(Gun confiscations are prevalent in many countries today (i.e. Australia) with mixed results and no clear improvement to gun violence, so the question of gun confiscation for the Christian gun owner is challenging at best. Please review the following exposition and let me know your biblical take on this question. No vitriol please.)
In American society, gun ownership is a constitutional right, as is the carrying of a firearm. It is a right that many Americans consider sacrosanct, including many Christians living in America. More and more, the free exercise of this right is being curtailed through various municipal and state laws, forcing the Christian gun owner to consider an important question: if the government—or a would-be autocrat—someday attempts to confiscate all guns, what should be the response?
Ground-level rules for the Christian’s relationship to government can be summarized with four main passages of Scripture: Romans 13:1–7, Acts 5:29, John 18:36, and Acts 16:35–39. Broadly speaking, Christians are to obey all laws, other than those that require us to commit sin; even then, we are to submit to whatever punishment comes with disobedience.
The Bible does not empower believers to disobey laws simply because the regulations are unjust or inappropriate, or even because the laws conflict with a nation’s constitution. At the same time, Christians are not obligated to be entirely passive or naïve in their dealings in a fallen world. Civil disobedience can be biblically justified in certain situations. Legal rights can and should be taken advantage of (see Paul’s defense of himself in Acts 22:24–29).
Defiance of a law based solely on one’s preference defeats the purpose for which God instituted government. John 18:36 establishes that violence is entirely incompatible with a “defense” of the faith or the promotion of Christian ideals. Acts 5:29 implies that laws requiring one to commit sin must be disobeyed, because God’s law is higher than human law. Acts 16:35–39 shows the legitimacy of using existing legal systems to their fullest extent, including in resistance to injustice.
Each situation has nuances. Arguments can be made that even laws not compelling sin could be dangerous precursors to exactly that. Some human laws seem to interfere with implicit biblical commands, such as the charge to care for and protect one’s family, or with essential aspects of religious practice. The American Revolution was grounded in this general sphere of arguments. Some Christians today defy pandemic-related restrictions on church attendance on grounds that the government is targeting worship rather than promoting safety—especially when the restrictions exempt bars, stores, and casinos.
Working through the issues faced by Christian gun owners in response to potential gun confiscation is not easy. A government taking appropriate legal steps to pass gun laws—which can be similarly overturned in the legal process—is much different from a government ignoring its own laws to enact gun control by fiat.
Determining one’s course of action (or inaction) regarding gun confiscation will be both personal and situational. There is no simple or universal answer for exactly how Christians ought to respond to potential government gun confiscation. What makes sense for one believer might be entirely wrong for another who lives in a different situation. Each individual Christian must faithfully, prayerfully, and humbly seek God’s will with respect to his or her unique circumstances (see Romans 14:23).