How Do Jehovah's Witnesses Feel About Handgun Ownership?

by Cold Steel 41 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Cold Steel
    Cold Steel

    Is there anything that keeps a JW from buying a gun for personal protection?

    Has the Watchtower issued any edicts on this? Just curious.

  • villabolo

    Don't know about the Watchtower but an elder once told me that the "Society" was against it.


  • Satanus

    In an answer to a question from readers about it, in 1973, they were against it.


  • Gordy

    But I have read many an experience of a JWs, in USA, saying that they had a gun.

    I also recall many years ago, 1980's, when a JW, watching a program about different familes in USA.

    In it was a JW family and I recall seeing the father taking his son out for gun practice.

    I remember it shocked my wife.

    I did know a JW farmer who had rifles and shotguns, for dealing with vermin (rats, rabbits, foxes etc)

  • oompa

    they pretty much hate them...i took my .357 S&W with me when i left...had to hide it from my wife the past year...she pretty much said she would rather be raped that shoot an intruder???????..........really bothered me.........oompa

  • Cold Steel
    Cold Steel

    Interesting. After posting here, I did a Google search and found this site. It really surprised me that there were so many views. Seems the overall view is that yes, you can use a gun to defend yourself and your family, but it's not okay to carry it in anticipation of a violent crime. Imagine the fun one could have if one's .357 dropped out of its holster during a Kingdom Hall meeting!

    It's also remarkable that different elders can have different views on this and force them on others.

    Yes, Jesus said he who lives by the sword dies by the sword, but the truth is, most of the ancient apostles died by the sword anyway! It's also true that there are worse ways of dying. My own church, in the past, actually encouraged people to have arms and said if you don't defend your family, you're a coward and derelict in your responsibilities before God and man. It doesn't condone the killing of animals except for food.

  • dogisgod

    I think the judicial committees are afraid of gun ownership. Or they should be.

  • villabolo

    Gordy: "But I have read many an experience of a JWs, in USA, saying that they had a gun."

    I had a JW friend who bought a 22 caliber rifle then, when an elder spoke to him, decided to dispose of it. I'm not surprised about what Gordy brought up concerning many JWs who have guns. The reason is that the WTBTS has not made too many clear statements concerning the issue of gun control, thus allowing JWs to think of it as a matter of conscience.


  • villabolo

    Dogisgod: "I think the judicial committees are afraid of gun ownership. Or they should be."

    I'm surprised that not too many JWs have gone postal.


  • blondie

    * **

    w84 3/1 pp. 13-15 Declining to ‘Live by the Sword’—A Protection


    to ‘Live by the Sword’—A


    "RETURN your sword to its place"! This firm command of Jesus came at a time when the use of force seemed a logical choice. Standing before Jesus was "a great crowd with swords and clubs," seeking to arrest him and subject him to a legal travesty. One of Jesus’ disciples drew a sword, intending to protect him by force. Would you blame him for that?

    Jesus, however, would have no part in such violence. Commanding Peter to put away his weapon, he explained: "All those who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father to supply me at this moment more than twelve legions of angels?"—Matthew 26:47, 52, 53.

    Christians today likewise abstain from trusting in weapons such as guns and knives—even during these dangerous, "critical times hard to deal with." (2 Timothy 3:1) They take seriously the Bible’s command to ‘beat swords into plowshares,’ and they do not seek to harm their fellowman. (Isaiah 2:4) Because they do not carry weapons for purposes of self-defense, instead of resorting to violence they are more inclined to try to reason with people who would do them harm. "If possible, as far as it depends upon you, be peaceable with all men," is the counsel they follow. (Romans 12:18) Nevertheless, it is not always easy to refuse to ‘live by the sword.’ Situations can develop that severely test a Christian’s desire to "be peaceable with all men."

    This is what happened in an African nation a few years ago. A power struggle developed within the nation. Civil war raged, with widespread guerrilla attacks. Citizens were therefore compelled to enter the security forces. On the other hand, enormous pressure to join the guerrillas was placed on some by their fellow countrymen. Indeed, citizens were at times caught in a squeeze between guerrilla recruiters and government soldiers who brutalized any who aided the guerrillas.

