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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, July 03, 2008

Gun Control is Not about Guns, but about Control (IV)

An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject

Some Further Reflections

Tomorrow, Lord willing, the United States will once again celebrate the 4th of July. Traditionally, this was a celebration of freedom and independence from tyranny. In anno 2008 I’m sometimes flummoxed to hear people saying that dissent is fine because that’s what America was founded on. I agree that we are granted the right to dissent. It is a precious right granted by our founding documents. It’s a little shortsighted and one dimensional, however, to leave dissent hanging out in the breeze, without defining precisely what the new country was dissenting about back in the day. In a word, they were dissenting against tyranny. Today, many dissent against the very freedoms that our forebears fought and died for. Ironic.

It is noteworthy that a landmark case was just brought before the Supreme Court. Equally noteworthy was the fact that four of the Supreme Court justices seem to have difficulty reading the simple language of the Second Amendment. Their four dissenting votes are nothing short of trying to legislate their worldview from the bench. Mark Levine is correct when he writes, “The Supreme Court is abusing and subverting its constitutional role. It has chosen to become the unelected, unassailable social engineer of American society.”[1] We have come to expect that activist judges will incorporate their worldview into their decision rather than giving us a faithful rendering of the intent of our founding documents. In other words, “Too many judges consider the Constitution a document of broad principles and concepts, one that empowers them to substitute their personal beliefs, values, and policies for those enumerated in the Constitution. They see their role limited only by the boundaries of their imaginations. These judges are activists or non-originalists.”[2]

In Washington, D.C. v. Heller we came perilously close to having a fundamental right ripped away from us by four liberal ideologues. I believe the Revolutionary War was fought over less than what Americans are dealing with today. Thankfully, wiser, more originalist heads prevailed—this time. What Washington, D.C. had done to its citizens was unconscionable. It had denied them the basic right of self-defense. We saw from Exodus 22:2 that God ordained for men to defend themselves and their loved ones. Over at emergent church advocate, Scot McKnight’s blog (Jesus Creed), a whole gaggle of Christian liberals opined how living in Canada and being defenseless was what Jesus would want us to do. Apparently, Jesus wants us to be cold socialists. One poor, misguided, and clueless woman wrote these words on that blog: “As a Christian, I understand that I might die or my children might die because I won’t carry a gun. But that is a price of my faith. We have to stand up for breaking the cycle of violence, even if it means dying.”

Honestly, it’s a little unclear to me how the “cycle of violence” is broken if I allowed an intruder to murder my family and me. This woman’s piece of illogical advice sounds pious, but it is far from that. As I mentioned before, Exodus 22:2 doesn’t take that tack. Her rendering of the text would go something like this: “If a thief is found breaking in, remember that every true Israelite is a pacifist. Don’t bother to defend yourself for that would be unworthy of a true Jew. Sorry, but that’s just the price tag of your faith. Besides, by succumbing to a thug’s desire to murder you, your non-resistance will break the vicious cycle of violence.”

For whatever reason some Christians today believe that acting like a coward is a badge of honor in the Christian faith. This also seems to be a cultural phenomenon as both Ann Douglas[3] and E. Anthony Rotundo[4] chronicled. I’m willing to wager that if the woman on the Jesus Creed blog was actually in a life-or-death situation regarding herself and children that she would do anything and everything within her power to survive and to protect her children as well. Piety grows exponentially on the Internet and in theoretical discussions. The Heidelberg Catechism (1563), Lord’s Day 40, Q/A 105 reminds Christians that they are not to harm or recklessly endanger themselves (cf. Matt. 4:7). In Q/A 107 we are admonished to protect our neighbor from harm as much as we can. By extrapolation, wouldn’t this, shouldn’t this apply to our immediate family as well? What the woman—and others like her—forget is that while we might think of murder as “bad,” God hates it (cf. Q/A 106). Not to attempt to prevent it is to allow something that the Lord God Almighty reveals that he hates. If he hates it, then I, as a Christian, am to hate it too. I am to think his thoughts after him.

What Does the Second Amendment Teach?

In the District of Columbia (et al.) v. Heller it was held by the Supreme Court majority opinion that “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home” (Emphasis added). The Court further held that “The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment. The District’s total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of ‘arms’ that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any of the standards of scrutiny the Court has applied to enumerated constitutional rights, this prohibition—in the place where the importance of the lawful defense of self, family, and property is must acute—would fail constitutional muster. Similarly, the requirement that any lawful firearm in the home be disassembled or bound by a trigger lock makes it impossible for citizens to use arms for the core lawful purpose of self-defense and is hence unconstitutional” (Italics mine).

