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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Catholics and gun control

The shootings in Connecticut have affected the country more deeply than any event since the attacks of 9/11, in my opinion.  They represent an evil that cannot be remedied by any legislation, though legislation may play a role in making such events less common.  I do not want to diminish the horror of last Friday's events by framing our response in strictly legal terms, but we are a Catholic legal theory blog, and the legal debates are now upon us.

I am not a gun owner, and I have never quite gotten my mind around the full-throated defense of gun rights.  (I understand the Second Amendment argument; I'm referring to the various forms of the "any limitation on gun ownership is bad public policy" argument.)  In my view, the NRA has a similar function to NARAL in that both groups make reasoned discourse on the underlying issue more difficult.  I don't believe that there is a "Catholic" position on gun rights, but I do believe that there is a Catholic understanding of freedom that is in considerable tension with the understanding of freedom that seems to animate the arguments of some gun rights advocates.

So here's my question: Why should a Catholic who takes seriously our obligation to cultivate the common good oppose a ban on the sale of assault weapons?  I'll assume the elusiveness of an agreeable "assault weapon" definition -- I understand that's an obstacle, but that does not seem to be the only sort of objection.  I'm interested in the more principled grounds for opposition.  I ask this question in a fully non-snarky way -- I'm not an expert on guns or gun laws, so I would like to be pointed to the best arguments why a Catholic worldview is consistent with the private ownership of guns designed for killing at a high rate of speed. 

http://mirrorofjustice.blogs.com/mirrorofjustice/2012/12/catholics-and-gun-control.html

Vischer, Rob | Permalink

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I am not an expert on this topic, but I suppose if a group of people breaks into your house (as opposed to a single assailant) it could be seen as beneficial to have weapons possessing accuracy, speed and high capacity.

Posted by: Matt Bowman | Dec 19, 2012 10:43:39 AM

John Lott has written on this subject from a Catholic perspective and in doing so has appealed to the works of John of Salisbury. I cannot find a link to this work, but I know it's out there. Lott has been on the major cable news networks advancing a defense of fire arms ownership, although from a more rights based perspective.

I think the discussion of gun and weapon ownership is relevant to the common good. But it is insufficient in these cases. We need to consider what effect does divorce have in this case, as the mother filed for divorce back in 2008 and had one granted. It is tragic in this case that Ms. Lanza did not have her husband around to act as an authority to help their son. Why isn't there a bunch of noise being made about the detrimental effects divorce is having upon our communities? Perhaps the Church is right about this issue regarding how marriage and divorce is not merely a private situation but has substantial bearing on the common good of the community.

We also need to consider the questions of mental health and the common good.

Marriage, mental health, and the spiritual composition of our communities need to be handled first. Arguments about inanimate objects are a side-show and a typical reaction of our American puritanical disposition which can be summed up as deliver us from stuff (eg guns, drugs, booze) instead of deliver us from evil (eg divorce, mental illness).

Posted by: CK | Dec 19, 2012 11:03:07 AM

I suppose you have seen this elsewhere, but...you asked:

> As mentioned, the terminology is more political drama than factual. So-called "assault" weapons are not--by objective measures--"worse" than many other guns which would be excluded. My understanding is that one of the guns the killer in Connecticut used--which I presume people would want to ban--was a less forceful weapon than standard deer-hunting rifles. So a lot of what's being bandied about is not grounded in real facts and careful distinctions. Shouldn't federal legislation start with better premises?

> The issue isn't just guns for hunting or sport purposes, as worthwhile and politically significant as those are, but it seems to me primarily a question of self-defense. So when folks say, you don't need such-and-such to hunt; that may be true; but for self-defense? Very different question. Just what will a person who lives alone, who may not have a lot of physical strength, need in foreseeable situations where one--or more than one--person threatens his or her? How can politicians or activists be so sure that the person I'm describing won't need a gun that shoots rapidly and easily, with a lot of stopping power?

