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Government: What about the right to bear arms?

Gary Googe Jun 12

Question:  Do you have a right to defend yourself?

Answer:  Of course, you do!

Question:  By what means should you be able to defend yourself?

Answer:  By whatever means is available.

It is the Bible that is to be our authority in our understanding of these matters.

II Timothy 3:16-17

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect [mature], thoroughly furnished unto all good works. [Emphasis added]

It is in the Bible that we will find reliable guidance on this issue, as with so many others.

As strange as it is, there have always been people who do not want us to be able to defend ourselves against those who would do us harm.  A statement related to this subject has often been spoken: “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”  And isn’t this the situation that every outlaw prefers? Of course, it is! These are principles our forefathers understood completely.  That is one of the main reasons we have The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  That amendment is biblically based.  That amendment itself does not actually give us the right to bear arms, it simply affirms our God-given right to bear arms and to defend ourselves and our loved ones by whatever means are available. 

Question:  Should our citizenry not have the best means available to protect themselves?

Answer:  Of course, they should!

But isn’t it amazing how there are those who wish to defy common sense about all this, let alone biblical teaching?

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution simply reads as follows:

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.

Please notice that it says, “the people” have “the right” to “keep and bear arms.”  During the Revolutionary War era, “militia” referred to groups of men who banded together to protect their communities, towns, colonies and eventually states, after the United States declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776.  Many people in America at the time believed governments used soldiers to oppress the people and thought the federal government should only be allowed to raise armies [with full-time, paid soldiers] when facing foreign adversaries.  For all other purposes, they believed, it should turn to part-time militias, or ordinary civilians using their own weapons.  But as militias had proved insufficient against the British, the Constitutional Convention gave the new federal government the power to establish a standing army, even in peacetime.

The famous English judge, Sir William Blackstone wrote in the 18th century that the right to have arms was auxiliary to the “natural right of resistance and self-preservation” subject to suitability and allowance by law.  The term arms, as used in the 1600s, refers to the process of equipping for war.  It is commonly used as a synonym for weapons.

Richard Henry Lee (1732–1794), a signer of the Declaration of Independence who helped frame the Second Amendment in the First Congress, wrote, “… to preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them…” [Emphasis added]

Our constitution is not a “living document,” intended to be changed to meet the times, as some claim.  The need for personally owned means of protection against criminals and others who would do us harm will be a part of life until the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  Only then will there no longer be a need for some personal and national means of protection.

As General Douglas MacArthur said in his Farewell Speech given to the Corps of Cadets at West Point in 1962, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”  This tells us only the dead have seen the end of a need for personal and national protection by the use of arms.

As we have noted, arms are a necessity for our security.  Yes, they are never to be considered as something optional, let alone unnecessary.  The right to bear arms is not bestowed by man but granted by God to all people as our birthright.  Furthermore, in addition to our nation’s Constitution, God’s Word to us in the Bible spells this out.  Any time there’s lawlessness, the need for arms becomes all the more obvious.  That is why our Lord made the statement He did just prior to when He, not only a lawful Man, but a sinless One, was arrested by local authorities and followed by a lawless mob.

Luke 22:35-38

35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.

36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

This clearly sets personal protection as a priority for every person and for every household.  As swords were the best means of personal protection in that day, firearms are today.

37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.

38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough. [Emphasis added]

Please note that those among them were carrying these weapons.  They did not have to go home to get them or purchase them.  There have been people in every generation who have known the need for bearing arms of every sort for both personal and national protection.  King David of Israel made the following statement.

Psalm 144:1-2

1 Blessed be the Lord my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: [Emphasis added]

David went on to state that ultimately it is the Lord our God who is our supreme protector.

My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me. [Emphasis added]

Pacifists are famous for using and abusing the Bible to promote disarmament for individuals as well as nations.  The Second Amendment, often referred to as the right to bear arms, is one of 10 Amendments that form the Bill of Rights, ratified in 1791 by the U.S. Congress.  Differing interpretations of the Amendment have fueled a long-running debate over gun control legislation and the rights of individual citizens to buy, own and carry firearms.

We find in history that it is when nations reject God, His Word and the like that they become weak, unprepared and disarmed.

Judges 5:8

They chose new gods; then was war in the gates: was there a shield or spear seen among forty thousand in Israel? [Emphasis added]

Obviously, the Bible does not specifically address the issue of gun control, since firearms, like we use today, were not manufactured in ancient times.  But accounts of warfare and the use of weaponry, such as swords, spears, bows, and arrows, darts and slings were well-documented in the pages of the Bible.  In Old Testament times, the Israelites were expected to have their own personal weapons.  Every man would be summoned to arms when the nation confronted an enemy. The people defended themselves.