Unfortunately, there are four justices who cannot see the light of day. Rock star, Ted Nugent said it well: “I snicker and shake my head in disbelief that there are four ‘justices’ on the ‘supreme’ court that do not believe Americans have individual rights.”[5] Oddly, these same justices do not believe that we need to get a government permit and undergo a background check to choose our religion or lack thereof or that we need a ten-day waiting period to express our First Amendment right of free speech.

Some Americans are so naïve that they actually believe a sign declaring “gun free zone” will deter criminals and “bad guys.” Again Nugent: “Everybody knows that it is in these anti-American, anti-constitutional ‘gun free zones’ where innocent people are forced into unarmed helplessness and where the highest body count of innocents is stacked up by evil perpetrators celebrating the condition of helpless sheep to slaughter.”[6]

This means that in essence the District of Columbia has willingly and knowingly acted in an unconstitutional fashion towards its citizens, not caring for their life or well-being. In fact, it must be argued that they intentionally jeopardized their citizens, allowing thugs and criminals to know that they had free rein because the citizenry had been effectively disarmed by those elected to defend their rights. It is time we took the gloves off and stopped sugarcoating the truth. D.C.’s insane gun ban has been a violent criminal’s playground, where they are assured no resistance from a forcibly unarmed citizenry. “That is a bizarre, immoral condition and a direct result of the cult of feel-good liberals who could care less about dead good people as they wring their hands worrying about the rights of the most evil amongst us.”[7]

Who is responsible, humanly speaking, for my personal defense and that of my family? Is it Pelosi, Boxer, Feinstein, Schwarzenegger, Obama, Hillary, or McCain? Is it the police? Is calling 911 my ultimate and best shot at preserving my life? If that’s the case, then all I can really expect is for the CSI team to sift through the aftermath of the criminal activity. Those who are in law enforcement are, by and large, my heroes, just like our military personnel, but I cannot depend upon them to be my personal defense. Whose responsibility is it to tell free men and women, when, how, and where they may defend their lives and the lives of their loved ones against criminal activity? People like Rosie O’Donnell disgust me for a number of reasons, not least of which is that she wants American citizens to be disarmed while she has an armed guard with her at all times.

Banning guns hasn’t worked to deter crime or make communities safer. In fact, just the opposite is the case. All gun bans have ever accomplished is the creation of guaranteed victims. D.C. has been “a cesspool of crime for years. This ruling confirms the rights of good people the ability to defend themselves against bad people. Who could possibly find fault with that supreme dose of common sense?”[8] Oh, Ted, common sense exited stage right a long time ago, but we can be overjoyed that Heller won his case.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Joe Friday got it right on the old black and white TV series Dragnet. We are all served well by facts. John Adams once told a jury, “Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictums of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”[9] But just what are the facts about guns? If you talk to the man or woman on the street about these matters, if you aware of the truth, you will be astounded at how ignorant and misinformed they are. As far as the gun propaganda goes, these folks have imbibed of industrial strength doses of the Kool-Aid. We don’t have the time to arm you with all the facts—no pun intended—but to let you see that law-abiding citizens carrying guns, either concealed or open, is not a threat to society and society’s safety but rather a strong deterrent to crime.[10]

First fact: guns are used about 2.5 million times a year in self-defense. That averages out to about 6,850 times a day! According to the stats provided by the National Safety Council, this means that firearms are used more than 80 times more often to protect the lives of honest citizens than to take lives. Moreover, in those 2.5 million times less than 8% of the time, a citizen will kill or wound his or her attacker. In addition, as many as 200,000 women use a gun every year to defend themselves against sexual abuse.

Second fact: according to Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz, armed citizens kill more criminals than do the police (1,527 to 606).[11]

Third fact: concealed carry laws actually help in reducing crime. A comprehensive national study done in 1996 revealed that states that made it legal to carry concealed firearms saw a drop in violent crime rates.[12]

Fourth fact: Vermont—of all places!—permits its citizens to carry a firearm without getting permission, without paying a fee to the government, or without going through any kind of government-imposed waiting period. The FBI background check is done on computer at the time of purchase. For ten years in a row, Vermont has remained one of the top five safest states—unless you’re a child getting molested by a child predator who is then let off by some leftwing ideologue activist judge in a black robe.

