A Law-Abiding Gun Owner Speaks Up

Subscribe to the Heidelblog today!


  1. There is a case to be made for the right to own a gun, provided you are a sane, law abiding citizen, but why anyone should be allowed to own an arsenal of automatic weapons, as have all the mass shooters who unleashed their deadly fury on truly innocent people, makes no sense to me. The rights of multiple, potential victims to live, also needs to be protected. Restrictions on arsenals of lethal automatic weapons seems to be a reasonable step in doiiing so. Failure to do so only protects the ability of the shooters to repeat these atrocities, as we have seen, again and again.

    • In almost all instances, mass shooters in the U.S. do not use automatic weapons. Rather, they use semi-automatic weapons (one trigger pull, one shot–as with a hunting rifle). Automatic weapons are already highly-regulated at the federal level and relatively difficult to obtain.

      You have imputed sin to the firearm, an object. Objects do not sin. The sinner is the mass shooter, a person.

      Mass shooters do not obey laws. Thus, your proposal to restrict, perhaps with a view to confiscate, [semi-]automatic weapons would only affect law-abiding citizens, i.e. the very persons who are not mass shooters. Lawless persons intent on murder will not observe laws restricting firearms any more than they will observe the moral and civil laws prohibiting murder.

      Firearm possession permits firearm owners to defend themselves, their families, and other innocents created in the Imago Dei from lawless killers. This is noble and required in a fallen world. The Constitution specifically acknowledges that firearm possession is a natural right in that it serves as a means to protect innocents. Government is composed of fallen men, so firearm possession in some measure also deters the evil of tyrants who would otherwise remain unchecked to kill innocents.

      Thank you for your heartfelt concern for the innocent victims of lawless killers.

    • While the object does not sin, the automatic and semi-automatic weapon is the instrument that provides the means of sinning. As far as I am aware, the school shooters and the Las Vegas shooter had obtained their arsenals quite legally, which suggests the laws are not restrictive enough.

    • The only failures were in law enforcement to disarm clearly dangerous individuals after repeated calls by private citizens warning of the danger. When tasked with defending children, Broward County sheriffs (Broward Cowards) failed to act. One police officer – not sheriff – who went in did so against orders and was disciplined by his chain of command.

      Automatic weapons weren’t used for these crimes. Semi-automatic weapons were. Except for the case of the Nevada shooting, most of these incidents were at close-enough range that .38 caliber revolvers or knives would’ve been as deadly.

      There have been home-invasion robberies on my block and shootings nearby. Where is the government’s plan to disarm criminals? Why is the government no longer able to maintain order but still insisting on disarming law-abiding people like me? Why should I comply with their proposed gun control legislation if the government continuously fails to protect us and takes tens of minutes to over an hour (it took SWAT 75 minutes to breach the door in Nevada) to subdue active shooters?

      The country strongly resembles Rome towards the end of the republic.

    • Walt you have my sympathy! What a sad state of affairs. It would seem you are in an arms race. If everyone is packing semi-automatic weapons, you should get a bump stock to make it fire continuously, so you only need to pull the trigger once. You better have the ultimate model, that can shoot the biggest bullets and the longest magazine so it can fire the most rounds of ammunition, in hopes of giving you the most lethal fire power. Good luck on surviving a shoot-out against the other guy with a semi-automatic. If the police can’t protect you, the only solution seems to be for everyone to take the law into their own hands, or should I say a semi-automatic?

  2. Angela:

    Lots of people ignore and will continue to ignore laws. What then? Fortunately we have the Sheriff and the FBI watching our backs, right?

    What if the shooter had detonated a bomb instead? Some reports said he was working on a few bombs. Would law enforcement still get a pass?

  3. We should ENFORCE the laws we have. We pay cops and the FBI to do those types of things.

    What do suppose we should do to law enforcement for their abject FAILURE to protect the lives of those 17 dead people in Florida?

    • Obviously, if officials are not doing their job, we should demand that they do, by the legal means that are open to us. We also have a problem where disgruntled high school students and deranged people can legally access enough fire power to mow down a multitude of innocent people. That has to stop. If powerful semi-automatic or automatic weapons had not been so easily and legally available to the teenage shooter, those 17 people would likely be alive today!

      • Angela,

        The American readers of the HB (and this American writer of the HB) probably make different assumptions and have different attitudes than might a Canadian about firearms. We are not a Commonwealth nation. We earned our independence from the British crown at the end of a military-grade firearm. We have a written constitution in which we recognize the right to self-defense and the right to own, carry, and use a firearm is God-given.

        The word “arsenal” is perjorative. It’s like impugning a library for having too many books. How many books are too many? Americans don’t or shouldn’t speak this way. The same is true of adjectives like “lethal.” All firearms are lethal by design. A firearm that is not lethal is broken and is called a paperweight.

        I’ve yet to see a firearm do anything by itself.

        Semi-automatic handguns are more than a century old. They have been in common use for more than a century. The first semi-automatic, repeating rifle was demonstrated to the American Continental Congress, before the formal organization of the Republic. Lewis and Clark carried one with them in their exploration of the West. The technology has improved but it is not new. Neither ae automatic transmissions and power steering. In America, the right to keep and bear a semiautomatic firearm is guaranteed by the constitution but the right to keep and drive a vehicle is not. We have the right to move about but not to drive a car. Does anyone realize the potential danger of allowing a teen-aged to drive a one-ton vehicle at 75 MPH? We do it every day. Islamists have capitalized repeatedly on this potential but there is no talk of restricting the right to own and keep a vehicle.

