The Beginnings of Christian Reform (15)

Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence… From the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences, and tendencies prove that to ensure peace, security, and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable… The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honour with all that’s good. George Washington

The liberty of the individual is an important place for Christian reform to take root. Why? Because it has been an area of systematic abuse and neglect, for generations.

In what ways? One important area is restrictive firearm legislation, which prevents law abiding, peace loving individuals owning and utilising firearms of their choice. Criminals appreciate restrictive firearm legislation, because it means their opportunities for criminal activity are significantly increased. Criminals can easily access weapons on the black market, so when they want to commit a crime, there are few members of the public with access to firearms in public places to stop them.

Consequently, gun free zones provide a haven for criminal activity. One of the most tragic and disturbing aspects of many mass shooting around the world in the last two decades, is that they have commonly taken place in “gun-free” zones. Criminals have gone to such a zone and begun shooting the innocent, knowing that much time will elapse before the police can arrive, and stop their rampage.

This provides a partial explanation for the Columbine school massacre, the Port Arthur shooting massacre in Tasmania in 1996, and a host of other evil deeds.

Easy public access to firearms doesn’t mean crime is therefore more likely; the opposite is true. When criminals know they can be shot by members of the public, immediately they use a weapon, it tends to restrain them.

And we must realise this very disturbing fact: criminals can wear government uniforms. The Nazis capitalised on the restrictive gun laws that were in place in Germany, before they were elected in 1933. They appreciated these, and ensured that when they’d been elected, only “appropriate” individuals were permitted to obtain a gun licence.

A member of the Nazi Party? “No problems!” A Jewish shopkeeper? “Fat chance for you!”

On the 9th and 10th of November, 1938, Hitler moved hard against the Jews in Germany, especially their synagogues and shops, torching them, in what was called the Kristallnacht (“Night of the Broken Glass”). Without guns, they had no protection, and over a 100 Jews died, whilst many others were taken away to concentration camps.

So you thought as a law-abiding citizen you’d be OK without a firearm, or the ability to legally acquire one? The lesson from Germany is this: evil or indifferent governments can manipulate restrictive gun laws to their own ends, and the innocent will suffer.

When governments prevent the law abiding person from easily acquiring the weapon of their choice, but see no problem with the police and armed forces having them, you know there is a problem. It’s called a double standard.

One law for you, Buster, and one for us!

Do they care that this is dripping with hypocrisy? Of course not. Evil or incompetent government and hypocrisy, go together like peas in a pod.

On a bright sunny day in October of 1991, Suzanna Gratia went to lunch with her parents at Luby’s restaurant in Killeen, Texas. In order to be in compliance with an unconstitutional law that forbade the possession of a concealed weapon, Ms. Gratia compromised and left her .38 calibre pistol in her vehicle. Suddenly, a madman, George Hennard, drove his truck into the cafeteria, got out of the truck and opened fire on those inside.

Ms. Gratia and her father, Al, turned over a table to use as cover. Ms. Gratia stated she reached for her purse to retrieve her .38, but then realized she had left it in her car.

Believing the madman was going to shoot everyone, Al Gratia, exhibited uncommon courage in rushing the killer. Hennard shot him in the chest, an obvious mortal wound. Ms. Gratia spotted a window, broken by another patron trying to escape, told her mother to follow her and then made her escape. Her mother decided she could not leave her wounded husband, sat on the floor and cradled his head in her arms. Hennard would return to where Mrs. Gratia sat and shoot her in the head. The couple had just celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary.[1]

       Does the Bible refer to individual self-protection? Yes it does.

If the thief is caught while breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no bloodguiltiness on his account (Ex.22:2).

Private property is important to God, and is clearly protected under the Eighth Commandment. The sin of Adam and Eve was to take what God had said was not their’s, and God judged them.  When criminals seek to seize another person’s property by breaking in and violence ensues, the innocent person is certainly entitled to forcibly defend himself, and what belongs to him. The criminal breaking in has exposed himself to the householder’s legitimate wrath and defensive strength and response. It may be the last thing the criminal does this side of facing the final judgment of God. If so, so be it.

Breaking in is a particular form of theft, and violence. The householder, if he hears a noise in his home at night, is at a disadvantage. He probably doesn’t know what is happening, and cannot be expected to know. On confronting his assailant, he may still not know if the attacker is intent on murder, or rape, or kidnapping, or if the thief is only concerned to steal. And he is not obliged to determine this before he protects the lives of his family; he may kill his assailant in the process. This is the risk that the thief takes in breaking in.

This is one of the reasons why community access to firearms is so important. There is nothing like the point of a gun to stop someone committing a crime, an issue that often goes unnoticed.

Law-abiding citizens in America used guns in self-defence 2.5 million times in 1993 (about 6,825 times per day), and actually shot and killed two and a half times as many criminals as police did (1,527 to 606)… [2]

Having said this, once a criminal has been arrested from his activities, the intended victim and any assistants are obligated to desist from unnecessary violence. Their goal has not been to kill the assailant (though this may have occurred in the struggle), but to protect their household and  property, and ensure the assailant is compelled to face justice. With justice should come restitution for the victim.

There is another point to this text, just as important. The Bible here shows that everyone has a responsibility in the community to help their neighbour, and to enforce godly law. The reason in other texts that an assailed person “cries out” (such as Deut.22:27), is with a hope or expectation that help may come. The notion of the citizen’s arrest is Biblical in origin, and a legitimate aspect of community safety and protection.

Conclusion:

For me to hear my neighbour’s cry for help when he is attacked and do nothing, is to implicate me in the crime against him. In fact, one of the Bible’s description of an evil man, is this: “When you see a thief, you are with pleased with him…” (Ps.50:18). Forceful and practical community response is a deterrent to criminals, and is obviously a means of strengthening a community.

Theft is a blight on any community. Thus every community member has a responsibility to do what he can to prevent theft, and to assist in the apprehension of thieves, and bringing them to justice. The Bible commands us to do this, and ready access of individuals to firearms certainly assists in this cause. And in a time of crisis,

A gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone.


[1] M. Gaddy (www.lewrockwell.com), “The Bitter Fruits of Compromise,” 12/1/2009.

[2] Pat Buchanan (www.lewrockwell.com), “America is an Armed Camp,” 4/4/2012.

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