March 17th, 2009

The Right and Responsibility of Self-Defense


photo credit: ~Tatankanuk~

Husbands and fathers have three primary roles in their stewardship: provide, preside, and protect. It seems from my personal observation that they are generally prioritized and proactively worked on in this order. Almost all men recognize the duty to work and provide for their family; most men do a good job at being the patriarch and being the leader of the family; and some take the issue of protection and defense seriously enough to fulfill this duty. In today’s world of outsourcing and delegation, though, it seems that most prefer to appoint the duty of defense to the police department rather than worry about it themselves. Political leftist fearmongering, Hollywood hype, and a general misunderstanding of the history and practical use of weaponry has resulted in a massively successful campaign to create an atmosphere in which very few people know how or are ready to defend themselves.

Joseph Smith—himself known for organizing a strong defensive force when faced with personal threats—once commented on this subject as follows:

There is one principle which is eternal; it is the duty of all men to protect their lives and the lives of the household, whenever necessity requires, and no power has the right to forbid it, should the last extreme arrive, but I anticipate no such extreme, but caution is the parent of safety. (Joseph Smith, via Quoty)

Also calling those who will not defend their families cowards and bastards, the Prophet seemed to emphasize this basic duty of every man. A similar statement was unanimously approved for canonization in the “declaration of belief regarding government” in section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants:

…we believe that all men are justified in defending themselves, their friends, and property, and the government, from the unlawful assaults and encroachments of all persons in times of exigency, where immediate appeal cannot be made to the laws, and relief afforded. (Doctrine and Covenants 134:11)

Note the conditional: we are justified in defending ourselves, our family and friends, our property, and our nation when another recourse is not available given the time constraints. This caveat perfectly illustrates why every family should be armed and knowledgeable in defense. Most rely on the police to defend them should something happen, but the average response time of a police officer nationwide is seven minutes. This amount of time, of course, is an eternity when faced with an immediate threat. The reality is that the police do not prevent crime at all—their job is primarily to write crime reports after the crime took place. Sometimes they even get lucky and solve a crime. But by no means are they a proper and adequate substitution for personal defense.

From what I’ve observed, fear seems to be the main deterrent in taking the necessary steps to become armed and skilled. First, there is fear of the threat itself. If faced with a physical threat, some would rather give up and die, throwing their life upon the mercy of the assailant. These seem to be the “cowards” the Prophet described—unwilling to ensure the safety and security of themselves and their family. The other fear is a fear of the weapon. This irrational uneasiness stems largely from inexperience and ignorance. When properly trained and upon implementing necessary security and precaution, a weapon inside the home is no more a threat than the matches in the garage or the swimming pool outside.

Ignorance has never been a justifiable excuse for inaction. Whether the subject is education, food storage, health care, self-defense, or anything else, it is our responsibility to seek the proper training, experience, and self-confidence that will help us better fulfill the duties we inherently have and responsibilities associated with our role as protector of the family. Women are not exempt from this; just as the police aren’t able to continually defend each individual, so too are husbands away at work or elsewhere on a regular basis. Thus, the individual right of self-defense is also an individual responsibility, and men and women alike need to equip themselves with the skills and tools necessary to successfully repel a would-be aggressor.

That aggressor can be a variety of things, from a needy drug addict to the government itself. As George Washington warned, we must be prepared to repel any and every threat we may face:

A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government. (George Washington, via Quoty)

Brigham Young, who agreed with President Washington, also went further on another occasion with this thought in saying that self-defense is a commandment from the Lord:

We all believe that the Lord will fight our battles; but how? Will He do it while we are unconcerned and make no effort whatever for our own safety when an enemy is upon us? If we make no effort to guard our towns, our houses, our cities, our wives and children, will the Lord guard them for us? He will not; but if we pursue the opposite course and strive to help Him to accomplish His designs, then will He fight our battles. We are baptized for the remission of sins; but it would be quite as unreasonable to expect a remission of sins without baptism, as to expect the Lord to fight our battles without our taking every precaution to be prepared to defend ourselves. The Lord requires us to be quite as willing to fight our own battles as to have Him fight them for us. If we are not ready for an enemy when he comes upon us, we have not lived up to the requirements of Him who guides the ship of Zion, or who dictates the affairs of his kingdom. (Brigham Young, via Quoty)

Self-defense is one of the few inherent rights that can never be fully delegated to another person. Those who would prefer to shirk this right and submit themselves to an attacker are certainly entitled to do so, since it is their life. This attitude, though, is cowardly and irresponsible—even more so when that individual has other people for whom he or she is responsible. Oddly, we all go to great lengths to insure our lives and possessions, yet few take the proactive (and less costly) steps that would make such insurance much less needed.

Taking the time now to acquire the necessary tools and skills for defense will prove immensely valuable should they ever be needed. Like so many other items in the preparedness world, we pray that we never have to use these things in anything other than practice and proper recreation. But anybody who takes their life seriously—and those of their family members, friends, and neighbors—has a firm obligation to invest the necessary time and money in an effort to become better equipped to successfully repel any potential threat. When you’re faced with physical peril, all the previous fear, ignorance, and false trust in police will spell your demise should you be unprepared to use some sort of weapon in your own defense.

Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we can not be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference in having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands? (Patrick Henry, via Quoty)

41 Responses to “The Right and Responsibility of Self-Defense”

  1. Ben
    March 17, 2009 at 12:47 pm #

    Good article. You touch on several of the points that we discussed over twitter last week, but not on the (possible) futility of attempting to defend oneself from the government without government-level weapons (tanks, nukes, etc.)

  2. rmwarnick
    March 17, 2009 at 3:49 pm #

    Taking up arms against the United States Government. Hey, what could possibly go wrong with THAT plan?

  3. Ron
    March 18, 2009 at 8:55 am #

    Short of a nuclear weapon, what kind of weapon exactly would keep the federal government at bay? Even the National Rifle Association doesn’t believe that malarkey. They work the system.

  4. Connor
    March 18, 2009 at 9:18 am #

    While the focus of this article was not about government at all, it seems that that’s where the attention of those commenting has been drawing.

    However, you’ll note that I did not specify what level of government I was referring to. Individuals are probably more likely to have to defend themselves against city or state government employees than federal ones. Case in point. And for support of this position, see here.

  5. Bane
    March 18, 2009 at 9:46 am #

    I do not frequent this site so be forewarned, I may not read anyone’s reply — please forgive me ahead of time. ;)

    I’d just like to comment regarding the government-resistance aspect the previous commentators have discussed. The point made that short of a nuclear weapon (or, at least, other extremely powerful military weapons such as tanks and missiles) no weapon in the hands of a citizen would be a deterrent to the federal government is both a correct one and an obvious one. However, what has been failed to be acknowledged is that the reason high-powered weapons are so effective is due to their ability to pack a more powerful punch in a smaller container — and that, to fight that more powerful punch one only needs to increase the number of targets for it to choose from. A sufficiently-large increase of targets (all fighting back, of course) would re-balance the see-saw of power that the high-powered weapon normally controls.

    In other words, while ONE citizen’s rifle would do nothing against one federal tank, an entire NEIGHBORHOOD of armed citizens would absolutely crush the tank.

    Don’t believe me? How’s Iraq been working out for our federal military? And while you can argue that it’s merely because we haven’t unleashed our full fury, I would retort that that’s an even harder card to play against one’s own people.

  6. Michael L. McKee
    March 18, 2009 at 11:39 am #

    Jesus is well known for His continued emphasis on love, forgiveness, and “turning the other cheek.” It is therefore surprising to find Jesus advising the disciples to buy a sword in Luke 22:36: “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.”

  7. Michael L. McKee
    March 18, 2009 at 11:45 am #

    A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government. (George Washington, via Quoty)

  8. Michael L. McKee
    March 18, 2009 at 11:50 am #

    As gleaned from a report by Pastor Chuck Baldwin.

    And lest one thinks that none of this concerns him or her, I would like to
    remind you of the lament of Martin Niemoeller back in the days of Hitler’s
    Germany. Niemoeller was a decorated U-Boat Captain and pastor of great
    distinction. An avid anti-communist, Niemoeller at first supported Hitler’s
    rise to power and was hesitant to oppose the violations of civil rights
    against various groups he personally found distasteful. It did not take
    long, however, before Niemoeller realized that when laws protecting the
    rights of all were removed from some, no one was safe–including him.
    Unfortunately, he learned his lesson too late, as he, too, was persecuted
    and imprisoned by Hitler’s State Police. Here is what Niemoeller said about
    his indifference:

    “They came first for the communists, and I did not speak up-
    because I was not a communist;
    And then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak up-
    because I was not a trade unionist;
    And then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak up-
    because I was not a Jew;
    And then they came for me-
    and there was no one left to speak up.”

  9. Michael L. McKee
    March 18, 2009 at 11:55 am #

    Theologians J. P. Moreland and Norman Geisler say that “to permit murder when one could have prevented it is morally wrong. To allow a rape when one could have hindered it is an evil. To watch an act of cruelty to children without trying to intervene is morally inexcusable. In brief, not resisting evil is an evil of omission, and an evil of omission can be just as evil as an evil of commission. Any man who refuses to protect his wife and children against a violent intruder fails them morally.”

  10. Kellene
    March 18, 2009 at 1:48 pm #

    This is a brilliant post and I wholeheartedly agree. Great quotes to support your post also. Recently I blogged about a similar topic of women being educated and prepare to defend themselves – regardless of how well prepared our husbands are to defend us, it is important for a women to be capable and confidence in their ability to defend themselves. At Women of Caliber we help empower women through these self defense skills. Here is the coinciding post for women mentioned above. http://tinyurl.com/dcpn6b Keep up the great content!

  11. Clumpy
    March 19, 2009 at 8:18 am #

    “to permit murder when one could have prevented it is morally wrong.”

    I would add that this must necessarily apply to unjust use of force as well. Though I think we can agree that an intruder or attacker, particularly a violent one, forfeits many of their rights to safety, to feel justified in the use of excessive levels of force to repel or neutralize them would also be wrong. Many people relish the thought of getting a chance to kill an intruder and fully intend to do it in the most violent way possible.

    Witness: the outrage people feel when a homeowner shoots some punk teenager in a ski mask trying to make off with his TV and is legally prosecuted.