Fifth fact: approximately fifteen years ago, the state of Florida passed a concealed carry law. Since 1987, somewhere in the neighborhood of 800,000 carry permits were issued to the citizens. According to conventional wisdom, Florida should have become a rogue state meting out vigilante justice. This simply points out how uninformed those who depend on conventional wisdom sometimes are. FBI reports demonstrate that the homicide rate in Florida, which, by the way, was above the national average in 1987, fell a precipitous 52% during that fifteen year period.

Sixth fact: in 1982, Kennesaw, GA passed a law requiring heads of households to keep at least one firearm in the house. The result was an eye-popping 89% drop in the household burglary rate, compared to a 10.4% drop in the state of Georgia over all.

Seventh fact: worldwide, in those countries that have effectually disarmed their citizens (Great Britain, Canada, and Holland) more than 45% of the time homeowners are occupying their homes when they are burglarized. Think about that. Those countries—like Washington, D.C.—had given the advantage to the criminal in every case. But the caveat is that if you take guns away—like Hitler and Stalin did—people will find other weapons to use in crimes, although there still doesn’t seem to be any shortage of firearms for criminals to purchase illegally. In those three countries crimes are committed with guns, butcher knives, and the messy way: large mechanic’s screwdrivers.

Eighth fact: there is also a correlation between decrease in rape rates when it is known or suspected that the rape victim might be armed. For example, in Orlando, FL in 1966-1967 the media publicized a safety course that taught Orlando women how to use guns. The rape rate dropped 88%, which is more than significant. During that same period, the rape rate remained constant in the rest of Florida and the U.S.

Ninth fact: back in the halcyon days of Peanut Jim Carter, the Justice Department found that of more than 32,000 attempted rapes, 32% were actually committed. However, when a woman was armed with a gun or knife, only 3% of the attempted rapes were actually successful.

Tenth fact: 60% of felons polled—who does that?—agreed that a criminal is not going to mess with a victim that he knows is armed with a gun. That makes sense, doesn’t it? Why do you think criminals only rarely attack law enforcement officers? The simple answer is: it is because they know they are armed. Their being armed is an enormous deterrent to cowards who want to prey on the weak and unarmed. In a related fact, 74% of felons polled agreed that one reason burglars avoid houses when people are at home is because they fear that the occupants might be armed.

There’s a lot more to say, but I hope this has given you something to think about. Have a great 4th of July!


[1] Mark Levine, Men in Black, (Washington, D.C., Regnery, 2005), p. 195.

[2] Ibid. 13.

[3] Ann Douglas, The Feminization of American Culture, (NY: The Noonday Press, 1977).

[4] E. Anthony Rotundo, American Manhood, Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era, (NY: Basic Books, 1993).

[5] Ted Nugent, “D.C. Gun Ban Blown Away,” Human Events, Vol. 64, No. 23 (June 30, 2008), p. 1.

[6] Ibid., 8.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] David McCullough, John Adams, (NY: Touchstone Books, 2001), p. 68.

[10] I am greatly indebted to Larry Pratt at www.gunowners.org for this material.

[11] Kleck & Gertz, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, 111-116, 148.

[12] John R. Lott, Jr., More Guns Less Crime, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 20002).

15 Comments:

Blogger Solameanie said...

Ron,

One thing that I find troubling is this prevailing view that the Supreme Court is the final word or authority in this nation. That is not the Constitutional reality. In reality, the Court is one of three co-equal branches of government -- co-equal with this one proviso. Congress has the authority under the Constitution to restrict the jurisdiction of the courts.

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, our generation has been so conditioned to think that the Supreme Court is indeed supreme, and that they can write or rewrite law at will.

I'd like to see President Bush do what Andrew Jackson did and challenge the court to try and enforce its ruling. "Go ahead. Make my day." The Executive Branch enforces and executes the law, not the courts. Congress makes the law, and it's the court's job to interpret the law according to the intent of Congress. If the court oversteps its bounds, the court can be ignored and the justices impeached.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Amen!

10:02 PM  
Blogger lee n. field said...

Are you familiar with the essay "A Nation of Cowards" by Jeff Snyder?

