Why I Don’t Own A Gun

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Why I Don’t Own A Gun
by Brian Zahnd

I don’t own a gun. I never have. Why?

First of all I don’t hunt. I have nothing against hunting. (After all, I’m not a vegetarian.) I don’t hunt like I don’t golf—it’s just something I never took up. So I don’t own a shotgun or a hunting rifle for the same reason I don’t own golf clubs. And for the same reason you probably don’t own crampons and an ice axe. Since I don’t hunt, I don’t need the equipment.

Secondly, I don’t own a gun because I don’t want to shoot anyone. Shotguns and hunting rifles are designed for the purpose of shooting game. Handguns and assault rifles are designed for the purpose of shooting people. But I don’t want to shoot anyone. So, once again, I don’t need the equipment. I’m perfectly content to allow a trained and authorized police force to handle this equipment on behalf of society. I think that’s a good idea. (If you don’t think that’s a good idea, well, then we just disagree. Don’t shoot me.) I’m not a police officer, so I don’t need police equipment. I don’t own surgical equipment either, because…well, you get my point.

Can you come up with an imagined scenario where I would wish I had a gun? Probably. Can I come up with an imagined scenario where you wish you did not own a gun? Just as easily. (And my imagined scenario turns out to be a whole lot more common in real life!)

So I don’t own a gun. What about protecting my family? Well, I’ve been married for 32 years and a parent for 31 years, and my family has remained safe. To be honest with you, home invasion is something I never think about or worry about. Am I “prepared” for it? I don’t know. I trust God and pray for protection everyday. Does that count? I don’t even have a baseball bat. (I quit playing baseball years ago.) I suppose my ice axe could be used as a weapon, but it’s in the basement with the rest of my mountain gear…because that’s it’s purpose, to climb mountains, not to be (mis)used as a weapon.

So it turns out I have no weapons. I’m unprepared for a home invasion. Of course there are endless possibilities of things for which I am unprepared. I was unprepared for my grandson to get cancer, but he did…and we made it through that. If my home gets invaded tonight, I’ll just have to trust God. Am I a fool? I don’t think so. But if so, I’m a fool for Christ. Because, though I haven’t mentioned it yet, my commitment to following Jesus is part of my decision to live without owning lethal weapons. Do you have to agree with my convictions? No. But you should respect them. Of course, someone will remind me of Peter carrying a sword (at least on one occasion). Well…I have a sword. I keep it in what I call my “closet of weird things.” I’ve used it as a sermon prop on a few occasions. Oh, and I just remembered, I also have the jawbone of a donkey. (Kept alongside the sword in the aforementioned closet.) So perhaps I’m armed after all, but only archaically so.

Ultimately I choose to live without guns because, a) I don’t hunt, b) I’m not a police officer, c) I choose to live gently in a violent world. I choose not to help swell the ranks of the armed in our society. I want to contribute to a more peaceable and gentle society. Does that mean I’m unsafe? No, I don’t think so. But if I am unsafe, well, then I choose to be unsafe. Nevertheless, I’m not afraid. And I’m not ashamed to live unarmed. Does that make me less of a man? Oh, please. That argument makes me think someone is compensating for some insecurity. My father, Judge Zahnd, never owned a gun and he’s among the men I admire most. I’m sure that has influenced me. A good influence, I think.

I’ve had guns pointed at me on two occasions. Once in Haiti and once in Nigeria. I didn’t like having a gun pointed at me. It’s an uncomfortable feeling. But that doesn’t mean I want to be prepared to point a gun at someone else. I am intentionally, deliberately, thoughtfully unprepared to do that. My defense will have to come from elsewhere. Or not at all. Life is risky. I accept that. Following Jesus is riskier still. I accept that as well.