        Indeed, in the USA, the crime rate has been dropping for years as has the number of deaths by firearms while, over the same period, the number of firearms purchased has risen. Our gun laws have actually been liberalized (loosened) in many parts of the country and the number of concealed-carry permit holders is up sharply and crime is down in those places. See the work of John Lott.

        As to self defense, see this: https://heidelblog.net/2016/08/on-self-defense/

        The last estimate I saw (yesterday) is that there are more than one million defensive gun uses in the USA every year. One is more likely to die from a hammer blow than a firearm in the USA. Fists are higher on the list of deadly weapons than firearms.

        Why, when an American gets up on the middle of the night to defend himself and his family must he take to hand a firearm that is antiquated (e.g., a revolver)? Why may not a female carry a semi-auto to defend herself against a rapist?

        As to the particulars of Parkland, the students knew exactly who would do the shooting. The staff and teachers knew. The Sheriff’s dept knew. Everyone knew. The Sheriff’s dept made dozens of calls for service. Family services was involved. The guardians knew that he was in trouble. He had threatened repeatedly to harm himself and others and no one did anything. Sheriff Israel’s irresponsibility does not mean that law-abiding Americans should be less able to defend themselves against (often) multiple attackers or to serve as a check against a tyrannical government.

        When, in the course of human events, to borrow a phrase, it was necessary for the Americans to assert their inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness they did not have to wait for anyone to send them rifles (as the English did during WW II). They had rifles to hand and they used them to repel the English from the Colonies and we formed a governement. We may be wrong and many have argued that we were, but that’s what we think, that’s our history. I, for one, am glad that we had those military-grade weapons to hand.

  4. I find it interesting that you have no trouble assigning blame to a firearm yet Sheriff Scott Israel and the FBI clearly FAILED. They failed multiple times. A litany of stories has been written about these failures. Audio and or transcripts are available online that document conversations between someone close to the shooter and the FBI. Have you not seen any such things? People FAILED over and over and over and over at multiple levels.

    Would you have felt better if the shooter instead pulled out a kitchen knife and only killed 2 people? Is it the number of dead bodies that make a firearm guilty and the FAILED law enforcement personnel heroic?

  5. Henry Hamilton is telling the truth (which is easily verified) when he states that automatic weapons are not readily available to the general public. With a fully automatic weapon (same as an automatic weapon, aka., machine gun) one press of the trigger discharges multiple rounds (bullets). It is difficult to keep a fully automatic weapon on target (from a standing position) because the barrel tends to move skyward (muzzle rise). For a civilian to obtain an automatic weapon, a Federal Firearm License must first be obtained from BATF. If granted, a civilian cannot possess an automatic weapon made before the year 1986 . . . it must be at least 31 years old. Perhaps collectors pursue these firearms but I would not depend on a used weapon that is 31 years old. If a person is not intimately familiar with a firearm of that generation and they attempt to fire ammunition from 2018, the weapon could produce a catastrophic failure.

    Semi-automatic firearms are ubiquitous. They are also called autoloaders because after a round is discharged, the next round is loaded and ready to shoot. Capacities on most pistols run from 7 or 8 up to 17 rounds depending on the caliber of the handgun. Most revolver types only hold 5 or 6 rounds. Some argue that limited round capacity magazines (things that hold bullets in semi-automatic firearms) should be restricted to 10. Practically speaking, a ten round magazine can be emptied (all the bullets fired), and a new magazine loaded before someone could empty a 17 round magazine. Others argue that someone doesn’t need but so many rounds — usually 10, after all, how many times do you need to shoot somebody? In the case of the police officer in Ferguson, MO, he discharged 12 rounds of .40 caliber before the assailant stopped. His firearm held 13 rounds.

    Something worth pointing out, in the Ferguson, MO shooting, the assailant was struck multiple times, three or four of which were thought to be enough to stop the assault. They were not. The reason behind much of America’s love affair with rifles (AR-15’s, etc.) is due to the relative inability of a handgun to stop a determined attacker.

    AR-15’s (.223 caliber / 5.56 mm projectile diameter) are frequently purchased with 30 round magazines. However, AR-15’s are not cheap (base models circa $650) nor are extra magazines, other accessories and bullets. It is against the law to modify a semi-automatic weapon in a way that makes it fully automatic. To purchase an AR, the buyer must undergo a criminal background check and a mental health background check. Unfortunately, the Florida shooter was able to obtain his firearm.

    The family that housed the Florida shooter knew he had this particular weapon and they kept it locked in the cabinet. Only, they gave him the key!

    As far as I know, only the school resource officer, the NRA, the gun industry and the venerable
    AR-15 have been called to account for this tragedy.

    • Paul, the family didn’t give him the key. They required that he buy a gun safe and give them the key . . . and didn’t think about the fact that it probably came with more than one key. The guns were seen as hunting weapons. Was it naive to let him be the one to handle the key(s) enough to buy the safe himself and then hand over the key, and not to think about the fact that keyed items always come with more than one key, probably. But it’s not the same as giving him the key.

      Generally when one is dealing with a teenager who is living with your family, you do have some level of trust and not treating him as a child. “Buy a gun safe but give me the key” seems like a good level of balance in how you might respond to a teenager who is a friend of your son’s, who is living with your family, and whom you have no great reason to distrust. Their slip was in not thinking about the possibility of more keys, and dealing with a young man who was not actually trustworthy.

