Some Bishops Want Your Guns

If for nothing else, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will always be remembered at a tragedy. “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” Emanuel told the Wall Street Journal in 2008, “what I mean by that is: an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

Who better to follow the Godfather’s urging than our holy men and women?

Following the tragedy in Newtown, an ecumenical group, Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, wrote Congress to “support immediate legislative action” enforcing criminal background checks for all, banning high-capacity weapons and magazines, and making gun trafficking a federal crime.

Over forty religious leaders signed this letter, including several Roman Catholics. Even Pope Benedict XVI has joined the letter’s chorus by marking Christian Unity Week in praying specifically for an “end to the massacres of unarmed civilians, an end to all violence.”

In his weekly editorial, Fr. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, endorsed President Barack Obama’s 23 executive orders “limiting and controlling the diffusion and use of arms” as “a step in the right direction.” But does Lombardi know what the executive orders actually say? The President can’t do much without Congressional approval, and so the language of the President’s orders is really non-active: “address,” “propose,” and “review.” No teeth here.

Lombardi effectively becomes a signatory to the ecumenical letter, declaring, “I’m with them.”

But is he? Lombardi doesn’t stop at background checks or executive memoranda. He wants to confiscate your guns, too. After mentioning that guns can be “instruments for legitimate defense,” he echoes demands for “disarmament, to oppose the production, trade, and smuggling of arms of all types, fueled by dishonorable interests for power or financial gain.”

In Lombardi’s gun-free paradise, only the criminals would be armed. The criminals will arm themselves in spite of the law. Disarmament leaves the innocent defenseless against gun-toting crazies. Look only to President Obama’s gun-free Chicago where 513 bodies were buried because of gun-violence in 2012. That’s nearly 20 Newtown massacres.

Fr. Lombardi isn’t the only one to take aim at your guns. In fact, the U.S. Bishops have been calling for handgun “elimination” as early as 1990. In 2006 the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace suggested that States ought to “impose a strict control on the sale of handguns and small arms. Limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe upon the rights of anyone.” The Council may not recognize your right to a legitimate defense, but the Catechism of the Catholic Church does. It is “legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow.” And if “he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful.”

Is a gun moderate? Ask a rape victim. Or a child.

The Catechism goes on to affirm defense as “a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm.” In the light of the Catechism, the National Rifle Association’s brave suggestion that teachers (who are “responsible for the lives of others”) be armed doesn’t seem so crazy after all.

By endorsing specific legislative proposals that flout the Catechism, Lombardi and the rest of them go far beyond their competency and authority. Bishops Blaire, Wester, and Rhoades admit that gun violence does “encompass many areas with various complexities,” but they, like Lombardi, go forward with their specific policy proposals anyway. These Bishops know better than you—subsidiarity be damned.

According to this forgotten social principle, the family is the most local and most authoritative in public policy. As Blessed Pope John Paul II understood when he wrote in Familiaris Consortio, “families should be the first to take steps to see that the laws and institutions of the State not only do not offend but support and positively defend the rights and duties of the family.”

And because of their most direct understanding of the impact of policy, the “laity, moreover, by reason of their particular vocation have the specific role of interpreting the history of the world in the light of Christ, in as much as they are called to illuminate and organize temporal realities according to the plan of God, Creator and Redeemer.”

This distinct calling John Paul II assigns to the family requires a worth-while separation between the spiritual and temporal realms, one recognized in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church: “The Church is organized in ways that are suitable to meet the spiritual needs of the faithful, while the different political communities give rise to relationships and institutions that are at the service of everything that is part of the temporal common good.”

Know your role, Bishops.

Editor’s note: The image above is of Fr. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Press Office of the Holy See.

Nicholas G. Hahn III


Nicholas G. Hahn III is deputy editor for

  • Tasha

    What about our prelates doing one of their most important works, teaching their flock the fifth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” in churches and Catholic schools so they can evangelize the public. Public schools eliminate the Ten Commandments.

  • Paul Tran

    Great article !!! Finally a voice of reason & commonsense.

  • publiusnj

    I trust my bishops more than I trust the NRA or any still wet behind the ears ideological commentators; I therefore found the “know your roles, bishops” closing diktat from Mr. Hahn to be a bit too snide. That said, the Roman Catholic Church has not taken a position in favor of gun confiscation.
    Should it? I think not. The problem with guns in the US is that there are so many of them that they will never be eliminated and gun control therefore is primarily a harm to responsible gun owners who would obey the law. As someone born and raised in NYC (the home of the famous “Sullivan Law”), I was not brought up with guns and have never owned one, not even while a prosecutor who was entitled to carry one. I was trained on guns in the US Army but never saw a reason to buy one afterward. Nevertheless, I know that in many parts of the country many people responsibly own guns and that I would rather trust those people to be responsible than I’d trust an all pwoerful Government not to abuse its power. And I would trust them to uphold the law more than I would trust the burglar who might have broken into their homes. For that reason, I don’t believe gun control beyond the current and rather restrictive laws will help.

    • Harry

      Good point.

    • Beth Anne

      Don’t trust all Bishops at face value. Some do not adhere to the teachings in the CCC, and need reminders from time to time. And many do not actively encourage those in their Diocese to read it either.
      ” They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety
      deserve neither liberty nor safety.” —Benjamin Franklin,
      Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.
      “The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is,
      as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” —
      (Thomas Jefferson)
      “Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the
      American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence … From the
      hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences, and
      tendencies prove that to insure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and
      pistol are equally indispensable . . . The very atmosphere of firearms
      everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all
      that is good” (George Washington)

      • publiusnj

        As I said, I would generally trust the bishops more than I would trust American politicians or commentators, even those you quote. For every Inquisition you can “raise,” I “can see you with a slavery and raise with” an Amerindian genocide or the despicable legalization of abortion that this American polity gave us in its bloodlust. Yet, as you say, no single bishop can be relied upon to state the true Catholic faith which comes to us from the Apostles, although Apostolic Succession makes for a great pedigree. Bishop Irenaeus of Lugdunum therefore gave us some wise advice many centuries ago: we should make sure we remain true to that ultimate apostolic seat, the Holy See of Rome (Adversus Haereses 3:3:2)>

        • Beth Anne

          Due to the actions of some, all Bishops can not be trusted. This is why a Catholic “Bible”, and the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” from the Magisterium are such great gifts.
          We can know the TRUTH, even when some leaders commit errors -accidental or otherwise.
          We must adhere to the CCC in entirety, and to matters of Faith and Morals that Pope Benedict teaches.

          Some US Bishops bare the responsibility for the relativism and support for abortion in this Country. Although they tell us it is a sin, they do nothing to publically excommunicate “Catholic” politicians who gravely and publically violate Church teaching and promote abortion and homosexual marriage.
          Actions speak louder than words. For the profound words of St. Paul see: 1 Cor 5:11-13

          History proves that when the citizens can not protect themselves, tyrants rule, and genocide is committed. Gun registration is one more step toward gun confiscation by the government.

    • Adam Baum

      “I was not brought up with guns and have never owned one, not even while a prosecutor who was entitled to carry one. ”

      Good for you.

      You don’t see any problem with that? We routinely hear about our “need” for firearms. What need does a prosecutor have for firearms? This is why I despise the Bar and all the privileges it dispenses upon its members.

  • Harry

    I’ll take my interpretation of the Catechism from the Pope and Bishops rather than the NRA, if it’s all the same to you.

  • respectlife

    Great article. There are many opinions on this topic right now but bottom line is Church dogma overrides all statements that can be taken out of context or other opinions from bishops.

  • Alecto

    Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace? Isn’t that the same group that “discovered” a right to water? That promoted a global committee for overseeing financial transactions? Ah, the joys and wonders of living in a bubble! Me, I cannot afford that abnegation.

    Millions and millions of lives have been saved because of guns. There are no federal statistics to publicize on lives saved because facts undermine the agenda of tyrants. Are they telling me I should have died? Can they actually be this stupid and sexist? Girls just wanna have guns. We want them, we need them and thank God for old white men who understood 230+ years ago that we have a God-given right to protect and defend ourselves and others with guns.

