Seek the Welfare of the City: The Biblical Argument for Gun Control, Part One

By Moyer Hubbard Nov. 18, 2013 9:00 a.m. Culture, Ethics, New Testament, Old Testament, Theology

This is the first of a series of blogs dealing with gun control from a Christian perspective. In this first installment, I sketch the general theological case for sane restriction on guns, particularly assault weapons, and apply biblical principles to common objections. In subsequent (shorter) posts, I will respond to alleged “biblical” arguments used by gun advocates, who claim that Scripture supports unrestricted access to lethal weaponry for private individuals.

  • A disgruntled employee walks into his workplace shooting indiscriminately at clients, coworkers, and executives, leaving several dead and others critically wounded.
  • An angry middle-schooler finds his father’s handgun in a shoebox under his parent’s bed and decides to put a hole through the teacher who failed him in geography.
  • An apparently “normal citizen” attends a political rally in order to overturn an election by murdering the congresswoman he disagrees with. His aim is off, but he succeeds in killing six others and seriously injuring her, ending her political career.
  • A toddler lies in a hospital bed clinging to her life after a stray bullet bursts through her living room window while she was watching TV, lodging itself perilously close to her spinal column.
  • A depressed teen looks in the mirror one last time at a face that no one admires and decides to permanently end the snickering; one bullet is all it takes.

These are just a few of the headlines that have flashed across our newspapers and TV screens recently, and they do not even begin to express the scale of the massacre occurring every year in America. To this continuous string of random acts of slaughter one also has to add Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Newtown, and more recently a navy installation in Washington D.C.; ordinary places whose names have become synonymous with carnage and horror.

The title of this blog is taken from Jeremiah 29:7, where the prophet is urging his compatriots in Babylon to “seek the welfare (shalom) of the city” where they are exiled and work to achieve it because, “in its welfare you will find your welfare” (ESV). No, I do not think Jeremiah was taking about gun control, but I do think the prophet articulates an important principle that informs this issue, and one that should be foundational to any biblically grounded social policy: living as light in a fallen world involves (in part) actively striving to promote the welfare of the larger society — seeking its good, its justice, its shalom. In my view, perhaps the most obvious and concrete way that Christians living in the U.S. can apply this principle is to think more deeply about gun violence in America and to strive more conscientiously to connect our theological convictions to our social-political policies. Here is what I mean …

 “… People kill people.”

A commonly expressed truism among opponents to restrictions on guns runs like this, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” Regardless of how you may assess the cogency of this maxim, it gets at least one thing right: people are evil. The Reformers (following Augustine), along with the major Protestant catechisms and most contemporary Evangelical traditions refer to this as the doctrine of “total depravity” (or “complete inability”, “radical corruption,” and so on). This doctrine does not entail the belief that all people are as evil as they possibly could be, but that every aspect of humanity—actions, aspirations, thoughts, desires—is tainted by sin. My point is not to offer a defense of this doctrine biblically, but simply to ask us to think through the implications of what Scripture clearly teaches concerning the brokenness of the human condition; to connect our theology with our praxis. In fact, in the contemporary setting, gun control seems to be a necessary corollary of the biblical doctrine of total depravity. If we really believe that humanity is fallen, it follows that we should strive to limit the damaging effects of our sinful nature on society. To be perfectly frank, it baffles me that so many evangelical Christians can affirm the doctrine of original sin and total depravity, and yet have no problem with a society flooded with handguns and assault weapons. We will never be able to eliminate those triggers that send fallen sinners like me and you over the brink—abuse at home, mistreatment at school, mental illness, the grinding humiliation of unemployment, the list is endless—but we CAN restrict access to weapons of mass destruction, so that when broken individuals are pushed beyond their limits they are not able to inflict the carnage we saw at places like Aurora and Newtown. And if you object to the term “weapons of mass destruction” to describe the arms legally sold in gun shops across America, take a long, hard look at the photos of the 20 first graders gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This is mass destruction.

 “What about the second amendment?”

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

These 27 words constitute, arguably, the most debated clause in the entire constitutional corpus. Proponents of gun control argue that the Second Amendment was originally intended to authorize state-organized militia, not private ownership — to say nothing of personal stockpiles — of firearms. On the other hand, gun-rights advocates believe the background to the Second Amendment has to do with citizens protecting themselves against government tyranny. There is probably some truth to both sides of this (admittedly over-simplified) debate. Yet, regardless of the precise historical motives behind the Second Amendment, it is absolutely certain that its sponsors could not have envisioned the gun technology of the present day — high powered assault rifles capable of firing dozens rounds in mere seconds. When the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791, rifles were single-shot flintlocks loaded through the muzzle. A shooter wandering into a schoolyard or a market place in 1791 would have been tackled before he could load his second round. Given the vastly different historical circumstances of our technologically sophisticated and extremely lethal weaponry (flintlocks versus AK-47s), it is dangerously naïve to assume that the judgments of post-colonial America, however reasonable at the time, should be uncritically applied to our own.

However, I do think the intention of the Constitution is crucial. While we may debate the purpose of the Second Amendment, there is no debate concerning the primary intent of the constitution as a whole. As the Preamble to the Constitution makes clear (read it here), the Constitution exists to promote a well-ordered, just society. The Constitution is not Scripture, and it is not inspired. Rather, its purpose is to help us actualize in our society the principles of justice, mercy, and compassion enjoined on us by Scripture. To the extent that it succeeds in this goal it should be embraced. To the extent that it fails in this noble aspiration, or no longer fosters this ideal in the contemporary setting, it should be modified. Our Constitution is a document that has been amended many times to ensure that it fulfills its larger purpose. Its enduring relevance and abiding validity issues, in part, from the fact that it was designed to be amended as society changed and need arose. We have even used Amendments (the 21st) to nullify other Amendments (the 18th). However, I do NOT really think we need to tinker with the constitution or jettison the Second Amendment. Rather, we need to understand the historical context in which the Second Amendment was written and apply it wisely and intelligently to the contemporary setting, in light of the primary purpose of the Constitution: “to insure domestic tranquility” (from the Preamble).

“But it is my right!”