    • Paul, I find your defense of the “venerable AR-15” chilling and overwhelmingly unconvincing. Who wouldn’t love such an effective killing machine, available for less than $700? You can order one online today! Just add a butt stock, and you only need to press the trigger once!

  6. Hello everyone and hello Dr. Clark.

    Here in the UK the government has just introduced a sugar-tax on soft drinks to help in the fight against obesity and it’s related health issues. Obviously, our countries are very different and I’m sure most Americans (as many Brits themselves do) think such government initiatives smack of Big Brotherism. However, couldn’t the US government introduce a heavy tax on the ammunition used in these semiautomatic firearms, specifically? It is bizarre that any gun-owner needs to stockpile hundreds, if not thousands, of rounds of ammunition for home defence or for hunting. Shooting practice could be carried out at registered gun-club firing ranges with discounted ammunition available for use only on the premises.

    I was wondering, Dr. Clark, whether you intend to do any more articles on the Particular Baptists, and whether you might address the criticism raised against your covenant theology position by a leading proponent of the PB/1689 federalist view? If you haven’t seen it I can link you to it.

    Regarding Henry Hamilton’s post – is the view being expressed here that every human being is the imago dei, even fallen, unregenerate humanity?

    • Yes. Every human being is made in the imago dei, including unregenerates of whom I was one for 24 years. Human beings are a special creation of God.

      No human being was made by the great god randomness.

    • Walt, you said it so much better than I could, ” it is bizarre that any gun owner needs to stockpile hundreds, if not thousands of rounds of ammunition, for home defense or for hunting.” The question is, what is a reasonable amount of fire power for lawful uses? Do you really need the kind of semi-automatic firepower that has been the instrument of choice for mass shooters? It seems to me that the relative ease that mass shooters have in obtaining these weapons is a good part of the problem, and a reasonable approach in dealing with it would be use measures such as those you suggest.

    • William and Angela,

      We Americans regard the right to self defense as a fundamental, natural right. We regard the “right to keep and bear arms” a fundamental and natural right. The British did too when, after they had voluntarily disarmed themselves after WWI, they asked us to send them our privately held firearms so that they could defend themselves against the Germans and we gladly did. We would probably do it again, if our governement will allow us to “keep and bear arms.”

      “Need” and “necessary” are bad questions when it comes to natural rights. How many words are necessary for free speech? That’s a bad question. How many rounds did we need to repel the British from American soil? How many rounds might have helped to free the Chinese from Communist tyranny at Tianenmen Square? How many rounds might the Hungarians have used in 1956? How many rounds might the Kulaks used against the Russians?

      AS a practical matter, in a day at the range one might easily go through 200-500 rounds. Those who express astonishment at a couple of thousand rounds don’t shoot. How much gasoline do you need for your car? Do you need an SUV? One can see how this line of reasoning goes. It does not lead to civil liberty but to its opposite.

      As to imago Dei, yes, all fallen humans are still made in the image of God. It is corrupted, defaced, and may even be said to “obliterated” (Calvin’s word) but in that case it meant “painted over” not utterly destroyed.

      As to the PB series. I intend to return to it but it turned into a lot of work and I have 2-3 jobs already.

  7. Angela:

    Both you and William are offering up new ideas when law enforcement officials in Florida can’t seem to make reasonable efforts to enforce existing laws. FYI, I don’t support bump stocks and I do think they will go away.

    My >>“defense” of the AR<< was an attempt to distinguish between automatic and
    semi-automatic weapons just as Henry did earlier yet you still lumped the two together. What specifically was “chilling” to you about what I wrote and what do you suppose I was trying to sell (convince you of)?

    Lastly, what do you think is a reasonable amount of firepower for lawful uses?

    • I have been told that the best weapon/weapons for home defence purposes are the revolver (because it doesn’t jam) and the pump-action shotgun (because you don’t have to be highly trained to use it effectively, because of the shot spread). I don’t see why an AR15 would be necessary (or practical) for home defence purposes (unless you live on a ranch or a cabin in the woods, or have really thick walls and no neighbours).

      • William,

        The best firearm for home defense is the one at hand. That said, law enforcement and most firearms experts will tell you that a long gun is far superior to a handgun. The main advantage to a handgun is convenience. Among long guns the best home defense weapon is the shotgun. No bad guy wants to see a homeowner with a shotgun in hand because the shotgun, loaded with buckshot, wins. Most every American police cruiser carries a Remington 870 for that reason. As to shots spread, in a self-defense/home defense scenario one does not want “shot spread.” What makes a 12 gauge effective is the large holes they create in the bad guys.

        That revolvers don’t jam and don’t require lots of training must either be a salesman or inexperienced. All firearms can and do jam. Everyone who plans to use a firearm should be trained in its safe operation and that training includes clearing jams. I know LEOs who refuse to use revolvers because they have jammed. They have disadvantages. Yes, semi-auto handguns malfunction (they are about 5 different malfunctions). A skilled user can clear a malfunction in about 2 seconds.

        The AR-15 and the M4 and related platforms are highly effective for home defense and have been used as such many times. That platform has a relatively less recoil (than, e.g., a 12 gauge) and thus allows the good guy to stay on target. It is relatively effective.

        All firearms round will penetrate through drywall. Please do not think that there is a single round that will not. The smallest handgun round will penetrate through multiple layers of dry wall (which is just paper filled with dust). Indeed, instructors teach good guys to shoot directly through drywall in certain circumstances. About the only thing that will stop any round is steel, which is in short supply in most houses. Yes, a rifle round will go farther than a handgun round but both, unimpeded, will go quite far. Thus, it is very important for any good guy to make sure that he/she hits the bad guy effectively and knows what is beyond/behind the target.