> So how about who has access to guns? We do have instant background checks; but the problem of screening for people with mental illness is real and hard to solve. That seems to me to be a more promising avenue to pursue. But even the existing background check has to be viewed critically: how do people find themselves on "the list"? What sorts of offenses might put someone there? Can this be abused? I would bet real money there are stories to be told here, if any reporters are interested. Now imagine people being added to a list of those who--for mental disability--can't legally buy a gun. Very easy to imagine how this is abused, if there isn't due process. How does one get added to this list? How does one raise an objection?

> The skepticism I and many others have toward proposals for "gun control" is that they over-promise and under-perform, yet each stage becomes the premise for a greater tightening. We have states and municipalities with pretty strict gun controls, yet they seem to do worse on gun crimes than places with less stringent laws. The entire country of UK has pretty tight controls, yet gun violence is rising there; if you can't secure gun trafficking into an island, what are the prospects of gun controls making any real difference in the U.S.?

> It seems entirely reasonable to me to ask--as many do--about the perverse incentives created by "gun free zones." Yet this is responded to, not with reasoned counter-argument, but with scorn or expressions of moral dudgeon. Not helpful. Why wouldn't someone aiming to kill lots of people tend to look for a "gun free" zone?

Notice, for many years, airplanes were "gun free" zones; but in the wake of 9/11, the suggestion was made, arm the pilots; they are carefully screened and trained professionals, often former military--surely they can be trusted with guns, since they are trusted with the airplane for heaven's sake! This was resisted by anti-gun folks, but eventually, it was carried out. Has it helped? I don't know of evidence of an armed pilot making a difference, but so far what problems has it entailed? When folks talk about "common sense" solutions, this seemed like one of them.

So, yes, I see no reason not to consider having well trained, well vetted people, who work in and around school grounds, to be able to carry a weapon. Someone had to respond to the shooting in Connecticut. They called the police--who came with guns. Only they came after 20 minutes.

> Final point: the fact is, there is a lot of sub-rational fear and loathing of guns that influences the debate. I mentioned the resistance to arming airline pilots; I suspect that was a factor there. Folks who feel that revulsion toward guns might consider trying to put themselves in a different set of shoes. Large swaths of this country are inhabited by people who live with guns, peacefully and prosperously. And they see these things happening in cities and suburbs, and they can reasonably say: don't tell us that it's the gun; we live orderly, happy lives using our guns safely. (And, yes, of course someone can be as unreasoning in ones devotion to guns, but I don't see that as much.)

Posted by: FrMartinFox | Dec 19, 2012 11:03:59 AM

Why should a Bushmaster like the one used by Mr. Lanza be legal? As far I can see, that gun has no sporting, target shooting or hunting purpose. It's certainly fine to speak to the other issues in play but weapons such as those should not be legal. Period.

Posted by: Edward Dougherty | Dec 19, 2012 11:11:37 AM

I appreciate your question, and look forward to discussion about it, and perhaps the arguments that will develop. I would, however, had appreciated more serious reasoned support for your opinions on several points, which seem to have already gotten the discussion off to a poor start.

First, why assimilate the function of the NRA with that of NARAL? Doesn't this parallelism presuppose that the NRA supports intrinsic evils? Does the NRA actually promote a position resembling "any limitation on gun ownership is bad public policy"? It doesn't appear to: http://www.nraila.org/about-nra-ila.aspx. Rather, the NRA seems to promote gun-control with reasonable Constitutional limits.

Second, it would have been better to elaborate on your thesis that "there is a Catholic understanding of freedom that is in considerable tension with the understanding of freedom that seems to animate the arguments of some gun rights advocates." The way I understand your statement, you are implying the distinction between the freedom of perfection and the freedom of negation. Yet if this is the case, there seems to be a fairly straightforward and obvious argument from natural law, which is in agreement with the "Catholic understanding of freedom," that follows from the premise that lethal self-defense can be an act of justice. (ST, Ia-IIae, q. 2, a. 3, ad 3; IIa-IIae, q. 64, a. 7) If the act is, given the proper qualifications, a just act, then the tools used in the act are permissible as intrinsically required for that act. An analogous example: amputation is, in certain cases, a good action; therefore, the possession of, training in, and use of surgical equipment is justifiable.