  12. Bane
    March 19, 2009 at 8:32 am #

    Clumpy,

    Though I agree with the general sentiment of your reply, I take exception with your example. It’s one thing if a drunk teen enters your home mistakenly thinking it’s his and is laying down on the floor to sleep or if an old lady breaks in trying to just get some food. These are cases of accident or great need.

    But your example goes beyond that; it is one where an individual is seeking to forcefully take what it is yours with no regard to your family’s safety/comfort and, knowing full well that what he is doing is illegal and morally reprehensible, simply doesn’t care — he is totally and completely acting outside the law… and scaring the bejeezus out of your family to boot. Our homes are our sanctuaries of respite in this crazy world; if we can’t feel safe in our own homes, then where? A strapping young individual who forcefully enters your home without regard to consequence and without concern to the fact that he is violating your family’s most sacred (and safe) place, frankly, deserves what he gets.

    If you think that I’m going to lay down any defensive weapons I have and sacrifice the safety and sanctity of my home and place that thugs life above the mental and emotional and spiritual sanity of my own family, you are sadly mistaken.

    ANYONE that enters my home by force risks their life — plain and simple. The sooner that people learn to stay out of other people’s homes, the sooner we will stop seeing homeowners shooting thugs. It’s that simple: you don’t want to get shot, don’t go into someone’s home without being invited. How hard is that?

  13. Curtis
    March 19, 2009 at 8:37 am #

    It should be noted that it is not always prudent to engage in self-defense and it is not always the only path in the Lord’s eyes as is evident in the case of the Lamanites who layed down their swords and allowed the wicked side of the Lamanites to murder upwards of a thousand of them with no resistance.

  14. Connor
    March 19, 2009 at 8:39 am #

    …as is evident in the case of the Lamanites who layed down their swords and allowed the wicked side of the Lamanites to murder upwards of a thousand of them with no resistance.

    As Bane noted, aggressors through their actions surrender their rights. In these Lamanites’ case, they were murderers who were self-imposing a punishment for their previous transgression. This example, then, is entirely different from application to an innocent individual who has done no harm to others.

  15. Bane
    March 19, 2009 at 8:43 am #

    Let me add to my last post…

    I just thought I should expound on what I agreed with so you understand the distinction I am trying to make between agreeing with your main line of thought but disagreeing with your example.

    I agree that you should not be seeking to actually kill the intruder, you should be seeking to stop them… you should not be seeking for the most violent response but rather for the most effective one.

    If the thief takes 1 shot, drops your TV and falls to his knees and begins to follow your directions as you call the cops, that’s as far as you should proceed. If the thief takes 2 before they stop and as a consequence dies, so be it. They should have stopped sooner. Your intent was to stop their behavior, not kill them.

    That is where I agree with you — stopping an offender should be the goal, not retribution, not violence. So, I agree that excessive force is unwarranted — the question is what is “excessive”? I argue that, in the sanctity of your home, your goal to stop an intruder isn’t to stop the actual theft but more the mental/emotional/spiritual theft and destruction of sanity/confidence that would result. In that vein, I argue shooting to stop is not excessive even though the thief was stealing not killing. Because your goal is not to stop to theft, per-se, but to restore the sanctity of your home and the confidence in the minds of your family members that your home IS safe.

  16. Bane
    March 19, 2009 at 8:46 am #

    Connor’s right; the converted Lamanites were pursuing a path that they had hoped would redeem them — a form, if you will, of blood-atonement. Such was not required by God but was something they chose of their own free will in an attempt to reconcile themselves for their prior heinous crimes.

  17. Jeff T.
    March 19, 2009 at 4:48 pm #

    I do not think it is a sin to allow someone to kill you in some cases. The Lamanites let themselves die not because they felt they deserved to die – that isn’t what the scriptures say at all. They let themselves die because they had no desire to kill anybody again. And that was perfectly fine. I don’t think the moral mandate of self-defense as universal as people often think it is.

  18. Jeff T.
    March 19, 2009 at 4:49 pm #

    In fact, I think it is a gross distortion of the Book of Mormon story to read it as a “self-imposed punishment.” They did it out of love for their fellow Lamanites, not out of any sense of self-guilt.

  19. Bane
    March 19, 2009 at 5:04 pm #

    Alma 24:9-13 make the case quite clear, I think… “gross distortion” to classify it as a “self-imposed punishment”? I wonder what this means then:

    “And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all that we could do… to repent of… the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts… and our swords have become bright, then let us stain our swords no more… for perhaps, if we should stain our swords again they can no more be washed bright…”

    Sounds an awful lot to me like they had found repentance for things so horrible and numerous that they were fearful they would make a bad decision and receive punishment in full. Sounds to me like they weren’t seeking a higher law so much as to refrain from making another bad decision (since they were already guilty of so many) and didn’t want to risk it.

  20. Jeff T.
    March 19, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    This verse confirms my point. They had repented. Their swords were bright. This verse is referred to when they buried their weapons of war in an act of repentance. This verse isn’t referring to mass suicide as self-punishment, but their effort to put away the weapons of war so that they could more easily resist the temptation to murder.

