An Intellectual Defense of Firearm Possession
by Lee Enochs
Over the last week, social media is abuzz over the highly inflammatory and controversial comments made by Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. in which Falwell said in his weekly convocation message;
“It just blows my mind that the president of the United States [says] that the answer to circumstances like that is more gun control,” he said to applause.
“If some of those people in that community center had what I have in my back pocket right now …,” he said while being interrupted by louder cheers and clapping. “Is it illegal to pull it out? I don’t know,” he said, chuckling.
“I’ve always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in,” he says, the rest of his sentence drowned out by loud applause while he said, “and killed them.”
“I just wanted to take this opportunity to encourage all of you to get your permit. We offer a free course,” he said. “Let’s teach them a lesson if they ever show up here.”
Many liberals were outraged that a Christian leader of an influential university would urge his students to get their permits to carry concealed weapons.
In his remarks, President Jerry Falwell Jr., son of the late religious right leader Jerry Falwell Sr., pressed students at the Christian school in Lynchburg, Va., to carry weapons on campus following Wednesday’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.
Many from the left were also angered by the fact that Falwell used the expression “we could end those Muslims before they walked in,” as if Falwell were condemning all Muslims everywhere. Falwell later clarified and qualified his statements, indicating that he was referring specifically to the radicalized Muslims who participated in the terroristic attacks in San Bernardino.
While as a Libertarian and a conservative, I strongly concur with Falwell’s sentiment that law abiding American citizens should consider arming themselves in order to protect themselves and their families against similar terroristic attacks and our increasingly violent society, I believe Falwell used poor judgement in not differentiating the murderers of San Bernardino with law abiding Muslims across America who have the Constitutional right to practice the religion of their choosing.
Hubris and inflammatory comments notwithstanding, Falwell does make an interesting point about Christians and the right to carry firearms to protect themselves.
Many from the progressive left maintain that Christians should be pacifists and not resort to violence for any reason. Thus, Falwell’s comments raise the even bigger issue, not immediately apparent amidst this firestorm, regarding Christianity and personal security.
While I believe Christians should attempt to avoid unprovoked aggression and unwarranted violence of any sort, I believe physical force in self-defense is morally justifiable since we have an ethical obligation to protect ourselves and our families from harm. In fact, the Apostle Paul argued that a Christian is worse than an unbeliever if he does not protect his own family (1 Timothy 5:8).
Paul, writing in Romans 13:7 argues that it is morally justifiable for the government to use physical violence in protecting its citizenry when he said that the state, “does not bear the sword in vain, for it is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the evil doer.”
It thus follows in a propositional sense, that since any government could be made up of individual Christians who have the moral obligation to protect their fellow citizens in their governing capacity, that God condones the use of justifiable force in self-defense by Christians. If not, then it would be wrong for Christians to enter into politics.
For me at least, while I am not a fan of the brand of the social conservatism and fundamentalism espoused often recklessly by the likes of Falwell, I have to concur this time around with Falwell that it is a wise thing for Christians to arm themselves lawfully in this increasingly violent society.
I also believe that we must be careful to make a distinction between radicalized muslims like the ISIS inspired shooters in San Bernardino from law-abiding Muslims in this country who have a first amendment fight to practice their religion as their consciences dictate. To not protect their freedom of speech and religion would be inherently un-American.