    Gun owners are against senseless killing. We are also opposed to senseless dimwits who lack understanding or any discernment. It is ironic that one of the Readings yesterday was St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians about gifts of the Holy Spirit. I pray the bishops seek inwardly to unearth some wisdom especially where the value of human life is concerned…all of human life.

    • actually, a DOJ study under the Clinton administration showed 1.5-3 million defensive uses of firearms in the US every year.

    • David Roth

      USCCB Justice and Peace (Blaire and company) group are the same Bishops who denied the Church’s position on COMMUTATIVE JUSTICE #2411, and SUBSIDIARITY # 1883, 1885, 1894, 2209 as part of the US Budgetary debate put forth by Congressman Paul Ryan from the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition”.

      Again, they need to keep their noses out of the Laity’s busness.
      They need to study and teach the CCC in entirety. They need to encourage all persons in their own Diocese to read the CCC.

      • Adam Baum

        A”gain, they need to keep their noses out of the Laity’s busness.”

        Correction: They need to be competent or have competent advisors when making pronouncements. All questions have moral dimensions and a boundary like “the laity’s business” is a slogan ripe for misuse.

        I have spent a great deal of time, effort and expense earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, an MBA, several insurance designations and obtaining a CPA license. When it comes to knowledge of pecuniary matters, I am well-informed. Interestingly, the most important thing I have ever heard about economics is this:

        “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

        Friedrich Hayek in The Fatal Conceit.

        The abysmal 1980’s letter on the economy comes readily to mind as something blithely ignorant of that injunction. (Fools rush in..)

        I wouldn’t dream to assembling a group of accountants and economists and havingthem issue a “pastoral letter” on matters theological, but the Bishops routinely assemble to issue missives on matters such as the economy-for which they have no discernible competence and often against the better judgment of faithful Catholics who have subject matter expertise.

        They need to forget the vainglorious pronouncements that draw the attention of the chattering classes and stay focused on putting faithful butts in pews.

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  • I could have done without the snarky comment at the end, but overall this was well done. Some bishops started to stand up during the last election and make the true statement that they need to stop providing specific guidance in areas in which they are not competent. Gun ownership is one of prudential judgement on the part of faithful Catholics not an area of settled doctrine of which there is no opportunity for differing opinions.

  • Diego Fernando Ramos Flor

    I think the trouble with this article is that it departs form the wrong starting point. We should ask ourselves “what does God want from us?” and only once we have clues about taht question we can go forward to “how can guns help us to achieve what God wants from us?”. The article seems to turn everything upside down: “I think guns are good, so, I have to find a way to make Catholic Church appear like supporting my thoughts, even if it ends in any nonsense”. If I’m wrong, let me know it, please.
    Know our roles could, and most of the times it does, take us a lifelong effort.

  • jk4dios

    If the bishops would spend as much time addressing issues of sin (contraception, cohabitation, fornication, divorce, and all the other destroyers of the family and society) as they do about political issues such as gun control, we’d have fewer problems in our society. While the final comment is stated snarkily, it is accurate. The bishops want to be seen, but as political leaiders, not as the moral leaders they should be. Cardinal Dolan himself admitted that Humanae Vitae remains too hot-button an issue to be dealt with even forty years later. May God have mercy on us with such a group of “shepherds.”

    • musicacre

      Yes, we must pray hard that each Bishop can have a vision of the humble shepherd in the field, carrying the sheep on his shoulders-his burden and joy- back home…instead of being camera-ready for media opportunities, and not coming to aid of the flock as the ravenous wolves scatter and consume them. Don’t they realize there is NO glory in being political leaders, as politics shift like sand; they already share in the glory of an eternal Kingdom by being appointed as the teachers and leaders that we desperately need.

  • Lt. William J. Lawler II, M.Ed

    The right to self-defense is a God given right. This includes the ability to resist or overthrow a despotic government as well as against common thugs. In order for this God given right
    to be practically exercised the citizenry must possess the same weapons that are available to the government. The Bishops have absolutely no authority in their role as bishops to limit or encourage a limitation on the ownership of weaponry any more than they can limit the right to self-defense, because to do so is anathema to the will of God and opposes a right that He has deemed to grant to us. The only legitimate role of bishops is to teach on the moral use of weapons. Let me give you an example: Holy Mother Church cannot ban sex which is a gift from God, but she can dictate rules for when sex is acceptable, i.e. within the confines of marriage. Ergo, the Church cannot support the banning of arms but she can dictate their usage. If an individual bishop or priest wishes to discuss legal restrictions on weapon ownership then he must do so as a sovereign American Citizen, but not in his role as a priest or bishop. As for me, I will never register or forfeit any of my weapons or weapon accessories. And as a devout practicing Roman Catholic I know that it will be my God given right to defend myself against those who attempt to initiate the use force against me to take away my means of self defense.

    • sseller

      “In order for this God given right to be practically exercised the citizenry must possess the same weapons that are available to the government. ”

      So I should be able to possess a missile launcher, or a nuclear weapon? Is that really a right we have from God? Each and every one of us should have the capacity to blow up the entire planet? Perception is reality. One man’s aggression is another’s self-defense, and different individuals interpret the ideas of aggression and self-defense differently. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where a perceived slight against me or my family results in global annihilation, and I’m guessing most of the bishops don’t either.

      • Lt. William J. Lawler II, M.Ed

        Your resorting to a reductio ad absurdum demonstrates the weakness of your position and the lack of any true logical retort to my thesis or my argument which is not only in line with Dogmatic Catholic teaching but also meets the principle of non-contradiction, unlike your argument.

        • sseller

          It’s not absurd at all. Your quote was very clear. You said was that citizens should have the right to defend themselves against the government, and therefore, citizens must have access to weapons equivalent to what government has access to so they can adequately defend themselves. There’s nothing in your statement limiting self-defense to the possession of firearms, knives, brick walls, or any other specific type of weapon or defense. By your logic, citizens must have access to nuclear bombs, fighter jets, and anything else that the government owns that could be used to defend itself. That’s the logical conclusion of your argument, unless you also believe that Catholic teaching has some limit on the type of weapons one can acquire, though you make no mention of that in your statements.

          • Lt. William J. Lawler II,M.Ed

            You engage in reductio ad absurdum from a one paragraph summarry intended to make a succint point because you are either unwilling or unable to comprehend the point being made.

            • sseller

              I think your point is absurd, and I make the argument I do because that is the logical conclusion of your statement. We should be able to have whatever weapons we want? Really? I think you’re accusing me of being overly reductionist because your point is indefensible. Maybe I read the Bible differently, but I don’t remember a passage telling me that I had a divine right to nuclear weapons.

              What I think you’re assuming in your statement is that Bishops all the time take it upon themselves to interpret God’s commands and provide context for the words provided. That our “rights” as you see them, are based on an understanding of context, on interpretation. After all, one of God’s Commandments is translated as “thou shalt not kill.” Now there’s no context provided for that in that statement. Was God talking about plants? About mice? About murderers? The Bible doesn’t forbid killing unless it’s every other Tuesday, or you’re really mad. And nor does it say, explicitly, that it’s acceptable to kill in self-defense. God says we are not to kill. Period. But the Church, examining the entirety of the Bible, has interpreted its words differently, saying that killing in self-defense is acceptable. But people disagree on that. Bishops disagree on that, and it is the job of Bishops to provide moral guidance within the Church. If some Bishops believe, quite understandably, that making guns easier to purchase will lead to more violence, then yes, it is their job to get involved in public policy and stop the spread of those instruments whose only use violates God’s command.

              • Lt. William J. Lawler II, M.Ed

                Actually, It’s “Thou shall not murder”. Substituting murder for kill is a Protestant bastardization, that unfortunately has been introduced into so-called “Catholic Bibles” as well. Read the original Greek and Hebrew. You just keep digging it deeper.

