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When the mass shooting occurred in Uvalde, Texas last month, you may have seen one particular image online. It was a (since-deleted) tweet from Daniel Defense, the company that made the gun used to kill 19 children and two adults, not just showing a children playing with a weapon, but also invoking a biblical verse (Proverbs 22:6) in the process.

That wasn’t an accident. Daniel Defense is a Christian company that mixes religion and death for an audience that eats it all up. That company also created the weapon used in the mass shooting in Las Vegas, which killed another 60 people and injured literally hundreds more.

I was shocked to learn, however, that this company isn’t alone in mixing God and guns. In a must-read essay in the New York Times, historian Peter Manseau notes that Christian firearms are hardly a contradiction in practice. Evangelical Christians love guns like they love their god.

In Florida, Spike’s Tactical (“the finest AR-15s on the planet”) makes a line of Crusader weapons adorned with a quote from the Psalms. Missouri-based CMMG (“the leading manufacturer of AR15 rifles, components and small parts”) advertises its employees’ “commitment to meet each and every morning to pray for God’s wisdom in managing the enormous responsibility that comes with this business.” And in Colorado, Cornerstone Arms explains that it is so named because “Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of our business, our family and our lives” and the “Second Amendment to our Constitution is the cornerstone of the freedom we enjoy as American citizens.”

For many American Christians, Jesus, guns and the Constitution are stitched together as durably as a Kevlar vest.

There’s a reason those companies exist. White evangelical Christians have a higher rate of gun ownership than any other religious (or explicitly non-religious) demographic in the country. The people who loudly and proudly declare themselves to be “pro-life” are also the most eager to put a bullet in a theoretical enemy. And the companies that profit from their gun fetish have helped create a culture where mass shootings are commonplace and citizens are falsely led to believe more guns are the solution to any safety issue—even though other countries are well aware that fewer guns and more restrictions on them are the way to go.

Manseau rightly points out that this also creates a new obstacle to gun safety measures. Anything politicians do to keep weapons off the streets in inherently seen by these zealots as anti-Christian.

To imagine yourself as a Good Guy With a Gun… may inspire action-movie day dreams, but it is ultimately a religious vision of a world in which good and evil are at war, where God and firepower make all the difference.

Some of us want to see guns regulated like cars. Owners should have to go through a registration process that involves significant training and insurance and a license that could be taken away if you’re irresponsible. But the conservative Christians who see guns as an extension of their faith refuse to accept any kind of sensible restriction on them. They couldn’t handle attendance restrictions or mask mandates in church during the pandemic, and they can’t handle red flag laws or mandatory registration on their weapons.

They believe freedom involves their ability to hurt as many strangers as possible. It’s what Jesus would have wanted.

Obviously, #NotAllChristians are on board with this belief. Many side with progressives on gun safety and understand what all the data in the world has repeatedly told us about what we need to do to save lives. They are victims and first responders and as troubled by the right-wing obsession with guns as the rest of us. But unless they acknowledge the role their religion has played in creating this increasingly dangerous environment Americans currently live in, it’ll be virtually impossible to create change from within. That means pastors with a spine need to speak out against the Second Amendment extremists even if that means denouncing their fellow Christian leaders.

Thoughts and prayers have always been pathetic responses to shootings. It’s equally insane, though, how those prayers have helped sell the weapons used to destroy innocent lives.

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.