Being Pro-Life Doesn't Require You to Be Anti-Gun

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

We don't generally write about abortion issues here at Bearing Arms, but this column by Eastern University sociology professor Tony Campolo deserves a reply. Campolo trots out an argument that many conservative gun owners have likely heard before: if you believe that life is so precious abortion should be restricted, then why on earth do you support keeping or carrying weapons that can end a life in an instant? 

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Campolo tiredly claims that we'd have all kinds of gun control laws in place were it not for lawmakers doing "the bidding of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Association for Gun Rights, Gun Owners of America, and the National Rifle Association", who must be putting campaign checks ahead of their respect for human life. 

 What is most remarkable is that many of these legislators call themselves “pro-life.” House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., “pro-life,” “pro-family” evangelical Christian, like most in his tribe, opposes even the most popular, commonsense restrictions on guns. 

Johnson was elected speaker the same day a mentally unhealthy gun enthusiast killed 18 people in a bowling alley and bar in Lewiston, Maine. “At the end of the day, the problem is the human heart, it’s not the guns, it’s not weapons,” Johnson told Fox News’ Sean Hannity a day later.

Whenever I hear Christians trot out the “heart” argument to fend off gun restrictions, I want to ask: “Can you please explain? Are American hearts really 77 times darker than German hearts?”

Nope, any more than the hearts of Mexican citizens are four times darker than those of the U.S., even though the country's homicide is about four times greater than their neighbor to the north. Mexico, by the way, has all the gun control laws that Campolo could ever want, but they've done nothing to stop the rise of the drug cartels or the violence they inflict south of the border. 

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The fact of the matter is that most people own firearms because they want to protect their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. They do consider life to be precious and worth protecting, but Campolo casually dismisses the concerns of tens of millions of Americans. 

Most adult gun owners cite “protection” as a key concern, but the presence of a gun in the house can endanger all within, particularly one vulnerable group. Year after year, the majority of America’s gun deaths are suicides, not murders. In 2021, 26,328 Americans used guns to kill themselves.

Note that Campolo completely ignores the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of defensive gun uses each year that do not result in a justifiable homicide; a decidedly odd omission for someone supposedly so interested in human life. 

Compolo would also prefer we not think about the 100,000 Americans who die each year from alcohol abuse. Is Campolo ready to bring back Prohibition? Does he believe that any Christian who describes themselves as pro-life must support bans on alcohol in order to remain morally consistent? Of course not, any more than Campolo educated himself on the work of gun owners like Sarah Joy Albrecht, who are working to reduce suicide without imposing new gun control laws through efforts like Hold My Guns

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We live in a country with more than 100 million gun owners, more than 400 million privately owned arms, and the fundamental right to keep and bear them. Owning a gun doesn't make you a hypocrite about the sanctity of life. I would be perfectly fine if I never have to use one of my guns to protect myself or my family. In fact, I hope that's the case, but I'm not going to sacrifice my own safety just to satisfy the authoritarian impulses of the anti-gunners. If Compolo thinks that makes me a hypocrite, oh well. I answer to a higher authority than a professor emeritus, and there's nothing inconsistent in my faith about walking through life with love and grace in my heart... and a gun by my side. 

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