What is a Christian view of gun control?

Depending on how you define "guns," guns were invented somewhere between AD 1000 in China and the 1860s during the American Civil War with early handguns being created in Europe in the 1500s. The Bible is silent on the issue of guns, per se, just like it does not mention computers and automobiles. But the Bible does have much to say about how we should act when using a tool like a gun or computer or car.

Gun control is broadly considered to be the idea that a civil government can regulate how people own or use guns. Throughout the history of the United States of America guns have been commonplace. From the muskets of European Settlers to the machine guns of World War II to the concealed carry firearms of today, America has nearly been synonymous with guns. Currently in the United States of America (2018), gun ownership is protected by the U.S. Constitution and recent surveys and research studies estimate that American civilians own between 260 and 393 million guns, legally and otherwise.

Whether or not a government should control the ownership of guns is up for debate. For comparison, the United States government does not control the number of cars a person can own, only at what age he can legally drive or purchase one, and how fast and where the car can be driven. Likewise, an American citizen can own and operate numerous computers, but it is against the law to use a computer to sell illegal drugs or to steal money from a bank. In the same way the United States government does not limit the number of guns a person or family can own, only that they should not be used to cause unnecessary emotional or physical harm.

The Bible holds government in high regard, for it is God who is responsible for government leaders for "He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding" (Daniel 2:21). These government leaders create the laws of the land and Christians are instructed to abide by those laws (Romans 13:1–7; 1 Peter 2:13–17). Gun laws are just one of the many laws that Christians must obey.

The Bible speaks about the use of weapons in defense of self and of others. Regarding self-defense, in Nehemiah 4:15–23 we see that Nehemiah gave instructions to the people of Israel to be prepared to defend themselves in the event that their enemy came upon them. We read that during construction, "half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail" (Nehemiah 4:16); "each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other" (Nehemiah 4:17); "each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built" (Nehemiah 4:18); and that "half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out" (Nehemiah 4:21). These were not guns, but they were tools, weapons to defend themselves if war was thrust upon them. The Bible may be silent on guns, but it is not silent on weapons.

Pertaining to the defense of others, Ezekiel 33:1–9 speaks of the responsibility of a watchman. He is the one who remains active, at attention, looking for possible harm. The watchman is said to be guilty if he sees harm coming but does not warn others: "But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman's hand" (Ezekiel 33:6). Psalm 82:4 says that we are to "Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." It is good to be prepared to defend others, and some people would argue that having the right weapon at the right time makes this defense possible.

The Bible never condemns a person for carrying a weapon for self-defense, though it does admonish those who are not prepared. It is noted in 1 Samuel 13:19–22 that as Israel was confronted with war with the Philistines they had no spears or swords, only Saul and Jonathan had them. It would appear the Israelites had to prepare their farm tools to be weapons (1 Samuel 13:20). Even Jesus explained the necessity of self-defense, telling His disciples to be prepared as they departed from Him. He counseled them to bring their moneybags and knapsacks and also said, "And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one" (Luke 22:35–38). The disciples responded that they had two swords, which Jesus said was enough.

Personal freedom is a virtue of the Bible. In a nation built upon freedom, some will choose to say that guns lead to violence; others will choose to say that guns can prevent violence. Romans 14:1–4 helps us to understand that where the Bible does not speak specifically on a subject, there is the freedom for us to choose. The civil liberties of America have readily afforded people the right to "keep and bear arms." And while the Bible does not say a person must keep a weapon, it permits a person to do so. Thus, gun control is not a moral or biblical issue, rather a philosophical or political issue that can and should be regularly debated, openly, honestly, and fairly.

So, how should a Christian view gun control? A Christian can be a proponent of gun control, believing that removing guns from the hands of people brings about peace. A Christian can be against gun control, believing that law abiding citizens are best able to protect themselves when they are armed. Whatever Christians do believe, we, as citizens, are called to submit to whatever gun ownership and use laws the government institutes.

Related Truth:

Self-defense – What does the Bible say?

Does the Bible say anything about war?

Are Christians subject to the laws of the land?

What is a Christian view of politics?

What is a biblical view on freedom of speech?

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