A widely-reported, attempted armed robbery in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and how A woman prepared with a concealed handgun thwarted an attempted armed robbery with what turned out to be lethal force. The episode provides us with a few lessons on the biblical worldview of lethal defense and our unalienable, God-given rights.
The Daily Mail writes,
Dramatic security footage shows a suspect named as Elivelton Neves Moreira, 21, approaching the crowd with a gun outside a private school in Sao Paulo.
But his attempted crime backfired when military police officer Katia da Silva Sastre, 42, pulled out her own weapon and unleashed three shots. . . .
The horrific attack unfolded Saturday as Sastre was waiting for the gates of Ferreira Master school to open.
A bandit, dressed in a black jacket, casually walked up and announced it was a robbery while pointing a .38 revolver at the group of terrified mothers and small children. . . .
Pulling her police issued weapon from her bag, she loads the gun then reacts with speed, stepping forward and firing off three rounds, shooting the assailant in the chest and leg as he tries to fire back.
The armed man falls backwards onto the zebra crossing and releases two shots in the process as he hits the ground. The first one ricochets off the ground hitting no one, and the second jams in the weapon.
The episode highlights several key features of a biblical worldview. As we discussed in our position paper on The Right to Bear Arms, “The Bible upholds the use of lethal force in preservation of home and of life (Ex. 22:2–3; Prov. 24:10–12; Est. 8–9; Neh. 4; cp. John 15:13–14).”
One of the principles at work is the ability to discern the nature of the crime. Exodus 22:2–3 says that during a break-in at night, in the dark, deadly force can be used without guilt. The assumption here is that in the dark, you cannot tell if a thief is unarmed or not, or is intending harm or merely simple theft. You must act on the assumption that lethal harm is a possibility, and you may shoot to kill without question.
If the sun has arisen, however, we have some ability to discern differently. In daylight, you may see if the burglar is also a threat to life or not. If he is only walking out your door with your TV, you are not allowed to shoot him in the back. This type of principle is written into most lethal force laws.
We also discussed how “Jesus taught that perpetrators forfeit their life by attempting violent crime (Matt. 26:52).” That verse comes in the context in which Peter draws a sword and slices off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus responds, “Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” The principle here is that in daylight, if someone brandishes a deadly weapon, they announce themselves as a threat to life by the very act. In the progress of a crime, certainly, they mark themselves as a legitimate subject of lethal defense. You draw the sword, you can die by the sword. This is the same principle announced in Exodus 22:2–3, only applied to actions in broad daylight.
It is for this reason that the Bible also sanctions the basic idea behind stand your ground laws.
This is exactly what we see in the example in Sao Paulo. A man attempts to commit robbery with an openly-brandished weapon. In that act, he immediately declared himself a lethal threat to life. He thus also declares himself a legitimate target of lethal defense. Mrs. Sastre obliged.
The governor of Sao Paulo honored Mrs. Sastre as a hero on national TV.
The sad part missed in all of this is that this heroic act could only occur because of the rare happenstances that Mrs. Sastre is an off-duty police officer, armed, and in the right place and the right time. Being a cop, the government permits her to carry a gun. Regular citizens cannot.
In Sao Paulo, like in far too many places, carrying a gun is illegal for the vast majority of citizens. They may apply for a license, but they’ll need to prove a need to carry. Currently, “self defense” is not considered a valid reason for carrying, and so the vast majority are not only denied, but the Brazilian federal government uses this and other excuses as grounds to confiscate existing guns at the government’s will.
In a godly society, innocent people would not be at the mercy of the random chance that an off-duty police officer stood prepared on the scene. Every able citizen has the right to bear arms for the defense of life and the prevention of such forcible felonies as this. This is a God-given right. A godly society will recognize that. It is a wicked society which denies, and thus that government, its willing agents, and supporters have bloodguilt on their hands.
Mrs. Sastre deserves to be called a hero for her actions. Equal justice and equal protection for all demands that every citizen have the same opportunity to defend life when the few Mrs. Sastres of the world are not around. The law and the government must be made to submit to God and recognize the right of all citizens to bear arms.
Brazilian theology students, leaders, and Christians need to study the biblical doctrine of the right to life, and the right to defend it with even lethal force when necessary. Then, they need to join the fight for those rights until they are secured.