Most evangelical leaders (58 percent) live in a household that has a gun. At the same time, most (55 percent) also believe that gun laws should be more strict, according to the August Evangelical Leaders Survey.
“Evangelical leaders have nuanced views on guns. Many own guns for hunting or protection. Some own antiques with no bullets. They accept the Second Amendment, but also deeply grieve when weapons are used to take innocent lives,” said Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE).
The majority of evangelical leaders (55 percent) favor stricter laws, and a significant minority (40 percent) think current laws are adequate. Only a few (5 percent) favor less strict gun laws. In their comments, many evangelical leaders noted that handgun and assault weapon sales should be limited and background checks should be tightened. Some also emphasized that existing laws should be more strictly enforced.
About 33,000 people in the United States die from gun wounds each year, with two thirds of the deaths being suicides, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.
Carl Nelson, president of Transform Minnesota, said, “While I support the Second Amendment, we clearly have a growing citizenry that is incapable of the responsibility necessary to keep and bear arms.”
Some of those who own guns expressed the importance of gun safety. Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of Presbyterian Lay Committee, explained, “We have chickens, cows and coyotes. We owe protection to the animals in our care. We have a gun safe, and everyone takes classes from certified instructors before ever getting to touch a gun. We are responsible gun owners with carry permits, and we are evangelical Christians.”
Anderson said, “Christians should start with the Bible when considering social issues. While the Bible doesn’t say anything specifically about gun ownership, I appreciated that many of our leaders noted principles they find in Scripture and were concerned about the victims of gun violence in America.”
The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.