This week only! Save 25% on a PLUS membership with code: FRIDAY

What Does the Bible Say about Gun Violence?

Although Scripture does not mention guns, we can derive principles from the Bible about how to think about and respond to gun violence and other related issues.

Contributing Writer
Updated Oct 31, 2023
What Does the Bible Say about Gun Violence?

Gun violence is an issue that many of us feel strongly about, but the issue becomes more serious and personal when it occurs close to home — in our towns, neighborhoods, or schools. 

Hearing about someone injured by a gun is different than hearing shots in your neighborhood and getting down on the floor in your house to avoid gunfire. 

For many people, including children and teens, the risk of being injured or killed by a gun is a grim reality. 

Discussing gun use and control is often a controversial topic among Americans. However, as Christians, our views should be derived from God’s Word. 

Although Scripture does not mention guns, we can derive principles from the Bible about how to think about and respond to gun violence and other related issues. 

Scripture and Weapons

Guns were not in existence during biblical times, but Scripture does mention the use of weapons in specific circumstances.

We can read about swords, knives, slingshots, and the use of arrows in the Bible (1 Samuel 17:50-51; 1 Kings 18:28; Isaiah 5:28; Hebrews 11:37). However, these weapons were mainly used in times of war.

Just because the Bible mentions weapons, though, does not mean that it approves of the use of weapons or bloodshed. We should not confuse the presentation of historical facts, such as people using weapons to fight others, with a general statement of approval.

When we consider the entire teaching of Scripture, we see that the use of weapons and violence is only in existence because we live in a fallen world corrupted by sin. 

Humans, in their sinfulness, warped their God-given ability to create items and goods by making weapons that can kill and destroy. Swords, guns, bombs, and other objects of destruction were not part of God’s original, good creation (Genesis 1:31). 

The bleak picture of a world filled with sin and violence is gratefully not the one that Scripture leaves us with. In the future, God will transform these weapons of destruction. People will turn their swords and knives into tools of cultivation (Isaiah 2:4). 

As the prophet Isaiah describes in this verse, “Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4). On that day, gun violence will no longer exist. 

Based on these verses, we understand that weapons meant to kill and destroy do not glorify God and were not part of His original creation. 

Humans, in their sin, created weapons to hurt and wield power over others. However, in the future, weapons will be transformed and redeemed just like the rest of the world. 

Injuring and Murdering Others

We have already seen that weapons exist because of sinful humankind. Instead of using creativity for good, humans created weapons that terrorize and kill. These weapons have become more complex and deadly because of technological advancements.

Although Christians have long debated the ethics behind war and the use of specific weapons in warfare, Scripture is clear about the value of human life and that it is immoral to murder. 

God created humans in His image, which is why taking another person’s life is serious (Genesis 1:27). Multiple times in the Bible, the Lord placed a severe punishment on those who murder (Genesis 9:5; Exodus 21:12).   

Therefore, when we hear on the news of a shooter murdering children in a school or of local gun violence, we should know that these actions are sinful and denounced by the Lord. In His holiness and righteousness, God does not and cannot approve of murderous violence.  

Some individuals may think they have an excuse for gun violence, such as seeking revenge. Or they could argue that gun use is required in their gang or job. Regardless of the reasons, murder is always wrong. 

People may try to justify the issue in their minds, but God is the ultimate Judge, and He will hold people accountable for murder (Acts 17:31). 

As followers of Jesus, we want to avoid hurting others. In fact, we are called to go a step further and seek the good of others, including those who hate and persecute us (Luke 6:27-28). Revenge and retaliation are not legitimate reasons to use a gun against another person.

Scripture reminds us not to seek revenge (Matthew 5:38-39; Romans 12:19). Believers should have nothing to do with using guns to intimidate, injure, or murder others.  

Of course, someone who has committed murder or used a gun for violent reasons can receive salvation from Christ. 

Even if someone thinks they are too evil to receive forgiveness of sins, Jesus can save anyone who places faith in His death and resurrection (Romans 10:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:13-16). Salvation, though, does not negate the consequences of actions — such as serving time in prison.    

Issues Related to Gun Violence

In recognizing that gun violence is wrong, we need to seek to apply biblical principles to areas related to this issue. 

If we know that active shooters are sinning by murdering children and adults, then should we not also recognize the dangers of filling our minds with images of shooting and violence from the media? 

Our beliefs from Scripture should inform how we approach television, movies, music, and video games that mention and depict gun violence. 

Many aspects of the media glorify guns and killing. We see this in movies and shows in which the protagonists shoot and murder people. 

Even in films that do not glorify murder, the scenes of killing can be graphic. Continually watching these depictions over time can desensitize us to violence and death.  

Video games also present difficulties for Christians who want to honor the Lord in their daily life (Colossians 3:17). 

Many games place the player into the role of shooter, which is central to the game’s plot. As harmless as a video game might seem, regularly playing violent games can negatively affect a person. 

As Lauren Goldbeck and Alex Pew note in an article for the National Center for Health Research, “The longer that individuals are exposed to violent video games, the more likely they are to have aggressive behaviors, thoughts, and feelings.”

As Christians, we are called to a higher standard. Instead of filling our minds with violent images, we should focus on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). 

Ask yourself: would Jesus approve of what I am watching, listening to, or playing? Asking that question and keeping Scripture in mind can help guard yourself against becoming apathetic to gun violence through movies, shows, music, or video games.  

Practical Steps to Take

Hearing about incidents of active shooters or local gun violence can leave us disturbed and unsettled. During these times, we can feel helpless to deal with the situation. What can one person or one church congregation do in the face of such terrible suffering?

First, we can pray (Philippians 4:6). A few years ago, the recurring sound of gunshots near my neighborhood at night bothered me. Although I felt powerless in changing the situation, I knew that God does and can work in these situations. 

So, I decided to start praying about gun violence in my city — praying for the end of gun and gang violence, but also asking the Lord to work in the hearts of those who were involved. 

Those who use or plan to use guns in gang violence or mass shootings might seem like the last people to add to our prayer lists. 

However, we should be praying for them just as much as we do for the individuals and families who are affected. God can change hearts. 

Also, we can get involved in combatting issues that promote gun violence. Shootings often happen in areas where poverty, inequality, lack of education, and other issues are prevalent. Believers need to be involved in addressing these problems and meeting the needs of others. 

This will look different for each church, but getting involved to end gun violence could include holding community meetings, working with inner city ministries, teaming up with organizations to provide job training opportunities and mentorship for at-risk youth, serving in prisons, and helping families and children affected by poverty. 

All our efforts should be coupled with a desire to share the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection with others. 

Why Does This Matter?

Although the Bible does not specifically mention guns, it does condemn murder and violence. The Lord does not approve of the use of weapons to harm people, whether in gang violence or mass shootings. The use of guns to kill, control, and intimidate others violates the sanctity of human life.  

Because Scripture encourages us to love others, the church needs to be involved in preventing harm to others, which includes raising awareness in our congregations and communities about gun violence. 

We can also take practical steps that demonstrate the love of Christ while working to address the root issues of gun violence. Let us not be silent or remain still when we could be bringing hope and light into areas of fear and brokenness.  

For further reading:

What Should Christians Do after a Mass Shooting?

What We’re Missing about Mass Shootings

What Does the Bible Say about Violence?

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/ugurhan

Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening. 

Related podcast:

The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.

Related video: 

Thumbnail courtesy of  Stock footage courtesy of 

Christianity / Life / Bible / What Does the Bible Say about Gun Violence?