        Here are some examples where AR type platforms have been used in home defense:


        One of the best writers covering firearms policy and news is A. W. R. Hawkins. He has documented/curated local news coverage of defensive gun uses:


        Here is an example of what can and should happen in schools when they are threatened by a bad guy:


        There is a reason why the federal ban on semi-auto rifles was allowed to expire: it didn’t help reduce crime.


  8. Cheryl M.,

    Thanks for the clarification. I as not aware that the gun was stored in a safe rather I had read it was a gun cabinet.

    • Paul, your description of the effectiveness of the potential to kill many victims at a time due to the number of bullets it can fire, how easily a new magazine can be inserted so it can provide a repeat performance for its user, and the fact that they are ubiquitous, or everywhere. That is chilling, even without the fact that a bump stock, such as the Las Vegas shooter used to convert his semi-automatic to shoot continuously, was, and as far as I know, available (I found them available for order on the internet today) for just over $100. I, and the growing number of children and parents who are demonstrating and pushing for restrictions on these weapons, find these facts chilling, can you not understand why, and why they would be shocked by the adjective, “venerable” being used to describe this weapon. I can’t give you specifics on exactly what would be reasonable, that would be up to law makers to determine, but William’s suggestions seem like a start. As more and more people are realizing, the current laws need to be changed, so that the kind of carnage inflicted by the use of guns, that allow the mass murder and injury of tens of people, is restricted. That seems a reasonable goal to me, and a growing number of people, even in the US, from what I am seeing on the news channels.

  9. Isn’t it “enough” freedom of religion in the U.S. that people are able to believe what they want in the privacy of their own homes? Why should they be able to make other people feel bad about themselves by preaching publicly that some people are in jeopardy of going to Hell if they don’t believe in Jesus? Enough is enough. Today your freedom to bear arms is infringed upon in the name of “enough”. Tomorrow you will have no means of preserving your other freedoms.

    • So we will just, carry on? Your right to bear arms, without restriction, no matter how lethal and dangerous they are to innocent school children, when they can be easily obtained by those intent on mass killings, is a sacred right that must be protected, even at the cost of the lives of innocent people. As a retired school teacher, I am saddened and disappointed by this attitude, I cannot help but put myself in the position of the many children, parents and teachers that have been the victims of mass murderers, enabled by these weapons. It seems selfish and unchristian, and a very bad witness to those who are looking at us from outside of the faith. I predict another shooting coming our way soon. I pray no one, who is near and dear to you, is one of the victims.

      • Angela,

        Why is disarming the innocent the answer? Who wants simply to “carry on”? Not I!

        I would place trained, armed persons in the schools, whether police, retired military, volunteers, trained staff members. I have spent a fair bit of time with civilians, including school teachers with firearms training. I know civilians who shoot, under pressure, better than law enforcement officers. The truth is that LEOs aren’t given much time to train. They have a lot to do. Some don’t train much at all. Their shooting qualification isn’t that difficult. I’ve seen civilians pass tests more rigorous than the FBI qualification at Quantico. Recently, I watched a grammar school staff member become a very good shooter. She could safely carry and use a firearm to protect children. It’s not magic. Civil freedom is earned by those who are willing to defend it.

        Our civil liberties are under attack by those who no longer believe in the classic definition of civil liberty, i.e., the relative absence of civil restraints. Giving over our liberties to the state in trade for “safety” will not work. The best response times in America are about 4 minutes. That’s 3:30 too long. Most shootings are over in 2-3 second. Active shootings last a bit longer but not 4 minutes. Further, even the best trained law enforcement have to clear the building, find the shooter, and address him/her. Trained, on-site staff (of whatever sort), know the layout, know the students, know the warning signs, and are best prepared and most willing to address it. As we saw in Broward County, there are (unusually!) even LEOs who will not risk their own safety for students and staff. The SRO refused to do his duty and then lied about it. The deputies did not follow their training.

        This may be difficult to comprehend but there are thousands of trained, qualified American citizens, civilians, who, were they allowed, are able to defend themselves and others. Once active shooters are regularly confronted and stopped, the shootings will end. They are, as it were, waiting for us to demonstrate the will to live. So far we do not seem willing, as a society, to defend our rights against the malevolent and the insane.

        Do we want to go back to the “old West”? Yes, actually. There were relatively few such mass shootings. Indeed, virtually everything we think we know about the “old West” from film is false. Yes, there were some unconstitutional gun controls enacted in some territorial towns (without state governments) but until relatively recently, where I come from people regularly carried rifles and shotguns in their vehicles without incident. Indeed, in my youth, it was common to see students bringing rifles to school as part of the shooting club. There were target ranges in American schools and without incident.

        You keep using pejorative language about firearms that seem frightening. What shout frighten you are policies that do not allow the policy and physicians to treat manifestly dangerous people. One film, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and states made it virtually impossible to hospitalize even the most dangerous people until after they had harmed themselves or others. Everyone who knew the Parkland shooter knew that he was a danger to himself and others. He had repeatedly made threats to harm himself and others and stupidly those with the authority act did nothing.

        How does this approach not validate this fellow’s (in the video) concerns? Evil people do bad things and we respond by making it even more difficult for law-abiding Americans to exercise their natural right to self-defense. It makes no sense.

