Within a few weeks, Attorney General Dick Thornburgh is to receive the final report of a Justice Department task force charged with outlining options for a national gun-control policy. He will study the options and in November recommend to Congress a plan to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

Meanwhile, this summer Congress has been working on its own plan. Last month a Senate panel narrowly approved a measure that would ban certain types of U.S.-made semiautomatic “assault” weapons. Earlier in July, the Bush administration announced a ban on importing such weapons.

With violent crime escalating, more and more are calling for political intervention. Yet the issue has proven to be divisive, with competing proposals receiving varying political and public support (see chart at right).

Christians have also taken both sides of the issue, although advocates and opponents of gun control both charge that too many believers are staying in the ambivalent, undecided middle.

As executive director of the Virginia-based Gun Owners of America, Larry Pratt believes gun ownership is not only constitutional, but biblical. He is an elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. He opposes gun restrictions of any kind.

Pratt cites several Scripture references that he believes make his case. These include Exodus 22:2, where no guilt is to be assumed for the fatal wounding of a thief who comes during the night; 2 Chronicles 17, where the good king Jehoshaphat maintains peace by building up Israel’s defense; and the New Testament reference where Jesus instructs his disciples to carry a sword.

Pratt expressed the view that firearms “are very much part of the administration of justice in God’s economy of protecting life,” both “at the corporate level ...

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