Third, there is a many questions fallacy that you commit when framing your last inquiry. While "assum[ing] the elusiveness of an agreeable "assault weapon" definition" you then frame your question in those terms, asking after the 'Catholicity' of owning "guns designed for killing at a high rate of speed." However, you do admit you don't know anything about guns, so this fallacy can be overlooked. Quite simply, there are—aside from automatic weapons, the legality of which is not being debated—no gun designed for killing at a high rate of speed available to a civilian. So, first, why is this a "many questions" fallacy? Because you already assume the disputed definition of an assault weapon. Second, why is this question, as it stands, nonsensical? Because it is like asking after the legality of "guns designed for hunting at a high rate of speed." It is physically impossible to build a semiautomatic weapon that, in and of itself, can hunt/kill at a high rate of speed. The rate at which an operator is able to fire at his targets depends primarily and almost exclusively on his ability to use his weapon, and secondarily on the ease with which his weapon can be reloaded. So, unless you mean by your question, "Is it consistent with Catholic morals to own a semiautomatic weapon which can be reloaded with a magazine carrying multiple rounds in less than 10 seconds?" then your question as it stands frames the issue in the wrong way (many questions) and nonsensically.

Finally, while I do not know of "the best Catholic" arguments, this issue does not seem to escape the purview of the natural law. It is at bottom an issue of justice (possession of certain instruments, use of certain instruments). So, if we consider another culture that has a moral training comparable to the natural law (http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/119408/why-israel-has-no-newtowns?all=1) perhaps we can begin there.

Posted by: John | Dec 19, 2012 11:18:06 AM

"I'm not an expert on guns or gun laws, so I would like to be pointed to the best arguments why a Catholic worldview is consistent with the private ownership of guns designed for killing at a high rate of speed."

To this point, it is important to emphasize that the lawless will always find a way, especially in our culture, to utilize guns that fire at a high rate of speed. The best way to counter an offensive from the lawless firing guns at a high rate of speed is counter assault with weapons at a high rate of speed. Semi-automatic weapons like the Bushmaster operate at a sufficient rate of speed to hit point targets trying to kill you with fully automatic weapons within 100 meters. One thing Marines learn is that often times, the semi-automatic is preferable to automatic in maintaining controlled shots at multiple targets. Especially if you want to be accurate and not kill bystanders.

When does such a situation arise in the civilian context? In the inner-cities. In places like El Paso, TX where a full blown war is going on just over the Rio Grande and at times coming in.

As people who understand the use of force and arms know, the most effective line of defense is the first line. An interesting case along these lines is the shooting incident at Appalachian Law School.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appalachian_School_of_Law_shooting

Posted by: CK | Dec 19, 2012 12:48:43 PM

"My understanding is that one of the guns the killer in Connecticut used--which I presume people would want to ban--was a less forceful weapon than standard deer-hunting rifles."

Actually, this is true. A bolt action 306 is much more powerful than 223, which is essentially known as a varmit rifle (this includes the M-16).

Posted by: CK | Dec 19, 2012 12:51:53 PM

"It's certainly fine to speak to the other issues in play but weapons such as those should not be legal. Period."

Tell that to ranchers along the Rio Grande.

Posted by: CK | Dec 19, 2012 12:54:11 PM

CK,

Actaully, I have clients in Brownsville/Matamoros and am familiar with the spillover violence from Mexico's drug cartels into the U.S. I would put it to you that increasing our National Guard presence along the Rio Grande (I'd rather have them there than in Iraq or Afghanistan), monitoring the flow of weapons from Texas to Mexico (and don't kid yourself, that's where they're coming from) and legalizing certain drugs, such as marijuaua, would do more to help the ranchers than putting Bushmasters in thier hands.

Look, I take the point that ownership of guns and advocacy for their usage is not in conflcit with CST. I live in a hunting state (Michigan) and respect it's econmoic and cultural importance. But I also beleive that the USCCB and out Church can play a powerful role in speaking out against weapons that have no legal place in society and no sporting or target purpose.

Posted by: Edward Dougherty | Dec 19, 2012 1:10:53 PM

As a general matter the assault weapon lists characteristics for guns that are prohibited.

The problem with this list of characteristics is its arbitrariness in that many of the characteristics bear not a jot on the guns potential to kill. Some have described the ban on "assault weapons" as a ban on scary looking guns.