                • sseller

                  Different experts translate the original texts differently, but even if you read it as murder, that too is contextual. Is killing in war murder? Is killing in a firefight morally different than a preemptive strike against a country whose policies we find threatening? Is killing a non-human murder? Context matters, and societies 2000 years ago may have had a different conceptualization of the meanings of killing and murder. Bishops try to interpret passages to fit context. Depending on where you are, and the situation you’re in, that can be interpreted differently. That’s why I’m objecting to your statement, because you didn’t provide any frame of reference, any context. Without context, without interpretation, who is to say that God has not granted me the right to possess nuclear weapons?

                  • Lt. William J. Lawler II, M.Ed

                    Nope, killing is killing, and murder is murder. They are two distinct and very different things.

                    • Arriero

                      I don’t know -and I don’t understand- why you’ve still not noticed the stupidity behind the “divine right of bearing guns” argument. Doing a reductio of a nonsense has no meaning and gives no bright, mostly because a nonsense -many times a hiden lie- has no “essential” -ergo truth- meaning. Fighting against nonsenses is like Quijote’s fight against wind-mills. But nonsenses are not neutral, they have an intrinsic danger and may let us to the black campsites of irrationality -to a lack of truth-. Look an example about where the “divine right to bear guns” may get: do you imagine Jesus in his times with a bazzoka and asking romans: someone has any problem with me, with God? I have here a weapon that my father -God, and myself too- has rightfully give me for making Earth’s justice”. Beyond the joke, the Pope, yes, the Pope, has been quite clear about weapons. And he, yes, he, knows quite well what the Cathollic dogma “really” teachs. “In God we trust” (while we napalm you). What a harmful way of understanding Catholicism… Jesus was not from the Far West, and he never watched any “western film”, there is not right to bear weapons and Catholic Church has nothing to see on this supposed right…

                • Stilbelieve

                  The 10 Commandments were handed to Moses to instruct the Israelite. You are correct, the commandment given to Moses and the Jews is Thou shall not murder. Consult Denis Prager, a Jewish expert who is also a great talk radio host .

              • Lt. William J. Lawler II, M.Ed

                Quite simply, I am pointing out that you are being overly reductionist because you are being overly reductionist.

        • The issue of gun control aside, there is nothing weak or fallacious about invoking a reductio ad absurdum. The technique is lauded in many textbooks on logic and argumentation and has been used by some of history’s best philosophers. For instance, we see Socrates using a reduction argument against Cephalus in Book I of Plato’s Republic. The reductio ad absurdum eventually convinces the friends of Socrates that their definition of justice is inadequate.

          • Lt. William J. Lawler II, M.Ed

            Mr. Hermann, you do not quite fully understand reductio ad absurdum, or the principles of rhetoric, or the Socratic Method. The Socratic Method is intended to encourage the subject to engage in critical thinking that forces him to see the consequences of his positions and in turn leads to distance thinking, this is where reductio ad absurdum comes into play. The method is itself a form of rhetoric that models and teaches rhetoric to the subject. However, one of Socrates’ requirements was that intellectual honesty must be maintained throughout the process; otherwise it becomes nothing more than mental masturbation. Therefore, the use of reductio ad absurdum is only logical and useful if its use remains intellectually honest. n order for it to be intellectually honest two standards must be met. First, the reductio ad absurdum must address the core issue. sseller clearly is not addressing the core issue that I present, which is that the citizenry has a God given right to be armed. Any reader can easily replace the word “weaponry” that I utilize, with any number of more specific terms such as “firearms” or “weapons commonly issued to infantry soldiers”, etc. As is obvious, the immediate jump to WMD’s is an intellectually dishonest attempt to obscure the point being made by immediately talking about a reductio ad absurdum that muddles, instead of clarifying. Second, the reductio ad absurdum must not be an argument that can clearly be differentiated from the issue at hand. In this case, the private ownership of WMD’s clearly is and can be a completely separate philosophical point that is far removed from the issue of an armed citizenry in the classical sense. Socrates, unlike you or sseller, met all of these requirements in his argument against Cephalus. I suggest that you read The Republic with an eye towards examining and understanding the philosophical techniques, as I have, instead of just parroting them. I suspect that individuals who engage in this sophistry are either too stupid to see the differences, or just plain intellectually dishonest. Either way they are wrong. I hope this helps to clear up your understanding of the Socratic Method and the proper use of ad absurdum. Of course I have made every attempt to keep this response short, simplified, and to the point, given the forum. Although I will not be surprised if you engage in reductio ad absurdum or sophistry and choose the belabor some inconsequential point that I may not have addressed or done so sufficiently to your satisfaction, rather than looking at the main point being made, just as sseller failed to do.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              Perhaps, the most famous use of the reductio ad absurdum is Euclid’s proof that for every finite list of prime numbers, there is a prime number not on the list. [Elements IX.20] A similar proof is used to demonstrate that the square root of 2 is irrational or, as Pascal put it, that there are no two square numbers one of which is double of the other.

              It is one of the most rigorous proofs conceivable, for it directly invokes the axiom of non-contradiction.

              • Lt. William J. Lawler II, M.Ed

                As long as it is properly applied, as I have described in the above post. Reductio ad absurdum cannot be used merely to defend the absurd. Otherwise the technique and the user, each become self-serving. Lest the absurd is used to defend the absurd.

                I also teach mathematics and I find mathematical proofs that utilize
                philosophical principles to be quite fascinating. In the case of Euclid’s Theorem, we learn by analogy that there is nearly always an “exception to the rule” due to a variable that changes the equation and therefore the
                problem to be solved. In this case the existence of an excluded prime number from any finite list of prime numbers. As related to the use of the reductio ad absurdum in a policy debate, the existence of the excluded prime number is the equivalent of the requirement that an argument that can clearly be differentiated from the issue at hand, must be. sseller failed to do this when he failed to differentiate the fact that the private ownership of WMD’s clearly is and can be a completely separate philosophical point that is far removed from the issue of an armed citizenry in the classical sense. In other words, those who introduce the WMD argument when discussing the inalienable God given right to self-defense and the private ownership of weapons, are failing to recognize that even in a finite list of prime numbers a prime number will always be excluded, no matter what.

            • I’m, well aware of the principles of rhetoric, Mr. Lawler, as I have a Ph.D. in it and teach it at the university level. What you have said about the strictures for a reduction argument to be valid or “proper” simply are not true. If they are, I have never seen the argument in print in a scholarly book or peer-reviewed journal. One can dismiss *any* reduction argument that one does not like by maintaining that it is put forward with intellectual dishonesty or that it does not address the core point. The only way to do that, however, is to beg the question (and poison the well) by assuming your opponent is not a person of good faith. And that is the quickest way to shut down a debate in one’s favor. Again, I am not interested in the gun control debate. My only interest here is in doing what I can to help readers avoid misunderstanding sound principles of rhetoric and argumentation. I cannot say that I have read every peer-reviewed article on reductio ad absurdum, so maybe you are privy to some insights that I am not. If so, I welcome a few references to the professional literature on the subject that I might reevaluate my understanding of the reduction argument.

              • Lt. William J. Lawler II, M.Ed

                Mr. Hermann,

                First, you are accusing me of assuming you and/or sseller are not of good
                faith. In other words you are insinuating that I engage in ad hominem attacks. Talk about engaging in reductio ad absurdum! I merely point out at that sseller and those of a similar ilk often are intellectually dishonest. Certainly you would not claim that this is never the case, would you? I also presented the argument that they may just be stupid when it comes to making logical and cohesive arguments. Or it could be both. Although attacking your opponent because you cannot logically argue against his position is indeed intellectually dishonest and morally repugnant (do you require an academic reference for this as well?), it is completely valid and often necessary to examine your opponent’s motives and credibility in addition to addressing his points. As an example, Congress should not only cross examine the Secretary of State concerning the facts surrounding Benghazi, but it should also examine her character and motives so as to ascertain the truthfulness of her statements and
                uncover what factors may motivate her to lie, distort, or conceal the fullness of the truth.

