Firearms and Ideologies

I despise firearms. Period. I want to make that clear from the start. If I could snap my fingers and make all the guns in the world disappear, I would do it in a heartbeat. But I can’t do that, and we don’t live in a world where problems are solved so easily. So, I wrote this article about some of my thoughts on firearms, violence, and the ideologies that often intertwine them. Please read it, share it, and talk about it.

 

Guns and Violence

An argument I have often heard in the debate against gun control, namely, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” or the idea that a weapon or a tool is only as dangerous as the person wielding it, demonstrates a principle that I would like to explore further.

Arguments about gun control aside, I would like to use this catchphrase to make an analogy about certain ideologies, because I believe that ideologies are only as dangerous as the people who use them. To give a couple common examples, White Supremacy or Islamic Radicalism would not harm anyone in a vacuum void of followers. Even the most violent and dangerous ideologies—because they are dangerous, much like an assault rifle is dangerous—cannot harm anyone in a world where no one prescribes to them. If no one believed in them, they would be powerless ideologies. They would become something of the past.

The individuals who do prescribe to violent ideologies are, on the other hand, extremely dangerous. And some ideologies, like some firearms, are much more dangerous than others. Someone will ill intent wielding a tool as harmless and utilitarian as a garden hoe could be harmful to those around him. Similarly, a seemingly harmless ideology like Christianity in the wrong hands can be very harmful. But a garden hoe in the wrong hands is much preferable to a stock-pile of assault rifles in the wrong hands.

I like to read the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies in the Book of Mormon who buried their weapons of war to eliminate the chance of any of them ever killing another soul. Similarly, I look forward to the day when our literal weapons of war are completely disarmed and dismantled (starting with the deadliest ones and working backwards from there), and the only traces of these weapons are displayed as antiques in museums. I look forward to when our figurative “weapons of war” have no disciples, and are found only in the pages of history books, not the daily news; a time when weapons of all kind are merely relics of the more violent eras of mankind’s past.

Until then, I don’t know what the right answer is. Some people say nothing can be done to stop violence, but I don’t believe them. I think that when we assume there is nothing we can do to stop violence, we only allow violence to continue uninhibited. Even given the terrible things violence is capable of, violence is never as powerful or inevitable as we sometimes think it is. And non-violence is always more powerful than we think it is.

 

Categories

I think it is very important that we separate in our minds the following three categories. I think a lot of confusion in the conversation on gun control stems from confusing these different ideas–especially the last two.

  1. The inalienable right of free agency. This is a principle we talk about a lot in the Church. A person has the right to choose, regardless of legality or morally, to think or do whatever they want.
  2. Legality. This restricts behavior a little bit from doing whatever we want, because it implies a social contract. In the United States, a citizen’s right to own a firearm is protected by the constitution. But just because something is legal, doesn’t always mean it is the right thing to do. This is where a lot of people get confused.
  3. Morality. This would hopefully restrict behavior even more. As moral agents, every person has the responsibility to choose between right and wrong. And this is what I urge readers to consider. Yes, we have the right own firearms in this country. But should we own firearms? That is the question.

 

The Mormon Angle

So, how does an article about guns and violent ideologies fit into a Mormon blog?

Mormonism, just like any other harmless ideology, has the potential to be twisted and contorted into a weapon in the hands of those who would marginalize or otherwise harm others. It has been done before, and it will probably happen again by members of the Church who have had pride, fear, or hatred in their hearts instead of the love of Christ. If you are reading this, and you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, please don’t let that person be you.

I sometimes ask myself: does Mormonism as a way of life defend the right to bear arms, or does it support the idea of a gun-free world and/or country? I think the answer is yes on both accounts. As a principle of free agency, we are free to choose to own and use firearms. We also believe in following the laws of the land, and our laws clearly state that owning firearms is legal. But I also think the gospel of Jesus Christ ultimately teaches us to live in a harmonious relationship with others and with nature. In such a world, firearms (as well as the above-mentioned metaphor of their violent ideological counterparts) would become nothing but distant memories. Why should we postpone living that way?

By the way, you’ll notice that at no point in this article did I argue that people’s right to bear arms should be taken away. I just think that if people were to use sound moral reasoning, and if their hearts were changed with only the Love of God in their hearts, they would never own them. I have a hard time picturing citizens of the City of Enoch, or Jesus himself, holding weapons of any kind.

What do you think? Does the Gospel of Jesus Christ support the idea of gun-free world? Let me know in the comments section below, or on the Postmodern Mormon Facebook page.

 

Tyler Clark

Postmodern Mormon

7 thoughts on “Firearms and Ideologies

Add yours

  1. Great perspective and very thought provoking! I hope someday that no weapon will ever be used again because all will live in peace and righteousness. Sadly, until everyone in the world lets go of weapons because their hearts are turned to God, including governments (or rather, man no longer has need of a governing body over him), it is unwise for any law-abiding group to relinquish them. The Anti-Nephi-Lehis buried their weapons, it’s true. They were also subsequently slaughtered. This has happened around the world in societies where governments and other violent groups have given violent hell to a disarmed populous. Genocide and butchery happens with weapons, including guns, where it shouldn’t because the victims do not have sufficient weapons to protect themselves where they should. And that’s the primary reason weapons should never be relinquished.