    Violence began to sweep the country. A pioneer couple recalls that the danger of attack was so imminent that, when driving in field service, they would place their book bags at chest level between them and the car door as a sort of bulletproofing. But while they were able to escape harm, an elderly couple they had called on did not fare so well. The husband was shot to death. Another family they called on had their home and its contents burned by guerrillas one evening. (This family later wrote and asked for the Watch Tower Society’s book, appropriately entitled, TruePeaceandSecurity—FromWhatSource?)

    In such an emotionally charged atmosphere, it is no wonder that many wished to take aggressive steps to protect themselves. ‘Should a person stand by idly and let himself or his family be murdered?’ such ones reasoned. Many began carrying weapons. And witnesses of Jehovah in that war-torn nation wondered what they should do.


    the Threat of


    By and large, Jehovah’s Witnesses came to a united conclusion: to remain entirely neutral in the civil war and desist from carrying dangerous weapons. But was not this decision impractical—dangerous? Their experiences underscore the rightness of their decision.

    One young man named Tony had previously served in the armed forces. After becoming a Christian, however, he concluded he could not conscientiously ‘live by the sword’ and cause harm to a fellow human. So when called upon to serve another term he declined, and a fine was imposed. Shortly thereafter he was summoned again, and this time he was given a six-month prison sentence. Yet a third time he was called and sentenced to ten months in prison. However, he appealed this sentence to a higher court. For the next two years he was in and out of court, each time preparing himself and his wife for a ten-month separation. "My wife and I said ‘good-bye’ some 13 times in two years, but each time something happened to delay the carrying out of the sentence," he commented.

    In the interim, he and his wife became special pioneers, and he was granted recognition as a minister. But the law still required that he serve his ten-month sentence. Finally he received a letter offering a suspended sentence if he would plead guilty. "I told them I could not do that, since I was innocent," explained Tony. He braced himself to go to jail. To his surprise came a letter stating that the justices of the High Court had analyzed the case and had thrown it out of court on a technicality! Tony felt blessed for declining to ‘live by the sword.’

    Many Christians, however, were subjected to a seemingly endless series of prison sentences. No sooner would they be released than they would be called up again for service, and the cycle of court cases and prison would start up again. Imagine what a hardship this was on married men with children! Nevertheless, those who maintained their neutrality not only were protected from the violence of a brutal civil war but were also able to "hold a good conscience" before Jehovah.—1 Peter 3:16.


    One’s Family—Without


    Refusing to participate in violence proved a blessing to a family man named Will. He, his wife and five children owned a farm some 40 miles (64 km) from town. Traveling to meetings and other business exposed this family to great danger. It seemed tempting to rely on firearms as a protection. Nevertheless, Will had already experienced blessings from relying on Jehovah. Years ago he had been a successful tobacco farmer. When he learned through the pages of TheWatchtower that such employment was improper for a Christian, he took the courageous step of switching to other crops. The community was shocked at this seemingly foolish decision. Nevertheless, good weather—even during bad seasons—helped him make a success of his new venture. The community was amazed! And Will and his family experienced firsthand God’s promise that he would not ‘leave or forsake’ his servants.—Hebrews 13:5.

    As the warfare got started, Will faced another test of Christian integrity. But strengthened by his past experience, he decided he would not resort to carrying a gun. He chose, instead, to rent a house in town for his wife and children so that school and Christian meetings during the week would be handy, and they would not have to travel the 110 miles (177 km) each day through dangerous territory.

    While they were away one night a guerrilla group broke into their farmhouse and stole some of their belongings. Yet, surprisingly, they did not burn the house down or do serious damage to the property. Why was this? The guerrillas told Will’s farm workers that they knew "Boss Will" was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and that he was a good man who treated his workers with fairness! How much more powerful his Christian reputation proved to be than reliance on dangerous weapons!

    The Real Source of Protection

    Experiences such as these highlight the fact that Jehovah blesses those who maintain Christian neutrality and decline to ‘live by the sword.’ True, at times Jehovah permits one of his servants to die, even as a circuit overseer in that country was murdered. Nevertheless, it is better to die showing full reliance on Jehovah than to allow fear of man to govern our course. (Matthew 10:28) These violent times should not cause us to ‘live by the sword’ or rely in any way on dangerous weapons for deliverance. The Bible assures us: "Trembling at men is what lays a snare, but he that is trusting in Jehovah will be protected."—Proverbs 29:25.

