The Editors

Plagued by rising levels of violent crime, in the autumn of 1976 the District of Columbia enacted one of the nation’s toughest gun control laws. The law effectively banned handguns, automatic firearms and high-capacity semiautomatic weapons. Police officers were exempt from the provisions of the law, as were guns registered before 1976. Over the following decade, the murder rate in Washington, D.C., declined, then increased, shadowing a national trend. Overall, however, the new law helped to prevent nearly 50 deaths per year, according to one study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. “We knew there were problems we couldn’t wipe out,” said Sterling Tucker, chair of the district council at the time, as he reflected on the law 22 years later. “But we had a little more control over it.”

On June 26, 2008, in a closely watched, far-reaching decision, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the D.C. law, ruling that it violated the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” In the court’s majority opinion, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: “We are aware of the problem of handgun violence in this country, and we take seriously the concerns raised by the many amici who believe that the prohibition of handgun ownership is a solution.... But the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.”

Justice Scalia was right. Even those who subscribe to methods of constitutional interpretation other than Mr. Scalia’s brand of modified originalism must concede the basic point: The Second Amendment impedes the power of the government to regulate the sale or possession of firearms. Unfortunately, the grim consequence of this constitutional restriction is measured in body counts. The murder of 20 elementary school children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., in December was merely the latest in a string of mass shootings: Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek. In the last 30 years, there have been 62 mass shootings (each leaving at least four people dead) in the United States. Since the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colo., there have been 130 shootings at schools; nearly half involved multiple deaths or injuries.

True, stricter gun laws would not have prevented all these tragedies. But it is very likely that stricter measures could have prevented at least some of these incidents and could have minimized the number of casualties involved. Two facts should be kept in mind. First, the easier it is to get a gun, the easier it is to make use of one. Second, a violent act involving a gun is far more likely to result in fatalities or multiple casualties than a violent act involving some other type of weapon. The notion, therefore, that there is no meaningful correlation between the nation’s relatively lenient gun control laws and the extent of the nation’s gun violence simply defies common sense. It also contradicts the empirical evidence. Experts at the Harvard School of Public Health found that when gun availability increases, so do gun homicides. In the United States, there are approximately 300 million guns in civilian hands, the highest per capita rate in the world (88.8 guns per 100 residents, well ahead of Yemen, No. 2 with 54.8). Though the United States represents less than 5 percent of the global population, Americans own 40 percent of the world’s civilian-owned firearms.

Each year in the United States, approximately 30,000 people, or 80 per day, die from gun violence. True, guns do not kill people; people kill people. In the United States, however, people kill people by using guns. The murder rate in America is 15 times higher than in other first-world countries; the majority of these murders are committed with guns. As for the notion that guns are necessary in order to defend oneself from an intruder with a gun: One study of three U.S. cities revealed that injuries involving guns kept at home almost always resulted from accidental firings, criminal assaults, homicides and suicides by the residents, not self-defense scenarios. In October the American Academy of Pediatrics reminded us, “The safest home for children and teens is one without guns.”

The facts, however, do not appear to shake a deeply held American belief in the near-unconditional use of force as a means to an end. The culture of violence in America has spawned a deadly syllogism: Guns solve problems; we have problems; therefore, we need guns. Yet consider the tragedy in Aurora. Imagine if just 10 other people in that movie theater had been carrying guns. In the confusion of the onslaught, would fewer people or more people have died when those 10 other people opened fire in the dark? More important, is this really the kind of world we want to live in, a world in which lethal power can be unleashed at any moment at any corner, in any home, in any school?

We do not have to live in such a world. Both Australia and Britain, for example, experienced gun massacres in 1996 and subsequently enacted stricter gun control laws. Their murder rates dropped. Yet in the United States, the birthplace of pragmatism, our fundamental law proscribes practical, potentially life-saving measures.

Americans must ask: Is it prudent to retain a constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms when it compels our judges to strike down reasonable, popularly supported gun regulations? Is it moral to inhibit in this way the power of the country’s elected representatives to provide for the public safety? Does the threat of tyranny, a legitimate 18th-century concern but an increasingly remote, fanciful possibility in the contemporary United States, trump the grisly, daily reality of gun violence? The answer to each of these questions is no. It is time to face reality. If the American people are to confront this scourge in any meaningful way, then they must change. The Constitution must change. The American people should repeal the Second Amendment.