    They let themselves die not because they felt they deserved to die, but because they did not want to take the blood of their brethren. “Let us stain our swords no more.”

  21. Jeff T.
    March 19, 2009 at 5:13 pm #

    I never claimed that just letting yourself die is a “higher law.” Only that the imperative to self-defense is not universally applicable.

  22. Bane
    March 19, 2009 at 5:38 pm #

    Touche — you didn’t say it was a higher law, that’s true. My point was that 2 different people can easily read this passage 2 different ways… you seem to be reading it as saying that putting away their weapons kept them from committing murder (implying that self-defense is, at least sometimes, murder) while another can read it as saying that they were burying their swords as a way to prevent themselves from mistakenly committing murder instead of self-defense since they had already committed much murder and were already skating on thin-ice.

    And, since 2 people can read this passage in 2 different ways, I think you were stretching pretty far to classify the other way as a “gross distortion”… especially since so many presidents of the Church have classically been ardent defenders of self-defense.

  23. Carborendum
    March 19, 2009 at 6:33 pm #

    Folks, it isn’t so much a higher law. Just a different one.

    John the Baptist took on the Nazarite covenant as did Sampson. Jesus did not follow that path. Does that mean that Sampson and John were greater than the Savior? Of course not.

    They took on their special covenants for a wise purpose in God. The people of Ammon took on a special covenant for a wise purpose in God. That is all. Part of their covenant was that they would never shed blood again.

    The covenant we take on today is different. Part of that for us is the oath and covenant of the priesthood. I believe Connor is implying that part of that covenant is to protect our families. I tend to agree with the general idea. But I’m not so sure I agree with the details.

  24. Connor
    March 19, 2009 at 7:25 pm #

    The case of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies is a unique one given their previous history. While their refusal to bear arms again may not have been a condition and part of their repentance, I believe that they wanted to abstain from anything having to do with their previous lust for murder and conquest, so as not to be tempted to return to their sin or have any affiliation with any like action. Their fear of their swords becoming permanently stained after any further loss of life lends weight to the idea that they felt unworthy given their previous history of having anything to do with taking somebody’s life.

    But their unique case—given their previous sins and actions—is not applicable, I believe, to the average innocent individual who has been commanded (through ancient and modern prophecy) to defend himself and his family:

    And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion. (Alma 43:47)

    Another related principle is the commandment to provide for your family:

    But if any aprovide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1 Timothy 5:8)

    By refusing to defend yourself and thus put your life in jeopardy, you are putting your family in a precarious situation to be potentially father/husband-less, and thus without any financial support. One might even go so far as to look to the Proclamation which declares that children are entitled to being brought up by a mother and a father; if either is threatened, they should then defend the structure and sanctity of their family (as Bane indicated earlier) so as to ensure this entitlement continues to be fulfilled.

  25. Jeff T.
    March 19, 2009 at 9:38 pm #

    I agree that we are not under the same obligations as the Lamanites in question, and that we today do have the obligation to defend ourselves. My only point was that it is not a universal, indubitable philosophical axiom. We are obligated today because God has instructed us to. Other people at different times may have different obligations (as, I believe, this story illustrates).

  26. Curtis
    March 19, 2009 at 11:21 pm #

    What then of the Savior’s command to offer up the other cheek?

    I’m not trying to say that the principle of self-defense is not a legitimate principle, especially when family members are to be protected. However, as always, there are scriptures that seemingly contradict what has been said in other areas of scripture. Particulary problematic for the pro-self-defense crowd are a few verses in D&C 98:

    23 Now, I speak unto you concerning your families—if men will smite you, or your families, once, and ye bear it patiently and revile not against them, neither seek revenge, ye shall be rewarded;
    24 But if ye bear it not patiently, it shall be accounted unto you as being meted out as a just measure unto you.
    25 And again, if your enemy shall smite you the second time, and you revile not against your enemy, and bear it patiently, your reward shall be an hundredfold.
    26 And again, if he shall smite you the third time, and ye bear it patiently, your reward shall be doubled unto you four-fold;
    27 And these three testimonies shall stand against your enemy if he repent not, and shall not be blotted out.
    28 And now, verily I say unto you, if that enemy shall escape my vengeance, that he be not brought into judgment before me, then ye shall see to it that ye warn him in my name, that he come no more upon you, neither upon your family, even your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.
    29 And then, if he shall come upon you or your children, or your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation, I have delivered thine enemy into thine hands;
    30 And then if thou wilt spare him, thou shalt be rewarded for thy righteousness; and also thy children and thy children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.
    31 Nevertheless, thine enemy is in thine hands; and if thou rewardest him according to his works thou art justified; if he has sought thy life, and thy life is endangered by him, thine enemy is in thine hands and thou art justified.
    32 Behold, this is the law I gave unto my servant Nephi, and thy fathers, Joseph, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, and all mine ancient prophets and apostles.

