The practice of a church gun giveaway sends the wrong message. Is it wrong because it is illegal to own a gun? No. Is it wrong because it is immoral to own a gun? No.
The apostle Paul once wrote to the church in Corinth,
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.
It may be lawful for a church to have a AR-15 gun giveaway, but it is not profitable to Christianity. To some, having more guns means more safety. However, studies show no strong empirical evidence to support this. For instance, in the only peer review published study on gun related deaths, the Annals of Emergency Medicine reported:
“…on a case-controlled study in which household were matched on a number of demographic factors, and then incidences of gun violence were compared. They found that people who keep a gun in their home are almost twice as likely to die in a gun-related homicide.”
In 2004, American Journal of Epidemiology published a study that found:
Results show that regardless of storage practice, type of gun, or number of firearms in the home, having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide and firearm suicide in the home.
Owning a gun at home increases risk for children and adults. Why should churches support a practice that puts more risk of death or injury at home? If gun owners want to minimize gun risk, shouldn’t there be more sponsorship of training and safety? That’s just more profitable in order to reduce gun injury or death at home. If anything, churches should be more concerned with safety, than gun promotion.
A church is sanctuary, a place of safety. In a time where churches hold gun turn-in programs, gun giveaways send the wrong message to local communities. Violence of guns harms urban and non-urban communities. Troy pastor Willie Bacote, who leads a church with a gun buy-back program remarked, “The fact a church would offer some type of weapon to anyone strikes me as ludicrous and goes against everything the Bible teaches.”
Christianity is not incompatible with gun ownership, but churches must be sensitive of the image a gun brings to a place of peace of Jesus Christ. I cannot imagine Jesus would ever hold a “free sword” day contest in the temple. For even upon Jesus’ arrest, a sword was drawn by Peter and Jesus prohibited him saying, “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” In other words, “if by your actions you encourage violence, expect violence to come to you.”
The Apostle Paul was right. All things may be lawful, but not profitable. It is lawful for a church to giveaway a gun. However, it certainly is not profitable, especially in places of gun violence and violent crime.