    *** w83 7/15 p. 25 pars. 14-16 "Seek Peace and Pursue It" ***Would it be fitting for the Christian to possess firearms for the purpose of hunting animals for food? Since the Flood, God has permitted the killing of animals for food, though the blood must be poured out on the ground, not eaten. (Genesis 9:3, 4; Deuteronomy 12:23-25) When allowed by local law, some Witnesses keep guns for protection against wild animals or for shooting game. (Matthew 22:21) To them this may be an important or practical source of food. But never should anyone think that Jehovah would approve of taking animal life for sport, for the thrill of killing—as has been the way with ancient and modern "Nimrods." Since "the soul of the flesh is in the blood," this is precious in Jehovah’s sight.—Leviticus 17:11, 14.

    If a sizable number of Witnesses in a congregation should be disturbed in that someone is hunting animals merely for sport, and not for obtaining food, he might not be in position to receive special service privileges, because of his offensive reputation.—1 Timothy 3:2.

    It is similar if one of Jehovah’s Witnesses insists on carrying or having firearms for protection against humans, or on learning the martial arts. The spiritual elders should take immediate steps to counsel and help him to remedy the situation. (Micah 4:3) Anyone who thus continues to carry personal arms or otherwise equips himself to become "a smiter" would cease to qualify for special privileges in the congregation.—1 Timothy 3:2, 3.
  • Black Sheep
    Black Sheep

    The WT 15 Feb 2006 refers the reader to the 1983 WT that Blondie quotes. I doubt that there has been any noo lite since then.

    ... A decade later, the July 15, 1983, issue of The Watchtower clarified our position on the use of firearms. These are just some examples of the increasing light in our time....

    Note that the 83 WT was "...increasing light in our time..." so it was from God. Watch out ye sinners.



  • WTWizard

    They hate when people defend themselves. It is not enough to ban initiatory force, but they have to go and ban defensive force as well.

  • leavingwt

    I know JWs that own handguns.

    If the elders find out about it, and you're not a protected member of the Good 'Ol Boy network, you'll lose your privileges because of it.

    Unless. . . you're handgun is for "shooting snakes". Then, you're OK.

  • trueblue

    My dad always had guns, but as far as how JWs feel about it does not count because my dad was the master of giving a snow job and was in good standing with the JWs in spite it would be rather obvious that he had guns, lots of them, may be more then the local police department. he even manufactured his own guns and amunition, and always had a gun close by. Always

    My mother tells this story about when they were in Mississippi out in service with my dad and three other men that looked to here pretty shady, like mafia or some thing, and the trunk of the car was full of guns, then the sheriff pulled them over. My mother said she was terrified, that she thought they were going to get in trouble with the guns, but the sheriff just told them that they have to leave the area. No preaching here...

    Being that they were in Mississippi in the 60s, my guess is that the other guys in the car with them were KKK disguised as JWs

  • White Dove
    White Dove

    Mine'll be for snakes in AZ and anything else that chooses to threaten me and my daughter. I'm going to get training and a permit to carry one concealed.

  • VoidEater

    Despite the overt WTS pressure against, this is really highly dependent on congregation.

    Gun ownership is rather common, perhaps even the norm, where my parents are in Arkansas, for example.

    Indeed, my parents now own guns.

  • PSacramento

    How do JW's feel about hunting with a firearm?

  • trueblue

    How do JW's feel about hunting with a firearm?

    The local familly ran congregation were always planning hunting trips, and never did invite me I don't want them any way...

  • undercover

    This is another one of the areas where the Society says one thing but many of the dubs do another.

    Owning a gun is a no-no in the eyes of the Society, yet many a brother will justify their decision to own a gun. Many will justify their reason for hunting though the Society has taken a stand against it as well.

    I owned guns, though I was never much of a hunter. I actually own fewer guns now than when I was a dub. I rationalized and justified my reasons for owning them though when it came right down to it, I owned them because I wanted to and chose to ignore their counsel.

    JWs would make an interesting case study in how they accept the wacko teachings from the Society, actually share in publicizing same teachings and defend the religion to opposers but yet turn right around and ignore the counsel and direction from the very Governing Body they worship, adore and defend.

  • leavingwt
    Owning a gun is a no-no in the eyes of the Society

    Let's be more specific: Handguns, for the purpose of self-defense, are frowned upon.

    I've never seen anything in print or heard any conversations, indicating that hunting rifles and shotguns are unacceptable to JWs.

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