    The Lord continues on with this sort of language:

    39 And again, verily I say unto you, if after thine enemy has come upon thee the first time, he repent and come unto thee praying thy forgiveness, thou shalt forgive him, and shalt hold it no more as a testimony against thine enemy—
    40 And so on unto the second and third time; and as oft as thine enemy repenteth of the trespass wherewith he has trespassed against thee, thou shalt forgive him, until seventy times seven.
    41 And if he trespass against thee and repent not the first time, nevertheless thou shalt forgive him.
    42 And if he trespass against thee the second time, and repent not, nevertheless thou shalt forgive him.
    43 And if he trespass against thee the third time, and repent not, thou shalt also forgive him.
    44 But if he trespass against thee the fourth time thou shalt not forgive him, but shalt bring these testimonies before the Lord; and they shall not be blotted out until he repent and reward thee four-fold in all things wherewith he has trespassed against thee.
    45 And if he do this, thou shalt forgive him with all thine heart; and if he do not this, I, the Lord, will avenge thee of thine enemy an hundred-fold;
    46 And upon his children, and upon his children’s children of all them that hate me, unto the third and fourth generation.
    47 But if the children shall repent, or the children’s children, and turn to the Lord their God, with all their hearts and with all their might, mind, and strength, and restore four-fold for all their trespasses wherewith they have trespassed, or wherewith their fathers have trespassed, or their fathers’ fathers, then thine indignation shall be turned away;
    48 And vengeance shall ano more come upon them, saith the Lord thy God, and their trespasses shall never be brought any more as a testimony before the Lord against them. Amen.

    Bearing it patiently seems to be the theme of the Lord’s law here.

  27. SGT Danger
    March 20, 2009 at 7:57 am #

    Well said connor. I am a big believer in education which is a the best way for folks to overcome their fear of using a weapon. I suppose it’s my military experience, but that pistol or rifle only does what I want it to. And my actions can be guided by the Holy Ghost.

  28. Connor
    March 20, 2009 at 8:15 am #

    Curtis,

    Reading over commentary from modern prophets on these verses, I find that these verses have only to deal with revenge and retribution. You can peruse the comments here (navigate to the verses on the left column). Here’s one example, by George Q. Cannon:

    This revelation continues in this strain, and it is well worthy of our attention, especially at the present time. It shows unto us most clearly, my brethren and sisters, that there is no room for revenge in the heart of a true Latter-day Saint. God designs that we shall be a peaceful people, a people who shall love and cultivate peace, a people who shall seek by every means in their power to avert war and to avert bloodshed, to proclaim peace, and to entreat people for peace; and God has said to us most emphatically that He would fight our battles, that He would defend us against our enemies. He does not intend that the Latter-day Saints shall be a people shedding blood. … Therefore, I repeat, that of all people now living upon the face of the earth we are most urgently required by our God to be lovers and cultivators of peace, and to seek not for that revenge which gratifies human passion, which is not of God, and which is opposed to the Gospel of Jesus, and to the sentiments that Jesus invariably inculcated and endeavored to enforce upon His disciples. We have shown this repeatedly. How many times would we have been stirred up to indignation, if we had allowed human feelings to prevail, at the abominable falsehoods which have been circulated in our midst, fabricated by men whose only object has been to bring down vengeance upon this people, to excite the ruling powers against us; to stir up congressional action against us, to create a public opinion against us, to make it justifiable to slay us, to deprive us of every right? How often has this been the case? How easy it would have been for us if we had followed the influences that seem natural to human beings under such circumstances, to have avenged ourselves upon them. But had we done so we should have forfeited the protecting care of our Father and our God. When we attempt to do this, we put ourselves outside of the pale of His protection. We could not ask of Him (as we could do if we were to observe His commandments) that protection and that deliverance which is necessary at times to extricate us from the imminent perils with which we are threatened. And it is by this principle, following this policy, adopting this peaceful, godlike course, that this people have been preserved and blessed up to the present time. It is a spirit which we should cultivate, cultivate it in all our associations, in our intercourse with one another, in our intercourse with the world, and even with those who are most embittered against us. It is not for us to revile against the reviler; it is not for us to bandy vulgar epithets with those who indulge in this mode of warfare; but it is for us to put our trust in God, to leave our cause with Him. For we cannot defend ourselves by earthly weapons. We are too feeble. We are not strong in numbers. We are not strong in wealth. We are not strong in worldly things. We have not these advantages to aid and sustain us. If we are sustained we must be sustained by the overruling providence and power of God our Eternal Father, and not by any earthly power. Therefore our path of safety is the path which God has pointed out for us; not to be a revengeful people, not to be a recriminating people, not to be an abusive people, but to be a meek people, a forbearing people, bearing patiently, but of course not sitting down idly and supinely, and permitting contumely to be heaped upon us without exerting the powers God has given us to dissipate falsehoods. But this can be done in the spirit of meekness, not in the spirit of revenge, not in the spirit of reviling, not in the spirit of hostility and hatred. This spirit is antagonistic to the spirit that Jesus possesses, and which we all ought to possess to be like Him—to be filled as He was with those desirable attributes which were so acceptable to the Father. (George Q. Cannon, Journal of Discourses, 25:272-3)

    In a spirit of peace and meekness we are to renounce war and proclaim peace. But these verses seem to deal only with refusing to seek revenge, not defending yourself if you have done others no harm and can stop a threat while it is occurring. This similarly explains Jesus’ commandment to turn the other cheek, in my opinion. He was not saying “let anybody who wants to, beat you up”, but rather “if they happen to do it, don’t try and get payback”. Self-defense, done with the proper spirit, is not, in my opinion, irreconcilable in the slightest with the commandments we are given here.