    I, and many others, simply refuse to become voluntary or involuntary Anti-Nephi-Lehis. I don’t think if I disarmed myself and then got killed by Antifa, or Neo-Nazis, or Hillary Clinton, or the US Government, that they would subsequently be converted and repent. Mao, Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky, Castro, Chavez, Guevara, Hitler, Mussolini, NK’s Kim dynasty, haven’t converted to the gospel though they have collectively bathed the earth the blood of hundreds of millions of unarmed and disarmed.

    Still, if by some magic or miracle all weapons could suddenly vanish, all Marxism and radical Islam and twisted Christianity or other deranged violent ideology could be immediately and entirely forgotten, there would be peace. How do you propose we make that magic or miracle happen?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate your perspective. Some similar thoughts have crossed my mind.
      You pose a really tough question, but I think the answer is simply the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The only way for this idealistic Zion to be achieved is if people choose to lay down their literal and figurative weapons and follow the Savior. People need to voluntarily choose to live that way, or it won’t happen. It’s not magic, and it’s not even that much of a miracle. It’s just choice.

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  2. Jack Mormon sounding off. I love my guns, I enjoy the self awareness and control I have to practice to shoot well at the range. Little distractions, like wind, or some shooting unexpectedly in a lane near you, can make you miss by a mile.

    I served in combat in the USAF and grew to love the m4 and love that I may responsibly own a weapon system I spent so much time getting to know. (Civilian ar15)

    The idea that I have to choose whether I am emotionally twisted at the crimes committed with guns, and whether I love to shoot, is a false one. However, both are true

    You don’t need my permission to hate weapons. And you have my full respect of your voice to share it. However, there are people like me who dislike the NRA, but enjoy the “art” of poking holes in paper at increasing range and difficulty.

    I hope you may see the tone of my comment as one who thinks that the pride of having a gun is responsible legal ownership and use. I also hope you hear the frustration in my voice, that evil people are using the tools of my trade, and my hobby to end innocent lives.

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  3. Where to begin? Throughout the book of Mormon violence was used to protect God’s law and the people. In fact one could argue the book of Mormon is an entire history of warring people as they fell away from, then fell back into the way of God.
    The need for guns has nothing to do with legality or even morality. It has to do with the principle function of freedom.
    In the span of 200 years of history genocidal maniacs do, have and will continue to find themselves in places of power. In nearly every instance the poor, uneducated, and unarmed have all been the victims of well armed ruthless ideologies acted upon with physical force. In excess of 175,000,000 million people have lost their lives to fanatical despots who experienced little to no resistance when imposing their will on the masses they governed. 200 years of history can’t be wrong.
    Your argument for a CONSCIOUSNESS based humanity is sensible. Ideally, Oneness is the end goal- and you are correct- there would be no need for guns or ideologies of any kind. But to trust that oneness will come from the same type of systems, from the same ideologies and the same power bases that ensure them is delusional at best and deliberately suicidal at worst. To think some how disarming free people around the world will usher in a new dawn of consciousness. Or that by stripping away from people the only effective way to protect life in times of war -because the system, or leader of the time will do right this time because of fancy slogans, or the intentional removal of freedoms for the illusion of security is to deny history or human psychology even exists!
    The book of Mormon promises that this is God’s land and shall NEVER fall under rule of king or monarchy. The Constitution is a divinely inspired document regardless of how current ideologies want to argue the need for modern interpretation.
    No interpretation needed. In the last 20 years alone in this country we have witnessed or own version of gantianten robbers and secret combinations exposed in false flags, the frontal assualt on religious liberty, freedom of expression, rights to privacy, rights to free speech , and even rights to bear arms.
    History repeats itself if we don’t learn the lesson. The book of Mormon is an ideal example of exactly that.
    Crime doesn’t go away because you take guns away. Period. England saw an 3,000% increase with violence with knives when they were disarmed according to the F.B.I.’s web site. Now England is suffering with a near epidemic of violent youth gangs running around causing violence and death with butcher knives and edge weapons! Removing guns isn’t the answer, increasing consciousness is. The good news is that we don’t have to be trusting guinnee pigs for a global agenda to raise our own individual consciousness.
    The right to bear arms had nothing to do with self defense and with everything to do with protecting oneself, family, and country from free standing armies or governments who feel your freedom is a threat to them.
    Period.

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  4. The Anti Nephi Lehi people were not a peace loving people before their conversion, they were violent and murderous. Upon their conversion they repented and buried their weapons in a symbolic gesture of the new life they were embracing. They were being decimated to the point they had to escape to to the Nephites land for protection, because the Nephites were prepared for bloody battle. In today’s society we have many that are safe because of those prepared for battle.

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  5. Alma 43 verse 47 And again the lord said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with thr Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country,and their rights,and their religion.

    Say what you want but I believe that this is still just as pertinent today, maybe even more so, as it was then. Tools change, evil does not.

    Liked by 1 person

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