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I am a 1967 graduate of The Citadel (Distinguished Military Student, member of the Economic Honor Society, Dean's List), a 1975 graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div., magna cum laude, member of the Phi Alpha Chi academic honor society); I attended the Free University of Amsterdam and completed my History of Dogma there and then received a full scholarship from the Dutch government to transfer to the sister school in Kampen, Holland. In 1979 I graduated from the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Churches of Holland (Drs. with honors in Ethics). My New Testament minor was completed with Herman Ridderbos. I am also a 2001 Ph.D. graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (Systematic Theology) in Philly with a dissertation on the "unio mystica" in the theology of Dr. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921). I am a former tank commander, and instructor in the US Army Armor School at Ft. Knox, KY. I have been happily married to my childhood sweetheart and best friend, Sally, for 43 years. We have 6 children, one of whom is with the Lord, and 14 wonderful grandchildren.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Government and Guns

Champagne in Michigan

There is so much to read and so little time for reading! I have a stack of about fifteen books on my desk right now I am reading and I’m not counting the theology books. American taxpayers are growing weary of every time they turn around a government agency has its hand out for more of our hard-earned money. At times, I think the colonists had it substantially better with the English than we have it now. Probably not, but it’s getting close!

Grover G. Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, has written a real page-turner entitled Leave Us Alone, Getting the Government’s Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, Our Lives.[1] Speaking of guns, it’s time I began to write something else to cheese McLaren and Wallis off—and all their spiritual progeny—which will be the matter of guns and gun control. Since there is a case pending before the Supreme Court regarding guns (District of Columbia v. Heller), it seems like an appropriate time to discuss some of the many misconceptions about guns, gun owners, and gun controls.

For starters, radio talk show host Larry Elder has produced an excellent DVD entitled Michael & Me available from his web site (www.larryelder.com). For those remotely interested in informed dialogue on the subject, let me suggest getting Elder’s DVD. For those of us who live in the United States, we have the protection of our Second Amendment regarding purchasing guns that reads, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” What is being debated by some is whether or not free citizens have the right to defend themselves, their families, and others against unprovoked attacks and assaults, or do we, as free men and women, need the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Diane Feinstein, and Hillary Clinton to tell us when, how, and where we may defend ourselves against personal attacks.

One of the greatest difficulties when you write or speak about guns and gun ownership is cutting through the deluge of disinformation we’ve been subjected to by those who are anti-gun. The propaganda machine has cranked out reams of paper and scare tactics designed to reduce—severely—the number of legal guns in the homes of free Americans. Occasionally, a lone voice of reason has been heard in the debate, but as often as not, it resolves itself around emotional responses and, at times, outright lies. One surprising voice was Harvard law professor, Laurence Tribe, who wrote an article for USA Today entitled, “Scholar’s Views on Arms Rights Anger Liberals” (August 27, 1999). Tribe, a liberal himself, opined that the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees to every American the right to keep and bear arms.

A little bit of history might be helpful here. When the framers were composing our founding documents, they leaned heavily on English tradition, common law, and natural law. “One of those traditions held that every Englishman had both the right and the duty to bear arms, in self-defense and for defense of the realm.”[2] There is a document called The Militia Act (1792) that decreed that “every free able bodied white male citizen” was part of the United States militia. The word “white” was removed in 1867.[3] In 1939, the Supreme Court upheld this interpretation and defined the militia as “all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense.” (cf. United States v. Miller.)

Today, political hacks, wonks, and pundits want to eradicate the Second Amendment. They’re all still for a full and robust First Amendment that allows them to say anything they want anytime they want, but they want to rid the world of the Second Amendment. Occasionally, their hypocrisy is noticed, but then quickly fades into the white noise of a media that grows quickly tired of yesterday’s news. One such instance is Bill Maher. Who quipped once, “I say if you really insist on keeping (the second) amendment in the Constitution, then we must keep to the spirit of it, which means you can still own a gun, but it must be a musket.”[4] What is more than hilarious is that when the riots broke out in Los Angeles in 1992, where Maher lives, he borrowed a handgun from a friend for self-defense. Had he been consistent, he would have rushed out to his local Turners Outdoorsman and applied to undergo a background check so he could purchase his blunderbuss. Liberals are a scream. All of his “bravado” and pacifism left the building the moment the riots got up close and personal for him.

The Second Amendment grants free U.S. citizens the right to bear arms—not the right of bare arms. Of course, the moment you begin suggesting that gun ownership is a “right” granted by the Constitution there is the typical cry about how the government needs to step in and control everything. Otherwise, so the emotional outpouring goes, we’ll be thrust back into the Wild West, which, upon investigation wasn’t quite as wild as we tend to think it was. It’s a tough sell—even though it’s true—that an armed society is a polite society. So at the outset, let me lay my cards on the table and state that as a free member of society, as a parent, grandparent, and pastor I believe it is the right of American citizens to bear arms. In fact, I am strongly in favor of every citizen who has passed the background check and has not, like most of my friends, been committed into an insane asylum at some point in their life, should, if they want, be issued a concealed carry permit.