    It’s as Bane said earlier: you should not seek to kill the threat (or escalate the violence used), but rather to stop the threat in its tracks. These verses would apply to the situation if you felt angry for the assault and thus escalated your response to administer your own “justice”.

  29. Michael L. McKee
    March 20, 2009 at 8:50 am #

    As a member of the “pro-self-defense crowd,” and one of those who clings to his gun and bible as intimated by the current Usurper-in-Chief occupying the White House, I assure those who harbor the foolish notion that they will have time to consider what scriptures they may or may not have interpreted accurately or which ones may or may not apply to their unique, albeit critical, situation when being confronted with a fellow traveler bent on taking their property or, perhaps, their life, that they will not, I repeat, NOT be in full capacity of their faculties sufficient to afford them the opportunity to prayerfully consider what action to take.

    The Anti-Nephi-Lehies collective decision was, more importantly, known by Heavenly Father who recognized the greater results of their laying down their lives for their friends would result in more Lamanites repenting and converting to the Gospel of Jesus Christ than those whose lives had been lost. Consequently, it should be obvious to most that the Lord in His infinite wisdom saw an opportunity to offer Eternal Life to many more than would have otherwise been the case.

    The Secret Combinations most responsible for attempting to destroy the Constitution of the United States are fully aware that most Americans are armed and dangerous. They also unwisely believe those sovereign folks are loosely, if at all, organized. When it comes to usurping the power of the people or tyrannically attempting to dislodge their freedoms and liberties granted them by their Creator who is the Lord of this land, Jesus Christ, they will quickly realize that right always trumps might. The higher laws of justice will always prevail over the puny understanding of those whose souls are corrupted by the temptations of power and greed whether they be individuals or governments.

    It is my contention that many members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spend far too much time mired in semantics and debate rather than engaging themselves in quietly preparing spiritually to withstand the destruction which is going to come to this land in the very near future. You may discount that notion all you care to, but it is coming because, as a nation, we are demanding it.

  30. Michael L. McKee
    March 20, 2009 at 10:34 am #

    Since so much of this information is relevant I decided to submit the entire work as extracted from Lew Rockwell.

    Individualism and Self Defense
    by Michael Gaddy

    There are present in America today a very large number of citizens who believe protection of themselves and their loved ones from violent physical attack, robbery, rape and general mayhem is the sole responsibility of others. Most of these ignorant folks believe that employees of the state should be responsible for protection of the individual in our society. This view is elitist and based on false assumptions.

    Depending on others for personal protection masks the belief by many that they are of a higher station in life; that those of a lower social level and therefore inferior in stature and value should be responsible for their personal protection. They believe their lives and property to be more important than the lives of members of law enforcement and the military.

    Many are unaware that, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, the police have no obligation to protect the individual in society. The court ruled as late as June 27th 2005, in Castle Rock v Gonzales, that Jessica Gonzales did not have a constitutional right to police protection for herself, or her children, even though she had obtained a restraining order against her husband Simon. Simon Gonzales subsequently abducted their three children, murdered them, and was killed by police after shooting into the police station window. Ms. Gonzales called the police after the children were abducted, but, the police, believing Simon Gonzales to be non-violent, did nothing. Perhaps, had the police enforced the restraining order, the children would be alive today?

    The Supreme Court has consistently ruled the police have no obligation to defend the individual. Beginning with South V. Maryland in 1856 and several subsequent rulings on the subject, the court has ruled, “…there is no Constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen.” Emphasis added. Yet, the state and its myriad civilian supporters persist in the belief the individual in society should be disarmed, stating the police are there, should anyone need protection.

    Today’s economic problems have revealed the true purpose of most law enforcement personnel in our country: revenue collection. Apprehending killers, rapists and robbers does not contribute to the coffers of law enforcement and their governing bodies; they are, in fact, costly to the agency involved. Unconstitutional law enforcement checkpoints, where a great majority of DUI citations, license, registration, and insurance violations are issued, are vital to the state in the collection of revenue. In today’s economic times, many departments have detailed officers from personal crime assignments to activities that are revenue producing. This takes the law enforcement emphasis away from protecting citizens. To the police, manning checkpoints or speed traps is much more important than answering a prowler call or a call concerning a restraining order’s enforcement.

    The court has ruled that any “protection” provided by law enforcement will be of a collective nature rather than an individual one. Therefore, as individuals, we must come to grips with the reality of protecting our loved ones, and ourselves, with little to no dependence on those in law enforcement. For that reason, we must never allow the state to remove from our possession the tools required for that critical task.

    Even on the collective level, law enforcement has proved to be relatively ineffectual in protecting those who pay their salaries. Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, John Wayne Gacy, Dennis Rader and Coral Eugene Watts managed to take the lives of at least 177 innocent people without ever firing a shot. The police were only able to investigate after the fact in these cases. I’m sure that was of little consolation whatsoever to the victims, or their families.

    So ineffectual are the members of law enforcement and the military, they have repeatedly been unable to protect those whose lives are in their hands 24 hours a day. John F. Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Yitzhak Rabin, Anwar al-Sadat and many others in history are proof positive the state cannot protect those they are tasked with protecting.