I don't think -- someone can correct me if I am wrong -- the Bushmaster used in Newtown even fell under the ban.

A more productive measure might be a prohibition on magazine sizes. The extended magazines seem to be be what allow these shooters to achieve a great amount of carnage in a short amount of time.

Nevertheless, I do not see how any of the gun control measure being proposed could have prevented this from happening.

This kid likely had a serious mental illness. His single mother was attempting to deal with it on her own. Prudence would suggest that she shouldn't have had guns in her house. But she did. She wasn't violating CT's relatively strict gun laws.

Some people are stupid and some people are evil.

Legislation, however well intentioned, can't remove the human factor.

Posted by: Catholic Law Student | Dec 19, 2012 2:21:25 PM

I suppose it depends on what you mean by "high rate of speed".

According to the research I have found, any semi-automatic weapon, pistol, rifle, or shotgun, will discharge as fast as the wielder can pull the trigger, which equates to about 1-3 shots per second, absent panicked, non-aimed, firing. I believe it is a biomechanical limitation, due to trigger speed and aiming time.

Full automatics are, of course, already banned for the majority of the general public.

Some in the thread have discussed caliber iissues. We have had "killing" calibers of rifle, shotgun, and pistol around for over 100 years now, and any calibre from .22 can kill, and anything bigger than a .22 is likely to kill effectively. The question is, what difference does killing someone with a .223 versus a 9mm versus a .44 versus a .50 Sharps load or 00 buckshot make? The individual is still dead.

Posted by: Jonathan | Dec 19, 2012 2:31:32 PM

"Why should a Catholic who takes seriously our obligation to cultivate the common good oppose a ban on the sale of assault weapons?"

The first response by a Catholic who takes such an oligation to cultivate the common good seriously is "will it work?"

Posted by: Phillip | Dec 19, 2012 2:40:19 PM

Jonathan makes an excellent point. A wide variety of weapons can be used in a mass killing spree. The Colorado theater shooter killed most of his victims with a shotgun and a semi-autmatic handgun. No one, at least in the mainstream, is calling on pump action shotguns to be banned.

The vast majority of firearms sold today are semiautomatic. Semi-auto means that every time you pull the trigger a bullet is fired (limited of course to magazine capacity).

All guns can kill. Banning certain kinds of guns is a cosmetic solution to what is likely the much deeper cultural, psychological, and personal issues at the root of our nation's gun violence.

Posted by: Catholic Law Student | Dec 19, 2012 2:46:17 PM

"To this point, it is important to emphasize that the lawless will always find a way, especially in our culture, to utilize guns that fire at a high rate of speed. The best way to counter an offensive from the lawless firing guns at a high rate of speed is counter assault with weapons at a high rate of speed. Semi-automatic weapons like the Bushmaster operate at a sufficient rate of speed to hit point targets trying to kill you with fully automatic weapons within 100 meters. One thing Marines learn is that often times, the semi-automatic is preferable to automatic in maintaining controlled shots at multiple targets. Especially if you want to be accurate and not kill bystanders. [I certainly hope that "if" was not the intended word here.] When does such a situation arise in the civilian context? In the inner-cities. In places like El Paso, TX where a full blown war is going on just over the Rio Grande and at times coming in."

So, if I understand CK correctly, he suggests that our gun control policies should assume that all Americans effectively live in a war zone in which they should be equipped to "counter an offensive" by "counter assault[ing]" with quick-firing rifles against "multiple targets" who are firing at them with fully automatic weapons from 100 meters away.

Wow. If life in America is just like Call of Duty, isn't civil society pretty much dead?

Posted by: WmBrennan | Dec 19, 2012 3:47:32 PM

Catholic Law Student, CK and Phillip,

You could make the same points about laws banning abortion. That doesn't mean that our society shoudn't try at legislation that is sensible, addresses the problem and works.

Posted by: Edward Dougherty | Dec 19, 2012 3:53:00 PM

"You could make the same points about laws banning abortion."

A couple of problems with that. Abortion is an intrinsic evil violating the absolute right to life of an innocent person. Owning an assault rifle isn't an intrinsic evil.