But why the heading “Champagne in Michigan” for this issue? There is a good reason for this. Six years ago, the state of Michigan enacted a right-to-carry law. A large number of people and virtually all liberals held their breath waiting for Armageddon. Dispensationalists were convinced it would be the beginning of Gog and Magog. Brian McLaren fretted that his Birkenstocks would get scuffed in the mêlée. The “Dems” predicted rampant mayhem. It would be the “Wild West” all over again! How could Michigan be so foolish? Well, six years down the road even the most jaded has had to make some adjustments in his or her thinking, although the ideologues will continue to refuse to look at the facts while gently sipping—with their pinky raised—the left-wing Kool-Aid.

In the six-year span of time, the number of firearm-related fatalities actually dropped in Michigan. In addition, criminal activity dwindled (for Presbyterians, that means that the number got smaller) even though the number of residents in Michigan legally licensed to carry a concealed handgun increased 600% The expectation was the opposite; the expectation was that there would be bedlam in the streets, people killed on the freeways by handgun related road rage, club and barroom fights that ended in gunfights. Nope. Why was that? It’s simply because people who have to go through the process to get a concealed carry permit are—in general—kind, gentle, and law-abiding people. Many are former military personnel who carried weapons while they served the country. The background check is quite extensive and rules out previous felons.

With this staggering increase in concealed handgun carriers, Michigan noticed a very favorable side effect: the violent crime rate in that period decreased and, simultaneously, the number of firearm fatalities (suicide and accidents) also was less.

Why Not Call 911?

No doubt, someone is thinking: if I’m in a bad situation I’d just call 911. Well, maybe. It really depends on the “bad situation,” doesn’t it? What if you’re walking alone and are accosted or mugged on a deserted street? What if you’re broken down on the road and a carload of thugs pulls up to “help”? Or, what if you’re in the comfort of your own home and realize that an intruder has broken in? Still, for some disillusioned souls, the answer is to call 911. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not opposed to calling 911; I think you should. What is highly unrealistic, however, is to expect the police to arrive in time to save you from the “situation”. Where I live in Southern California, the fastest response from the police department is approximately ten minutes. When every second counts, ten minutes is a near eternity. The whole situation will have played itself out in substantially less than ten minutes.

According to one magazine, “Researchers believe that if holdout states had adopted conceal carry, it’s possible that they could have avoided annually as many as 1,570 murders, more than 4,000 rapes and some 60,000 aggravated assaults.”[5] While the vast majority of Americans has been indoctrinated and brainwashed by the liberals, real researchers (and not knee-jerkers) were not surprised at what unfolded in Michigan. Reliable scholars like John Lott states that about 67% of the studies he’s reviewed indicate that right-to-carry (concealed carry) laws reduce crime. The other 33% show very little effect on the status quo.[6]

But Just a Few States Allow This, Right?

Wrong. At present, there are 40 right-to-carry states, “with 36 now having ‘shall issue’ laws, or statutes requiring that carry permits be issued to those meeting uniform standards established by the state legislature. One of the landmark cases in the right-to-carry is what the state of Florida did in 1987. A number of nay-sayers and doomsday prophets predicted vigilante justice and a Wild West environment. If even a portion of what these people said proved to be true Florida would have to change its name to Tombstone. Here are the results of what really happened though: from 1987-1992 Florida’s murder rate decreased by a whopping 23%, while the nation’s rate continued to climb. From 1992 to the present, Florida has witnessed a continued downward trend in its murder rate.

Here’s what the Florida Licensing Division had to say about their legislation: “Florida’s concealed-carry law has been very successful. All major law enforcement groups supported the legislation. Now some of the opponents of the law admit that the program hasn’t created the problems many of them predicted.”[7]

There is truth to the adage that once guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. We will never be able to eradicate the black market sales of illegal firearms. For those who have ever purchased a handgun legally, they are aware of a thorough process. They are also aware that joining the more than 90 million gun owners in the United States, that they will have to allay a lot of unwarranted fears and clear up innumerable misconceptions about guns, gun owners, and gun control.

For example, they will have to point out that merely having a sign on campus that reads “Gun Free Zone” is no guarantee that your school is truly a gun free zone. It simply means you have a sign to that effect. The students at Virginia Tech know differently now. One can only wonder what would have happened that day if teachers and students began firing back in self-defense. So much propaganda has been spewed out by the left and gun-haters that the population needs to be re-educated. They fear guns and gun owners and so much of that fear is totally unwarranted. So the re-education process begins today with this fact: The odds of a child under the age of 10 being killed by an accident in a swimming pool are about a hundred times greater than the risk of a child being killed in a gun-related accident. When was the last time you read about a ban on private swimming pools or passing laws making it difficult—next to impossible—to own a swimming pool?


[1] Grover Norquist, Leave Us Alone, (NY: HarperCollins, 2008).