    Depending on the military for personal protection would definitely be a misplaced trust. Need I say more than 9/11? Billions and billions for defense of the country and, according to the questionable government account of what was basically an act of mass murder, 19 men with box cutters brought down the icons of the American financial network and the headquarters of the U.S. Military, killing thousands in the process. All this was accomplished at the reported cost of a few hundred thousand dollars.

    Rumors abound concerning the military being used by the state to seize firearms and control American citizens should there be civil unrest or natural disaster. The actions of the National Guard in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans are certainly indicative of what we can expect from the military as relates to personal protection. If anyone still maintains any doubt the military will be deployed to American streets in the event of civil unrest or national emergency, check this out.

    The military has morphed from the “protection of our country” paradigm to one of the enforcement arm for the state. In fact, the military has failed miserably in abiding by its prime directive: “upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States against enemies foreign and domestic.” Arguably, the military has become the tool of the Constitution’s domestic enemies.

    Effective personal protection can only be obtained through the efforts of the individual. Private firearms ownership, proper training, perfect practice, and the mindset to use them all are vital. To believe otherwise is elitist, ignorant of reality, and could eventually prove fatal.

    March 13, 2009

    Michael Gaddy [send him mail], an Army veteran of Vietnam, Grenada, and Beirut, lives in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest

  31. Michael L. McKee
    March 20, 2009 at 10:41 am #

    “Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA – ordinary citizens don’t need guns, as their having guns doesn’t serve the State.”

    ~ Heinrich Himmler; Reichsfuhrer-SS

  32. Curtis
    March 20, 2009 at 11:00 am #

    Any sort of talk of violence is disturbing to me. I guess I’m quite a sissy… which is odd since I’m also a 2nd degree black belt in Karate and fought for the US national team before. However, it is distasteful to me to imagine a time when I might have to kill another man in defense of me or my family. Much more attractive to me is the scenario that laid out in Enoch’s experience in Moses 7 where this occurred:

    13 And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him.
    14 There also came aup a land out of the depth of the sea, and so great was the fear of the enemies of the people of God, that they fled and stood afar off and went upon the land which came up out of the depth of the sea.
    15 And the giants of the land, also, stood afar off; and there went forth a curse upon all people that fought against God;
    16 And from that time forth there were wars and bloodshed among them; but the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness.
    17 The fear of the Lord was upon all nations, so great was the glory of the Lord, which was upon his people. And the Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish.

    To have influence with God so much that His Word protects you would be a great thing to be able to do. However, great faith is required as is noted there. I also like the description of how Nephi and Lehi ended a war in Helaman chapter 5 where it was thru their faith and the intervention of the Lord that their lives were spared from execution from their enemies and the war was ended. I believe that to be a type of things to come when those who will not lift their sword against their neighbor must needs flee to Zion from all nations as is described in D&C 45:

    67 And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.
    68 And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.
    69 And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another.
    70 And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand.
    71 And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy.

    It appears that at some point a gathering will take place during times of violence in which our missionaries will need the faith of Nephi and Lehi and Zion will stand as it did in the time of Enoch as a place where people will not have to be too concerned with self-defense as the Glory of the Lord will be so terrible to the rest of mankind.

    I long to follow the path of Enoch on these issues. Michael may accuse me of being mired in semantics and debate and not spiritually preparing myself I suppose, which he is free to do. You can take my comments however you like.

  33. Michael L. McKee
    March 20, 2009 at 11:06 am #

    Here are more words of wisdom I found outside of my own opinionated brain. They come, once again, from LewRockwell.com on March 19, 2009.

    State Imperative – Confiscation of Privately Owned Weapons
    by Tim Case

  34. Michael L. McKee
    March 20, 2009 at 11:23 am #

    By the way, if you are single, you should seek training in using a firearm. You should then purchase a dependable handgun. A .38 Caliber is a good choice. I would also suggest purchasing a youth 20 gauge pump-action shotgun as it is easier to handle in an emergency situation. If you have a family, you should actively begin getting training for all members including the very young. The age of 5 is not too young where safety is concerned. If you are of the OPINION that 5 is too young, ask those who are experienced at training to get their professional opinion. The solution for keeping children from accidentally shooting someone is not through confiscation. Training them to respect and understand the gun, and getting them one of their own after they have had adequate training is the best solution.

    While I am certain some will consider this advice to be too drastic and dangerous, I learned long ago not to take the counsel of the fearful.

  35. Michael L. McKee
    March 20, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    While any sort of talk of violence to me is also disturbing, and while I am quite familiar with the people of Enoch, I am also quite familiar with the purveyors of death who follow after the evil enticings of Satan.

    I also admire those who pursue the Oriental art of self defense. However, it has long been my understanding that those who boast of their capabilities and prowess are doomed to experience defeat at the hands of one who quietly acts before being acted upon. Simply stated, I prefer to dispatch my enemy quickly before he gains too close a proximity to my body to inflict the wounds of death. Of course, if he is likewise armed, the knowledge of evasive tactics and superior marksmanship may be required.

