Sunday, October 04, 2015

Why Do So Many Conservative Christians Love Their Guns?

In response to my earlier post on the assault weapons ban, I was asked by Barry, a regular reader:

What is the strong correlation between evangelistic Christianity and gun fandom? IT seems that there should be none, however, the correlation is strong

Barry, I agree that the attachment that many conservative Christians feels for their guns is very puzzling.  This is especially puzzling for those who want guns for hypothetical warfare with their own government - the exact scenario Jesus faced when he accepted crucifixion.

I think most people's religion is really a tribal religion, syncretized with elements of more universalistic world religions.  This goes for nationalistic Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and Confucianists, as much as for nationalistic Christians.  In these cases, I believe they envision themselves as "good guys with guns" who will protect the tribe against "bad guys with guns". And, of course, the latter usually imagine the same about themselves.


Mac said...

You wrote: “This is especially puzzling for those who want guns for hypothetical warfare with their own government - the exact scenario Jesus faced when he accepted crucifixion.” Wow!

1. “This is especially puzzling for those who want guns for hypothetical (sic) warfare with their own government….”

I suppose I can forgive this to some extent, because it comes from a sociologist who apparently has, at best, a cursory familiarity with American history.

At the time that the Constitution was ratified, every State Constitution contained a reservation to the People of the right, as a last resort, to armed rebellion against a tyrannical government. Some still do, see, e.g., the Constitution of the State of New Hampshire (ratified in 1784 and still in force). The adoption of a Bill of Rights was a pre-condition for ratification of the Constitution in nearly every State of the proposed union. Applying well-established rules of statutory construction, of the 12 proposed amendments in the Bill of Rights, the right to keep and bear arms was more important to the drafters than anything other than (1) regulating apportionment of membership in the House of representatives to ensure that it remained the People’s house; (2) forbidding Congress from giving itself a pay raise by requiring that any such raise enacted would not be effective until one election of the House had occurred; and (3) the current first amendment. By the rules of construction, it was more important than freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, from forced self-incrimination and right to due process, from a right to effective assistance of counsel, a right to trial by jury, and a right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. (Interestingly, the original second amendment was finally ratified as the 27th Amendment in 1992—the drafters were indeed prescient!)

To the drafters, who had bought and paid for their liberty with blood, the idea that a central government was inherently inimical to individual liberty was not a hypothetical. They intended to ensure that the “militia”, every adult male citizen, would have the ability to arm himself with weapons equal to those with which a standing army would be armed, lest the central government crush an unarmed citizenry.

Dismissive language and careless ignorance of history lead to the inescapable conclusion that George Santayana was right: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

2. "… - the exact scenario Jesus faced when he accepted crucifixion."

Are you really saying that Jesus went to the Cross simply to avoid participating in or leading a Jewish rebellion against Rome? Heresy, brother, heresy. Please refer me to any place in the Gospels that supports such a bald-faced conclusion. He went to the Cross in obedience to His Father and to atone for the sins of the faithful.

Barry said...

Previous post " every adult male citizen, would have the ability to arm himself with weapons equal to those with which a standing army would be armed" Is it correct to assume from this that you would allow regular citizens to be armed with shoulder fired antiaircraft missles, and tatical nuclear weapons, tanks etc?

Mac said...

Reasonable question. In the spirit of the harvest season, nice straw man, too. If the unpleasantness of 1861-65 is any example, I doubt that a President who decided to stage a coup would, at least initially, use the Armed Forces. Many--most, hopefully--of the the Officers can be counted on to remember that they swore to support and defend the Constitution, not a particular person. (I remember when, in 1973 and 1974, there were messages on the message board reminding us of that truth.)

The great threat to the Republic is the quasi-armed forces created by, inter alia, the Justice, Treasury, and Homeland Security Departments and the Post Office. They may well have anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, but darned few of them. What they will have is automatic and semi-automatic rifles, grenades, and machine-guns. From my personal experience as a rifle platoon and rifle company commander, I can assure you that those can be overcome by the sound use of weapons that the average citizen may currently lawfully own, at which time the resulting "surplus" grenades and crew-served weapons (machine guns) will be available to all. That is why the potential tyrant wants the citizenry to be totally disarmed.

The President who attempts to use even one tactical nuke against his own people will have lost his war and his office. I cannot believe that any officer in the Armed Forces would consider an order to nuke an American city to be a lawful order. We all should be thankful for that.

Dennis Evans said...

I think, historically, there was the perception of two equal needs: 1. the common defense, in the time of a concensus to the virtues of a small standing army 2. a defence against a dysfunctional or tyranical state. The Revolution was a rebellion of British citizenss against their legitimate government that seemed set on transforming them into the status of an Ireland (if I may say so, which I do). The only cases of massive public violence that I am aware of were the Whiskey Rebellion and John Brown's Raids, and bloody Kansas, and maybe some such things (but those were clearly political actions). But I don't know the history of shootings in schools and public places. In the period of history closest to the Revolution was there ever any such public violence?