Numbers 31:3

And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the Lord of Midian. [Emphasis added]

I Samuel 25:13

13 And David said unto his men, Gird ye on every man his sword. And they girded on every man his sword; and David also girded on his sword: and there went up after David about four hundred men; and two hundred abode by the stuff. [Emphasis added]

These were not government owned or controlled arms.  So, each man had a sword readily available to be holstered and used when required.  Nowhere in Scripture is this forbidden.  Self-defense by whatever means was always in order.  The innocent, that is, the victim of criminal activity was and always is to be protected by law.  The citizenry themselves were authorized to address criminal acts against them.

Exodus 22:2

If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him.

Anyone who slayed a thief who was doing them harm was exonerated.  As we noted our Lord’s words recorded in Luke 22:35-38, weapons can be rightfully used in self-defense.

It is interesting to note that Peter openly carried his sword, a weapon similar to the ones Roman soldiers employed at the time.  Jesus knew Peter was always carrying a sword.  He allowed this but forbade him to use it aggressively.  Most importantly, Jesus did not want Peter to resist the inevitable will of God the Father, which our Savior knew would be fulfilled by His arrest and eventual death on the cross where He would bear our sins to provide a way of salvation for us.

The policy of being “a peacemaker” [Matthew 5:9] and that of “turning the other cheek” [Matthew 5:38-40] was presented by our Lord concerning the prophesied coming earthly kingdom He would establish.  These passages are directed to believing Israel for the coming earthly kingdom Christ will establish at His return, not to us today as members of the Body of Christ living in this present dispensation of the grace of God.

Always bear in mind that there is a real sense in which personal arms are “peacemakers.”  When citizenry own and carry weapons, it serves as a deterrent to crime.  Criminals, of course, never like it when a lethal weapon may be turned on them to stop their criminal activity.

A sword, as with a handgun or any firearm, in and of itself is not aggressive or violent.  It is simply an object; it can be used either for good or for evil.  Any weapon in the hands of someone intent on evil can be used for violent or evil purposes.  Gun laws serve no purpose at all in this.  In fact, a weapon of this type is not required for such.  The Bible doesn’t tell us what kind of weapon the first murderer, Cain, used to kill his brother Abel in Genesis 4.  I personally believe it was probably the knife Abel used in sacrificing the animal.  But Cain could have used a stone, a club, a sword, or perhaps even his bare hands.  The kind of weapon used in this first act of murder is not mentioned in the account.  The one guilty in the offense was Cain.  The weapon he used is irrelevant.  Even today, guns don’t kill people, people do.

Weapons in the hands of law-abiding, peace-loving citizens can be used for good purposes such as hunting, recreational and competitive sports, as well as in keeping peace.  As we’ve noted, beyond self-defense, a person trained and prepared to use a firearm can deter crime, employing the weapon to protect innocent lives and prevent violent offenders from succeeding in their crimes.  In fact, to fail to use one in such instances is morally wrong.  To stand down and permit murder, theft, rape, cruelty to children, or whatever things of this sort is evil, even criminal.

The Bible does not promote personal vengeance or vigilantism, but it does allow believers to engage in self-defense, to resist evil, and to defend the defenseless.

Romans 12:17-19

17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. [Emphasis added]

The Lord has put forth His own means by which these things are to be addressed.  This is what government is designed to do.  Scripture makes this clear.

Romans 13:1-7

1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers [government authorities].  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Whosoever [a reference to criminals] therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation [they are to be punished].

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil [criminal types].  Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

For he is the minister of God to thee for good.  But if thou do that which is evil [a reference to criminal activity], be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain [a reference to capital punishment]: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath [exercised punishment], but also for conscience sake.

For for this cause pay ye tribute [taxes] also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. [Emphasis added]

Lethal weapons, we can conclude, are not the problem.  Even killing for one’s protection against an evil person is justified.  The Bible commands us not to kill.

Exodus 20:13

13 Thou shalt not kill.

Deuteronomy 5:17

13 Thou shalt not kill.

But the command is to do with murder, not killing in self-defense.  All murder involves killing, but all killing is not murder.  Nowhere does the Bible forbid Christians from bearing arms and using them when it is justified.  In fact, the Bible tells us that in just law, murderers are to be tried and executed.

Numbers 35:30-31

30 Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die.

31 Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death. [Emphasis added]

Today, we are not under the penal system of the Mosaic Law, but we must understand that the law Israel had was given to them by a perfectly just God.  Therefore, that system of law should be and has been a guide for establishing just laws in America.

In every case, wisdom and caution are of the utmost importance if one does choose to bear a lethal weapon.  To protect the innocent anyone who owns and carries a firearm should be trained and follow all safety rules pertaining to such a responsibility.

Ultimately, the decision to bear arms is a personal choice determined by one’s own convictions. As a believer, the use of deadly force should be applied only as a last resort, when no other option is available, to prevent an evil from being committed and to protect human life.

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