    Michael made no mention of individual names or personalities and he did not label anyone as being “sissy” because it is not his nature to do so. Michael generally always uses collective pronouns when he is offering his opinionated rantings and ravings. Michael also hopes he is not among “the rest of mankind.”

  36. Curtis
    March 20, 2009 at 1:35 pm #

    Boasting? My bad. I’ll try to keep my prowess out of future discussions so that I can avoid the doom forseen above.

  37. Emily Jones
    April 9, 2009 at 12:06 pm #

    Thanks for this article. I have been a pro-gun control advocate for many years. Study after study continues to show that more guns = more violence, and I still believe that to be true.

    However, this perspective is not one I had considered. I am also LDS, and I have just discovered this blog after #ldsconf. I’ll subscribe to your blog and think more on this topic. I think it is important from a preparedness aspect.

  38. Connor
    April 9, 2009 at 12:22 pm #

    Emily, thanks for stopping by. I’m aware that there are some studies that portend to demonstrate the trend you’ve stated here (more guns = more violence), but those that I’ve come across that make this assertion have been ripped apart by others and shown to be erroneous.

    Instead, consider this article, citing evidence showing no correlation between the two factors (gun ownership and violence). See also here, here, and here. I have plenty more references should you desire them. Suffice it to say, I think that the evidence is against the gun control lobby’s favorite argument, namely, that gun ownership means increased violence.

    That aside, I think the fundamental issue is one of liberty. If the criminals are going to be armed with guns, it would be asinine for a law-obeying citizenry to disarm themselves. Guns exist in our society for a number of reasons (not just to cause death, as gun control advocates like to claim), and they will therefore always be within reach of those who wish to use them for evil purposes. I reject any policy that would make me give up a weapon with which I may defend myself from a would-be aggressor who himself is armed.

  39. Bane
    April 9, 2009 at 2:45 pm #

    Emily,

    I respect your honesty and frankness in the matter and your apparent willingness to reconsider your position. KUDOS TO YOU. (and no, I’m not just spouting that off b/c you happen to be keeping your mind open with respect to *MY* view… I actually have struggled with man-made global warming, myself being strongly pro-environmentalist until about a year ago when I was faced with new evidence I was not aware of… I have had to become less-convinced that man is the cause and more open to the fact that maybe our current view on the environment is being pushed on us by biased sources). Long explanation there, sorry; just didn’t want you to think that I only appreciate when others keep their views open to my “take” but that I also try and keep mine open to theirs when faced with facts/arguments that I hadn’t yet heard…. IWO, the search for truth is a two-way street.

    All that being said, a number of government agencies have conducted numerous studies about this relationship you mention between increased violence and increased numbers of guns and have shown it to be just a flat-out misconception. For example, the FBI puts out an annual report showing the statistics and they have time and time again concluded that an increase in legal guns has no relationship to an increase in violent crime. An additional report was generated by a special commission created by the Congress in about 1994 when we passed the 10-year Assault Weapons Ban. Pro-gunners agreed to a 10-year ban on the conditions that it would expire after 10 years as well as that the Congress would commission a report to study what happened to violent crime over the years that a large number of guns were removed from the streets. The conclusion the report came to was that there is no correlation as violent crime had already begun to decrease prior to the ban and continued to decrease after the ban expired.

    As additional consideration, most states publish annual reports similar to the FBI one I already mentioned. They compile graphs showing trends between the # of violent crimes and the # of licensed guns (or in states such as Utah where licensing doesn’t exist, then the # of concealed-carry permits issued). I haven’t seen most, only a few — Utah being the primary one. And the reports that I have seen draw similar conclusions that the FBI draws.

    For my final thought, consider states who are typically “anti-gun” and compare them to state who are typically “pro-gun”… then compare which states experience the highest degree of violent crime (per capita, of course). Upon consideration I think you’ll agree that “pro-gun” states generally experience significantly less violent crime than “anti-gun” states. I am not suggesting this trend is necessarily a cause-and-effect b/c I have no real idea which came first in those states (for example, does Utah experience low crime b/c of high gun ownership… or do we feel no need to restrict guns b/c we have a low crime rate?) — I only suggest that it’s something to consider… and when coupled with the FBI/State/Congressional reports I mentioned, it seems to create a pretty strong argument, IMO.

    Sorry, no links to the reports. Google and keep looking I’m sure you’ll find them… I’ve run out of lunch time and have to get back to the attic where I’m building storage to free up room for the new baby! :)

    Keep searching… you’ll figure it out — the best reward comes to those who fight for it! :)

  40. AmoreVero
    May 5, 2009 at 1:24 pm #

    The greatest reason why the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s did not defend themselves & thus even did not defend their familes, was because of their incredible love for their enemies after they had repented.

    “For they had rather sacrifice their lives than even to take the life of their enemy and they have buried their weapons of war deep in the earth BECAUSE OF their great LOVE towards their brethern.” Alma 26:32

    “Has there been so great love in all the land? Nay, there has not, even among the Nephites, for they would take up arms against their brethern, they would not “allow” themselves to be slain.” Alma 26:33

    While the True Love of Christ, true Charity, is very very rare, it is nonetheless possible & does happen.

  41. Curtis
    May 5, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

    Amen brother.

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