad idea? This is a very complex issue: some argue for a total gun ban; others defend the possession of handguns but want to ban assault weapons; other see any ban as an infringement on their Second Amendment rights. My purpose this morning is to educate rather than to persuade, seeking not to defend a position but to describe briefly the logical and biblical options.
Here are some of the arguments made in support of gun control: restrictions would lower the number of violent crimes and mass shootings; a crime victim with a gun may be perceived as a greater threat to a criminal and thus become more endangered; the number of suicides and crimes of passion using guns would be lowered; firearms would be less accessible to children; the Second Amendment was targeted towards militia rather than individuals.
Arguments against: the Second Amendment was determined by the Supreme Court in 2008 to protect an individual’s right to possess firearms, unconnected to militia service; criminals will still gain access to guns, leaving law-abiding citizens defenseless; guns often deter crime, especially for women and weaker individuals; police cannot be expected to protect us from all violence; if guns are banned, a black market for them will be created; banning guns is a step toward losing Constitutional liberties; responsible gun control can be taught, lessening the threat of firearms.
What does the Bible say? Firearms were invented more than a thousand years after the New Testament, but biblical principles apply to our question. For gun use: Scripture clearly authorizes self-defense (Exodus 22:2); David told his men to “put on your swords!” (1 Samuel 25:13); Jesus instructed his disciples, “if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36).
For gun control: some interpreters believe that Jesus’ encouragement to purchase a sword was a symbolic warning that persecution was coming; David’s men were a fighting militia (1 Samuel 23:5); when Peter used his sword to defend Jesus, the Lord told his disciple to “put your sword back in its place” and warned that “all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52).
Should Congress restrict access to guns? What do you think? Whatever your position, we can all agree that the Father of humanity grieves when his children are harmed. Remember Jesus’ promise: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). Where can you make peace in our troubled world today?