I’m not writing this to change the mind of Christian gun advocates. (I have a realistic assessment of my persuasive abilities.) I’m writing this in the moderate hope that Christians gun enthusiasts will at the very least respect their brothers and sisters who don’t share their enthusiasm. Neither is this a piece on gun control. I have some strongly held opinions on gun control—opinions that I formed 35 years ago while debating this topic in college—but this isn’t about that. This is simply a little blog on why I don’t own a gun. I don’t own a gun because I don’t need one and I don’t want one. And that is perfectly acceptable. Please try to be at peace with this. As I said, I don’t own golf clubs either, and that’s bound to upset some people too.

Unarmed, Unafraid, Unashamed,

BZ

(The picture is of me and my ice axe.)

  • John Farrel

    Personally I don’t don’t subscribe to being violent towards my fellow men and have no intention of killing an Innocent person.
    But I do subscribe to being able to defend myself, my wife and kids if necessary.
    In reality we all live in a world that is far from peaceful, and to be honest that utopian world of non violence will never exist and it never has. There is danger at every step. And that’s not being paranoid that’s being aware.
    So the bottom line for me is, I do not want myself or my family to be a victim.
    If ever my home was to be invaded by anyone or persons intent on doing us harm I would like to have the ability to defend, I will not roll over and be killed defenseless. I treasure life and my body is a temple and I wish to preserve it at all cost.
    Having a gun is a great equalizer.

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  • This is why many people think Christians are stupid, because some of you are.

  • dreamer23

    I’m curious–if your home WERE to be invaded, and your family victimized and attacked by a band of brutal thugs, who would you call–your pastor, or the police?

    Because if you call the police then this entire essay is sort of disingenuous. It’s not that you “don’t rely on guns for your safety”. It’s that you have relegated their use to a class of people who you somehow feel morally superior to.

    “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
    –Proverbs 16:18

  • Donald N Carson

    Brian ~ I was surprised when reading your blog, “Why I Don’t Own A Gun”, that you made no reference to biblical scripture. You referred to your faith by writing, “I trust God and pray for protection everyday,” and “If my home gets invaded tonight, I’ll just have to trust God. Am I a
    fool? I don’t think so. But if so, I’m a fool for Christ. Because,
    though I haven’t mentioned it yet, my commitment to following Jesus is
    part of my decision to live without owning lethal weapons.” That is good enough for me. I respect your choice. I do not find a date associated with your blog, but I have the impression that you posted it at least 3 years ago. (Today’s date is 2-8-2016.) I imagine that you’ve written something more recently on this subject. I haven’t checked out your other blog articles or the 134 comments with your responses to this article. I will look to find specific scripture you might have offered to support your having decided that living without owning lethal weapons is a natural result of your call to follow Jesus. Did the Holy Spirit tell you to live without owning lethal weapons? Are you convicted that most Jesus followers have no need to own lethal weapons? Are you convicted that, with few exceptions, Jesus does not want us to own lethal weapons? I ask because when I recently told my small group of Jesus followers that Jesus statement, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God,” (Matthew 5:9) means that Jesus does not want us to create or participate in violence or tumult. Owning lethal weapons could create or contribute to my participation in violence and tumult. My friends in the small group disagreed with me vehemently. They had strong, practical arguments: “Having a firearm keeps the peace. It is a reasonable protection for your family. Doesn’t Jesus want you to have the means to prevent your son or daughter or wife from being raped or killed? When you drive a vehicle, does God want you to release the steering wheel and trust that He will guide the vehicle so as to avoid harm?” Of course not, I thought and said. Jesus doesn’t want us to be foolish. And predominantly, for me, it comes down to a very fine point: am I completely dependent on God or am I not? I don’t own a gun/weapon/firearm. My wife doesn’t want one in our home. I trust God, and I act in faith, God helping me, to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God (Micah 6:8)

  • Hello, Donald.

    Yes, I wrote this in January 2013. I deliberately made no reference to Scripture. This was mostly my social (as opposed to theological) argument. My theology of nonviolence can be found in my book “A Farewell To Mars.”

    http://www.amazon.com/Farewell-Mars-Evangelical-Pastors-Biblical/dp/0781411181/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1454959678&sr=8-3&keywords=zahnd

    Blessings,,

    Brian Zahnd