I was raised to believe in the Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared.” It’s not only practical advice, it’s a way to live out God’s command to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Leviticus 19:18. I’ve been trained in Boy Scout and Red Cross first aid. Scouts also trained me in fire prevention. As a result, I always have first aid kits and fire extinguishers in my cars and home.
My father set the example. He saved a heart attack victim on the street in Columbus, Ohio, and stopped both a bed and a chair on fire in two different houses with his car extinguisher. He was the first to arrive at wreck-with-injury scenes and render aid on three occasions. As a lifeguard and neighbor my training has helped me save two people so far. What about violent crime? Is it my job to protect my neighbor from that as well? Isn’t that what the police are for? Ideally, yes, but we don’t live in an ideal world.
In the real world where seconds count, the cops are just minutes away. Violent criminals, even without guns, can fatally wound a victim in seconds. Cops are almost never on the scene when violent crime occurs, so it’s up to potential victims and their fellow citizens to be prepared to save lives from illegal violence. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come back tomorrow and I will give it.’ when you have it with you.” Proverbs 3:27-28.
Did you know that legally, the police are under no obligation to save you? The highest courts of the states and the feds hold that the police have a duty only to protect the general public, NOT any specific person! See: Castle Rock vs. Gonzales, 454 U.S. 748 (2005), the latest US Supreme Court ruling on this. After all, if you could sue the police or fire department for failing to arrive in time to save you or your house, those emergency services would soon be sued out of business.
As a result, you are left to defend yourself, your loved ones, and neighbors in a riot, a crime, or a fire until the pros can arrive. If riots are all over your town, then don’t be surprised if it takes days for them to show up! After all, self-defense is the difference between you getting to tell the cops what happened and them just guessing as they draw a chalk line around your body!
Under normal circumstances, remember that you are NOT a cop! You have no legal obligation to intervene in any apparent breach of the law. But what if you and your family are in a fast food joint when a guy bursts in with an AK-47, yells, “Allahu Akbar!” and starts shooting? Now, saving your life and your family’s is the same as saving innocent strangers, IF you are armed and prepared to do it.
God’s clear command is this,
Deliver those who are staggering to slaughter, O hold them back! If you say, “See we did not know this.” does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? Does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will he not render to a man according to his work?
God commands us to save innocent people from murder, and allows us to use legal, deadly force. He is NOT a god of pacifism! Sometimes criminals leave us with only one practical, legal way to stop them. Loving my neighbor as myself, I will give him the appropriate aid at the right time. Police aren’t there. It’s up to armed, trained people on the scene to save others. God has a plan for every person in that restaurant. “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not calamity, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11.
Defending the innocent gives them a chance to fulfill God’s plans for their lives; so you shoot the terrorist down. “The righteous is delivered from trouble, but the wicked takes his place.” Prov. 11:8. By turning the tables and ending his guilty life, you give a new start to every person in that restaurant.
It is our Christian duty to help others. So when a felon’s deliberate actions leave us with no safe retreat and only a few seconds to save innocent lives, God orders us to use every legal means at our command to save them. As Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” The Apostle Paul tells us “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men.” Romans 12:18.
However, if felons threaten lives, then mindset, tactics, training, and weapons are necessary to get us through. Every believer should know that God blesses us for defending the innocent. He who refreshes (saves) others will himself be refreshed. “ Proverbs 11:25. So “Be Prepared.”