3 Bad Arguments About Guns and Violence

By Sean McDowell Published on March 10, 2023

The issue of gun rights and violence is about as heated as any issue today. Christians and non-Christians hold a range of views about gun ownership and the best political solution to reduce gun violence.

My goal here is not to settle the debate. Rather, to respond to three overly simplistic arguments that might sound appealing on the surface, but don’t hold water when pressed.

Genuinely addressing the topic of gun control is going to take serious reflection and sacrifice. Are we really willing to examine the evidence and change our views, if necessary?

Claim #1: ‘Violence Never Fixes Anything’

While sometimes violence encourages more violence, it is false to claim that violence never fixes anything. Violence helped end the Holocaust. Violence helped free slaves in the Civil War. Violence doesn’t fix everything, and sometimes non-violence is a powerful way of stopping injustice, as we saw in the Civil Rights Movement. But it is false to say it never fixes anything. History proves otherwise.

Claim #2: ‘Guns Don’t Kill People; People Do’

This is a false dilemma. It is not either guns or people, but people using guns. While it is true that people can kill with other kinds of weapons, guns can more easily be used to carry out mass killings. The fact that people are the ultimate cause of gun violence is not a good argument against reasonable restrictions on gun ownership.

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Most of the modern debate about gun ownership is not if people should be able to own them but what kinds of weapons people should be able to own and under what conditions they can carry them. My guess is that you have no problem with someone owning a knife and probably not a shotgun or rifle either, but what about an automatic machine gun? Yes, people are responsible for killing others with guns, but we do need to have reasonable conversations about what kind of guns are permissible. Certain kinds of guns undeniably allow people to commit mass killings more easily.

Claim #3: ‘No Law Can Prevent All Gun Violence’

This is true, but why should we resist laws that help reduce some violence, even if we can’t stop all violence? The question should not be whether a policy stops all gun violence but whether it genuinely helps reduce gun violence without eliminating the right to own a gun. Finding this balance is obviously tricky, but it must be our goal. Too much is at stake.

If you are looking for a more in-depth discussion about the Bible and guns, and how to have meaningful conversations with people who see the world differently, check out my latest book A Rebel’s Manifesto.


Sean McDowell, Ph.D., is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author, popular speaker, and part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, and his blog: seanmcdowell.org.

Originally published at SeanMcDowell.org. Reprinted with permission.

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