We acknowledge the gravity of our proposal. The Bill of Rights enumerates our most cherished freedoms. Any proposal to change the nation’s fundamental law is a very serious matter. We do not propose this course of action in a desultory manner, nor for light or transient reasons. We also acknowledge that repeal faces serious, substantial political obstacles and will prove deeply unpopular with many Americans. Nevertheless, we believe that repeal is necessary and that it is worthy of serious consideration.

Our proposal is in keeping, moreover, with the spirit in which the Constitution was drafted. The Bill of Rights belongs to a document that was designed to be changed; indeed, it was part of the genius of our founders to allow for a process of amendment. The process is appropriately cumbersome, but it is not impossible. Since its adoption in 1787, the American people have chosen to amend the Constitution 27 times. A century ago, leaders like Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson raised serious questions about the Consti-tution. Amendments soon followed, including provisions for a federal income tax, the direct election of U.S. senators, women’s suffrage and the prohibition of alcohol. The 21st Amendment, which repealed prohibition, established the precedent for our proposal.

Yet that kind of thoughtful, critical engagement with our fundamental law, the kind of spirited debate that characterized early 20th-century America, is not evident in contemporary American discourse. In the national imagination, the Constitution is too often thought of as a kind of sacred text. Yet neither our founders nor our forebears held to that view. The Constitution is mere human law. It is excellent law, but it is not divine law; it is not revelation. We should be wary of amending the Bill of Rights. We should also be wary of idolizing it. The Constitution is the man-made law of a self-governing people; the people, therefore, are entitled to ask basic, critical questions about it. In our time, is a given constitutional provision a good law or a bad law? Does it promote the common good? The secular dogma of constitutional immutability must yield to careful, critical inquiry.

In the most comprehensive statement on gun violence to come from the U.S. bishops’ conference, in 1975, a committee identified “the easy availability of handguns in our society” as a major threat to human life and called for “effective and courageous action to control handguns, leading to their eventual elimination from our society” with “exceptions…for the police, military, security guards” and sporting clubs. While this course of action, as the District of Columbia discovered, is constitutionally proscribed, reasonable restrictions on handguns are morally licit in the Catholic tradition. Indeed, we may have a moral duty to enact such laws.

In a recent interview, Tommaso Di Ruzza, the expert on disarmament and arms control at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, explained that an individual does not possess an absolute natural right to own a lethal weapon: “There is a sort of natural right to defend the common interest and the common good” by the limited use of force, but this applies more to nations with an effective rule of law, not armed individuals. In the wake of Newtown, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said that “the fight for greater gun control in the country” is a pro-life position. “The unfettered access to assault weapons and handguns, along with the glorification of violence in our ‘entertainment’ industry…is really all part of a culture of death,” Cardinal Dolan said.

Repealing the Second Amendment will not create a culture of life in one stroke. Stricter gun laws will not create a world free of violence, in which gun tragedies never occur. We cannot repeal original sin. Though we cannot create an absolutely safe world, we can create a safer world. This does not require an absolute ban on firearms. In the post-repeal world that we envision, some people will possess guns: hunters and sportsmen, law enforcement officers, the military, those who require firearms for morally reasonable purposes. Make no mistake, however: The world we envision is a world with far fewer guns, a world in which no one has a right to own one. Some people, though far fewer, will still die from gun violence. The disturbing feeling that we have failed to do everything in our power to remove the material cause of their deaths, however, will no longer compound our grief.

The Supreme Court has ruled that whatever the human costs involved, the Second Amendment “necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.” The justices are right. But the human cost is intolerable. Repeal the Second Amendment.

Comments

john andrechak | 4/11/2014 - 1:06pm

Very sad, if not pathetic, to see people commenting on this page referencing of the Founding Fathers, many who were slave owners, and a majority, if not all, voting to enshrine not only slavery; but one of the most inhumane and heinous forms of this sin, far worse then that of the Roman Empire; into the Constitution.

john andrechak | 4/10/2014 - 9:57pm

delusion and paranoia are the two themes of the writers attacking this column; delusion, perhaps fantasy, of the modern minuteman standing on the "bridge that arched that April flood." For goodness sake, do you realize how silly you sound? please don't tell me that you own a fife and drum and a tri-corner hat, sitting there thinking how you'll hold off the red hordes; and paranoid, waiting for the government to "pry this gun from my cold dead hands." Certainly sad to think this nutty stuff is coming from Catholics!

franklin ohlin | 4/9/2014 - 6:50pm

"... the threat of tyranny, a legitimate 18th century concern but (an ) increasingly remote..."