                Second, I recommend that you read Michael-Paterson-Seymour’s above post and my follow up to his post in which I describe how Euclid’s Theorem demonstrates the limitations of reductio ad absurdum and how that Theorem reinforces the strictures that I laid out.

                Third, you state that the strictures are not true because you can’t find them anywhere. Really?! So because you can’t find another philosopher that has presented these strictures then that makes them false?! Are you kidding me?! Let me play devil’s advocate here for a moment. Let’s just say that no other philosopher or academician, or text book writer, anywhere in the history of the world has ever offered these strictures. Then according to you that makes them false? They must be untrue? Let me ask you something; have you examined the strictures? Have you contemplated whether they work? In other words, have you philosophized
                about them, Mr. Philosopher? And let me ask you, what makes a philosopher, a philosopher. Who, in your opinion is a qualified philosopher? One final question: Other than the fact that you are not aware of any “scholarly source” for the strictures, what are your actual arguments against them? That is, if you can think for yourself instead of just parroting what “scholarly sources” have to say.

                It should be clear by this point that I am not a slave to overpriced college
                text books that are more often than not written by white ivy tower egg heads with severe humanistic biases. But if you insist, then I recommend “Does the Center Hold?: An Introduction to Western Philosophy”, it is an undergraduate entry level book on philosophy. Unless of course you find it beneath you, since you are a PhD and all. AFTER reading this book, read Socrates and Plato, which I am sure you have already done. But this time read it with an eye for developing your own understanding and not just making what other academics have said fit into what you assume are the
                only “correct” understandings.

                By the way,I am not knocking you PhD, but kep in mind that just becuase a man is more educated does not mean that he is better educated.

                • Mr. Lawler, my discourse with you has been respectful and civil, yet you have replied to me with condescension and disparaging name calling (What would you say if I referred to you with the pejorative “Mr. Philosopher”?) So, I would say you are indeed engaging in ad hominem rhetoric. I ask you for reference to the literature because you have created (as far as I can tell) your own private definition of reductio ad absurdum. It is one I have never encountered. If I define an argument from transitivity as an a fortiori argument, I have created my own private definition and you would rightly ask me to show you where in the literature on logic and rhetoric that definition is presented. My simply saying it does not make it so. You have implied that I committed an argument ad ignorantium by asking you to defend an ipse dixit definition of reductio ad absurdum. It is not, since the burden of proof is on you, not on me. I am not the one using the term in a sense alien to the literature on the subject. You are. If you say Columbus is the capital of Ohio, and I say, no, it’s in Mayland, the burden of proof would be on me, not on you, since I would be the one challenging the common understanding of the subject. You have explained reductio ad absurdum in a way that is very unconventional, so no, it is not unreasonable for me to ask you to verify it with a reference to something other than your own authority.

                  • Lt. William J. Lawler II, M.Ed

                    Mr. Hermann,

                    My discourse has been nothing but civil and respectful, with an occasional barb thrown in for seasoning. That is hardly the definition of engaging in an ad hominem attack. Now who is making up their own definition? Don’t be so thin skinned. If you can’t stand the heat then I recommend you stay out of the kitchen of public discourse.

                    As to the reductio ad absurdum; at no point do I “make up” my own
                    definition. In actuality I presented strictures for its appropriate utilization.
                    There is a world of difference between the two. In fact, it was you that
                    originally used the word “strictures”, so the fact is you already know this. Don’t go changing your argument now! Go ahead reread you previous post.

                    The fact is that I presented a philosophical guideline for appropriate
                    utilization of reductio ad absurdum. You either see the logic in my trictures
                    or you don’t. Are you now proclaiming that if a person dares to present a philosophical or logical argument that has not already been cleared and vetted by others that it has no value and you will not even consider it in its own right?! If so, then shame on you! Shame on you for being so small minded. Shame on you for being a slave to intellectualism. And shame on you for being yet another academic that is unable and/or unwilling to think for himself.

                    You are correct about one thing, the burden of proof is on me to support
                    whatever position I posit. However, you are wrong in declaring that the burden can only be met by proving that some “scholarly” source has already vetted and approved it. Sorry Frank, but I am capable of thinking for myself and that includes developing my own arguments. I meet the burden of proof by demonstrating a solid, consistent, and workable logic. It is then up to the individual reader to determine whether he finds that logic to be persuasive.

                    Keep in mind Frank, just because a position is unconventional does not make it invalid. Nor does that make the burden of proof any greater than is normally expected from one who is providing the rhetoric. I could ask how you dare assume that my logic must be vetted by another in order for you to even consider the truthfulness of it.

                    By the way, you are comparing apples and oranges with your example. Geographic location is an easily provable fact; whereas we are discussing much more abstract ideals. Why would engage in such an incommensurable false analogy? You should know better. I hope this doesn’t hurt your feelings.

                    • sseller

                      I stepped away from this debate for awhile because I felt it was getting bogged down in a debate about rhetoric that was tangential to the point I was making, but am pleased to see Mr. Hermann came to my defense! All I was pointing out was that this notion of being armed and being able to defend oneself means different things to different people. The only difference between killing and murder is whether the act of killing someone can be justified or not, which is not something we all agree upon. The problem is that ultimately, God is the judge as to what is right and wrong, and while we can try to interpret the Bible, ultimately, we don’t know what He would do in any given situation with which we are faced. It seems presumptuous to argue that there is a hard and fast line between what is killing and what is murder, given the ambiguity inherent in situations and in the Bible.

                      If a drone pilot kills 4 enemy and 1 civilian with his device, should he not be indited for murder? Was the killing of the civilian justified because enemies were also killed? Should the bombmaker be held responsible for producing a device that killed someone? Am I guilty of enabling that act because I paid taxes that in turn funded his killing machine? Would the killing have been justified if those killed were not firing at soldiers, but were only making uniforms or cooking for the enemy forces? Were they enemies worthy of destruction in the name of self-defense? Can we say the civilian was an acceptable kill, because he provided shelter or funding to the enemy? How far does the doctrine of “self-defense” extend? Apparently enough to allow me to possess whatever weapons the government owns and kill as long as I feel threatened in some way.

                      I’m going to take a wild guess and say that you probably see my line of argumentation as absurd or misleading. I don’t. I do this because the lines you have drawn in your argument were totally arbitrary. You seem to know what killing and murder are. You seem to know what constitutes self-defense, and which weapons can be used for such purposes and which can’t. And you seemed to assume that this should be obvious to anyone who is trying to make a good faith, reasoned argument. That’s fine, but I disagree. These things aren’t obvious, and you kept chastising me for somehow taking your earlier statements too literally.

                      There’s nothing in the Bible that tells me an M-16 is acceptable for self-defense, but a rocket launcher or WMD isn’t, but you drew that line. You drew the line that we know what is and isn’t justified killing, when the Bible doesn’t lay out when someone is enough of a threat that he or she can e killed, but you made that call. That’s fine, but we all draw the line at different places even if we’re reading the same book. We all interpret the Bible differently, some more rightly than others, but ultimately, God has the final word on this stuff. To suggest that you or I have the absolute right answer based on our interpretation is foolish at best, dangerous at worst. I’m pretty sure given the complexity and nuance in that book, that none of us are going to get it completely right. Sometimes, we just don’t know what is right in a given situation, which is why drawing black and white lines doesn’t make sense, and why when we do have a clear edict not to kill, that erring on the side of fewer guns and the taking of fewer lives seems to me to be the sensible option for clergy.