Quite apart from how we interpret and apply the Second Amendment, I confess that I am genuinely distressed by Christians who insist on their “right to bear arms,” regardless of the effect on the larger society—be it their neighbor across the street, or the children gunned down in Newtown. I do completely understand when my unbelieving friend wraps himself in the Second Amendment and claims, “Guns are my constitutional right!” The Christian, however, is called to live for others, not themselves; indeed, this is the very foundation and core of New Testament ethics. This principle is particularly important for the apostle Paul: “No one should seek their own good, but the good of others” (1 Cor. 10:24). According to Paul, this is one way God’s redemptive purposes would be accomplished in the world: “For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved” (1 Cor. 10:33). Paul arrived at this radical, other-centered ethic by imitating Jesus: “Do not look to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Your example is Jesus, who, being in very nature God, made himself nothing, becoming a servant, submitting even to death (Phil. 2:4-8, abbreviated). In other words, the Christian who insists on his or her “rights,” to the detriment of others has not yet grasped the implications of the cross, nor understood the true vitality of a cruciform life. For the maturing follower of Jesus, arguments based on “my rights” will fail to have the persuasive force that they have for the larger society, because such arguments reflect a value system that is fundamentally at odds with example of Jesus and the teachings of the New Testament.

“But only criminals will have guns!”

Another common objection to restrictions on guns runs like this: “If we restrict gun ownership, then only criminals will have guns! Law-abiding citizens will lose their guns while gang members and criminals will obtain theirs illegally.” There may be some validity to this concern. However, when we scrutinize the larger social dilemma more carefully, I have to conclude that those raising this objection do not fully understand the nature of the current crisis. The truth is, it is not criminals who are the problem. Restrictions already exist that prohibit criminals from purchasing guns legally. The sad reality is that it is “law-abiding citizens” who have been responsible for the recent massacres that have occurred in our country. The culprits behind the mass murders at Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech., Newtown, either purchased legally, or had access to legally purchased weaponry. In the case of Adam Lanza, the unstable teen responsible for massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, there were assault weapons literally lying around the house. Here is the real problem. We live in a society with an absurd amount of guns easily and immediately accessible to troubled teens (Columbine, Newtown), mentally imbalanced and unhinged adults, (Virginia Tech., Aurora, Navy Yard), or anyone who flies off the handle and momentarily succumbs to the cussedness of life. When we combine fallen humanity, mental illness, the inevitable injustices and indignities of life under the sun, with easy access to weapons of mass destruction, the outcome is both gruesome and predictable: daily isolated incidents of suicide and murder all throughout America, and frequent acts of mass carnage that leave parents, spouses, children, and friends, grieving for years.

“But don’t I have a right do defend myself?”

Yes, I think you do. The Bible distinguishes between killing someone in self-defense (Exod. 22:2-3), and killing someone out of malice. (Exod. 21:12-14), and this distinction is a universally upheld principle of jurisprudence. Yet, apart from this brief, and somewhat opaque reference in Exodus 22 regarding a nocturnal home invasion robbery, the Bible actually has precious little explicit teaching on personal, lethal, self-defense [to be addressed in a subsequent blog]. Jesus, in fact, modeled and taught a completely different response to aggression. His birth spurred a bloodbath of political violence (Matt. 2:16-18), and his ministry took place under the heavy boot of Roman domination, yet his advice to was to offer your left cheek if your enemy struck your right, and to carry the gear of a Roman oppressor two miles, if he forced you to carry it one (Matt. 5:39-40). His summarizing command, “Do not resist the evildoer” (Matt. 5:39) was addressing a context of military subjugation and political oppression, and the obvious socio-political overtones of his teaching certainly did not sit well with many of his contemporaries, particularly those with anti-Roman sentiments (who were many!). So, while using deadly force, if necessary, in self-defense may be a legitimate right, the Christian is called to a different standard, a higher standard, a standard exemplified by Jesus. I do not think anyone who has read the Gospels and reflected seriously on Jesus’ life, teaching, and the manner of his death, could imagine him killing someone in self-defense. In fact, Peter’s attempt to defend Jesus by means of bloodshed and violence is sternly rebuked by Jesus (Matt. 26:52). And, as the story unfolds, we see Jesus practicing what he preached: he carried his cross to Golgotha without drawing a sword, throwing a punch, or calling down the legions of angels at his disposal (Matt. 26:53). His apostles, along with many Christian martyrs of the early church, followed their master: they did not take up arms to save their lives, they took up the cross and laid down their lives. Why? Because maturing disciples of Jesus, following the example of their crucified Lord, will prefer to die, rather than to kill, even in self-defense.

“But don’t I have a right to protect my family?”

Defending oneself with lethal force, and defending others are two different matters. I don’t think anyone could reasonably object to using lethal force, if absolutely necessary, to stop a life-threatening assault on another person, particularly a family member. However, in my view, the issue of gun control needs to be framed not in terms of one’s own immediate family, but in terms of the generations to come. In other words, it’s about ensuring that our children’s children, and the generations of Americans that follow us do not grow up with their own iterations of Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Virginia Tech. We cannot change the past, but we can change the future, and we can give our grandchildren a better society and a better America than the one we live in today. If our grandchildren grow up in a society where assault rifles are stored in broom closets, and armed security guards patrol the perimeters of our kindergartens, we will have utterly failed in our civic duty to uphold the basic purpose of the constitution as articulated by the founding fathers, “to insure domestic tranquility.” More importantly, we will have failed in our Christian responsibility to “seek the welfare of the city” (Jer. 29:7).

 “Your will be done.”

When Christians repeat the Lord’s Prayer and affirm, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10), we commit ourselves to the most comprehensive agenda of restoration and renewal imaginable. It entails a commitment to personal renewal (evangelism, growth in Christ-likeness, etc.) and social renewal (caring for widows and orphans, striving for a just and good society, etc.). To be sure, this restorative work will not be fully accomplished until God himself brings it about, but history is replete with examples of great social evils being undone because Christians believed what they were praying and cared enough to act now. In the early days of the Jesus movement, Christians began rescuing unwanted infants who were exposed and left to die by their fathers. This horrific practice was entirely in accordance with Roman tradition, convention, and law. It took several centuries, but the long held right of the Roman father to dispatch even his own offspring was ultimately overturned. Fast forward to nineteenth century Britain, where a small band of believers meeting in the London suburb of Clapham became the catalyst for the most important social reform of that century: the abolition of slavery. Social renewal, working for justice, “seeking the welfare of the city,” is part of the DNA of evangelicalism because it is God’s will for us on earth to strive to represent his Kingdom in heaven. That is what the Lord’s Prayer means.