This is the same "fanciful" argument that the President used to reproach Vladimir Putin's seizure of the Crimea, referring to his 19th century mindset in the 21st century. Tyranny respects no time frame, geographical boundary, or quaint ideologies . As suggested earlier, this country remains free, although less and less so, partially because of 300 million guns in the hands of its citizenry, and not the hopey, changey panacea of the liberal left wing.

At one time Roman Catholicism was believed to be the only way to enter Heaven, despite its short comings. Perhaps the price we pay in the United States for bearing arms is what is necessary for a strong country and a world at peace, relatively speaking, so help us God.

john andrechak | 4/10/2014 - 10:54pm

Actually the 300 million guns are in the hands of not the citizenry of this nation, just in a minority; sadly too many of these Americans believe in this fantasy of holding off tyranny with there AR-15, too many probably have tri-corner hats; most of these gun owners aare consumed by this delusion that "dem feds" and "blue helmets" are out to take their guns

George Miles | 4/8/2014 - 1:33pm

The fact is that the banning of firearms only increases crime as a whole. Canada, Australia, and England showed these trends and it continues today. The lie in the article is that so many people are shot and killed each year. If you remove the number that are killed by Law Enforcement, the values take a sharp turn down. More people are killed each year by Knives than guns. Do they want to ban them as well. The fact is that if every person was trained, and carried who was an adult over 21 and not a felon. With the obvious fact about mental states of these people. Then crime would decrease. The facts are out now and crime in DC has gone down along with Chicago. So allowing more guns decreased crime. So why do the Anti Gun Liberals continue to lie and create more restrictions.

sam brown | 3/12/2014 - 4:52pm

This article hits the nail on the head. The 2nd amendment is soaked in the blood of Americans. Repealing it is the only solution .Every time the citizens of this country make progress to curtail gun deaths some court reverses that only because of the 2nd amendment. If today American citizens could directly vote on this, the amendment would be repealed.

Jack Klompus | 1/7/2014 - 3:51pm

This is a naive and appalling editorial unworthy of the level of intellect that I have come to expect from the Jesuits. It's interesting that the main and compelling reason for a responsibly armed citizenry, holding the tyranny of the state at bay, is dismissed in one sentence as a "remote and fanciful possibility."
Based on what evidence can you assert that the possibility of the state rising to the level of tyranny is "remote" other than your own, dare I say, faith? Could it be possible that state tyranny is held at bay by the existence of the very amendment you call for repeal? Do you truly believe that we as human beings are beyond electing earthly leaders whose proclivities are bent toward imposing prejudicial legal sanction against members of different groups including religious ones?
It is ironic that you consider the possibility of tyranny "remote" yet you fail to map out a plan for the disarmament of the average citizen. Do you believe that people will simply accept this repeal of the 2nd Amendment and willingly hand over their arms to representatives of the state. What if they do not? I assume that under the threat of force they will have their weapons confiscated. Sounds to me like this "remote and fanciful possibility" has just become a real issue, direct, and close. Will you be ministering to the new occupants of the prisons that refused to turn in their weapons?
In the post repeal world, as you call it, you have your vision of those who will, in your kind benevolence, be permitted(?) to possess firearms, including those with "morally reasonable purposes." Who is going to sit in judgment of and determine the moral reasonableness of one's purposes? Your loopholes, exceptions, and vague categories of acceptability all but render the effect of your repeal laughably toothless. In the end, this silly, vapid, and intellectually unserious piece smacks of little more than empty posturing. You can do better, Jesuits, much much better.

Stanley Kopacz | 1/9/2014 - 12:08pm

If you want to fight a hypothetical future tyrannical government, learn hacker skills. Guys with popguns will be deleted using surveillance, metadata mining, and drones. Small arms will be of little use, except in the movies.

Jillian George | 12/27/2013 - 10:20pm

The best argument for sane restrictions on gun is the Constitution itself. As the preamble makes
clear, the purpose of the constitution is "to insure domestic tranquility." A professor at Biola University lays out the case pretty well, and also addresses Christians who think that the Bible supports
unrestricted access to guns. Check out his argument on Thegoodbookblog at Talbot School of Theology (Biola University). It is by Hubbard, and is entitled "See the Welfare of the
City: The Biblical Argument for Gun Control." Pretty convincing--and
controversial from the comments. Here's the link if anyone is interested:

http://thegoodbookblog.com/2013/nov/18/seek-the-welfare-of-the-city-the-...

