We hear the same response after every mass shooting, “We need more gun laws!” Yet, there are already over 20,000 laws regulating the use and ownership of guns in the U.S. Your view on such issues probably falls in line with your political party affiliation. But how should we, as Christians, think about it? Is there a biblical perspective about adding more gun laws? The answer is so simple and obvious that it’s staring us in the face.
The Ten Commandments are the backbone of most civilized societies. We generally agree that killing, stealing, and lying, etc. are unacceptable, and are therefore punishable. We have the perfect law from the perfect Law Giver. So the issue isn’t the law itself. In fact, the Bible shows us why laws succeed and why laws fail. Problems begin to escalate when people try to complicate, ignore, or outdate what God has already said.
Complicating the Law
God originally gave the Ten Commandments as laws to live by in order to be in right relationship with Him and with others. Obeying these laws would bring protection and prosperity to Israel, and to anyone else who obeys them. But Israel failed to keep these ten simple laws. So they eventually wrote more laws about how to keep God’s commandments—613 of them by the time Jesus came to Earth. Israel’s problem wasn’t that the Ten Commandments were poorly written or not thoroughly thought out. They are perfect and holy. The problem was in keeping the laws they already had.
So, I did an online search to find out how many federal laws there are in America. It didn’t take long to find out that no one really knows. Even the Justice Department hasn’t been able to determine the total number of criminal laws we have because there are over 23,000 pages of federal laws on the books. To say our criminal justice system is complicated is an extreme understatement. How many more laws would it take to stem the tide of violence in general?
Ignoring the Law
The book of Judges ends with a sobering sentence, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Without godly leadership each person determined right, wrong, truth, and error for themselves. Sound familiar? The problem was not a lack of laws but ignoring the law. This happens more and more today. Many government leaders on all levels decide which laws they will uphold and which ones they won’t.
For instance, some state leaders boldly declare they will not enforce the overturn of Roe v. Wade, defying the law of the land. And that’s just one recent example; there are numerous other situations were government officials refuse to punish crime. Not every example is nefarious; some might just be lazy. Many of these gun tragedies happened because existing laws were ignored.
Just look at the Fourth of July parade shooting in Highland Park, Illinois—which has some of the strictest gun laws in America. The person in custody was able to clear state required background checks to purchase firearms on at least four separate occasions. The Illinois State Police even received a Clear and Present Danger report on him in 2019 regarding threats against his family. So this tragedy didn’t happen because there weren’t sufficient laws or sufficient warning. It happened because both laws and warning signs were ignored.
Outdating the Law
Progressive thought is largely responsible for viewing God’s laws as old and outdated. However, even many conservative politicians shy away from biblical answers because they say it no longer sways people. Just this week, a viewer to my YouTube channel went on a rant about church and Christianity in general, stating, “That’s OVER.” All these people fail to recognize the eternal nature of God’s Word, and therefore, of God’s Law.
God gave the Ten Commandments out of love for His people. Israel’s obedience to those commands was to flow out of their love for Him. In John 14:15 Jesus clearly states love as the key to why laws work, “If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.” In Matthew 24:12 Jesus declares, “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” God’s laws haven’t grown old and outdated—people’s hearts have grown cold and outrageous.
The answer to lawlessness and gun violence will not come from any political party or administration. Neither will more gun laws solve the problem. Why? Because we don’t have a law problem, we have a collective heart problem. That’s why God gave His only Son—to pay the debt for our lawlessness. Anyone who repents of their sin, receives His Son’s life into their own. His Spirit empowers believers with the ability to be love-filled and law-abiding citizens. Some will continue to complicate it and ignore it, but they can never outdate the law of God and the love of Jesus.