The second problem is that banning guns does not seem to stop gun violence. In fact it may do the opposite.

Posted by: Phillip | Dec 19, 2012 4:00:20 PM

Yes, it is, Phillip. But I've never heard even the most ardent pro-lifer state that laws banning abortion would stop it from happening.

Posted by: Edward Dougherty | Dec 19, 2012 4:07:56 PM

Ed, I have no idea what you mean. If you could make specific criticisms of my posts I might be able to respond to your concerns.

Posted by: Catholic Law Student | Dec 19, 2012 4:08:29 PM

Some of the problems with the argument that reducing guns reduces gun violence:

http://www.oddonion.com/2012/12/18/the-great-gun-control-fallacy-thomas-sowell/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1440764.stm


Ed,

Be clear. What are you saying?

Posted by: Phillip | Dec 19, 2012 4:10:30 PM

Catholic Law Student, you seem to feel that gun violence has deeper cultural causes than the guns themselves. I would actually agree with that while beleivging that we should attept to also keep guns that have no sporting or hunting purpose out of our soceity. Likewise, beleiveing that abortion bans would also lead to a decrease in abortions assumes that the laws would likewise cure the cultural beliefs that lead to an easy acceptance of abortion. Certainly, the parallels are rough between the two but I think there are parallels nonetheless. In abotion, I take it you would beleive that bans would automatically decrease abortions while also beleiveing that bans on certain guns would not make one iota of diffeence. I don't think that's consistent. Heck, why have laws at all since they may always be broken or not make a differnce?

Phillip, does what I said to Catholic Law Student help you? Also, I don't read Thomas Sowell after he was doing his usual decrying of our country and he wished that a military dictatorship would take over our government. I kindly said no thanks to his further works after that.

Posted by: Edward Dougherty | Dec 19, 2012 4:17:52 PM

"In abotion, I take it you would beleive that bans would automatically decrease abortions while also beleiveing that bans on certain guns would not make one iota of diffeence. I don't think that's consistent."

Except that there is data that laws that ban abortion do decrease abortion and data that gun bans increase gun violence. It is counterintuitive but real.

Posted by: Phillip | Dec 19, 2012 4:21:11 PM

To quote from the second article I linked:

"Of the 20 police areas with the lowest number of legally held firearms, 10 had an above average level of gun crime.

And of the 20 police areas with the highest levels of legally held guns only two had armed crime levels above the average.


The campaign's director, David Bredin, said: "It is crystal clear from the research that the existing gun laws do not lead to crime reduction and a safer place.

'Policy makers have targeted the legitimate sporting and farming communities with ever-tighter laws but the research clearly demonstrates that it is illegal guns which are the real threat to public safety.'"

Posted by: Phillip | Dec 19, 2012 4:30:30 PM

And if I had the time, Phillip, I could find studies that show that gun laws do deter gun violence. My stance against these weapons has been hardened since last Friday and that is because I refuse to accept anymore that we need these weapons in our society,

Posted by: Edward Dougherty | Dec 19, 2012 4:31:10 PM

Please do find them Ed. That is part of what informs reasoned decision making in ordering the common good.

This is necessary because, if the data I present is correct, then increasing gun restrictions will result in more, not less violence. But if the data is not correct, than we need to know that also.

Posted by: Phillip | Dec 19, 2012 4:35:20 PM

Ed, thanks for the clarification.

Whether or not a law "works" is only partially dispositive of whether or not something ought to be proscribed.

As someone pointed out above, abortion is an intrinsic evil and we should not permit an intrinsic evil. Abortion bans are direct regulations of an intrinsically evil act, a malum per se. We outlaw because it is always and everywhere a moral wrong.

Regulating guns is an indirect legislation of a moral evil -- murder or suicide. Guns can be used to commit heinous crimes, but can also be used for self-defense, hunting, etc. We regulate guns, not because guns are themselves evil, but because doing so is likely to reduce the incidence of murder. In order for an indirect regulation to be justifiable, there should be some indication that the policy works -- particularly to justify the regulation in light of a constitutional right.