zorbas malakis | 11/20/2013 - 4:51am

I hate to break it to you all.... but the pro-2nd Amendment camp has a VERY good argument as to why the 2nd Amendment is NOT outdated.
Since the invention of the printing press several centuries prior to the drafting of the Constitution, technology had been increasing slowly decade by decade. The founding Fathers were by no means foolish enough to believe that at the end of the 1700's---humankind had reached the Apex pinnacle of civilization. They knew that general technology, & weaponry development would continue to advance to much higher levels. So thus would the technology at the disposal of our future Governments---and the potential power that comes with it would advance as well. For clarity, as guns improved over time past, the founding fathers knew that musket gun technology was NOT going to be the grand ending of fire-arm development. They drafted that Amendment knowing full well that fire-arms were going to advance in power, accuracy, & capability. This law however was a safe-guard against the future tyranny that would inevitably infest the U.S. government in a future where the European bankers would eventually regain their foothold here---& in turn corrupt our leaders into complying with their schemes & Agendas and thus re-enslaving America to the Agenda of the InterNational Bankers. Men like Thomas Jefferson constantly railed about our need for our future generations to be ever vigilant against serpents who in the future will try and persuade We The People to give up our Arms for a feigned 'security'. What Mr.Jefferson warned us about is coming true today. Many elite powerful forces in collusion with the Billionaires & Bankers who own the main Media are constantly trying to brainwash We the People into giving up our 2nd Amendment through slanted media reporting and appeals to emotional pity that strikes at the deepest psychological achilles-heel vulnerability a human has::::::"BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN!!!!" Adolph Hitler in Mein Kampf is quoted as saying that there is no better way to convince fools to give up their rights than to claim it's for 'The Benefit of the Children'.
These powerful and relentless forces who are constantly trying to disarm us and will stop at nothing short of creating false-flag incidents for their justifications------ have a very ominous plan for us indeed if they soooo fear an armed populace who is capable of fighting back.
In truth...More people die from DUI per year than by fire-arms each year in our country. Why is there no outcry to ban cars & alcohol when the death equivalent of a Newtown massacre occurs EACH & EVERY SINGLE DAY??--------Because of economics.
What I've written here is only the beginning of the arguments the 2nd Amendment Preservationists convey.

Michael Hayes | 6/17/2013 - 6:46pm

If there might be a change in the make up of the court, then perhaps the interpretation could be made that the intent of the second amendment was to enable a "well armed militia" to exist.

The 1792 law requiring each male who was eligible to serve in the militia to own a gun helps reinforce that rationale. The title refers to a more effective way to provide for the national defense by establishing a uniform militia throughout the Unites States.

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llsl&fileName=001/llsl001.db... is the text of the law I'm referring to, and it was enacted in 1792.

franklin ohlin | 4/9/2014 - 7:01pm

That argument was tried and found wanting a few years ago when , the supreme court, ruled in a 5-4 decision, that the "right to bear arms" superseded the need to provide for a militia. A right is a right, regardless of circumstances that may have been a (necessary) contributing factor at the time.

Mike Nelson | 5/24/2013 - 11:10am

Given the recent revelations about the IRS, I'm wondering if this statement, "Does the threat of tyranny, a legitimate 18th-century concern but an increasingly remote, fanciful possibility in the contemporary United States, trump the grisly, daily reality of gun violence?", needs to be revised. Current events show that the threat of tyranny does still exist in the U. S.

franklin ohlin | 4/9/2014 - 7:05pm

You are right to be concerned. This 18th century vs 21st century argument meant nothing to Putin.

Gabriel Speciale | 6/19/2013 - 8:47am

The U.S. Constitution does not give you the right to bear arms because of what an individual citizen deems to be tyranical behavior by our federal government. What you speak of is in the Consitution as well, it is called treason.

Anyway, this is a Catholic magazine and as Catholics I do not think it is okay that we engage in violent acts because of the activities of the IRS and some wiretapping program.

Carol Voss | 5/24/2013 - 5:27pm

I'm convinced that the recently exposed activities of the IRS as well as the existence of the Patriot Act are sufficient evidence to demonstrate that any group, any group at all, that finds itself afoul of prevailing thought of whichever end of the spectrum is currently in power is a potential target for harassment. That is the beginning of tyranny. Unfortunately, it would seem that twenty-first century Americans may be more at risk than our eighteenth century ancestors.

Having worked in the emergency department of a major trauma center, I probably lean a little more toward gun control, but having seen the behavior of Gov. Andrew Cuomo in passing the SAFE Act (late night strong-arming,) I think we need to keep the Second Amendment, with its protections for law-abiding and stable citizens to keep and bear arms responsibly.

