A recent article in Freedom Outpost looked at Arkansas State Senator Stephanie Flowers’ rant at her fellow legislators. The focus of her wrath was to gin up support for proposed Senate Bill 724. The bill seeks to exempt college sports stadiums, teaching hospitals, and day cares from having to allow guns inside their facilities. It follows on the coattails of the recently passed Act 562, which expanded the right of concealed carry holders, and would reduce some of those rights.
Addressing the legislature about the concept that being able to protect one’s family is a God given right, Flowers shouted, “Where I’m from, the God I serve does not tell me that I have a fundamental right to carry a gun.” From a theological perspective, Flowers has apparently missed a few bible study classes.
According to Luke 22:36, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.” It isn’t the only reference to using lethal force for personal protection.
In Exodus 22:2-3, “If the thief is caught while breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no bloodguiltiness on his account.” Fundamentally, according to scripture, when your life is being threatened, you have a moral right to react appropriately.
From a theological perspective, the issue isn’t that the word “gun” isn’t mentioned in the bible, the issue is the bible supports the concept that everyone is responsible for their own protection including the appropriate use of lethal force. Bearing a sword, given the technology of the time, was to be in possession of weaponry in common possession of the military of the day.
As tempting as it may be to turn to theological roots for the Second Amendment, the fact is the Second Amendment is a direct descendant of English Common Law. In her treatise, “The Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms: The Common Law Tradition,” Joyce Lee Malcolm explains the English Bill of Rights adopted in 1689.
When William III of Orange, a protestant, invaded England in 1688 he overwhelmed James II, a Catholic, who was unable to mount an effective defense. It is important to understand that the religion of the monarch determined the religion of England. James II wisely withdrew which lead to Parliament negotiating with William, and his wife Mary, for the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland. The subsequent accession, known as the Glorious Revolution, was predicated upon their acceptance of parliamentary rule.
Parliament drew up a Declaration of Rights which was signed by William and Mary on February 13, 1689 and cleared the way for them to be crowned as joint monarchs. It was that Bill of Rights our Founding Fathers used as a basis for our own Constitution.
The basic tenets of the Bill of Rights 1689 included freedom from royal interference with the law, freedom from taxation without agreement by Parliament, and freedom to have arms for defense among other stipulations. While there were significant religious overtones due to the country’s struggle to reduce the influence of Catholicism in favor of Protestantism, the Bill of Rights established the rights of individuals over the government and it is that right to bear arms for defense that was the basis for our own Constitution’s Second Amendment. However, the importance placed upon including the Second Amendment in the Constitution went far beyond simply adopting the Mother country’s existing laws.
Underscoring the inclusion of the Second Amendment was the very nature of the birth of the colonies. The colonists, in many cases, didn’t simply migrate, they fled to the colonies. The colonists, in a large part, consisted of British citizens who were antiauthoritarian having been through one traumatic upheaval after another. They arrived in the colonies with a healthy dose of distrust of any form of a strong, centralized government in general and specifically anyone who would rise to lead it.
Bernard Bailyn, a 20th century American historian, author and academic, wrote of the colonist’s deep-seated concern. “To say simply that this tradition of opposition thought was quickly transmitted to America and widely appreciated there is to understate the fact. Opposition thought, in the form it acquired at the turn of the seventeenth century and in the early eighteenth century, was devoured by the colonists. . . . There seems never to have been a time after the Hanoverian succession when these writings were not central to American political expression or absent from polemical politics.”
While the governor did sign the bill, given the course of history that gave birth to the United States of America, there is no doubt that the Founding Fathers fully intended for all citizens to not simply have the right to keep and bear arms to hold government accountable but the moral obligation to do so. Equally important, they did so without stipulation to where citizens may bear arms. Senator Flowers is not only devoid of an understanding of the bible but also of the history of the country whose constitution she has sworn to uphold.