                    • Lt. William J. Lawler II, M.Ed

                      Sseller, you are a hypocrite. On one hand you spend 4 paragraphs arguing that no one can claim to have the correct Biblical interpretation on self-defense, the line between killing and murder, and on gun control. But then you turn around and state that there is a clear edict not to kill! But you just acknowledged that there is no clear understanding on killing and murder! I have also already demonstrated that there is no ban on killing in the Bible, but only on murder. And our disagreement on this point supports your own position that no one can claim to be right. I disagree with your conclusion, but I am going to hold you to it! Then you state that in order to be on the safe side everyone should just go by your interpretation. How convenient! How intellectually dishonest! If you truly believe in the rhetoric you just spent four paragraphs supporting, then I suggest you practice your interpretation of self-defense and weapons ownership as you see it in the Bible, and I will practice mine as I see it in the Bible. Those of us who interpret the Bible our way will leave you alone; and those of you who interpret the Bible your way should leave us alone. If I need assistance in protecting myself, my family, my community, or my country, I will not bother you. If you need assistance protecting yourself, your family, your community, or your country, do not bother me. It’s that simple.

                    • sseller

                      The Bible has these pesky little rules in them, including an edict not to kill and/or to murder (depending on your translation).But rules don’t exist in a vacuum–they have to be applied in certain contexts. And so the point I’m making which I think you’re missing is that applying the rules laid out by scripture to real-life situations is an imperfect process. That choosing how and when to apply a given rule in a given setting is a matter of judgement, not a matter of certainty.

                      That is, in a sense, how this debate between us began. You laid out a rule, one that I don’t think is as clearly laid out in the bible as the edict against killing/murder, but a rule nonetheless, giving one a right to defend oneself. You then qualified this rule and applied some context to it, saying that this rule, properly followed, means that people would have access to the same types of weaponry that the government has access to, so that individuals and families can defend themselves from government tyranny. So then I posed the question of whether you were suggesting that God has given me a right to possess a nuclear bomb, since that is, after all, a weapon that the government has access to and can be used to defend oneself. You felt this was an unreasonable interpretation of what you were saying, and we continued to go back and forth on that point for awhile.

                      But the dividing issue was context. I felt that I was being reasonable based on your statements by drawing conclusions about how the context and interpretation of the rule would take place in modern life. That your interpretation would not simply lead people to owning firearms for self-defense, but much larger and potentially dangerous weapons. And you felt that your interpretation was both textually and logically consistent while mine bordered on the unrealistic. We were given the same rule as a starting place, and you made one interpretation of how it would be applied in the real world, while I criticized your interpretation as potentially problematic, and also in potential conflict with other Biblical edicts. But the point is that neither of us is going to be completely right on this, because applying a rule to a given situation means we’re never going to do it perfectly.

                      So where does that leave us? We’ve got this rule about not killing/murdering, but the Bible only gives us faint hints about how to apply it. When it is and isn’t justified to kill. This requires judgement. What is killing? What is murdering? How can this be reconciled with other Biblical edicts? For clergy who would rather not make that judgement call, the easier thing to do would be to not make it, and avoid killing altogether, that is, to avoid trying to apply a seemingly inflexible rule to a lot of really messy real-world situations.

                      This is why I could understand why bishops would want to get involved in a public policy issue such as this, because guns are designed to kill people, and they want to err on the side of protecting life, which is the point I was making. Now you could draw different conclusions, that gun control makes it harder for the right people to get their hands on firearms, or determining that the rule was not meant to apply in certain contexts, like self-defense or similar situations, and so forth. But my point here was that the more conservative approach is to try and avoid making judgement calls that we know we’re going to get wrong. That’s not necessarily the easier or more pragmatic strategy, but it is the one that is least problematic textually and morally.

                    • Lt. William J. Lawler II, M.Ed

                      1. Limiting weapon ownership is not erring on the side of protecting life. It actually errs on the side of slaughter, victimization, and death. Until the Second Coming there will always be bad people and those bad people will always utilize weapons to harm good people. Period. Weapons bans and limitations disarm good people and arm bad people. Period. So if you want to err on the side of life, do so by arming the general population. Then the good people will be on the same footing as the bad people. By the way, governments have slaughtered/murdered over 300 million people (read: civilians) in the 20th century alone. This does NOT include military deaths.

                      2. I will restate what I stated earlier: If you truly believe in the rhetoric
                      you just spent four paragraphs supporting, then I suggest you practice your interpretation of self-defense and weapons ownership as you see it in the Bible, and I will practice mine as I see it in the Bible. Those of us who interpret the Bible our way will leave you alone; and those of you who
                      interpret the Bible your way should leave us alone. If I need assistance in
                      protecting myself, my family, my community, or my country, I will not bother you. If you need assistance protecting yourself, your family, your community, or your country, do not bother us. It’s that simple.

                    • sseller

                      See, I don’t think there’s actually as wide a gulf as it sounded! I don’t disagree with you that from a pragmatic point of view, curtailing weapons ownership could be harmful to life. While it’s also true that a gun in the home is much more likely on average to be used against oneself or ones family than against an intruder, most gun owners are capable of keeping his or her weapon safely without harming someone. The difference between our arguments seems to be that I don’t see the Bible as guiding my pragmatic choices. I see it as a book making moral arguments and discussing ideals, rather than discussing practical situations. That’s why it’s so hard to know when this book says you shouldn’t kill or murder, what that really means when you’re in the military or serving as a police officer and you try and use the Bible to guide your decision-making in that role. After all, there are situations where killing might be justified to save other lives or to fulfill other important goals, but the Bible does not lay those out explicitly, which is why judgement is required, and as I noted above, that’s really hard to get right.

                      I don’t see following the Bible closely as a realistic way to live my life, or the lives that most people live today, because we have to make a lot of choices that the Bible has little to say about, or has conflicting things to say about. That’s why I see it as a tool for cultivating morals, not as a rule book. I think the Bible has plenty of rules in them, like not killing, but I don’t think they’re convenient or useful to follow in some circumstances where judgement and prudence would suggest a different course, so I don’t treat the Bible as as set of rules to follow without regard to the situation, but rather as a set of ideals to live up to. But then again, I don’t think the Bible is the literal word of God, and for that reason, I follow it less closely than most Catholic clergy. I hold those who profess to believe in the Bible as the word of God to a higher standard–I expect them to follow the rules outlined within it, even the ones that are inconvenient. But make no mistake, that’s a really hard way to live, and presents a lot of very inconvenient, and in many cases, unrealistic choices.

                      As to the clergy, I can’t speak for them, but I suspect that they’re referring not to the world we live in, but to an idealized world. After all, a world with no guns would have no gun deaths, and that is a world they would like to see materialize. The problem is that to get from A to B, taking a disproportionate amount of guns away from ordinary citizens as opposed to criminals or the government, may actually put people at greater risk practically as you suggest. However, we don’t actually know for sure, it’s an empirical question–it could also be the case that since guns are not commonly used in self-defense, that the lives saved from suicide and domestic violence could be greater than those taken due to the inability of people to defend themselves. So I think the Bishops want to get to B, because the Bible advocates peace and they feel that’s the right thing to do. But as a country, we are moving in the opposite direction, with a sharp increase in the number of guns available. And up until recently, there haven’t been many efforts to reduce the impact of gun violence within the past decade or two. So perhaps the Bishops are endorsing the recent proposals because they see it as the best solution out there when the tide is against them. Maybe this means that the Bishops are endorsing a second- or third-best solution. I don’t know, but that’s really an empirical question that neither of us have the evidence to answer at this point, and not a moral one, which is the question I think they’re likely focused on.

                    • Lt. William J. Lawler II, M.Ed

                      1. “While it’s also true that a gun in the home is much more likely on average to be used against oneself or ones family than against an intruder…” This is an absolutelt false statement that is propogated by an intellectually dishonest anti-gun media and anti-gunners. There is absolutely no truth to this statement. Here is an interesting fact for you to consider: Per capita, law enforcement officers have accidental off-duty shootings that is more than triple the rate of non-law enforcement gun owners. Sure, non-L.E. total numbers may be higher because they outnumber law enforcement officers by such a huge raw number. But per capita, cops have the most accidental shootings and that does not even include on-duty accidents which are more often than not covered up.

