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Christians and 3D Printable Guns

Las Vegas Gun Control Laws

The news that someone is trying to promote and disseminate the means to produce homemade guns that are untraceable and possibly undetectable should alarm anyone with a conscience. First of all, there is the danger of lethal weapons becoming available to those who may be legally disqualified from gun ownership and, worse, to individuals and groups with murderous intentions. Then, should the all-plastic version be perfected (and some technologically-savvy malefactor will do it inevitably), there will no doubt be a shooting episode in a place where guns normally cannot penetrate; say, for example, a plane or at events with politicians and other high-level targets. Printable guns are a dream-come-true for ISIS and other terrorist networks, not to mention run-of-the-mill would-be assassins.

If such a specter isn't enough to put a halt to this reckless development, how about the moral and ethical implications of it? Anyone looking to skirt laws and practices designed to bring sunlight to the acquisition of deadly weaponry is, de facto, suspect in their intention and motives. Jesus warned, "For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed" (John 3:20). For Christians, darkness is a metaphor for evil. 3D printable "ghost guns," as they are being called, can be made in a literal basement or closet, away from any visibility; possibly pass through metal detectors and even scanners; and fire bullets whose normally traceable markings will be useless to law enforcement investigators. Why would anyone want such a surreptitious firearm?

3D printing and the secretive construction of weapons are all about remaining unaccountable for the possession, use, and consequences of firing a gun. Yet, the Bible speaks clearly to God's demand that we make an account for everything we do, "So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God" (Romans 14:12). This is the ultimate exposure, for, "The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good" (Proverbs 15:3). Attempting to hide anything, including the manufacture of a deadly weapon, is futile, "For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open" (Luke 8:17). If this is the standard in God's economy, how much more is it to be in the human economy?

Secretly downloading, constructing, using, and shielding the identity of a potentially lethal instrument is a violation of ethical and Christian moral responsibility. It belongs to the darkness, not to the light. For those tempted to download blueprints for guns, perhaps it would be better to download Romans 13:12, "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."

The Rev. Dr. Rob Schenck is an ordained evangelical minister and president of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, located in Washington, DC. He holds a Doctor of Ministry from Faith Evangelical Seminary in Tacoma, Washington and is a senior fellow of The Centre for the Study of Law and Public Policy at Oxford. Rev. Schenck is the subject of the Emmy Award-winning documentary, The Armor of Light and a member of the leadership team for Survivor Sunday, a day of remembrance for the 30,000 lives lost annually to gun violence. He is also the author of God and Guns, a part of Zondervan's upcoming book, Christianity Engaged in Culture and the book, Costly Grace: An Evangelical Minister's Rediscovery of Faith, Hope, and Love, which was released by Harper Collins on June 5, 2018.

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