  10. Angela,

    Our Bill of Rights pretty clearly traces to the English Bill of Rights of 1689 in which Protestant Dissenters made the king give them rights they had won from the barrel of a gun such as the right to keep and bear arms. Our Founders and those who fought our Revolution did so in part because they were being denied these rights. People were students of history in those days, and they hadn’t forgotten the lessons 100 years earlier.

    The provision to keep an bear arms was given because Protestants were not allowed to be similarly armed as the Papists. This is the general gist of our Second Amendment: we citizens are supposed to be proportionally armed to our government. Obviously, firepower has grown enormously in the past 200 years but our regular army keeps getting beaten by Pashtuns with AK-47s and are in an era of “4th generation warfare” as the post-WEstphalian nation-state declines and dies. Consequently, most people equate “assault weapons” with “proportionally armed.” Right now, we’re in our 17th year of war with people armed with rifles designed 70 years ago and we can’t even make the road from Kabul Airport to the green zone safe.

    Consider also the possibility that changing the laws might actually change nothing. Down in Mexico, where you’re not allowed to own anything larger than a .380 pistol issued by the government, various non-state actors including citizen-defense groups are armed with assault weapons made in Brazil, Russia, other parts of Latin America, and the USA. Cartels are armed with RPGs and other light artillery which aren’t even made in the Americas. Even in Australia, where they had a gun confiscation akin to what the Left wants here, illegal and legal gun ownership is growing because the state is losing the monopoly on violence and people have a natural right to self-defense. Also, many of the people immigrating to the West don’t care at all about our laws. This is what I see in my own county. You can pound your shoe on the podium all you want about law, but if people aren’t law-abiding, it’s not going to do a bit of good. Law enforcement itself requires pretty heavy cooperation from the people or it’s viewed by the citizenry as just another illegitimate occupation.

    If you’re writing from anywhere in the West, you’re in the same boat I’m in or will be shortly. We should revisit this topic at yearly intervals to see how the growth of violence in your neck of the West is proceeding.

    • I just can’t buy the argument that the answer to lawlessness, and violence is to continue to allow the proliferation of semi-automatic weapons with few restrictions. Too many innocent people have been sacrificed because of it.

      • Angela,

        You’re ignoring a number of facts. You speak of a “proliferation” of “semiautomatic weapons.” Yes, Americans have safely owned and carried semi-auto handguns since before 1911. The number of gun crimes in the USA has dropped. Where gun laws have been liberaized, where Americans have been able to defend themselves, crime drops. In Texas, for example, before the Luby’s massacre, people were less able to carry a concealed weapon. The woman who changed the legislature’s mind lost her parents in the Luby’s massacre. Her gun was in the car. She didn’t bring it with her into the restaurant because she was afraid. She survived but could not defend herself or her parents or her neighbors. Today, in many places in Texas, that episode would likely go rather differently. The bad guys no longer know that everyone is disarmed.

        Semiautomatic handguns are not exotic. Statistically, revolvers are becoming exotic. Why do I want to defend myself with 6 rounds, with a short barrel (harder to aim), with I can defend myself with 7-15 rounds?

        Few restrictions? Where is that? I should like to live there. Really. Come try to buy a firearm in the USA. We are finger printed, checked, taxed, regulated to death. In some states there is a roster of “approved,” increasingly antiquated guns. Buying a gun is a time-consuming, burdensome process in many parts of the USA.

        People have not been “sacrificed” to firearms but to stupid polices preventing the exercise of the right of self-defense.

  11. Scott,
    I can buy your argument that there is a God given right to self-defense (and neighbor defense, an important category in its own right). It’s a step beyond that to argue that gun ownership is a God-given right (especially since there were no guns in Bible times). Since I don’t think anyone here is arguing for complete freedom to bear any and every kind of arms (antiaircraft weaponry, for example), or against the right to bear any kind of arms (pepper spray), the debate is about what kind of arms precisely are appropriate and allowable, which is really more of a political than theological question. For example, defending yourself against the tyrannical Brits (who taxed you far less than you now tax yourselves) is a political argument for the right to bear arms, not a theological one. There may be good pragmatic and political reasons to defend the right to bear arms, but don’t over reach it.

    • Iain,

      I take your point but do you appreciate the American argument?

      The Bill of Rights did not enumerate all the natural rights implied by the Declaration. Some of the founders did not want to have a Bill of Rights because they feared it would be used as a list to restrict the exercise of civil rights. The function of the 2nd Amendment was to guarantee the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Several of the states required military age men to own military grade weapons so that they could form an ordered militia. Insofar as firearms had become the tool by which those rights are to be secured, they were an expression of what the Americans regarded as a God-given right. In other words, it’s not as easy to distinguish the right from the tool when the tool is the instrument by which that right is secured.

      You might check your American history. We objected to taxes without representation. Yes, we tax ourselves at a higher rate but we do so as self-governed people (or at least we’re meant to be). We also objected to British troops quartering themselves in our houses. We objected to being forced to attend Anglican services and we objected to any number of other expressions of tyranny, chiefly the loss of the right to self-government.

      If it was proper to own and bear military-grade weapons in the 18th century, just as it was proper to exercise freedom of assembly (something else denied to us by our former overlords) and the right to freedom of religion, and freedom of the press, and freedom of movement, and the right to counsel, and the right to know the charges being made against, and the right to face our accusers in court etc so these remain, in the American view “inalienable” (Jefferson used this in a draft) or “unalienable” rights.