                      2. “…it could also be the case that since guns are not commonly used in self-defense…” This is an absolutelt false statement that is propogated by an intellectually dishonest anti-gun media and anti-gunners. There is absolutely no truth to this statement. Fact: firearms are used to prevent or stop crimes as opposed to being used to commit a crime at a ratio of 5:1! Fac: non-L.E. use firearms to fight crimes more often than cops! Reason: Cops almost always show up afte the fact. Hence, 911 is better known as “dial-a-prayer”.

                      3. As to your questions surrounding interpretation of the Bible. I don’t pick and choose. Also, that is why I am a Roman Catholic. It is not within my pervue to “interpret” God’s Word. It is Holy Mother Church’s. As a Catholic, I only believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God because the Church says so. Therefore I defer to her interpretations. God is the author of the Bible, but He chose the Catholic Church to be the editor, publisher, and distributor. Historically speaking, if it was not for the Catholic Church there would not be a Bible. I know this will give Protestants indigestion, but it is 100% true.

      • HDR

        You may think you’re asking a relevant question of private citizens but you are ignoring the truly absurd reality of our governments. Why should governments have such an unchecked capability of annihilating our entire planet hundreds of times over? You’re insinuating that it’s ridiculous for private citizens to theoretically have these weapons but you don’t question the reality of our current governments.

        • sseller

          As to your point HDR, and to yours cken, the reason that it might be more legitimate for a government to have weapons of mass destruction is because there are checks and balances in their use. The U.S. has a professional military that is highly trained to only use such weapons after various orders/commands have been given. Any Tom, Dick, or Harry who has a missile launcher or a bomb may not do the same. In addition, unlike any private citizen, who is not accountable to me, democratic governments are, in theory, accountable to their people. I recognize that with the current administration many Americans don’t feel that way, but despite the problems of this administration, we still have the power to affect how our government projects power at the ballot box. People in regimes that are actually dictatorial don’t.

          That’s not to say that I think governments should have WMDs. I don’t think the possession of WMDs can be justified under most religious or moral doctrines. But it is to say that it might be a good idea for democratic governments, because they have systems of checks and balances and because they can be changed peacefully, to have certain powers individuals don’t have.

      • cken

        Why would you think an elected private citizen, i.e. government, would show any more discretion in the use of weapons of mass destruction, than a non-government private citizen. We started a revolution because about one third of us thought Britain was being tyrannical by taxing us without representation. Are we being represented today, or is government doing whatever it wants without regard to the will of the citizenry? If a third of the public agrees with the latter should we follow our historical roots and overthrow the tyrannical government? Just things to think about, obviously everybody will have their own opinion.

    • mel statom

      I cannot get around the troubling witness of Christ himself, who bore no arms..whose only “weapon” was self-donating love. ” Follow me”. translates ..” Do as I do”….I am Christ- haunted and continually hear Him tell Peter to “put down the sword”.

      • Lt. William J. Lawler II, M.Ed

        1. Jesus NEVER instituted a blanket ban on violence.

        2. Jesus made many references to Himself being here for violent purposes and often spoke of violence in favorable terms.

        3. Every person has a different calling. Some have a calling that brings them closer to violence then others. From cops and soldiers to a man who is raising a family in a violent area.

        4. Jesus had many opportunities to institute a crystal clear blanket ban on violence, yet He never did. Not once did he tell a soldier to not be a soldier.

        5. If violence is never acceptable, then how come so many warriors and fighters are Saints?

        6. Do you really think that God commands people to allow themselves and others to be raped, butchered, and oppressed? Are you telling me that it is better for a man to stand idly by and allow his five year old son or daughter to be raped by a gang of men, rather than to use force to stop it? If so, then you disgust me. If not, then you are a hypocrite.

        7. We are taught that our life is precious gift from God. As such, is it not our duty to protect that gift?

  • Dan Li

    Please recognize the fact that His Eminence was likely describing a rather idealistic world. I think he and the other would-be confiscators would rather that we had the violent crime rates of Japan (which has rather strict laws…), but recognize that due to our culture and our nature, guns are going to remain a very visible and important part of our culture for the foreseeable future.

  • publiusnj

    The bishops ARE qualified to present “specific guidance” on the issue of morality and questiona about how and when guns are used have strong moral content. The issue of more or less gun control by the state, though, comes down to what is sometimes called a “prudential concern” and the bishops have no specific competence in that regard. I think we would all benefit from their counsel on whether and when we should blow away another human being if he dares set foot in our house. Guns can be and often are glorified in rather callous ways, but do have their legitimate uses.

    • Adam Baum

      “The issue of more or less gun control by the state, though, comes down
      to what is sometimes called a “prudential concern” and the bishops have
      no specific competence in that regard.”

      Then if they dare to pronounce authoritatively on a matter that they either a.) have no specific competence and know it, but opine anyway b.) have no specific competence and don’t know it and opine-why trust them?

      • publiusnj

        Bishops have as much right to comment on matters of public concern as anyone, and as I mentioned, in their specific area of competence (morality) they can do so authoritatively. On prudential matters of the appropriateness of gun control, they do not speak authoritatively but i don’t know who does. Certainly not the NRA which is just a bunch of gun owners looking to defend their present position. Does that mean I should talk disrespectfully about the NRA? Of course not, no more than opponents should speak disrespectfully about bishops whose position they oppose.

  • Arriero

    In what kind of Catholicism believes the author of the article? I’m amazed. There is no religious, human, natural right to bear weapons. I’ve always hated the american perception of: in one hand the Bible, on the other hand a gun. That’s similar to the Henry VIII perception of in one hand the Bible, on the other my lovers tits. A truly and deep nonsense. It seems to me that the author is completely wrong. He still has not noticed that RealCLearReligion does not mean “protecting our divine right to bear guns”. Your XVII century ancestors were pretty more clever.

    • K

      I agree, Arriero. Jesus said, “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” He was not some violent militant.

      • Jesus also said the time must come when you are to sell your purse and
        buy a sword. And as for sseller’s point about nukes. It is also immoral for any government to possess WMDs.

    • Beth Anne

      No it means the right to self defense against unjust aggressors.
      Please read the CCC regarding self defense.
      Remember what Jesus said about whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven to His Church, and the CCC is from the Church (Magisterium).

  • Bonnie

    Yes, “gun control therefore is primarily a harm to responsible gun owners”
    Excellent article.

  • Kris

    Sadly, this is a political hit piece rather than an example of academic or theological scholarship. The reasoning is shoddy; the claims untrue (for example, Lombardi is emphatically NOT flouting the CCC. And why should his “competence and authority” be of any less worth than yours or mine? After the Newtown massacre, we should all be looking at all options regarding how to avoid another tragedy.

    • Ford Oxaal

      Keep crazy people from access to guns or other dangerous technology. We know who they are. The warning signs are there for years. We just don’t act on that information.

  • K

    Owning several guns didn’t help the killer’s mother at Newtown — he took them and shot her. Armed teachers? I’ve known a few very unstable teachers I wouldn’t trust with a weapon. If we arm thousands of teachers, how do we know that one of them won’t have a child like Adam Lanza? One of the worst school massacres in the US was carried out be a school board member. Middle-aged people go on spree killings too. Armed guards in the schools? We’ve probably by now all heard the story of the guard who accidentally left his gun in the school bathroom the other day. If everyone in the Aurora theater during the “Batman” shooting had been armed? There would have been many, many more deaths. Some of the survivors said it wasn’t clear who was doing the shooting. Anyone holding a gun would have likely been shot by … who else? another person holding a gun, who would have been shot in turn, etc. If Trayvon Martin had been armed, would he still be alive today? I don’t know. It seems there would be a good chance that both he and George ZImmerman would be dead.

    • Ford Oxaal

      The bad guys have guns, and they always will. You can’t legislate nice.

  • Manny

    We have to face it, places in america that already have gun control like chicago and D.C. only the criminals have guns – is this what the Bishops want. I live at the end of a dark street in city filled with guns. I will not give up my gun to Obama and his henchmen – I need it to protect my family.

