There are historical and cultural reasons for America’s fatal love affair with guns. We were founded in armed rebellion and our Constitution enshrined the right to fortify ourselves against future tyrants. We fulfilled our manifest destiny of controlling North America by subduing, at gunpoint, native peoples and rival European powers.
Some of our most enduring cultural icons, real and fictional, have been armed individuals who faced down evil doers and secured our civil society. Some operated within the law: Wyatt Earp, Eliot Ness, and The Lone Ranger, for instance. Others took the law into their own hands: John Brown, Dirty Harry Callahan, and Jack Bauer, among others. All of them used guns against bad guys in archetypal American style. We cheer because we prefer the violent revenge of Die Hard’s John McClane to the sacrificial community-building of It’s a Wonderful Life’s George Bailey.
There are a variety of Christian ethical positions regarding violence and war; all of them acknowledge the deadly reality of human evil. The separations occur over what faithful Christians are permitted to do in the face of evil. Pacifists refuse to resist and pray for those who hurt them. Other Christians, myself included, believe evil and injustice must be confronted, with violence if necessary, but that confrontation is the responsibility of our governing authorities who have been established by God. For that reason, I have no compulsion to own a gun and no objection to tighter gun regulations.