Please do not misunderstand these illustrations. I am NOT equating exposing an infant or owning a slave with owning an assault rifle, nor am I implying that these issues are morally equivalent. That would be silly. Yet the scale of crisis we face in America is massive, and it is increasing every year. According to Attorney General Eric Holder, active shooter incidents tripled between 2009 and 2013, compared to the average annual occurrences between 2000 and 2008 (read a summary here). Another recent study revealed that there were 93 mass shootings (at least four people murdered with a gun) in America between January 2009 and September 2013; nearly two a month. Even more depressing, this constitutes less then 1% of murders by firearms during this period. So, while slavery and gun control are not morally equivalent issues, the ethical ground becomes considerably leveled at the ballot box. When we, as Christians, enter the ballot box and are faced with legislation that would either continue the carnage, or legislation that would reduce it, one important question should govern our choice: what would Jesus do?

 “What would Jesus do?”

The pulse of evangelical faith beats incessantly with the question, “What would Jesus do?” This is not a slogan to be stamped on a bracelet and forgotten, it is a passion that generates a worldview. Jesus’ disciples asked this question as well, although sometimes they didn’t get the answer right. One significant instance is during the final weeks of Jesus life, when some of his followers misunderstood his call for readiness and vigilance (Luke 22:36) as a call for armed resistance. As noted earlier, Jesus corrects their mistake (“Put away your sword!” Matt. 26:52) and rebukes their folly (“Enough of this!” Luke 22:51). More importantly, he then makes a point to carefully and unequivocally clarify the principle that governed his teaching on this subject: “For all who take hold of the sword will die by the sword” (Matt. 26:52). Does this verse explicitly prohibit the ownership of assault rifles? No, I don’t think so. But the principle articulated by Jesus in this verse certainly runs counter to those voices in our society that claim that the solution to the crisis in America today—the violence, the murder, the slaughter—is to give people more guns. (Yes, this is actually what gun advocates promote).

The truism that Jesus enunciates in Matthew 26:52 applies both on the individual level and on the societal level. We live in a society that clings to guns like a birthright. Hence, we live in a society with a murder rate far beyond our comparable international peers (fact check here); where mass shootings occur at the rate of two per month (fact check here); where parents drop their children off at school and wonder if they will ever see them again (discussed here); where a school yard can become a grave yard, and a dormitory a cemetery, in a matter of minutes. This should not surprise us; Jesus predicted it.

Perhaps it is time we heed Jesus’ command to his first followers and put away the sword. Far too long have we lived by it, and far too many are dying by it. Our duty as citizens is to promote “domestic tranquility.” Our duty as Christians is to “seek the welfare of the city.”

We will be held accountable.

Comments

  • Joe Hellerman Nov. 18, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Let the comments roll on this one!

    But let's make sure to let 'em roll with grace, wisdom, and much appreciation for a courageous and thoughtful brother who has really 'put it out there' for the rest of us to think about.

    Blogmeister Dr. Joe

  • Octavio Esqueda Nov. 18, 2013 at 1:58 PM

    Good word, Moyer! I am completely in agreement with you. I am glad you are courageous to speak the truth in love.

  • David Viel Nov. 18, 2013 at 3:20 PM

    Wow! While I am not sure how much of the "anti-gun" sentiment I perceive here (with the exception of assault rifles - how anyone could defend those is beyond me), I completely admire your taking this stance Dr. Hubbard! And I am sure that after further reading and reflection that my view on guns and Scripture may change as well. So thank you for your depth of thought in this blog article.

  • Chris Robbins Nov. 18, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    Ok, since I am one of the few rednecks who have passed through the hallowed halls of Talbot, I'll go ahead and push back a bit, with all due respect of course:-)

    Well, there is no question on which side of the argument Dr. Hubbard stands. There is certainly very little balance here. Starting off with the emotional reminders of horrific events in current history sighting the horrors of gun violence certainly pulls at the emotional heart strings of the readers and sets the to e that believing contrary to these arguments makes one in favor either implicitly or explicitly of such atrocities. There is also and "us" and "them" feel to the read as if there really are only two positions on the table: 1) proponents of gun control who really are following the principles of Jesus' living and 2) those who want to arm everyone with guns in an unrestricted fashion who do not prescribe to Jesus' model of living. This is a very uncharitable setting for those who may be somewhere in the middle and actually do care very much for Jesus, His way of living, and the flourishing of the greater society around them. There are many, many variations on the continuum of belief in this heated area.

    I wish I had the time (and the intellect and knowledge:-) to offer a point for point critique, but I will just throw a couple countering arguments or points of consideration out there:

    1) What of Jesus sending out his followers in one instance without an extra tunic or sword and in another instance with an extra tunic and sword? Is this an advocacy of the use of a sword for protection sometimes and not others?

    2) So, what weapons of mass destruction are we referring to? Assault Rifles? (We need to define what an assault rifle is) Shotguns? Hand guns? Etc.? Also, should this be a geographic restriction, ie. urban versus rural?

    3) Dr. Hubbard righly supplies credible data about massacres drawing a distinction from illegally acquired weapons, but immediately lumps hem in with he larger murder numbers. Also, as soon as someone takes a legally purchased weapon illegally, they have become a criminal and when the use it to attack others they have continued to commit criminal actions, so it seems this is somewhat circular.

    I do appreciate the read. I am honestly trying to get to the bottom of what God would desire regarding gun laws and more importantly how he desires for me to view guns, weapons, self defense, etc... I just finished Hunters "To Change the World" and agree that we will never legislate our way to changing hearts, it must be done the other way around. His is a complex issue with many perspectives to consider. I just thought I would offer my opinion as a gun owning veteran who does have concerns for protecting my family, who wants to be an agent of god' slight and love in the world, and who uses his guns to train for work as a stuntman who works largely using my weapons and fight training to gain employment.

  • Tim Pratt Nov. 19, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    As a nation we're once again at Freedom's fork in the road. With vague recollection & our incredibly (perhaps purposely) untaught American history as a guide to who we are, this generation is surrendering precious freedoms faster than any other. Our second amendment protects us from our government; it's the purpose for gun ownership. It's the highest responsibility to possess the power to set our own course & once we relinquish it, like we have in government education & health care, we turn over our 'never before seen in all of mankind's history' person right to rule over ourselves - under God's direction. With His allowance we live under our constitution of Freedom, not imperialism or socialism - like the rest of the world.

    We have always had a sin problem in our country. And now once again it's time for reformation, another lesson from our history. If we would humble ourselves before the King & ask forgiveness for pushing him out of our government & our public & private lives we wouldn't need to give up our freedoms.