6:25 AM  
Blogger jazzact13 said...

http://blog.beliefnet.com/godspolitics/2008/06/dont-shoot-by-mary-nelson.html

--The affirmation of the individual's right to bear arms must also be countered by us, as people of faith, with what is in the interests of community, of public safety, and what makes for the common good. We shouldn't be silent about this tension.--

I think that statement, found at the above url, shows that liberal mindset about as clearly as anything I've seen. The individual's Constitutional right to keep and bear arms must be "countered", i.e. restricted or even done away with, based on these liberals' concept of the nanny state.

May God keep us from the people who are only trying to help and protect us.

7:53 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Lee,
It seems that I've heard of that article somewhere. Do you have it or can you tell us where to locate it? It sounds very interesting.

7:55 AM  
Blogger jazzact13 said...

http://blog.beliefnet.com/godspolitics/2008/06/gundamentalism-by-rachel-smith.html

I like that name, Gundamentalist. It's the kind of insult that should be worn with honor.

--But as people of faith we must ask deeper and more difficult questions: Where do we place our trust -- in God or in guns? Who do we serve -- God or the second amendment? Where do we find our sense of worth and purpose -- from God or from guns? How do we bring about God's reign - with an open heart or with a gun in hand?--

Wow, what nonsense questions!!! I wonder, does the author ever ask herself, who do we trust--God or pacifism? Who do we server--God or gun control? Where do we find our sense of worth and purpose--form God or from gun control legislation? How do we bring about God's reign--through reasonable self-defense or bad biblical hermeneutics that read pacifism into the Bible when it really isn't there?

8:05 AM  
Blogger lee n. field said...

The first Google hit: http://rkba.org/comment/cowards.html .

See also Amazon.com, for a book of the same title -- a collection of essays by the same writer, subtitled "Essays on the ethics of gun control".

9:10 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

You can also Google his name and the title of the article and you can print it for free.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Ron,

Thanks for sharing the facts about gun ownership (or even the deterrence provided by the possibility of it).

Living in Michigan, we all breathed a sigh of relief when D.C. vs. Heller came down "from Sinai" and it was delivered by Scalia. There are many gun owners hear who were grateful for a little common sense from the court.

Even the Bush Administration didn't want as much liberty as Scalia opined. I found it funny that Veep Cheney broke with the administration and signed on to a congressional amicus as "President of the Senate" to make the case that Scalia enshrined.

I am amazed by this court that an abortion, which does not appear in the constitution, is deemed is a personal right from the penumbra of a privacy right, which also doesn't exist in the text of the constitution itself is repeatedly approved; when at the same time a clearly defined right of the people is rejected by 4 justices. It boggles the mind.

And, by the way, Sola is right. Roe vs. Wade would have been dead two years ago, if the formerly Republican congress had some gonads and limited the issue of abortion out of the jurisdiction of the federal courts.

That opportunity, thanks to a do nothing helpful congress and a former, evangelical, Speaker of the House, who fought tooth and nail to have a prairie highway running near his property, didn't have the courage to make it happen.

6:25 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

And on another topic...sorry to do this, Ron...

I saw the PCA has "planted" another church in Orange City, Iowa. (Harvest Community Church) Cracks me up! Once I fulfill my promise to my classis in 2 years, I'll be officially free to start seriously considering a jump.

Now that the CRC has officially weakened its stance on Election, failed to declare homosexuality as a disorder of broken sexuality, failed to clearly define marriage as one man and one woman, and had the audacity to blame humanity for climate change, all in our new, revised "contemporary testimony" I'm not as content a camper as I once was.

The Lord's providence will open opportunities, I believe, in the years to come. But I do want to keep my word of promise.

6:27 AM  
Blogger tgoerz said...

FACTS!!?? Thats just someone's opinion.

Besides I don't feel good about guns or the 2nd amendment. It makes me uncomfortable. I mean the whole idea of somebody or something telling me what to do or think.

I mean, God is a god of love, right? Surely he wouldn't want people having guns. Aren't we supposed to love our neighbors?

10:16 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Tim,

Please tell us you're joking! I really hope you are. Because if you're not comfortable with someone telling you what to do, you're in the wrong business!

10:31 AM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Jeff,
Tim is a special case. He's just a warm-hearted little fuzz ball.

1:38 PM  
Blogger tgoerz said...

Jeff.....yes, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek.

I was trying to give my best impersonation of a relativistic, postmodern, emergant creme puff.

The "6" prefers I not use the word "wuss". Oops, sorry....it slipped out. Geez, I hate when it does that.

1:57 PM  
Blogger Rattlesnake6 said...

Jeff,
Email me and we can talk about your future tentative plans.

11:17 AM  

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