  • Loud

    The catholic church hsa NOT taken a position in favor of gun confiscation. Individual bishops have. We are bound to respect them in all matters pertaining to faith and morals, but no bishop has come out with any reason why owning a gun for hunting or self defense is immoral. That is because it isnt. What they think is that getting rid of the guns will make it harder for people to misuse them, and THAT is open for discussion. What they say should ALWAYS be considered, even on issues of opinion like these, but my opinion is still different. And he foregets that by encouraging Obama to continue infringing upon our constitutional right to bear arms, he is ecouraging defiance of just law, which IS immoral. He should, if he thinks that guns should truly be kept from citizens, insist on the second ammendments nullfication. Funny, i didnt hear him do that.

  • poetcomic1

    NO the Holy Father has NOT spoken at all concerning Obama and gun control:

  • Sid

    We are the Church militant you know. And the Pope grew up in a time in history where the Nazi’s disarmed the people and the rest is history.

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  • Ford Oxaal

    The problem is not dangerous technology per se, but the whackos that get their hands on it. This country has always restricted crazy people and criminals from having guns — we just do a lousy job of saying, “hey, we know you are a problem, you can’t use dangerous technology.” Political ‘progressives’ think that you would be violating some ill-conceived notion of “equality” or “privacy” in doing so. So the only course of action under progressive logic is to make everyone as equally restricted as should be crazy people.

  • Morning’s Minion

    I would advise the author to get beyond the liberalism associated with John Locke, or – even worse – Thomas Hobbes, and take a careful look at society from the Catholic perspective. He should ask himselves why the United States is such an outlier on the issue of guns.He should ask why the rest of the world is puzzled and disgusted by America’s prevailing gun culture with all its macho swagger.
    The answer is patently obvious – the iron-strong radical individualism with its roots in Enlightenment-era liberalism. When Mr. Hahn insists on the right to hold an assault weapon, he is making an argument not far removed from the person who insists on the right to absolute autonomy over her body.

    The facts are simple – the gun culture is part of the culture of death. The death rate from firearms, homicide and suicide, is astronomically higher in the United States. A reputable Harvard study of 23 OECD shows that US homicide rates and 7 percent higher, and firearm homicide rates are 20 percent higher than comparators. In 2005, 5,285 U.S. children were killed by gunshot compared with 57 in Germany and none in Japan. Homes with guns are 12 times more likely to have residents killed by this gun than by any intruder. And the US export of 60,000 assault weapons to Mexico after the ban ended is the cause of so much misery and carnage in that country.

    This is surely unacceptable. A government that embraces its duty to protect and defend life must take action. That is the Catholic view. So I would ask Americans to please grow up, ditch their outdated lberal individualism, and stand up for the common good.

    • Beth Anne

      No, illegal drugs and prescription drug abuse kills more people in the USA (and other countries) than anything else.

      After that carelessness with the automobile.
      Have you noted that murder, rape and other severe forms of violence are lower in the USA? In fact, FBI quotes that it gets lower each year.

      You will never stop criminals from having weapons – ball bats, knives, guns, vehicles, etc.
      Only the human hands kill and maim – not inanimate objects.

      Btw – please provide us with the paragraph numbers in the CCC – that support your false idea of “Catholic view”.
      CCC: ” 2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle
      of morality.
      Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right
      to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is
      forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:.
      If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be
      unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be
      lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of
      moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take
      more care of one’s own life than of another’s.”

      Parents do have an obligation to keep weapons locked and out of reach of children. But this law is already on the books in most States.

      • Morning’s Minion

        I repeat, you are displaying a unquely American mindset that is totally at odds wih global Catholicism on this issue – from the most traditional to the most progressive. The passage you quote is quite accurately stated but also quote irrelevant. Remember, the first duty of the state is not the protection of individual liberty, but the protection of the common good. As the Compendium states, “The common good is
        the reason that the political authority exists”. In in discharging this duty, the state must regulate the availability of dangerous firearms.

        And on the statistics – please. The people in the US are not inherently more violent than the people of western Europe. But the murder and suicide rates are so much higher because guns are so widely available. Stand up for life. Stand up for the culture. Stand up against guns.

        • This will probably offend your high-mindedness, but the high rates of murder via guns are located by hugely disproportionate amounts in one particular American demographic, which we are not supposed to notice, since they enjoy the privileges and benefits of being an oppressed minority who are never responsible for whatever mayhem and ruin they wreak on each other or the rest of us. Remove them from the equation and things look very different.

        • Ford Oxaal

          Citizens with guns aren’t the problem. It’s crazy people and criminals with guns that are the problem. It’s crazy people and criminals with any technology that are the problem.

          • musicacre

            Yes, guns don’t kill; people do.

        • Matt Landry

          Ooh, you kinda dropped the ball there. You forgot to say “gun suicide rate” and just said “suicide rate”…which opens the door to having it pointed out that the overall suicide rate in the United States is not higher than in other Western countries.

        • Beth Anne

          And just why do you think suicide and murder are so prevalent in the USA? Illegal drugs, abuse of prescription drugs? Violent, abusive and sexual content in entertainment media?
          Btw there is nothing irrelevant in the CCC, including about our right to self protection.
          The US Government lost its right to say it works for the ‘common good’ when they support the murder of 54,000,000 (million) innocent babies through abortion each year.
          What government is supposed to do per the CCC, and what it actually does are in many cases very different.
          Hitler, Stalin, and leaders from Rwanda, Cambodia, Boznia, etc. etc.,, have all proven that the government can not be trusted with our lives.

          • Beth Anne

            Should have been – 54 MILLION abortions since 1973.
            Averaging over 1 million innocents per year.

            Do you think that Obama and his administration really care what the CCC states, and therefore work for the common good? Abortion, homo-sexual marriage, gun running to the Mexican drug cartels, fighting religious freedom.

            Where are the Bishops – publically excommunicating “Catholic’ politicians who publically and actively support abortion and homo-sexual marriage?
            Let the Bishops do their own jobs within their own Diocese.
            This ialso ncludes their lack of currently encouraging those literate and over age 16 to read and study the CCC.

    • Matt Landry

      Right. Because human life is only worth preserving against guns, so we’ll only count the people who get killed with guns. Not to mention citing discredited studies as if they were fact.

      Oh, and good show on laying blame for the US government exporting assault rifles to Mexico (a policy ILLEGALLY undertaken by the Obama administration for the purpose of ramping up public support for restrictive gun laws) at the feet of gun-rights advocates. That’s a real master-stroke of the deceptive arts.

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  • schmenz

    On and on it goes, the same old song: a Vatican spokesman is not the Pope, the Pope is not saying this, or that, etc., etc., etc. Allow me, yet again, to remind everyone of these time-honored words: perception is everything. No one is going to study the situation carefully. Most will come to believe that Rome has spoken, even though it clearly has not. None of this matters because the perception will be that the Pope approves of gun control (and, considering the fact that Benedict is fairly liberal on too many issues, it wouldn’t surprise me if he were). You can parse Lombardi’s statement any way you like, you can use whatever mental gymnastics that seem good to you to try to convince everyone that Rome is not backing Obama. But all of this doesn’t matter because the public will think Rome does back Obama, and since the Pope is unlikely to contradict Lombardi (please God I am wrong here) the misconception will go on.

    It’s what what you say that’s important; it’s what they think you said that’s important.

    Just the other day I am saddened to report Pope Benedict met with assistant war criminal Leon Panetta – you know, that exemplary Catholic who stands by his boss Obama in everything including sending drones to murder innocent Arabs, destroying our civil liberties, shoving abortion and sodomy down our throats, invading and destroying countries that have done us no harm – and said to him, “Thank you for helping to make the world safe.”

    if that is how the Holy Father views the realities of America then he is a woefully misguided individual indeed.

    • schmenz

      One typo correction. I should have written: “It’s not what you say that’s important; it’s what they think you said that’s important.” My apologies for not proof reading.

    • publiusnj

      Schmenz writes: “No one is going to study the situation carefully.”
      Speak for yourself.