    Gun control exists everywhere on earth, you can't escape man's desire to rule over other men. In our country, amazingly in God's nation building plans, we control the government. Our founding documents need to be taught & re-established into the perverted pseudo system of self governance we practice today. And the reliance on Almighty God's perfect will for our nation will guide us forward.

    Christians need to wake up & seek God's control, not gun control.

  • John A Showalter Nov. 21, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    A Biblical Argument for Gun Control?!!!

    Up until the day of this blog entry I had generally supported the Talbot School of Theology as being a place of serious reckoning regarding the Word of God. This particular entry absolutely floored me. The author's obvious lack of historical knowledge and context [from any time period of your choice] and his selective cherry-picking [proof-texting] from scripture in support, albeit obtusely, of his positions would be a work that one might expected from a typical state university Freshman composition student, and he should be given an "F" accordingly. This IS the splintering of the American psyche along an irreparable breach. God grants our rights, or we have none. When those who deign to speak from God's word against those rights are left unanswered, we have become subjects, not of the Lord God, but of the government that is empowered by the dissolution of those rights.

  • Robert Meye Nov. 21, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    Well spoken, Moyer. Yours is the kind of reflection that should ever characterize evangelical theologians at work. Your blog-piece should be "required reading" for all Christians, whether or not they own a gun. For all who "happen" to read my comment, I note that I am a former U S Navy seaman, and officer, a veteran of 3 years of service in the Korean combat zone--so I know a little bit about guns, all kinds of them. They can be deadly weapons, sometimes very deadly. I am also the son-in-law of a devout Christian man who was a conscientious objector and imprisoned in Leavenworth during World War I because he refused to bear arms. I am very familiar with both "sides" of the gun issue. And I say again, right on. You bless Talbot with your thinking. rpm

  • Michael Day Nov. 22, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    While I generally find the Good Book Blog enjoyable, enlightening and a growth point in my day, sadly this entry is only a two out of three. I do thank the good Doctor for forcing me back into my research mode to determining the veracity of his claims, religious and secular (gun violence). I think that if you read Mr. Robbins comment very carefully you’ll have a better understand of the issue than if you read Dr. Hubbard’s post in isolation. Mr. Showalter’s comment is strong, but needed in light of the good name of Talbot. Dr. Hubbard is not helping here. If he truly wanted to get a discussion going on how to solve gun violence, he would have stuck with the fallen nature of man and our Lord’s ability to draw us to Him for reconciliation and sanctification. While the topic is very touchy, launching an attack against fellow Christians is not the way to garner support for your side, as lopsided as it is. I look forward to part II, hoping that the attacks will stop and we’ll get to root of the issue, not just trying to solve one of the ways we foster evil in the world.

  • Chris Baker Nov. 22, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    RE: John Showalter's comment,

    Mr. Showalter, I would be glad if you could develop your argument more and show more specifically where you think Dr. Hubbard's ideas are wrong. As it is you have largely simply asserted that he is wrong, and so it's hard to find your response persuasive (taken in and of itself).

    Respectfully,

    Chris

  • Matthew Kirby Dec. 2, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    While I appreciate Dr. Hubbard’s intent—is there any Christian who doesn’t “seek the welfare of the city”?—I wonder if I may humbly provide a few dissenting remarks.

    The difficulty with making an argument in favor of gun-control (or any public policy) based almost entirely on Scripture, is that by its very nature it dismisses outright considerations of a massive body of relevant empirical data, which, were it to be taken into account, might turn out to support some other equally biblical principle—in this case, the protection of innocent life. Certainly, this is not to suggest that Scripture ought not to inform our understanding of public policy—quite the contrary. What I am suggesting is that a failure to consider the data could cause one to affirm certain public policies solely on the basis of principle that might in reality be detrimental to the “welfare of the city.”

    Lest there be any mystery as to my position on the issue, it seems clear to me that—generally speaking—restrictive gun control laws have not been demonstrated to reduce crime (and there is much data on the subject); on the contrary, they overwhelmingly tend to benefit those who harbor malicious intent (i.e., criminals). I am persuaded of this in light of the diligent scholarly work of John Lott, David Kopel, Steven Levitt, Gary Kleck and others. Worse than simply being wrong on a plethora of points, I found the article to be surprisingly uncharitable to those with whom Dr. Hubbard clearly disagrees. However, on account of a lack of energy for a line-by-line response, my remarks will be limited primarily to those regarding Dr. Hubbard’s attempt to suggest that support for strict gun-control is entailed by the holding of certain Christian doctrines.

    Dr. Hubbard seems to assume that concerns for the “welfare of the city” are coincident with Christians’ calling to a “higher standard,” the latter of which he seemingly takes to mean that the highest calling for a Christian is to surrender his life in every context in which it is threatened. (He also says that there is a “legitimate” place for self-defense, but appears to regard biblical examples of martyrdom as being somehow at odds with this “legitimate right.” It is not clear just what Dr. Hubbard means by “right” in this context.). But what contributes to the welfare of the city might be in this case (and in my estimation is in fact) at odds with what Dr. Hubbard considers to be the Christian duty to allow oneself to be killed. In fact, I would argue that allowing oneself to be killed by some criminal in most contexts is not only harmful to general societal welfare, but, assuming that Christians have a duty to protect the lives of innocents, immoral. If, for example, a man’s life were threatened by a deranged madman, his failure to resist might result in the deaths of many others. This can hardly be the “higher standard” to which Dr. Hubbard encourages to us aspire.

  • Matthew Kirby Dec. 2, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    I agree with Dr. Hubbard that the scriptural examples of martyrdom ought to be regarded as a model for our own behavior. However, as with every ethical issue, context is not an irrelevant consideration. Outrageously, Dr. Hubbard goes so far as to say, “I do not think anyone who has read the Gospels and reflected seriously on Jesus’ life, teaching, and the manner of his death, could imagine him killing someone in self-defense.” I—and, indeed, many other Christians—stand as a counterexample to this. Those venerable saints who willingly gave their lives for the sake of Christ—Stephen, James, etc—are to be both admired and imitated; but the important point to note is that they gave their lives for the sake of Christ; that is, the threat of death was being foist upon them as a result of their faith in Christ, and their faithfulness was being directly put to the test. But this is not true of the vast majority of cases in which people’s lives are threatened. Often, it is simply some burglar breaking into the home of an elderly couple; some thug attempting to mug an unfortunate passerby; some deranged man—or, sadly, even a boy—who puts his nihilism into practice by indiscriminately murdering his fellow citizens. Shall we still say the Christian’s highest calling is to allow such acts to continue unimpeded? Shall we endeavor to submit ourselves to the violent whims of evil? Will the Gospel spread by allowing ourselves to be murdered in cold blood in the darkness of our own home or in some back alley? There is a time and a place for martyrdom, but let us not make every threat of death out to be such a time.

