Editor: Thanks to Clash Daily regular Rob Morse for passing along this column to us …
by Greg Hopkins
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
The Presbyters of Pittsburgh of the Presbyterian Church, USA, have demanded that the Pennsylvania legislature ban all “assault weapons”, .50 cal sniper rifles, and armor-piercing handgun ammo. They base this action on the Orlando nightclub slaughter of last year. They suggest a political remedy for a problem that is, alas, a personal problem of heart, mind, and value systems.
The presbyters (elders) call for a ban of Modern Sporting Rifles, the correct term for the semi-auto rifles they call “assault rifles”. Their demand is flawed from the outset. Let me list the ways –
• No crime (to my knowledge) has ever been committed with a .50 caliber rifle since the civil war.
• Armor-piercing handgun ammo has been banned in most states for decades.
• “Assault rifles” have been used in so few crimes that the Federal Assault Rifle Ban of 1994 failed to be renewed by in 2004 by Congress because there was no evidence that crimes with these rifles had been reduced in the previous ten years. In fact, the instances of them being used in crimes were so low that nation-wide criminal use of “assault weapons” amounted to about one-half of one percent of all firearms used in crimes. These rifles which the uninformed say were “solely designed to kill people”, were actually designed to WOUND on the battlefield rather than kill. The death rates from being shot with these modern sporting rifles are about the same as death by handguns. Only one in four people shot with a modern sporting rifle will die.
• Long guns are seldom used in violent crime. The FBI Uniform Crime Reports show that each year, more people are murdered with hands, fists and feet than ALL rifles and shotguns combined
This demand by the Presbytery fails on many levels. The facts about firearms and crime is only the first. The Presbyterian Church, USA is the liberal wing of the Presbyterian Church in America. They are liberal in both their politics and their interpretation of Scripture. Their leadership doesn’t hold the Bible to be the accurate and complete Word of God. Many of their “spiritual” positions over the years reject the Bible in favor of liberal and Marxist orthodoxy, as shown by their demand in this same lobbying statement of the exercise of “social justice” by the legislature. Social justice is merely a code phrase that means that government should favor some groups over others based on Marxist orthodoxy. It is the direct opposite of the Constitutional model of “equal justice for all”.
I disagree with their politics, but share their outrage over the horrible rampage murder in an Orlando nightclub. I also differ in what I view as a solution. I’ve worked in law enforcement and in our legal system for years. I suggest the Pennsylvania presbytery focus on the individual who committed this massacre. The murderer was a Muslim who, because of his religious beliefs, hated gays. The murderer believed Allah would bless him for slaughtering as many homosexuals as possible. The Muslim murderer passed many FBI background checks. The presbytery proposes we disarm the victims in the face of this deliberate evil. I don’t see that as a solution at all.
The Presbyters point is fundamentally flawed by their focus on the instruments of crime rather than the murderous intent of the criminals involved. I studied criminals as a prosecutor. I also studied the Bible. If the Bible teaches anything from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible shows us our individual responsibility for our actions and their consequences.
The false pacifism behind their demands is not supported by the Bible. In my book, A Time to Kill: The Myth of Christian Pacifism, I demonstrate that God not only allows, but commands, that we defend the innocent with all legal force. Moreover, Jesus never taught pacifism. I explain the biblical phrases “turn the other cheek” and “live by the sword, die by the sword” in their full biblical contexts. There are many other instances where Jesus endorses physical defense of home and property.
Jesus tells us murder begins in the heart. Matt. 5:21-22; 1 Jn. 3:15. So does our redemption. Perhaps if Modernist churches returned to preaching Biblical standards instead of promoting the latest sociological studies, then our culture would rediscover personal responsibility. The consequences are good for everyone.
Instead, outfits like the Presbyterian Church, USA, blame “society” for people’s sins, faults and crimes. They ignore the Biblical call for self-examination, confession of sin, and repentance. The results are all too clear. There is no more graphic example of our moral decay than the recent videoed kidnap and 48-hour torture of a mentally disabled teen for political purposes. This atrocity was done by supposedly “normal” young adults from Chicago! The Bible says there is a specific place for such people: Lev. 19:14; Matt. 18:6; Matt. 25: 31-46. This moral decay and vicious conduct is what the Pittsburgh Presbyters should be addressing, instead of the non-issue of “assault rifles”. Cain didn’t use a weapon to kill Abel. It takes a mind and a will to commit crime, and the Bible tells us how to discipline both.
This is how we achieve the slaughterhouse of Chicago and the crime-ridden, largely vacant lot called Detroit. In January of 1960 the last Republican mayor of Detroit left office. On that day, Detroit had the highest per-capita standard of living in the country with the highest per-capita standard of living in the world. From 1960 to the year 2000, greed and hubris by auto makers, unions, and corrupt politicians had destroyed the city.
Biblical standards were dumped, and liberal standards replaced them. Crime ran rampant and the vital middle class ran in fear. Entitlement and liberal standards became the watchword, while honesty and responsibility were cast aside. Detroit and Chicago show us the logical end of liberalism.
In his attempt to create Heaven on Earth, man forgets God and creates Hell. In 1960, everyone had a chance to make a good life in Chicago, Detroit, and Los Angeles. Liberal policies then turned our cities into killing fields. Today they face the real problems of alienation caused by the welfare state, the destruction of the family, the resulting rampant crime, the failure of the culture to value education, and the drug culture. Businesses fled, unemployment climbed, abortion rates soared and frustration grew as each generation respected life less and cynicism abounded.
Those are the real problems we need to address. The solution comes from our churches as much as the ballot box. DeTocqueville said, “America is great because she is good.” Churches need to return to the Bible and teach the value of life and individual responsibility. Promoting gun control is only a political distraction from our real problems.
Greg Hopkins was a lawyer, judge, and use-of-force trainer.
Image: From Shutterstock; ID: 554129440