  • Dan

    Do not regret what you have written, Mr Hahn, especially in the face of all the sentimental responses opposing your views. Many of them are well-meaning and one can sympathize with much of what they say. But they lack a realistic view of where we are as a nation and where the Church is in relation to these realities.

    “The Bishops of England, my Lord, would have snored through the Sermon on the Mount,” so said St Thomas More at his trial. Truer words could hardly be spoken and they apply very much to most of the Bishops of the Church today. And if they had been doing their job from the get-go – converting their fellow citizens to Catholicism – it is more than likely there would be no Sandy Hooks occurring. Indeed, how many of these massacres occurred prior to, say, 1960? One? Two? None? Yes, the USA did a spot of massacring at Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Dresden, which, God be thanked many in the Church soundly condemned (excluding, not surprisingly the Americanism-tinged US episcopate). But Sandy Hook type incidents almost never happened. Ask yourself why is that. What changed fifty + years ago that has led to the mess we are in. Could it have been a Church which suddenly muzzled itself at they very time it should have been preaching the Faith from the housetops?

    Thank you for your fine article.

  • montanajack1948

    The bishops would be better advised to speak of that which they intimately know: family planning and what sort of contraception should be allowed. Guns don’t kill people; the morning-after pill kills people.

    • musicacre

      Actually, contraception is not condoned by the Church; you should realize that with oall the publicity of Obama forcing Catholic institutions to pony up for it for their employees.

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  • Phil

    The fact that the Crisis is claiming that the Church undeniably supports minimal gun rights says a great deal about the true ideological slant of the magazine. Is this a truly a religious site or does it merely use a theological guise to hide an agenda that really doesn’t have much to do with Catholicism at all?

    • Ford Oxaal

      Are you against the second amendment? Do you think JPII was against the second amendment? Would it matter if he were?

  • montanajack1948

    I believe the bishops should only speak to those issues they know: family planning, for instance, and the propriety of various methods of contraception. Guns don’t kill people; the morning-after pill kills people.

  • Beth Anne

    Those Bishops who want to disarm law abiding American citizens, or register their guns with the Government for potential future confiscation – have forgotten: Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Russia, and the genocides in: Rwanda, Cambodia, Lybia, Bosnia, etc.
    People have the right to protect themselves even from an evil government.
    If something is not in the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” then Bishops need to stay out of the Laity’s business.
    Btw women also have the right to protect themselves from usually stronger male aggressors.
    What are these Bishops thinking?

  • bdlaacmm

    I’m with the bishop here.

    It’s time… hell, it’s long past time to repeal the Second Amendment. Just like the abominable “3/5ths of a person” clause, which we wisely got rid of almost 150 years ago, not everything in the Constitution is Good and Wise.

    And people, don’t wait for some law that might never be passed. If you own a gun today, get rid of it – now! Take it to your local police station. They’ll be happy to help you dispose of it. Teach your children to never wish to own one.

    Remember, the person most likely to be harmed or killed by a gun is its owner or someone in the owner’s family.

    • Ford Oxaal

      You will make us all 3/5ths of a person if you take the teeth out of our hard fought liberty. Or do you think liberty just shows up because you are such a nice person…

    • Matt Landry

      …and then, hang a sign outside your house, proudly proclaiming your disarmed status to every passing criminal! It’ll be an excellent test of your faith in humanity, as you watch helpless while your family is raped and killed by psychopaths.

      Or you can just admit to yourself that you enjoy having the protection of laws that ensure criminals don’t know which would-be victims can defend themselves and which ones can’t, despite the fact that you campaign for the elimination of that protection.

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        In Great Britain, no bank, casino, betting shop or jewellers can use armed guards and police patrols are unarmed too, yet they are seldom robbed.

    • Gekk

      “the person most likely to be harmed or killed by a gun is its owner or someone in the owner’s family.”

      OMG I just had the greatest idea EVER.


      Since Guns are FAR more dangerous to the person holding the gun; we’ll ALL be better off once we arm every violent criminal with the worst guns possible.

      Given that premise for a logical argument I can see no flaw with this plan. We’ll end up with much less violent crime once all the violent criminals are armed and have these prominent accidents that are more common than anything else.

      Of course we’ll disarm everyone else; wouldn’t want anyone else getting hurt… especially cops. They’ve got a tough enough job without risking accidents so they should be disarmed first.

      Anyone think this is a good plan?

      Given your logical premise a society where we disarm everyone EXCEPT violent criminals will be the most safe secure society ever.

      Do you think your logical premise is workable given that conclusion?

      • Michael Paterson-Seymour

        Here in Scotland, the police are unarmed.

        Specially approved firearms officers may be issued with guns by the Chief Constable to deal with a specific incident. This rarely happens and each such case must be reported to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, who investigate it and publish a report.

        Under no circumstances may private security guards be armed.

  • Januarius

    One does wish some of our bishops would stop being spokespersons for Dear Leader and consider being practicing Catholics.

  • When will popes and other pontiffs stop making themselves sound foolish by adopting the inflated language which talks about “ending violence” and other such nonsense”? Like Paul VI’s “jamais plus la guerre.” It makes their words as empty as the press releases from a thousand other places. Utopian dreams are deeply unChristian.

  • jaymike

    Once again some Bishops are overreaching a bit. Obama is a leftist ideologue. PERIOD! He gives not a hoot about your health or protecting your kids from guns. It’s all about statism, godless socialism and control of people. One would like to think the RCC would have learned a thing or two about Fascism, Communism, Socialism and Secularism, after 2 World Wars and the Cold War. PJP2 certainly understood it. In all cases 2 things are required. #1) Disarm the people, #2) Attack & Neuter the Catholic Church. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. There are 2 truism that come to mind. Never met a widow who complained about her spouse having too much life insurance, and. Never met a victim of crime who complained about having a gun to defend themselves.

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  • steve5656546346

    A good article!

  • Carl

    Haven’t we learned anything from the Twentieth Century. Sure an individual citizen can commit horrendous crimes but they are but a dot on the statistical charts when compared to totalitarian states and the wars they often create between each other. Totalitarian states during the WWII era killed 100 million people often after disarming them first!

    Serial killer Ted Bundie killed more people than Newton, CT and Jeffery Dahmer killed almost as many, both without the use of firearms. Others killed more with fertilizer, religious cults, box cutters and airplanes.

    Where’s the leadership on faith and morals? Call to reverse the ban of God in schools and other public areas—no more God free zones. Violence and Immorality Control in Media and society (e.g. sin tax violent media productions, sin tax pornography and make them both hard to access) Really! Liberals will have us believe that ONLY anti-Muslim films causes violence and murder? Humane Vitae warned us about the coarsening of society with escalated immorality. Abortion Control and promote a Culture of Life. Or should I say culture of death control? Do we always have to go for all or nothing—one step at a time works. Just look how the left is slowly forcing faith and morals to the small confines of only Sunday morning Masses.

  • Robert

    The main reason to keep your guns is because of all the unrest. With the internet mob movements have arisen and if some of these mobs take over it will be necessary to have guns for self defense.

  • Becky

    Are you reading the same Catechism I am? Because if you’re willing and able to ignore the obvious meaning of its text, and selectively quote it, in order to get it to “mean” what you would like it to mean … then I think you’d make a fabulous protestant. I have always leaned left, but as a new Catholic convert, I have been willing to re-examine my prior support for civil gay marriage, etc. in light of church teaching (which I realize is superior to my wisdom). I don’t understand at all why those who lean right are unwilling to engage in similar examinations of conscience when their natural political leanings conflict with clear church teachings, as is the case with gun control. It seems like a classic case of seeing the speck in your neighbor’s eye while ignoring the log in your own (which is something I’ve been guilty of myself more than once). I’m trying hard not to let the blatant hypocrisy discourage me on my faith journey.

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  • djpala

    Which Bishops signed this letter ? Probably the same ones that support the communistic welfare state that in turn produces the criminals & the know it all politicians for which gun ownership becomes a necessity. The annual CCHD collection of the USCCB is a prime example !