    There are other aspects of Dr. Hubbard’s article with which I take issue (e.g., assumptions about the nature of so-called “assault” weapons; the assumption that gun-control has been demonstrated to be effective in reducing crime, etc), but I haven’t the time or the space to address them here.

  • Zac Reeves Dec. 2, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    Dr. Hubbard,

    While I think you bring up a good point of "law abiding" citizens being the ones to commit mass shootings, I find your argument unsatisfactory in primarily two ways. First: as far as I understand the doctrine of Calvinism, the point of Total Depravity is that we need God's regenerating grace to change us and while I know you would not deny this, your answer here is to legislate morality. It is hard for me, as a Calvinist, to equate improved morals with stricter legislation. With all due respect, your argument of total depravity and gun control actually contradict each other rather than compliment. Second: you fail, at least in this article, to realize that "weapons of mass destruction" have been around for nearly a hundred years. Excuse the morbidity, but I believe guns my great grandfather owned can be used for a mass killing (even of a great magnitude). So while I think we do need to have a conversation about who has access to guns, the greater question at hand is: "why have mass shootings increased when guns capable of such an atrocity have been around for 100 years?" The failure of our nation to answer this question is our stumbling block.

    Blessings

  • Joseph Lake Mar. 7, 2014 at 7:42 PM

    The whole of this article implies Dr. Hubbard has little interaction with firearms, the community of firearms, legal history (past and recent). He does expound interesting understandings of theology.
    2nd Amendment: The 2008 and 2010, the Supreme Court affirmed the right to own guns are not dependent on the participation or membership in the militia. On a side note, if you look at the statutes of each state the unorganized militia in 46 states (DE, HI,WI, NV do not) is defined approximately as every able bodied person between 18-45.
    Whenever someone starts proclaiming the danger of assault weapons, many gun owners tend to roll their eyes at the innocuous definition of assault weapons. The vast majority of people who want to do away with "assault weapons" have little if any experience with these weapons to articulate their "increased" lethality.
    Much of Dr. Hubbard's persuasive argument against self-defense seem to have a limited view of Jesus in my opinion. He rightly points out Peter was rebuked for violence at his arrest. Dr. Hubbard does not address Jesus' command to buy a sword (Luke 22:36) following the resurrection for a more broad command. I would argue the specific context of Jesus arrest is why Peter was rebuked. Being that the disciples did not understand what was about to happen, I think it is fair to say Peter had the sword on more than just that occasion, which he was not rebuked for keeping or bearing.
    My primary consideration as a Christian and belief in self defense is a personal application to Just War. Do I love justice enough to see that injustice and evil will not continue? I pray that I never have to use lethal force but I have accepted that if that situation occurs to not cease the evil of the offender would be the strongest manifestation of hate I can have for the offenders untold victims. When it comes to preaching the Gospel, if we don't tell someone the Gospel we must hate them to desire that they face God's wrath as a sinner. Yet, from the Christian gun control perspective, allowing evil to continue is the most loving?
    Dr. Hubbard applies God's judgement for the life we might take for which we might be accountable. I consider God's judgement for the life I might not save if I am not ready to defend against evil acts of men.

  • Ted Mar. 14, 2014 at 8:25 PM

    >> it baffles me that so many evangelical Christians can affirm the doctrine of original sin and total depravity, and yet have no problem with a society flooded with handguns and assault weapons.

    But guns are necessary because of evil in the first place, the only question you are actually raising is how best to distribute gun in a society. Is the truth that violence is a necessary part of society so forgotten now? People can now call 911 and armed men will commit violence on their behalf, but it is violence no less because delivered by authorities. So violence isn't bad per se, and to use the term as if it is is grossly distorting.

    And this article presupposes without argument that a more just society is one in where governmental authorities have a total monopoly on guns. I don’t think that is the case in fact. Also, this type of political view ignores the fact that the news media simply does not report on the use of guns that prevents violence. So the average person will only hear about the Sandy Hooks and the Columbines and the debate is entirely distorted and removed from reality. Because of this many people don't know how many lives guns save and the types of things they prevent. This information is deliberately obscured to prejudice the debate in favor of strict gun restrictions on ordinary citizens.

  • Doug Mar. 16, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    Neh 4:16-18
    ". . . half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The OFFICERS POSTED THEMSELVES BEHIND ALL THE PEOPLE OF JUDAH who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand AND HELD A WEAPON IN THE OTHER, and each of the BUILDERS WORE HIS SWORD AT HIS SIDE AS HE WORKED."

    Sorry, prof. You need to stick to teaching what you know -- history of the Roman world. You are all wet on this one.

  • Jillian George Mar. 17, 2014 at 10:01 PM

    Quite a tour de force! Also very polarizing, from the comments thus far. One reader says you are “speaking the truth in love” (Esqueda), while another says you are “attacking fellow Christians” (Day). One reader says “yours is the kind of reflection that should ever characterize evangelical thought “(Meye), while another says it reflects the intellectual level of “a typical state university freshmen student, and should be given an ‘F’” (Showalter). I had as much fun reading the comments as the argument itself!

    What I find very telling is that none of those who object so strongly to your piece deal with Jesus’ rebuke of Peter for drawing his sword, and his (to my ears) clear prohibition against this approach, “Put it away! For all who live by the sword will die by the sword.” This portion of your argument is pretty compelling, both here and in your second post on the topic. It’s almost as if your naysayers are admitting, “I don’t care what Jesus said, ‘you can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands’” (Doug, your second post). And this was from someone whose own father committed suicide with a gun. Wow. This is the level of pathology anyone voicing your perspective is up against. It is not fully rationale.

    That said, there were some good points made that I’d love to see you address: Gun control “benefits those who harbor malicious intent” (Kirby); the distinction between lethal force and potential force (Ted, on your second post). I’m guessing you decided just to put your view out there and then not interfere in the debate, but I’d be interested in your response to some of the more thoughtful comments.

