God Meant Us to Have Our Gun Rights

By John Zmirak Published on February 16, 2022

Despite every attack so far, the Freedom Convoy rolls through Canada — and spreads to other countries afflicted by the public health dictatorship of the Branch Covidians. Canadian leader Justin Trudeau just invoked that country’s answer to Hitler’s “Enabling Act” to permit him to trash the truckers’ constitutional rights.

But the province of Alberta has met the truckers’ demands. It revoked the useless, fascist COVID restrictions that were strangling ordinary life, without saving a single life from the rapidly vanishing virus. (Yes, there’s still Omicron. I caught it. It meant that I stayed in bed for a week, drinking Nyquil, plus Ivermectin.)

People Power Works Best When the People Are Armed

Clearly people power still works, for the moment. That power is vastly greater, of course, in those rare countries like ours where the populace still have weapons. That’s why dictators from Lenin to Hitler, from Castro to Chavez, make it their business to disarm the people as quickly as they can.

An old friend of mine who’d moved to Canada just before COVID hit — and is thinking of fleeing to Texas — was politically transformed by the experience of living under lockdown. Before it, she’d been a lukewarm admirer of Obama.

Now she’s watching Steve Bannon’s War Room and saying things like this: “In America, they wouldn’t dare try what they did to us in Canada. (They locked us at home, fining us $1,000 for visiting our friends.) You know why? The people still have guns. The government’s still afraid of them.”

My Next Book

I’m writing a popular study of the profound connections between gun rights and freedom, especially religious freedom. Its title is Standing Watch: God, Guns, and the Government from the Founders to Kyle Rittenhouse. It appears in May, and those who read me regularly here will recognize some of the content. I’m drawing on my previous writing here to form parts of the book.

I rely on many sources, both primary and scholarly. But today I’d like to highlight a really central one, which I can’t recommend too strongly to Christians concerned about their rights and duties as citizens. The Morality of Self-Defense and Military Action: The Judeo-Christian Tradition, by David B. Kopel belongs on every pastor’s bookshelf. It should bulk up the summer reading of Christians engaged in politics, and those who own and use guns.

The Book Every Thinking Christian Needs

Kopel is a fellow of the Independence Institute, and a scholar of the Second Amendment. In this thoroughly researched, clear, and convincing academic tome, he traces in detail the development of first Jewish, then Christian ethical reflections on the appropriate use of violence

  1. In personal and familial self-defense.
  2. By the State against crime and foreign enemies. And
  3. By citizens against tyrannical governments.

Kopel takes seriously the arguments of pacifists, whose position was dominant among many Christian thinkers during the early centuries of the Church. At that time, it was politically helpless, and Christians could play no responsible role in a hostile pagan State. Indeed, serving in the Roman army required participation in polytheistic rites.

Seriously, Get and Study This Book

Kopel’s book should be the go-to for every Christian who personally or pastorally struggles with answering difficult questions about the appropriate use of force. He is fair, complete, and convincing in his effort to reach rationally convincing solutions to moral conundrums that have bedeviled sincere believers over millennia. As I proceed in this series on the roots of the Second Amendment in sacred and profane history, I will rely on and summarize Kopel’s account of the development and resolution of these debates.

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I’ve written here often about the philosophical picture of human nature that underlies the American founding. Beside Kopel’s, I’ve cited the work of scholars such as Robert Reilly, Mark David Hall, Thomas West, and others to prove crucial points about that picture. Each of them is essential as we fight legislative, constitutional, and policy battles to defend the Common Good and religious freedom. I’ll list them briefly below.

America Rests on the Biblical View of Man

The American founding is inconceivable without the Christian conception of man as a free, responsible creature of a personal God, infused by the Classical tradition of reflection on the Common Good. The American system of ordered liberty cannot function, and will collapse into some amalgam of Anarcho-Tyranny, if our laws assume another, alien concept of man.

The British Tradition Made Liberty Possible

Also key to that founding is the Anglo-American tradition of liberty, resistance to unjust authority, and the independence of churches from the power of the State.

The Battle for Religious Freedom Formed Us

During the very centuries when the American colonies were incubating, thinkers, pastors, and activists were still struggling with questions of how to guarantee religious liberty while pursuing the Common Good. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and its incorporation by the states, was a political compromise that successfully resolved that tension. That resolution began to strain and crack after 1945 but especially after 1960, as judges falsely read a French Enlightenment secularism into our founding documents.

Gun Rights Are in Our National DNA

Americans’ attachment to the free ownership and use of private firearms can be traced to the historical circumstances of our founding as settler, frontier colonies, largely populated by dissenters from the established Church of England which had persecuted their ancestors.

No Second Amendment, No First

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution owes its place in our founding documents to those settlers’ concern for familial self-defense, resistance to tyranny, and defense of their religious freedom.

The Gospel Itself Implies Gun Rights

The American concept of freedom as including these rights of self-defense is not only reconcilable with the orthodox Christian picture of what is due human beings by virtue of their dignity. In fact, the American conception is the best and fullest expression of that doctrinal position, which all Christians should support both for prudential and religious reasons.

I look forward to demonstrating each of these assertions in future columns here at The Stream, with regular reference to current events that illustrate their enduring importance.

 

John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”

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