Also, no one is discussing an outright prohibition or confiscation of firearms. People are talking about outlawing certain kinds of firearms under a renewal of the assault weapons ban.

In this case, I see no reason to believe that a policy like the assault weapons ban would have prevented the massacre in Newton. The gun was not an "assault weapon" under that law, nor was the shooter legally in possession of it (he stole it from his mother). There is also little or no evidence that the ban reduced crime while it was in force in the 90s.

If he had a smaller magazine, the shooting may have been less lethal, but that is conjectural.

A public policy conversation on mental health would probably be much more constructive and is long overdue.

Posted by: Catholic Law Student | Dec 19, 2012 5:07:35 PM

We live in a society in decline, just as surely as St. Augustine did. Effective tactical firearms could very well become a necessity of life in parts of what we now know as the United States in the lifetime of younger people reading these pages. Unlikely, perhaps, but not to the point of someone being deranged for entertaining the possibility.

Furthermore, an armed citizenry---an effectively armed citizenry, not half a dozen men with over-under shotguns---is a bulwark against tyranny. People often like to compare the relative firepower at the command of the United States to the firepower of even a well-organized civilian militia, and laugh at the prospect. But if the group in question is larger than a tiny collection of rural nuts, the government should not be overly sanguine about its ability to deploy successfully its heaviest payloads: who is really going to vaporize the state of West Virginia? Who is really going to attempt to enact and enforce policies that would result in an armed uprising that would lead to West Virginia being vaporized? Heck, even the Syrian government hasn't used its deadliest weapons against the revolutionaries in that country.

Was it wrong for the English barons to maintain the feudal rights that allowed them to levy the troops that impelled John to come to Runnymede? Was it wrong for the Carlists to maintain their militia during the Spanish Republic? Why should we accept as consistent with Catholic thought that a state that shows itself primarily to be inept and immoral should have not only a monopoly on the use of force, but also a monopoly on the means of deploying force? The fact that the permissibility of revolution was good enough for St. Thomas is enough basis for me for opposing European-style gun-control laws.

Posted by: Titus | Dec 19, 2012 5:41:37 PM

". I would put it to you that increasing our National Guard presence along the Rio Grande (I'd rather have them there than in Iraq or Afghanistan), monitoring the flow of weapons from Texas to Mexico (and don't kid yourself, that's where they're coming from) and legalizing certain drugs, such as marijuaua, would do more to help the ranchers than putting Bushmasters in thier hands."

Actually, as one with liberatarian tendencies, I agree that ending the drug war is beneficial to the common good along the border. In the meantime, as it stands now, let the ranchers own such weapons.

Posted by: CK | Dec 19, 2012 6:08:25 PM

"" But I also beleive that the USCCB and out Church can play a powerful role in speaking out against weapons that have no legal place in society and no sporting or target purpose."

Right now these weapons do have legal place in society. You're arguing they shouldn't. The Church should tread carefully in a matter of prudential judgment, especially when such judgment is made by the law abiding.

Posted by: CK | Dec 19, 2012 6:11:43 PM

Mr. Vischer

"So here's my question: Why should a Catholic who takes seriously our obligation to cultivate the common good oppose a ban on the sale of assault weapons?"

The quick answer, as pointed out several years ago on a blog devoted to Jewish self defense, was that the first thing that Hitler did when he seized power was to disarm the Jews. The common good often requires the common defense.

But self defense like artificial contraception, is not a matter of Catholic doctrine or Constitutional law. Rather it is a matter of natural rights or natural law. We Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve made in the image and likeness of God have a natural, God given right, even a duty, to defend ourselves and innocent third parties from aggression. As we live in the 21st Century it is difficult to exercise said right and duty with a Medieval broad sword.

As to the term "assault rifle, when the British Light Infantry and Grenadier Companies marched on Lexington and Concord (on what was essentially a gun grab mission)they were met by Colonial militiamen who had purchased and armed themselves, in the main, with exactly the same firearm that His Majesty's soldiery were carrying.

