I have never owned a gun nor have I lived in a house with a gun. I’m uncomfortable with guns as a general rule. That’s not to say I’ve never fired one, but I think the largest rifle I’ve ever fired is a .22–not a terribly powerful rifle.
As our society tries to process the terrible tragedy that happened in Aurora last week, many will point claim that an armed civilian or police officer would have been able to protect the crowd. That’s probably true. After the first several seconds, this was a fairly unambiguous event. There was a room full of people. There was a deranged man in a gas masked popping tear gas and firing weapons at the front of the room. Clearly, in this situation an armed civilian who could have disabled the shooter would have been a good thing.
The reality is, however, that if you own a firearm you will rarely (if ever) find yourself in a similarly unambiguous situation. Most of the time you will find yourself in a very ambiguous situation. You hear a noise at night and go to investigate. Someone approaches you in what you perceive to be an aggressive or suspect manner. From there, the situation escalates and you find yourself in some version of the George Zimmerman’s nightmare or worse, like Treyvon Martin–dead.
I can’t tell you what the “Christian” thing to do is. I can tell you that because of the ambiguity inherent in the vast majority of threatening situations and because (out of personal conviction) I do not wish to risk killing even those who may assail me, I will not now or ever own a gun. The message I received growing up in the UK, and still believe, is that if you wish to fire a gun–join the army.