      I understand if others do not approve of the American settlement but it is ours. We earned it through the use of military-grade weapons so it’s a little hard to see how we are no longer able to exercise that right because that liberty has been abused by crazy, malevolent people or because the Sheriff’s office of Broward County (20+ calls for service) and Family Services of Broward County (multiple interviews with the shooter, including one in which he admitted to cutting himself, or the FBI (warning not forwarded) refused to do their jobs.

    • As a Canadian, I can say with 100% certainty that anyone who advocates for more gun laws, cannot and do not know a single gun law themself. Thats the first and biggest problem with these typical Canadian/British anti-gunners.

      Just to demonstrate one example of the sheer stupidity of Canadian laws, I have a RPAL (Restricted Possession and Acquisition License) which is a step above PAL. When you have a PAL you get 1 background check everyday. When you have a RPAL you get 2 background checks everyday. When you have to travel with a RPAL gun(ATT) you have to call the police ahead of time and get a 3rd background check for that day. Anyone see how stupid this is getting.

      Also 80% lowers have been legal in Canada for decades up until last year before the RCMP started making their own laws. A four year old with cash could buy and build an entire functioning AR-15 just buying parts off the shelf. Oh the glory days, in which I will neither confirm or deny the existence of numerous AR-15 firearms.

    • Have you served in the military? What does the term “Military grade” mean to you because we use all kinds of weapons in the military down to knives and bare hands. The Mossberg 500s we used on our ship were no different than the ones you buy off the rack at a sporting goods store. The .50 caliber machine guns fire the same caliber target shooters use. The “sniper rifles” used by the military are same Remington Model 7 deer rifles you buy off the shelf. A SEAL sniper told me this. The optics are even the same. I get the sense that a lot of people commenting on this thread have no military experience, no experience with violence, and have never had to defend themselves. Also, you don’t respect our culture.

      The Reformers are pretty clear that positive applications of God’s law (ie, duties required by it) often comes down to conscience and circumstances. Hypothetically, I may be a strong guy with a lot of hand to hand fighting experience who concludes he doesn’t need a gun to defend his home, but how does my wife do the same when I’m away on a trip? Because of her circumstances (being the weaker sex with far less experience with violence and much less God-given nature to carry it out) she concludes she needs one. Both apply WLC 135 (the duty to preserve life found in the sixth commandment) in a different way because of circumstance. For more on this topic (application of God’s law in the WLC), I recommend Rev. Shawn Mathis’ Sunday school series found on Sermon Audio and Johannes Vos’ commentary. Some of you Brits and Canadians and Aussies are arguing from a “Thus sayeth the LORD!” mindset when there’s no biblical warrant for doing so. You guys are free to regulate arms all you want. I will duly withhold my commentary on what I perceive to be your problems where you live vis-a-vis the rights to free speech and self defense.

  12. It amazes me how non-U.S. residents seem to have all the answers about how we should govern ourselves. Physicians heal thyselves!

    • I wasn’t aware that this was an exclusive, American problem. I thought it was a human problem. We have had mass shootings in Canada too. I thought we share the same concerns. Gun violence does not respect borders. Semi-automatics have enabled mass murder in Canads too. And it will continue unless there are restrictions on these weapons. Increasingly the public is saying, enough is enough, we demand an end to the easy availability of these weapons that enable it.

  13. Angela:

    >>>>Paul, your description of the effectiveness of the potential to kill many victims at a time due to the number of bullets it can fire, how easily a new magazine can be inserted so it can provide a repeat performance for its user, and the fact that they are ubiquitous, or everywhere.<<<>>>That is chilling, even without the fact that a bump stock, such as the Las Vegas shooter used to convert his semi-automatic to shoot continuously, was, and as far as I know, available (I found them available for order on the internet today) for just over $100.<<<>>>I and the growing number of children and parents who are demonstrating and pushing for restrictions on these weapons find these facts chilling, can you not understand why, and why they would be shocked by the adjective, “venerable” being used to describe this weapon.<<<>>>I can’t give you specifics on exactly what would be reasonable, that would be up to lawmakers to determine, but William’s suggestions seem like a start.<<<>>>As more and more people are realizing, the current laws need to be changed, so that the kind of carnage inflicted by the use of guns, that allow the mass murder and injury of tens of people, is restricted. That seems a reasonable goal to me, and a growing number of people, even in the US, from what I am seeing on the news channels.<<<<

    Don't take this the wrong way but, Lions don't listen to sheep.

    Also if "if's and buts" were candy and nuts, O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books.

  14. I lived in Chicago, IL, for 14 years when it had some of the strictest gun control in the nation. Crazy strict. As I recall, the only legal way for a civilian to possess a firearm was as an antique weapon being transported through town in the trunk of your car for a gun show, disassembled, though perhaps I missed some other trivial exception. A gun for home protection was definitely forbidden, under any and all circumstances.

    While I lived there, the state of Illinois made it an automatic felony to be in the possession of an illegal gun–making any Chicago homeowner hiding a gun for home protection an automatic felon. Word among law-abiding citizens was if you ever had a home invasion, think long and hard about whether it was better for the father of the home to be in prison because he or for the whole family to be dead, and if you decided to shoot, then shoot to kill. (That way you wouldn’t have to pay a lawsuit for injuring the poor hapless criminal who broke in.)

    I’ll leave you to figure out whether a city with virtually no legal guns managed to keep the gun violence committed by criminals to a level low enough that citizens felt safe in their homes without some means of self-protection. Oh yes, the law has been found unconstitutional, though last I heard Chicago rewrote its laws to provide the most minimal gun freedom they could imagine.