For a citizen (and here therein lies the difference between a citizen and a subject)to participate in the common defense he must be armed with the 21st Century equivalent of the 18th Century Brown Bess musket -an assault rifle if you will.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

Posted by: Richard W Comerford | Dec 19, 2012 11:22:34 PM

" Why should a Catholic who takes seriously our obligation to cultivate the common good oppose a ban on the sale of assault weapons? I'll assume the elusiveness of an agreeable "assault weapon" definition -- I understand that's an obstacle, but that does not seem to be the only sort of objection."

When I read something like this, I begin to wonder if most people truthfully examine the world around them. Did we learn NOTHING from Katrina, Sandy, or the after-math of the average Midwestern blizzard? Or the aftermath of any major tornado outbreak? Let's remember, our food, water, gas, and other critical supplies typically only last a few days, three at most for the vast majority of households.
After those supplies run out, either you must acquire more supplies, or you must find someone else who does. Or you must move to some location where you may find more supplies.

Something like Katrina wasn't supposed to happen again, but from all the news stories I've heard, Sandy had a similar impact. When something like that strikes, how do you ensure that whatever you have stored won't be raided?

Unfortunately, in cases like this, you may have little choice but to either fire a weapon against someone..or be killed for your food.
If you have even a little food, but more than a few people learn about it, you may have no choice but to either use an automatic firearm..or be killed by someone else who does, who wants your food.

I think it a very sad thing that we must consider such possibilities. Regrettably, I have been in circumstances before when I genuinely began to wonder if I might be best advised to acquire a gun.

Being a peace-loving people does not mean that we're obligated to allow a potential assailant to harm us or our families to satisfy their own hunger.


Posted by: John | Dec 20, 2012 3:32:19 AM

Phillip, a lot of the studies that I've seen have come from the Brady Center for Gun Violence and here's the link: http://bradycampaign.org/facts/gunviolence

Now, do they have a horse in this race and perhaps we should evaluate their reports in that light? Sure. But they also seem to be well done and well researched (and I am admittedly not an expert in such things, having still nightmares from my stats courses at Michigan State). Are your studies right or are mine right? Who really knows?

CK, here's our local Catholic Conference excerciging it's prudential judgement this week and I'm one Catholic who is glad they did. http://www.micatholicconference.org/public-policy/news-releases/catholic-conference-applauds-gun-bill-veto/

Catholic Law Student, I'll start by agreeing with your statement about how our society treats mental health issues. That is a vexing problem and one that has no easy solutions but it is one that our society must start working on. As for your contention that the assualt weapons ban would not have prevented Newtown, that's a maybe or maybe not scenario. I have seen in some of the Brady reports where the banning of certain weapons after mass shootings has kept them from being used again in other such shootings.

I am not someone who advocates more a of ban on weapons like the Bushmaster thinking that they will automatically work. It may well not work but I think there is enough reason to try that after what happened on Friday (and yes, I am reacting emotionally to this-guilty as charged). There are obvious examples of laws that have not worked in the past (prohibition) and others that I have deep misgivings about (e.g. our marijuana laws, the rasiing of the drinking age to 21). I am also very ambivalent about laws banning abortion should Roe Vs. Wade ever be overturned simply because I feel that it will drive it underground in much the same way that you argue (or seem to argue) that weapons ban will only drive them into the hands of criminals. That doesn't mean that legislation shouldn't be attempted, only that it should be done with eyes wide open. And my point on the abortion law analogy was that our eyes do not seem to be as wide open as they are when it comes to guns.

Titus-we live in America. This isn't China or Russia. I don't think we have reason to fear tyranny here-if we survived the George W. Bush years, we can survive anything (and yes, there's a touch of humor to that statement).

Posted by: Edward Dougherty | Dec 20, 2012 12:40:13 PM

Re: Brady Center

The folks at the Brady Center are notorious for avoiding certain touchy issues regarding the murder of innocents to include among others:

1. Government Violence: Our government has been the biggest killer of innocents (who have escaped murder in the womb) since King Phillip's War and continuing to Waco and Ruby Ridge.

2. Planned Parenthood: PP and its allies are without a doubt the biggest killers of innocent Americans their body count running around 50-million depending on which expert you consult.

3. High explosive: The biggest school massacre by a single individual happened in 1927 (Bath School incident) when a disgruntled former school board member murdered 48 by high explosive and Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer based, home made bombs to destroy a federal building and murder 168-innocents.