    Thanks for the mental floss!

  • Ted Mar. 18, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    >> “Put it away! For all who live by the sword will die by the sword.” This portion of your argument is pretty compelling, both here and in your second post on the topic. It’s almost as if your naysayers are admitting, “I don’t care what Jesus said, ‘you can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands’”.

    Not quite. You are assuming the truth of what you want to show. Do you think that the phrase “live by the sword” could be replaced by “carry a sword”? The phrase “live by the sword …” was often expressed in American culture (and likely many if not all other places) as “live by the gun, die by the gun” and was not thought to mean simply to carry or use one. It is a life outside the law, where force and power, rather than law and justice, was the choice of ways to live one’s life.

    That said, it has often been used to advocate Christian pacifism, but I don't think it is reasonably interpreted to mean that any more than the "turn the other cheek" passage, but that doesn't stop people from trying. Those like myself who defend the 2nd amendment are no more saying "I don't care what Jesus said" than you are in reading pacifist meanings into certain passages.

  • Moyer Hubbard Mar. 18, 2014 at 9:36 PM

    Jillian--OK. I'll enter the debate by responding to some comments. I think I'll post a separate blog devoted to dealing with responses, particularly objections. You are right about my plan: get the discussion going, but avoid entering into the debate, because emotions can run pretty high on this subject. It may be a week or so ...

  • Ted Mar. 19, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    I also don't understand why folks don't pay attention to the context at Gethsemane. It wasn't some rogue band of thugs looking for Jesus, it was the legitimate authorities there to arrest him. The extent of their corruption and possible injustice of what they wished to do shouldn't blind us to the fact that they were the legitimate authorities. To try to oppose them with the sword would have been a revolutionary act, and we all know Jesus' real purpose was not that. So why in the world people cling to the idea that he was making any sort of universal statements is beyond me.

    Going back to the meaning of "living by the gun" that I mentioned above, though it was used normally to refer to say, Bonnie and Clyde or other criminals, to live (to quote myself) "outside the law, where force and power, rather than law and justice" includes more than criminality. Namely, it includes revolution or other warfare.

    George Washington knew full well he and his army were outside the law and operating under the ways of force and power, though principled, because they were contesting the legitimacy of the current British authorities and their laws. But make no mistake, a revolution is an extralegal thing where only force can legitimize it. The militia, the Continental army, and the French fleet won the American revolution, not lawyers or legislators. Stating the obvious here, naturally.

    The point being, all the above is the context of "put that away" and "live by the sword". A revolutionary act was directly opposed to Jesus' purpose on earth, and any attempt to use his words or acts in the garden for constructing any universal norms are misguided.

    So paying close attention to the context, my paraphrase of his meaning was "Look fellas, this ain't no revolution here. They've come to arrest me and we're going to let them do it, so put that thing away." The *same advice any of us would give* to anyone about to be arrested by the legitimate authorities, all things being equal. Isn't it? Unless you have death wish or you think you're part of an organized and principled resistance movement with some reasonable hope of eventual popular support and success, then it you should not fight the authorities.

    Nor do I think that Jesus was stating a universal norm "revolutions are always wrong", though some Christians infer that from other Bible passages about respect for legitimate authorities. Though I think that is wrong at least if anyone were to infer that from this passage they would be paying attention to the context (and if that view had any real currency historically we'd still be living in grass huts).

  • Ted Mar. 19, 2014 at 1:14 PM

    So to complete the paraphrase in my terms taking into account basic political science as I did above, Jesus was saying:

    "Look fellas, this ain't no revolution here. They've come to arrest me and we're going to let them do it, so put that thing away. Do you really not see how much death and destruction you'd be inviting by this step?" (die by the sword)

    Context is everything, or so I'm told.

  • Jillian George Mar. 19, 2014 at 8:56 PM

    Ted--Well, I'll be honest, this strikes me as an rather tendentious interpretation. I can't help but feel like you are trying to get around the obvious meaning of this text (Matt 26:52 and context) rather than adjust your worldview in light of the text. I keep thinking, "if this is what Jesus meant, you'd never know it from what Matthew actually wrote." Seriously Ted, look at what Jesus said, as recorded by Matthew, and compare it with your greatly expanded paraphrase. Perhaps this is why this passage is so commonly interpreted in a way that you oppose, as expressing a universal principle of non violence; it just seems like the most natural way to read it. Context, of course, is crucial, but I'm wondering if you are truly unpacking the historical context, or naively unloading your personal context. But that's just my opinion.

  • Ted Mar. 20, 2014 at 9:20 AM

    But Jillian, whatever the value of my paraphrase, the most basic and fundamental rule of hermeneutics is to pay attention to the context. And it plainly states in v56 why he did what he did.

    v56 But all this has taken place in order that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.

    I could be wrong about the authority question. After looking at a couple of translations, I may have erred in part in my political interpretation since in some ways it was a mob who delivered him to the authorities rather than the authorities themselves. So I may have overstated the case, but the general point holds that fighting his eventual arrest would subvert his purpose on earth. It would be hard to find anyone who'd deny the obvious truth of v56 in light of what we know about Christianity doctrine.

    So how is it that these same people want to use v52 as dual use as a universal norm? Now that is baffling. I don't see how you get from v52 to any sort of universal norm. And there were plenty of interactions with Roman soldiers where there was perfect opportunity to make statements about rejection of violence and yet we don't see them.

  • Moyer Hubbard Mar. 21, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    Neh 4:16-18
    ". . . half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The OFFICERS POSTED THEMSELVES BEHIND ALL THE PEOPLE OF JUDAH who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand AND HELD A WEAPON IN THE OTHER, and each of the BUILDERS WORE HIS SWORD AT HIS SIDE AS HE WORKED."

    Doug—Thanks for bringing up Neh. 4:16-18. I may be all “all wet,” as you say in your comment above (it wouldn’t be the first time), or it may be that you haven’t fully understood the setting and context of this incident. I may address this text more fully in Part 3, but here’s a few thoughts right now:

    The background of Neh. 4:16-18 is a provincial governor (Nehemiah) operating under the authority of the head of state (Artaxerxes I) organizing an improvised civil defense against hostile foreign powers (Arabs, Ammonites, Ashdod, 4:7-8; the army of Samaria, 4:2). In this setting, “civilian soldiers” constitute the only means of defense, as there is no standing army. I take it for granted that a nation has a right to defend itself against the aggression of hostile foreign powers.