    • One of the factors in the Parkland shooting and in other school shootings, which has not received sufficient attention, is the change in policy (under the Obama Dept of Ed) which has made it all but impossible to discipline students or otherwise control the classroom. This is anecdotal evidence, but I talked to a substitute teacher recently who is a very good teacher but has left the business because it is simply unsafe in class. The number of assaults on teachers is up, in some places, dramatically.

      The new rules made it more difficult to address the Parkland shooter. They knew it was a problem but the new rules made it impossible to call the police to campus and to arrest him or other students. This problem is not isolated to Broward County, FL.

  15. “Do we want to go back to the “old West”? Yes, actually. There were relatively few such mass shootings. Indeed, virtually everything we think we know about the “old West” from film is false.”

    This is a great point . . . one that I haven’t heard made in a terribly long time.

  16. Reading down through this blog thread of arguments against personal firearm ownership caused me to think though the list of objections: The founding fathers were familiar only with muzzle-loading flintlock rifles, muskets, and pistols, all of which were single-shot weapons. Percussion cap and repeating rifles and pistols were nearly a century away. Cartridge loading (vs. muzzle loading) firearms were even further in the future. Therefore, the argument here (and among much of the American public) seems to be that the 2nd Amendment is outdated, behind the times of current day firearm power. One retired judge even wants to propose doing away with the “outdated” 2nd Amendment in its entirety.

    Fine. But let’s not stop there. What about the 1st Amendment? Among freedom of religion and the right to assemble peaceably in public is the right of “free speech” and “freedom of the press.” As the founding fathers certainly must have seen it, this consisted of publishing in an era when one could question local politics and when someone who had an axe to grind about some civil issue had the right to gather an audience someplace like a park and speak his mind.

    But wait! A couple of hundred years have passed. Could the founding fathers ever have imagined someone daring to publish books and magazines containing disgusting pornography, horrible violence, or subversive material in a modern setting where thousands of copies could be distributed quickly and economically? Worse yet, could they have imagined a Supreme Court so given over to “the right of individual expression” that they approved of such material. And that’s not all! What about the advent of electronic transmission of this material to mass audiences, produced in such a convincing way that it all seemed real? And finally, perhaps the worst thing yet, the introduction of “social media” now proven to be the cause behind much of the gang violence and indiscriminate shootings? (convicted rapist and serial killer Ted Bundy admitted before he died that it was his addiction to pornography that drove him to commit the crimes)

    So…before jumping off the deep end about the right to bear arms and how much things have changed since the late 18th Century, consider whether or not some of the bizarre events that have been taking place recently might not have been committed by unstable individuals who have been pushed over the edge by easy access to readily available violent printed and electronic material or by taunts and dares on social media.

    With which amendment are you planning to start “taking back” civil society? Think about it.

  17. Thank you, George. There are reasons why there should be restrictions on our personal liberties in the interest of striving to obey the second great commandment, to love our neighbor as ourselves. That principle might just apply to right to bear arms. The crazy people of this world are also our neighbor, as are their innocent victims. Maybe in the interest of loving them we need to restrict semi-automatic weapons for their protection, rather than insisting that we simply have this right, regardless of how it impacts our neighbor’s weaknesses.

    • Angela,

      You’re ignoring the est. 1 million defensive gun uses, most of which are semi-auto, some of which are AR-15!, in the USA.

      Those cases are often in protection of neighbors. Bad guys do not travel alone. They invade homes in groups. Bad guys don’t go down with a single shot. It regularly takes multiple shots to stop a threat. Even highly trained shooters need 10+ rounds to stop a single threat. Smart shooters re-load after 2 rounds, when possible. That’s much more difficult and dangerous w/a revolver. A six-shot revolver is a conceal-carry weapon, not an ideal home-defense weapon.

      The bad guys (gangs etc) aren’t playing by the rules. They aren’t carrying revolvers.

  18. If a group of bad guys, and you, all have semi-automatics, and you all start shooting at each other, who wins? If there are five of them, you will have five bullets in you by the time you can fire one shot. So much for trusting in the gun. Our confessions tell us that not a hair can fall from our head unless God allows it. Should we not rather trust in God and his protection?

    • “What if” scenarios are not the way to discuss the issues surrounding rights, responsibilities, etc. They bring more heat and no light, and they allow one to ignore facts and reasonable arguments brought by the opposite side. We should certainly trust in God and his protection. Seems to me that part of God’s provision and protection for us includes excellent medicines and doctors, fire extinguishers, tire jacks, winter coats, police and firemen, and yes, firearms.

      Be careful of the emotional argument that says “if it saves ONE innocent life”. By that standard we should ban and collect not only firearms but cellphones, alcohol, bicycles, automobiles, dogs, and y’all can continue the list at your leisure. But Angela, I would like to know what you are proposing that you think might make a difference. I have asked this question many times over the years and have never gotten a straight answer.

      The problems in our cultures and in our countries today are caused by depraved and sinful human beings, not a lack of gun laws. Humans have been breaking the law since Eden.

  19. Angela: Why did the Israelites have swords and make war at God’s direction when he could have leveled their enemies with a word? God has provided us with the means to protect ourselves in this time and place. Are we to ignore His providence and say that we prefer a miraculous divine intervention because we abhor the means of protection he has provided? That is the height of presumption. As to your question about a group of bad guys attacking, as Scott said previously, bad guys don’t really do well when confronted with incoming fire or even the prospect of it. If they are the only ones with weapons, the answer about who wins is obvious. Law abiding gun owners are not the problem. We’re not spoiling for a fight. The criminals will always have their weapons of choice regardless of what laws there are.