And of course the big question is why do our elites insist on taking children away from the protection of their parents and placing said children in buildings where it is illegal to carry any type of weapon to defend the children and then our elites proudly advertise the fact hat the children our unprotected sitting ducks for any murderer who happens by?

God bless

Richard W Comerford

Posted by: Richard W Comerford | Dec 20, 2012 3:55:18 PM

John,

A extensive (though not exhaustive review) of the Brady Center info are simple statistices that don't draw any link between gun restrictions and limitation of crime. So a simple listing of events without any analysis of the effects of the law.

This as opposed to the data I provided especially the data from England which showed a 40% increase in violent crime after restrictions were in place.
These studies were done in England by the very people who put the law in place.

So poor data (Brady Center) vs unbiased and strong data (England.)

Posted by: Phillip | Dec 20, 2012 9:29:02 PM

"Why should a Catholic who takes seriously our obligation to cultivate the
common good oppose a ban on the sale of assault weapons?"

Am I not entitled to protect my life, the life of my wife and children, and the lives of my neighbors by the best means available? And in this day and age, I would be protecting them from anything from rioters (such as the LA Riots), to looters (like those post-Katrina and post-Sandy) and even... A tyrannical government which wants to take away my freedom of religion, or other freedoms which God has entitled mankind.

Remember in Luke 22:36: He said to them, "But now, the one who has a money bag must take it, and likewise a traveler's bag too. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one."

As for "the common good"... This is misguided Catholicism, a poison introduced by the Christian Socialists in the early 1900's, and an evil theology which persists to this day.

Posted by: John Gill | Dec 23, 2012 9:52:40 AM

Why is it that in most western european countries the collateral damage caused by guns is a fraction of that in the US? 42 deaths in Germany compared to over 10,000 per year in the USA. The Germans have hunting guns, and people showing a need to have personal weapons can get them, but there are virtually no deaths by comparison. How much do racist fears play into this, how much do disenfranchised minorities (African Americans) play into the equation. Why do so many Americans expect the government to rise up and take away our freedoms and how will owning an assault weapon help. Do they expect the local police man to come by and put a lock on the church? All seems paranoid and melodramatic.

Posted by: Sil | Dec 23, 2012 4:57:44 PM

Mr. Sil:

"Why is it that in most western european countries the collateral damage caused by guns is a fraction of that in the US? 42 deaths in Germany compared to over 10,000 per year in the USA."

Because in Europe (a dying continent - soon to be jump started by Islam) most of the slaughter of innocents is done by either government or terrorists who can commit mass murder without fear of an armed citizenry.

"The Germans have hunting guns, and people showing a need to have personal weapons can get them, but there are virtually no deaths by comparison."

The unarmed Germans also had Hitler and they Holocaust. The first thing Hitler did when he took power was to disarm the Jews.

"How much do racist fears play into this, how much do disenfranchised minorities (African Americans) play into the equation."

In Chicago, where only the rich and powerful can legally own forearms, the murder rate in the disarmed black communities is around 500 dead a year. Prior to our government denying black men their natural right to defend their families the murder rate was close to zero.

"Why do so many Americans expect the government to rise up and take away our freedoms and how will owning an assault weapon help."

Among other during during WW I and WW II people who had the misfortune of being of Japanese or German or Italian descent found themselves disarmed by federal troops, transported to remote ares and placed in concentration camps with their innocent families. Between 1920 and 1976 the Abernaki and poor French Canadians of New England found themselves disarmed by our government and forced to undergo sterilizations, abortions and medical experimentation. Currently our government conducts a racist eugenics program murdering 3-4,000, disproportionately black, babies a day. In the 20th and 21st Century government is by far the greatest murderer of innocents but government always disarms it victims first.

"Do they expect the local police man to come by and put a lock on the church?"

Religious believers are disproportionately targeted by social workers backed armed police.

"All seems paranoid and melodramatic."

Tell that to the Jews, or the 50-million Americans murdered in their mothers' wombs.

God bless

Richard W Comerford

Posted by: Richard W Comerford | Dec 24, 2012 10:30:08 AM