[2] Richard Poe, The Seven Myths of Gun Control, (Roseville, CA: Forum, 2001), p. 144.

[3] Ibid., 145.

[4] Ibid., 153.

[5] Gary Lantz, “Michigan Celebrates Sixcess!” America’s 1st Freedom, (April, 2008), p.35.

[6] Ibid., 34.

[7] Ibid., 35.

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23 Comments:

Blogger lee n. field said...

Amen.

Familiar with Charl van Wyk and the St. James Massacre?

5:58 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Yes. Read the book and actually talked to a guy last year that knows van Wyk. Interesting read.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Pastor St. John said...

Of course I support your position strongly, and support the right of the people to keep and bear arms. I'm glad to find more pastors of like mind. I have a ccw handgun permit, and I suppose you do, too. Jesus said in Luke 22:36 "...if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak to buy one." It is a Christian's duty to love his family and his neighbors, and that means coming to their defense as needed. And it includes defending your own life, too.

4:28 AM  
Blogger Mr. Light said...

"An armed society is a polite society."

Didn't Robert Heinlein coin that phrase?

4:59 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

I've heard it from a number of sources, but it is patently true!

5:20 PM  
Blogger Mr. Light said...

Agreed!

5:38 PM  
Blogger lee n. field said...

Yes, RAH coined that phrase, in his early novel _Beyond This Horizon_.

6:56 AM  
Blogger les.prouty said...

Agreed! I am a CCL holder in Missouri and post about this issue often. People should wake up concerning our constitutional rights.

Les Prouty, PCA RE and gun lover!
http://prouty.wordpress.com/

5:12 AM  
Blogger Randy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Matt J. said...

Randy, the verse you are referring to says that "vengeance" belongs to the Lord, not "justice" in that case. I think that was more than just a simple slip on your part.

It sounds like you think that anyone who wishes to own a gun for defense (or for sport) is really just looking for some sort of an excuse to be justify their urge to be a vigilante.

That shows how little you reflect on things before you fire off an angry reply. You're just posting on auto-pilot now.

If you care about what God's standards of justice are as applied to this issue, what do you make of Luke 22:36, mentioned earlier in one of the comments above?

2:24 PM  
Blogger jazzact13 said...

--but doesn't justice belong to God?--

Does that mean you're now NOT going to worry about ec social justice stuff? After all, justice belongs to God, by your own words, so if it's questionable to bear arms for that reason, isn't it equally question to "pursue justice", so called, for that same reason?

4:13 PM  
Blogger barb michelen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:06 AM  
Blogger barb michelen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Randy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
Did God ever execute justice through his people Israel? Reading the texts causes one to believe that every Israelite had a sword.
What does the Word of God say about that?

10:27 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
The 4th amendment has to do with unauthorized searches and seizures. Are you perhaps thinking about the 2nd amendment? Being a well-informed gun owner, I'm sure you know that.
Guns do not kill; people using them do.
Why don't you explain to us just which regulations you'd put on gun control above and beyond what we already have. Also, since all of the amendments pertain to individual rights, why don't you explain the 2nd amendment to us?

10:31 AM  
Blogger Mr. Julio Martinez, Jr. said...

In light of our interview last week, I want to say that I appreciate this article/blog. And I seriously am appalled by the failure rate of drop-outs on the national level. I'm actually talking to a group in Facebook, the PCA group: "Private Vs. Public Education." You'd be surprised to read what some PCAers believe on the topic. It seems that some members in the PCA are not uniform in this issue. Personally, I find it sad that some believe that the Pub. School machine works.

3:33 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Ron,

As a pro-second amendment, non-owner, what kind of a gun would you recommend to a preacher who wants to get his feet wet in gun ownership. Should I just get a Michigan CCP and buy a handgun to start? If so, which one?

7:13 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

I'd go for the CCW and then look for a semi-automatic handgun. Smith & Wesson makes a very nice .40cal M&P (Military & Police). That's a good one to start with. It's reasonably prices and not overpowering. .40cal has good stopping power and good accuracy out to +/- 30 yards, which is very good for a handgun. I'd also sign my wife and me up for a gun safety course. We had 12 women at Grace do that last year and they had a hoot! Have fun shooting!

10:15 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:02 PM  
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6:44 AM  
Blogger Randy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Randy,
You wrote, "I hope you are not way to the right on this issue, but many voices within the NRA have opposed even some sort of waiting period to do background checks. This kind of opposition to gun control rightfully scares people who are not gun owners."
I'm not far to the right, just a believer in the 2nd Amendment. Obviously, you haven't purchased a gun recently. Many states sell the gun on the spot and allow the customer to take it home that moment. Why? Well, because their computers have just done a national background check and nothing showed up. If it missed something--which it doesn't--it wouldn't show up 10 days later, which is the waiting period here in Southern Cal.
The examples you used missed the point. There are move deaths from drowning than from gun violence every year. Would you like to control water too?
What is it with you liberals and "control" anyway?

1:12 PM  

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