Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Individual Responsibility, not Arms Control (Larry Pratt)

The Bible records the first murder in Genesis 4 when Cain killed his brother Abel. God's response was not to register rocks or impose a background check on those getting a plough, or whatever it was that Cain used to kill his brother. Instead, God dealt with the criminal. Ever since Noah the penalty for murder has been death.

We see the refusal to accept this principle that God has given us from the very beginning. Today we see a growing acceptance of the idea that checking the criminal backgrounds of gun buyers will lessen crime but we should seldom execute those who are guilty of murder.

In Matthew 15 (and in Mark 7) Christ accused the religious leaders of the day of also opposing the execution of those deserving of death -- rebellious teenagers. They had replaced the commandments of God with their own traditions. God has never been interested in controlling the means of violence. He has always made it a point to punish, and where possible, restore (as with restitution and excommunication) the wrongdoer. Control of individuals is to be left to self-government. Punishment of individuals by the civil government is to be carried out when self-government breaks down.

Man's wisdom today has been to declare gun free school zones which are invaded by gun-toting teenage terrorists whom we refuse to execute. We seem to have learned little from Christ's rebuke of the Pharisees.

Nowhere in the Bible does God make any provision for dealing with the instruments of crime. He always focuses on the consequences for an individual of his actions. Heaven and hell only applies to people, not to things. Responsibility only pertains to people, not to things. If this principle, which was deeply embedded in the common law, still pertained today lawsuits against gun manufacturers would be thrown out unless the product malfunctioned.

Larry Pratt, "What Does the Bible Say About Gun Control?," Gun Owners of America (Springfield, VA: August 1, 1999). Retrieved July 9, 2014 from

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