Guns In America: What Does Jesus Have To Say?

In Tough Questions by Antwuan Malone

The massacre in Newtown has rubbed some old wounds with regard to how America deals with guns. And, in true American fashion, the argument is split. Last night, upon reading an entirely separate response from the Newtown shooting regarding God in schools (and boy did I get fired up about that), I ran across this gun response. As I read (and watched the video below), I wondered how Jesus would respond.

But before we get to Jesus, let’s listen to a few other voices in the argument. 

Guns-Free Zone

Some label the “no guns allowed” response to the latest tragedies a knee jerk reaction, but I’m not sure that’s entirely the case. No one called for the elimination of guns after the Colorado shooting, the Fort Hood shooting, the New York Snipers, the gang bangs in inner cities or any other criminal shooting act in America. But the Newtown shooting is a last straw for many Americans. How long do we stand idly by and watch our citizens become victims of  cowards behind guns? Especially when said shooters cannot be brought to justice since their trend is to shoot themselves after their crimes. Clearly, the law is not deterrent enough.

Or so goes the argument.

It is interesting that when you look at this site showing notable school shootings across the world  (it’s wikipedia, so hardly super reliable, but interesting still) you’ll find several. But you’ll also find that the United States is not on the list, and that’s because our list is bigger than the list of the rest of the world combined. You can see that list here. You can’t deny that such data makes for an interesting point concerning the way we handle arms. What is the United States doing so different from the rest of the world that we come away champions of the school shootings by such a large margin.

I will say this. As a parent, when my children show that they cannot be responsible with their possessions, I remove them. I’m not advocating the government is our parents, but I do understand the logic.

Fight Fire with Fire

The opposite view sounds despicable when heard, but probably makes more sense than its naysayers give it credit. It could be argued that our Constitutional “right to bear arms” was granted to allow citizens to protect themselves from evil. It’s as simple as this. If I am not allowed to have a gun, and a criminal comes to my house with his illegal gun, I (and my family) are out of luck. The balance of power is tipped completely to the criminal in this case. Law abiding citizens (under the scenario where guns are prohibited) are not able to protect themselves and their families from the inevitable monopoly of firearms the underground criminal will have access to.

Those making this case see that drugs are illegal, and yet people are hooked on them. And that abortions are illegal in most places, yet they happen. And even that certain guns are illegal that are still in use. That’s just it. We’ve already made certain guns illegal. In fact, the shooter at Newtown could not get the gun he wanted because he didn’t want to jump through the hoops. The system worked. So how did he get the guns? The irresponsibility of a gun owner… at least in this case.  The law takes us so far, but then we have to start accounting for those who would disregard the law, and those who act irresponsibly (yet legally).

In essence, we must have the option to fight fire with fire.

Jesus and Weapons

This one’s not even that hard, or is it? Aside from the fact that there is no record of Jesus exercising combat (outside driving people selling goods out of the synagogue with a whip), Jesus often speaks to his disciples regarding the sword in very clear terms. We all know that he calls us to “turn the other cheek,” which is a statement that’s met with much disobedience. But we also see what Jesus says about Peter slicing a dude’s ear off. “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Hmm… what does that mean? This came, however, after Jesus “said to them, ‘But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.'” Clearly, Jesus meant this sword for their protection as he was heading to the cross in just a few hours.

Thus, we might conclude that Jesus was in favor of protecting yourself at the appropriate times. Ecclesiastes 3 is a popular verse speaking to “a time” for everything, and we see God in the old testament, and in Revelation, engaged in battle. Perhaps he’d be in favor of the right to bear arms.

So what do you think? Would Jesus be in support of a gun prohibition?

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Antwuan Malone is a Ministry Director at ELEVATE Young Adult Ministry (elevateministry.net) where empowers young adults toward Christian leadership. He is passionate about seeing young adults take their place in church history by drawing near enough to God to hear his call on their life, and courageously living in obedience to that call.