Right, Responsibility, and the 2nd Amendment


Katherine Bussard

Ex. Director & COO

In recent months, a host of rulings pertaining to the Second Amendment have been handed down from Federal District Courts across the nation. The DC gun ban was ruled unconstitutional, the 9th Circuit Panel upheld the right to carry arms outside one’s home, and the 11th Circuit Court upheld Florida’s Firearm Owner’s Privacy Act. On the other hand, a US District Court in Colorado upheld a gun control law which creates additional red tape and bans all magazine that hold more than 15 rounds, and SCOTUS issued a ruling on Abramski v. United States significantly broadening the scope of queries government can make into the life of anyone purchasing a firearm.[1] While some wonder what all the fuss is about, others argue that the enjoyment of one’s right to self-defense should not require the sacrifice of one’s right to privacy, nor should the extent of that right be unduly restricted.

With so polarizing a debate raging, a close evaluation of the principles behind this amendment is merited.

Above property rights, privacy rights, and other worthy liberties, stands the fundamental value of human life and the duty to protect it. Many conservatives and evangelicals are quick to agree that innocent life must defended and that all life has value, but are not sure the use of force in defense of life is merited. However, when one consults scripture, clear teaching shows that as a strict measure of defense, use of force is justified in protection of innocent life from an imminent threat.

“If a thief is caught in the act of breaking into a house and is struck and killed in the process, the person who killed the thief is not guilty of murder.” (Exodus 22:2)

‘He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. (Luke 22:36)’

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1Timothy 5:8).”

While this is no means an exhaustive concordance on the subject, one can see the wider picture, which also coincides with the traditional exposition given by the church on the subject.

Rev. Nathan Robbins, in a 1772 sermon, noted “Self-defense may require the use of warlike weapons, or taking up arms to prevent an incursion evidently intended, and the effusion of human blood, which would be the probably consequence of it…David, who well knew that safety of making God his trust, and that this was his principle defense; we accordingly find praying to him for all kinds of prosperity in Jerusalem; yet we also find him blessing God, who had taught his hands to war, and his fingers to fight…And we find our Savior Himself minding his disciples to expect that their enemies would be more fierce upon them, than they had been: And accordingly, he gives warning, that he amongst them, that had no sword, wherewith to defend himself, might find great want of one, and might therefore be ready to wish, some time or other that he had sold his garment and bought one.” [2]

Rev. Simeon Howard gives a similar perspective when he states, “Defending ourselves by force of arms against injurious attacks, is quite a different things from rendering evil for evil. The latter implies doing hurt to another because he has done hurt to us; the former implies doing hurt to another, if he is hurt in the conflict, only because there is no other way of avoiding the mischief he endeavors to do us” the one proceeds from malice and revenge; the other merely from self-love, and a just concern for our own happiness, and argues no ill will against any man. Therefore, it is to be observed, that necessary self-defense, however fatal it may prove to those who unjustly attacked us, implies no principle inconsistence with that love to our enemies which Christ enjoins.”[3]

With the understanding that self-defense is scripturally sanctioned, it is also important to venture a step further and see that self-defense is not just a right, but a responsibility. Founders shaped this in their writing by explaining that basically being what present-day citizens would call a “first responder” is not so much the duty of civil government, but of each citizen. In the Founders’ day, it was the police officers that were forbidden to carry arms while on duty, and in cases where arms were needed to subdue or defend against a perpetrator, the police were expected to call on an armed citizen to aid in defense. Common until the middle of nineteenth century, this practice is the very antithesis of policies in large, modern cities such as New York[4].  While we are blessed to have many wonderful men and women who defend us as officers sworn to enforce the law, they can by no means protect us or our property from every threat, nor should they be expected to. Citizens have a clear duty protect innocent life and their own person. 1st Timothy 5:8 makes it clear that we have a responsibility to provide for ourselves and our families, and this includes reasonable defense of ourselves and our property.

In light of this responsibility, citizens are encouraged to be informed about the practice of bearing arms in self-defense and be informed regarding threats to their ability to do so effectively. From the United Nations[5] Arms Trade Treaty, to the State of California’s appeal of the afore mentioned 9th Circuit ruling[6], to local townships and municipalities[7], there are those who presume that government is better equipped to handle the day-to-day security of citizens’ persons and property than citizens themselves; only vigilant citizens will effectively protect against infringements on their right to protect themselves. Concerned citizens should also consider thanking public servants who have recently stood to defend this right and encourage others to be come educated in the practical matter of this application.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:1, 13-14



Additional Resources:





[1] NRA-ILA Legal Updated, November 10, 2014 http://www.nraila.org/legal/nra-ila-legal-update/nra-ila-legal-update-november-2014.aspx .

[2] Nathanael Robbins, Jerusalem’s Peace Wished (Boston: J. Boyles, 1772), pp.12,16.

[3] Simeon Howard, “A Sermon Preached to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery-Company in Boston, New England” (Boston: Kneeland and Davis, 1774) pp.23-24.

[4]The James Madison Research Library, “History: A Drafting and Ratification of the Bill of Rights in the Colonial Period” http://www.madisonbrigade.com/library_bor.htm .

[5]Theblaze.com, “Christmas Eve to Deliver U.N. Gun Control Treaty — and It Has Some Pro-Firearm Advocates in the U.S. ‘Worried’.” http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/11/14/christmas-eve-to-deliver-u-n-gun-control-treaty-and-it-has-some-pro-firearm-advocates-in-the-u-s-worried/ 11/14/2014.

[6] Reason.com, “Is Concealed Carry a Privilege or a Right?” http://reason.com/archives/2014/12/05/is-concealed-carry-a-privilege-or-a-righ 12/5/2014.

[7] Jurist, “Pennsylvania lawmakers sue over firearms law.” http://jurist.org/paperchase/2014/11/pennsylvania-democrats-seek-protection-from-legal-suits-regarding.php 11./11/14

About the Author

Katherine Bussard
Ex. Director & COO
As Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of Salt & Light Global, Katherine works to disciple servant-leaders in all walks of life, equipping them to share the redemptive love and truth of Jesus. She facilitates training in good governance for communities around the state, mentors other Christian women in leadership, and champions sound public policy. In speaking, writing, and serving, Katherine seeks to encourage the body of Christ to see all of who they are what they do through God’s Word. Katherine resides with her husband and partner in Kingdom service, Jeff.

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