    In other words, Neh. 4:16-18 is about national self-defense. It is not relevant to the contemporary social setting I am addressing in this article: a society flooded with handguns and assault weapons, where tens of thousands of people die needlessly through suicide, murder, mass murders, and tragic accidents every single year.

  • Moyer Hubbard Mar. 21, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    Ted, Jillian—thanks for your thoughtful engagement on this issue. You are both making some very good points. I guess I’ll offer my perspective, if you don’t mind.

    Jillian—I think I understand what you mean by calling Matt 26:52 a “universal principle,” but this might be construed in terms of absolute pacifism. (Or is this what actually you mean?) I don’t think Scripture supports complete, universal pacifism of the variety that doesn’t allow for a just war, or (as I’ve already said) using force to defend someone else and, within limits, yourself. We have to remember, when Jesus returns, he will come as a conquering warrior (1 Thess 2:8; Rev 19:15). That said, I think you are right to understand Matt. 26:52 as proverbial truism intended to address the folly, wrong-headedness, and ultimate self-destruction of reliance on the sword/violence. That is the most natural (and most common) way to read it, especially in light of the generic, “All who…” and the gnomic present verb. If Jesus intended it to be restricted in the way that Doug suggests, as you said, one wouldn’t know if from what he said or Matthew’s record of the incident.

    On the other hand—Ted, I think you are right to point to Matt 26:54 (“But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”), at least in order to show that there are other issues involved. However, it is not at all clear that v.54 negates or trumps what is said in v.52 (“All who take the sword will perish by the sword”), or that the two thoughts should be considered mutually exclusive rationales. They are saying two very different things, and both should be taken seriously. In fact, Jesus’ response to Peter is three-fold, with each verse (52b, 53, 54) offering a distinct rationale for the rebuke of v.52a, “Put your sword back in its place!” Rationale 1: All who take up the sword will die by the sword (v 52b). Rationale 2: I have an army at my disposal if I wanted to take this approach (v 53). Rationale 3: This is God’s chosen means of fulfilling what Scripture foretold (v 54). I really can’t see any reason—hermeneutical, or otherwise—to reduce this three-fold rationale to only one element, or to allow one to take precedence over the other two. They are all equally valid and important.

  • Ted Mar. 21, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    >> I really can’t see any reason—hermeneutical, or otherwise—to reduce this three-fold rationale to only one element, or to allow one to take precedence over the other two. They are all equally valid and important.

    -Rationale 1: All who take up the sword will die by the sword (v 52b).
    -Rationale 2: I have an army at my disposal if I wanted to take this approach (v 53).
    -Rationale 3: This is God’s chosen means of fulfilling what Scripture foretold (v 54).

    I never said or thought any should be reduced to any others. There can be more than one sense of any given passage. I think rationales 2 & 3 are in accord with the context, whereas rationale 1 is not. At least not on certain interpretations of what rationale 1 means, whereas rationales 2 & 3 are quite specific and clear (I've little doubt that we're all doctrinally sound enough to agree on the clarity of 3).

    In fact rationale 1 is quite ambiguous and clearly false if taken in any way literally. It surely is some figure of speech. The devil is in the details, and the context should make us wary of accepting one item as universal in a list of particulars among supposed messages. So I'm not reducing anything is singling out 1 as highly dubious.

  • Ted Mar. 22, 2014 at 11:52 AM

    I misspoke when I said v 52b shouldn't be seen as a "universal" statement. I think it is a universal statement, but it is just that whatever meaning we're to take from it must fit the context.

    Earlier I'd rejected interpreting it as a "universal norm" where even "revolutions are always wrong". But in stating it this way I made the common mistake of conflating "universal" with "exceptionless". In other words, taking "universal" as synonymous with "absolute". Normative statements often aren't absolute, and maybe never are. If this sounds dodgy, it shouldn't and there is a long history of examining these questions in the classic Western tradition and all within the assumption that what is true is true absolutely. Theologians used to be philosophers too. Truth is certainly not relative, but that doesn't mean that normative ethics in a fallen world can be described in absolutist terms. It is one of the reasons for the attraction of classic virtue ethics. It is no more dodgy to distinguish "universal" from "absolute" in ethics in this way than to distinguish between the "spirit" and "letter" of the law as Paul did. But enough of correcting my own mistakes and anticipating objections.

    So to sum up my position, while I don't believe rationale 1 about "taking up the sword" is a universal norm against violence generally, I do believe it is a universal norm against violent resistance to authority (though not exceptionless as I've said). And that view of rationale 1 fits the context and also makes it a fitting list of similar items with rationales 2 & 3 as I think is required even by the rules of good grammar.

    And the truth of this can easily be imagined by returning the the scene. If Peter and the gang had tried to fight off those that came to take them (I assume they wouldn't be sure that Jesus would talk them into taking him alone), does anyone doubt they would have died very soon? They would have come back with more people and more swords and added to the charge would be violent opposition to the authorities. I suppose the penalty would be death if they were captured, but I could be wrong.

    If you study the lives of well-known career criminals, you'll find that everyone knows about a certain line that is crossed where authority is rejected and they live by violent means. Their families beg and plead for them to turn back and accept the legal penalties. But many reject the rule of law and by so doing at least in significant ways the society that enforces it. They usually meet a violent death.

    So it is hard for me to see any good reason to avoid the most obvious interpretation of "taking up the sword", and I think the most common one. There is just too much in its favor. And the imagined benefits of a broader interpretations tend to have problems with incoherence as absolutist understandings of ethics tend to do.

  • Samk Apr. 12, 2014 at 3:02 PM

    Very thoughtful analysis. I wish more christians were making an honest attempt to construct a biblically informed social policy, as opposed to looking for bible verses to support their partisan agenda. Your argument is strongest on this point, that Christians should be striving to change the world according to kingdom values, in addition to personal transformation and evangelism. I'm not sure I'm persuaded about guns, but I am rethinking it.

  • Ted Apr. 12, 2014 at 9:21 PM

    Fair enough. But to be clear, when it come to what is a more just society, to be “biblically informed” usually has to do with permissibility. What I’ve said is that no gun rights activist that most gun rights advocates wouldn’t call an extremist is arguing that the Bible compels anyone to support their view. The same holds true of any political view. To do otherwise is an abuse of the Bible. You cannot any argument other than permissibility on silence. They point to the 2nd amendment for a reason.

