Guns & the Gospel

You know, I grew up in a family with guns. I learned how to shoot targets in scouts. I appreciate the second amendment. However, at some point, you have to say, “enough is enough.” The ability to own a gun is the ability to take a life. Given the number of completely innocent lives taken in the past week, let alone year, we cannot stand by and do nothing to protect those innocent people.

I’m not necessarily saying we should dramatically cut gun permits, though that might be a good option. In my mind a better solution would be to have some real consequences for “innocent” gun owners whose weapons discharge accidentally or are used by someone else to commit a crime. If you are not taking care of your weapon sufficiently to protect its misuse, that is gross negligence, because you have delegated your ability to kill to someone else who was not responsible.

That is where I stand on gun laws. You can have your guns, as long as you take the responsibility for any life harmed by your guns.

As for myself owning a gun, I have no desire to do that. It seems clear to me that Christ’s teachings permit defending yourself and your family with bloodshed, but advise us to rise above violence. “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matt 5:39)

Don’t get me wrong, defending the innocent is a righteous cause; preserving freedom is a just cause; upholding your right to worship the true God is a just cause, but none of these are a necessity. God will save the innocent – if not in this world, then the next. Our most important freedom, to choose our own actions, can never be fully taken from us. We can worship God in any circumstance. If we are righteous, God will fight our battles.

Yes, we live in a wicked world. There are serious threats to our physical and spiritual safety all around us. We need to be able to defend ourselves. You may choose a handgun. I will choose the armor of God. I can’t prevent all potential threats to my sons’ health, but I can prevent any accident that might arise from finding a gun in our home. The rest I can only leave to God.

Swords to plowshares, brothers.

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About thelogicalmormon

Devout Mormon. Graduate of MIT. Father. Technologist.

3 responses to “Guns & the Gospel”

  1. Justin Kunz says :

    I agree with almost everything you wrote here, except in my case I decided a few years ago to overcome my fear of firearms and learn to handle them safely. I did not grow up with any active gun sports in the family except for my BB gun and I think my dad had a 22 somewhere, but we never went shooting or hunting. I did some shooting with the scouts, but it was always the other kids whose dads brought the guns. A few years ago I made the choice to own guns in order to protect my family—not as a substitute for trusting in God, but as an expression of my faith that God will protect us if we trust in him and also take reasonable, practical measures to protect ourselves (see 1 Nephi 5:14 below). I see it as an expression of faith through active preparation—kind of like storing some food for a time of need, but still praying that time never comes. I want to ensure my family’s salvation both temporally and spiritually, both in this life and the next. The preparation to do that is both spiritual and temporal.

    I prevent accidents by keeping the guns under lock and key, and never leave them lying around or accessible to children. I teach my kids the seriousness of firearms, how to tell if a gun is real or a toy, and not to touch a real gun if they ever find one. When they’re old enough, I’ll teach them how to shoot safely. I can’t imagine any responsible gun owner leaving firearms accessible to children.

    I think this approach—while not for everyone—is well justified by the scriptures. The principle being non-aggression, self-reliance, and having the courage to fight for what is right when threatened. While we proclaim peace and seek diligently for the day when peace reigns on earth and we can hammer our “swords into plowshares,” and we unequivocally condemn acts of aggression and murder, in the mean time we will do all that we can to prevent the wicked from destroying us or ruling over us, even if that means using weapons.

    “And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us; for I knew their hatred towards me and my children and those who were called my people.” – 1 Nephi 5:14

    “And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion.” – Alma 43:47

    “Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them…
    “Yea, let us preserve our liberty… – Alma 46:20, 24

    “Therefore, renounce war and proclaim peace, and seek diligently to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children.” – Doctrine & Covenants 98:16

    “We believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded.” – D&C 134:11

    • thelogicalmormon says :

      Thanks, Justin. Those are some great comments and great quotes that illustrate how complicated the issue is. For my part, it’s hard to imagine a realistic scenario where I would need to use a gun to protect my family. If, somehow, I were put in a situation such that I had to kill someone in order to prevent them killing someone innocent, and I had the ability to do so, I am pretty sure I could do it. I would not kill to preserve my own life.

      For me, I don’t think a gun is an effective way to make my family safer. I recognize that there are many people in different situations where the opposite is true, and do not begrudge them the ability to protect themselves. I do think we should be much more demanding of gun owners in terms of holding them accountable for the misuse of their weapons.

      • Justin Kunz says :

        Thanks for starting this discussion. I really appreciate the respect you show for others’ right to self-defense. It’s refreshing after the impassioned debates I’ve seen recently. Your blog is well-named. 🙂

        I agree with you that the defense of innocents is one of the few times when violent action is morally justified. Additionally, I resolved to defend my own life against evildoers because there are innocents who depend on me for their survival. If laying down my life is what I am called to do in order to save them, then I will accept that obligation. But I will never allow my life to be wasted needlessly while I have the chance to fight for it on behalf of those to whom I am of better service alive than dead. For example, if someone ever invaded my home and succeeded in overpowering me, what might become of my wife and children then? I would be completely unable to defend any of them if I allowed a criminal to take my life. Just like swimming, first aid, or the oxygen masks in an airplane, I believe there is wisdom in exercising appropriate measures of self-preservation if we hope to always be able to save others.

        I recognize that the odds of experiencing a crisis where I would need to use violence to defend loved ones are extremely low. But if it ever did happen and I wasn’t prepared, the cost could be catastrophic. Risk managers evaluate risk by multiplying the odds of an event by the cost of being unprepared for it. So the risk of even an extremely rare occurrence needs to be taken seriously when the potential costs are catastrophically high. It would only take one serious event like a home invasion to irrevocably change the lives of my family forever.

        Among all the incidents that are solved with a gun in this country, most are solved without those firearms ever being discharged. Very often, the mere sight of a gun in the hand of the would-be victim is enough to deter a criminal. It may be impossible to know exactly how those cases would have turned out if the victims had not been armed, but we do know that being armed is frequently a deciding factor.

        As for me, one of the most valuable ideas I have ever learned, one that has benefitted my life in more ways than I could ever estimate, is the simple, two-word Scout Motto: “Be Prepared.” In a similar vein, the poet John Holmes wrote, “The ship must sail; you can’t explain to the ocean.”

        Anyway, I’m not trying to persuade you to get a gun. I went for years without one and I’ve never been violently attacked. That doesn’t mean it will never happen, only that I’ve been lucky so far. My feeling is guns aren’t for everyone. It would be a bad idea to expect or require anyone to carry one who is not willing, trained in proper safety procedures, and comfortable with them. There are lots of other useful means of self-defense besides owning a gun.

        I also agree firearms owners have a very serious responsibility to guard their weapons from negligent or criminal use. Several states have very strict laws enforcing that responsibility, and I believe there are strong arguments for other states to adopt similar laws.

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