  20. Angela:

    Earlier you characterized my attempt to explain the differences between fully automatic vs. semi-automatic as chilling. My response did not post properly. In the end I wrote:

    “Lions don’t listen to sheep.” Then I wrote, “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, O.J. Simpson would still be in the record books.”

    The lions and sheep statement came from a TV show called “Game of Thrones.” Both of those statements were made by Scott Israel, the Broward County Sheriff, in response to his department’s reaction to the mass shooting in Florida. That is what I call chilling.

  21. Angela: The other aspect that hasn’t been fully articulated here is that the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution was not included for hunting and personal self defense. We had just thrown off the tyranny of the British. This amendment was included to deter any future government, especially our own, from abridging our rights as enumerated in our Bill of Rights. Liberals can’t imagine that government could be a tyranny that’s why they never discuss why the second amendment was included in our Bill of Rights.

  22. William:

    “I have been told that the best weapon/weapons for home defense purposes are the revolver (because it doesn’t jam) and the pump-action shotgun (because you don’t have to be highly trained to use it effectively, because of the shot spread).”

    I think a pump shotgun is a great home defense weapon. My guess as to why it is recommended most often is due to its low cost, reliability and power. Shot spread is different for each type of shotgun, it is controlled by the slight narrowing or widening at the end of the barrel.

    Like all guns (responsible gun owners never stop emphasizing this point) it has to be properly secured — you don’t want an intruder to use it against you. Further, you must train with the firearm periodically because in a crisis you have to be able to respond properly.

    A pump shotgun has the advantage of sending a verbal message to a would-be intruder. To prepare a round for firing, the gun needs to be cycled or “pumped.” The sound of a pump shotgun loading a shell would be very intimidating to a would-be invader.

    Re: why someone would need an AR for home defense, they too are effective weapons. You may have seen the U.S. Navy Seals carry AR’s into the home of Osama Bin Laden. Revolvers would have worked, as would have shotguns. But AR’s can also work in smaller spaces. In the case of the Seals, I suspect they wanted to have the advantage with respect to firepower. Many gun owners feel the same way. Additionally, AR’s can be outfitted with a host of accessories like laser lights and bright flashlights. They too are deterrents.

    No homeowner wants to shoot anybody. America is a great country but we can find ways to punish the victim worse than the assailant.

    • Paul

      Navy Seals are military. Whatever they were carrying, it wasn’t semiautomatic AR15s.
      I imagine that they were expecting more opposition than a shotgun – Bin Laden wasn’t exactly a good example of the average American home owner, was he?

  23. I believe that the saying, Angela, is- “Trust God and keep your powder dry.” Besides, we all know that God helps those who help themselves, right?

  24. Dr. Clark

    I’m sure that the citizens of the UK would appreciate US citizens sending us their Armalites and Barrett .50 cal home defence sniper rifles if we ever faced invasion from the Continent again. However, we have Trident nuclear missile submarines now so we are quite well “tooled-up”, ta very much. I believe you gave us the missiles, however – thanks!

    How many rounds would have helped the Chinese protestors at Tianemen Square? Well, considering that the Communist State used Main Battle Tanks to crush the opposition – quite a few?

    Ditto Hungary, E. Germany, Czechoslovakia etc.

    How much gasoline for your car? A tank plus a jerry-can, perhaps, unless you live in Alaska? Wouldn’t it be a bit dangerous to stockpile hundreds, if not thousands of gallons of gasoline in your house?

    I understand that you are a very busy man, Dr. Clark – I appreciate your blog and your writing very much, as I’m sure we all do.

    Here is a link to an article on the imago dei from a PRC minister, if anyone is interested. He does not share the view expressed on the Heidelblog (but he is Reformed, of course).


    Yes, Paul – I agree. America is a great country and God bless you all. The amount of firepower deemed necessary by some Americans simply concerns and bewilders me, however.

  25. “If a group of bad guys, and you, all have semi-automatics, and you all start shooting at each other, who wins? If there are five of them, you will have five bullets in you by the time you can fire one shot.”

    In that situation, Dr. Clark would likely carry a Colt Peacemaker. He’d shoot the weapon out of the hands of every bad guy before they could even blink. Then he’d blow the smoke from the end of the barrel, holster his gun and ride off on his horse into the sunset.

    The five bad guys would fall to their knees in repentance.

    Thank you, Dr. Clark.

  26. William:

    I was merely trying to explain why someone would select a particular weapon for home defense. I apologize to both you and Angela that my communications are so fraught with misunderstandings.

  27. William:

    The Chinese did not have firearms at Tieneman Square. Long before T.S., Mao took them away. Then he murdered upwards to 50 million of his own people.

    Small arms were very effective for the French Resistance in WWII. General Motors manufactured handguns that were dropped behind enemy lines. Did the North Vietnamese have a lot of armor? How was their Navy and Air Force? How about the Afghani’s in the 1980’s.

    BTW, how is the knife legislation coming along in London? London has had more murders of late as has New York City. People are being stabbed to death. Six teens were stabbed in 90 minutes! Those numbers don’t catch the attention of some on this blog but you don’t seem like a man who will just sit idly by. What are you going to do about it?

Comments are closed.