    Christ argued that it was permissible to eat the heads of grain on the Sabbath, but he wasn’t arguing that in a just society it would be normative based on scripture. There are any number of other ways to provide for the poor. The pharisees were using Bible in these cases as a defeater, and they were right to view it that way, but they just did it badly because of their political (and personal) bias, and Christ showed that by argument.

    All to say, I’ve never argued that anyone should agree with me based on the Bible. I'm not aware that gun rights activists to either. What I’m saying is that ruling out the position of gun rights activists by the Bible is not going to work. It simply can’t be used to do that. The Bible can't settle every question, and God never intended it to do so.

  • Ted Apr. 19, 2014 at 7:32 PM

    Those seeking background on how theology and the intent of the Founders might come together in the 2nd Amendment might be interested to know that the Magdeburg Confession was translated into English for the first time in 2012. Why it took 460 years is beyond me.

    Google for "The Magdeburg Confession: 13th of April 1550 AD" to get a copy. Even better, first read "Tyranny and Resistance: The Magdeburg Confession and the Lutheran Tradition" by David M. Whitford from 2001 to set the context. It's quite a significant book. I'm not a Lutheran, but recent history in popular books has been distorted and impugned Luther unfairly.

    The Confession resonated well into the period of the founding of the U. S., and it informed the view of many clear through the run-up to the American Revolution. As Christians, it would make a good companion to the Constitution on our shelves.

  • Ted Apr. 29, 2014 at 7:43 PM

    If you Google for the Magdeburg Confession, you’ll find the first English translation in 2012 available on Amazon. On the cover you’ll see a woodcut of a bearwolf by Hans Weiditz and the “on the cover” description is this:

    The bearwolf was a monster of German folklore. Martin Luther used the bearwolf as a symbol of tyranny. The pastors of Magdeburg wrote of it in the Magdeburg Confession while speaking of the fourth and most severe form of tyranny.

    A soldier’s song from that era also spoke of the bearwolf:

    Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, just as we read;
    But how much more so for the Lord God!
    As long as he does the Lord’s will, and lives in peace,
    Caesar’s office we must honour;
    Should he transgress, he is no more
    Emperor or lord, but an outlaw
    And a bearwolf against which we must guard.
    [Magdeburg 1548 AD]

  • Brian H May. 28, 2014 at 7:28 AM

    Since the Framers could not envision the technology of the future when constructing the 2nd Amendment, they certainly had no idea how technology would affect the 1st Amendment. So, since the 2nd amendment only applies to singe shot flint locks, the 1st Amendment can only apply to speech that is given orally (but not recorded and played later on TV, YouTube, Facebook) or hand written. Speech is not protected that goes out via the internet, text messages, social media. Podcasts of sermons and biblical teaching do not enjoy protection (since the Frames could not envision what a podcast is). That is the logic that must apply to every part of the Bill of Rights. It can only protect those rights that exist in the same fashion as they did when the Constitution was framed. Since computers did not exist when the 4th Amendment was created, you don't have any right to think that the government cannot tap into your computer, or cell phone and read your info. Which means The Good Book blog should not be protected under the 1st Amendment. Slippery slope, indeed

  • Brian H May. 28, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    1 other observation I have seen from pacifists before that is baffling Is the notion that we aren't called to defend ourselves but defending others is right. If Gods expectation for me is to die rather than kill then I have no business preventing anyone from do likewise. So if my family is being endangered, they have the same obligation not to defend themselves and I have no obligation to do it by proxy. To say it is right to do the latter but not the former is a massive, unsupported leap. The same might be said of a Christian woman being assaulted "don't repay evil, turn the other check". The logic between the two actions being wrong/right is faulty. I am however, open to being corrected. (Pardon the typos, I stopped on the side of the road to put this thought down). Again, thanks for the discussion

  • Will Jun. 17, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    First, I will state I AM a Christian, and not just a Sunday Chrstian.

    This statement kind of, well to be honest, really bothers me.

    maturing disciples of Jesus, following the example of their crucified Lord, will prefer to die, rather than to kill, even in self-defense.

    Is it your assertion, when I was in Iraq in a firefight I should have laid down my rifle, disobeyed my C.O. and be killed instead of firing? (most of the time I was laying down cover fire, so laying down my rifle in some instances would have not only endangered myself but others from enemy fire). AR-15's are FAR from being high-powered, in fact the M16 is a underpowered rifle. The 5.56NATO round is not designed to kill, but to neutralize the threat. It is a very light round, so this lightweight round allows a soldier to carry more ammo, and you don't need to kill your enemy but take them out of action. I will not name them, but, there are books which are named otherwise but teach nothing but terrorism and guerrilla warfare, how to build IED's, substances to put in an IED which will prevent the blood from clotting, should we ban "assault books", because that starts to break in on the 1st amendment. Of course you know that free speech is limited in public schools for you cannot pray. There flintlocks were MUCH more advanced than most people think against masses for the ball ammo was so large and heavy it would land, roll and bounce through the filed ranks of soldiers. A pump action shotgun is able to fire a large net of up to 40 Buckshot projectiles, each more potent than a .223. So that is DOZENS of rounds shot not in seconds, but instaneously. I will add that most of the larger buckshots don't have that many in the 20 and 12ga varieties, but you can get such ammunition at ANY gun store. I will leave you with this quote by a framer of the constitution. BTW, they had Cannons back then, are you ok with the sale of cannons?
    If we look into the Historically accurate quotes things start to clear up...

    "And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the Press, or the rights of Conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms; …"
    Samuel Adams
    quoted in the Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer, August 20, 1789, "Propositions submitted to the Convention of this State"
    W.L.H
    please do not try to contact me, as I shouldn't have gotten back into this subject.

  • Will Jun. 17, 2014 at 1:02 PM

    Due to comment character limits I took a chunk out of my post, giving some discontinuity.

    I don't have any fond memories of this, so this isn't my favorite subject. Something I took out is that there were instances where only MY life was at risk, I once again would like to know, should I have disobeyed orders and refused to fire despite being fired upon, had I lived I would have been subject to court martial. I can't tell you how many times I've heard a soldier say something like (The civies claim to be grateful by shaking our hand and telling us they appreciate our service, yet there beliefs lie outside the beliefs our brothers died for. What should I have done, It's not a rhetorical question, I really want to know what you think of that situation. Please don't confuse my disagreement with disrespect, I aspire to be the best Christian I can be, but, sometimes I don't act accordingly.
    W.L.H.

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