Thomas Lacaque writes about the intersection of gun cultism and religious nationalism in Religion Dispatches, noting that the AR-15 in particular is marketed to apocalyptic Christians with specifically biblical imagery.
This is a screenshot from a now hidden tweet from Daniel Defense, the maker of the assault rifle the Uvalde shooter used in his massacre at Robb Elementary.— Ashton Pittman (@ashtonpittman) May 27, 2022
It uses the photo of a small child and a Bible verse to sell weapons of war. pic.twitter.com/2CmckN4A6X
Lacaque goes on to note other examples of explicit marketing of mass murder weapons to evangelical Christians:
If Daniel Defense sells their guns using Bible verses, other companies have a much closer affiliation. A Florida gunmaker, Spike’s Tactical, makes an AR-15-style rifle they call the “Crusader.” The name is chosen deliberately and with care, and the company knows exactly what they’re selling. ...
The rifle—which is popular with the far right—features an engraved Templar shield logo opposite the Psalm, and has three settings on it, presumably safety, single fire and semi-auto, but named, “Pax Pacis, Bellum, & Deus Vult,” or “Peace, War, and God Wills It,” the First Crusade battle cry popular with contemporary white supremacists. And as a company spokesperson said in 2015, “This ensures that no Muslim terrorist will ever pick up this weapon and use it to bring harm against another person. That’s actually my favorite part of the rifle.”
He goes on to note the intimate connection between far right Christian rhetoric and political violence, which has been increasingly prevalent in recent years.
None of this, sadly, is surprising. The intersection of apocalyptic Christianity and political violence is baked into the kind of dominionist theology that has become so central to evangelicalism over the past half-century. And of course, Christianity's history of violence extends to back to its embrace by the Roman Empire, when support for the violent maintenance of power supplanted the ethic of nonviolence that had been at the heart of Jesus' teaching. But the fact that this is a long-standing perversion of the gospel does not render it any less obscene. And as I have noted before -- since it seems that these mass shootings are common enough that I have written on this topic multiple times -- for gun cultists, the embrace of guns is not a second amendment issue, it is a first amendment issue. It is not that they have a constitutional right to bear arms, it is that they have a first amendment right to worship them.