Louis Candell | 4/21/2013 - 6:44am

Repealing the 2nd amendment doesn't necessarily take away the right to bear arms; it would acknowledge that the right is not absolute and, thus, subject to reasonable regulation as are the right to drive a car, the right to fly a plane, the right to practice medicine or law, etc., etc., etc.

TM Lutas | 4/7/2013 - 10:20pm

Gun control is a joke and a farce that is only made worse by the fact that we're at the leading edge of a technical revolution that will allow anybody to build their own gun at home. Those who bear evil in their hearts will not be denied arms for very much longer. Printable guns have been made and are undergoing refinement and testing. The plans to print such weapons will be freebies available for criminals as a cheap loss leader for other services.

Within the next decade the full line from bullet to cartridge to magazine to the gun itself will all become a home manufactured item, untraceable and able to be generated anywhere. The culture of life cannot be supported by legal bans but by a change in the hearts of people including a healthy gun culture that teaches all the many, many circumstances where resorting to the use of a gun is not permitted. There is no healthy gun culture in areas with heavy gun control. It shrivels and dies. The gun culture of the hoodlum, the thug, the gangster, that is the gun culture that thrives.

Gun control advocates say that the first responders should have the guns, not citizens. But when my wife hears a noise and thinks someone is in the house, her elbow to my ribs to wake me up makes me the first responder. The police get to be second responders. Gun control disarms the first responders, and it has tragic results over time.

John Loeffler | 4/3/2013 - 5:14pm

The closing paragraph is extremely lame, as is the entire piece because it fails to make a convincing case that we will be safer by repealing the 2nd Amendment. When advocation is made that only some groups should have guns, (i.e. police, military), the bloody lessons of original sin and history are ignored. If one group has guns and another doesn't, those with can subjugate those without. Are the MILITARY shootings at Ft. Hood forgotten? Have the shootings by rogue policemen or people posing as police such as Norway forgotten? Has the reality that criminals can always get guns, regardless of laws and rights? The Soviet Union had lots of military and KGB but a few subjugated an entire people. The same magazine which runs a decent article on drones, fails to recognize the only options a people might have should their government turn those drones on them. And that was the intent of the founders. Forget history at your peril.

Matthew Malone | 4/3/2013 - 2:39pm

FROM THE EDITORS: Many thanks for this spirited discussion! Please bear in mind the following: The editorial does not take issue with the natural right to self-defense, which is God-given and unchangeable. The editorial takes issue with one specific, prudential application of that right, namely, the right to own a gun as specified in the second amendment. The right to own a gun is not a natural right, but a positive right, meaning it is a human-made and changeable right. Those who maintain that the editors are questioning the right to self-defense in their call for repeal are making a categorical error.

franklin ohlin | 4/9/2014 - 7:13pm

The right to own a gun may not be a natural right, but what would you use for self defense, a butter knife? And in the future when lazer technology will ultimately render bullets primitive, will we not be permitted to own that technology, to preserve our right of self defense?

Dominick Ahrens | 6/16/2013 - 10:41pm

No, Mr. Malone, we're not "making a categorical error", we are simply more understanding of the intent than the editors appear to be.

As evidence of this (with all due deference) the 2nd Amendment reads:

Amendment II. A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

That paragraph has been viewed with firearms as the focii given that they are the primary type of weapons used (for good or ill) since that document was written.

However, as much as the meanings of the various terms have been argued, it's pretty clear that it says nothing about guns. Nor "sporting purpose" or any of the other qualifiers the limiters of our individual rights have seen fit to attach to it throughout the long debate.

Does it?

One could easily make the argument that "arms" also means cannon, swords, knives, axes, or any other weapon one would use to inflict harm upon another, regardless of the intent. Perhaps that's why the Founders chose not to proclaim "...keep and bear musket".

As an example, Tench Coxe, one of our Founders, wrote in the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1788

"Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man gainst his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American.... [T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people."

If guns were truly removed from the face of the planet, do any of the editors seriously think that we would be at less risk from those who intend to do us harm? While history and the Bible provide historical accounting of millions being slaughtered by swords, I seem to recall the latter providing a case in 1 Samuel 17 where a sling and a rock were particularly effective at eliminating an enemy. That said, in all honesty, I'd still prefer my Glock. ;D

And your editorial did not say "ban handguns", "outlaw assault weapons" or "elliminate shotguns". It said:

The Supreme Court has ruled that whatever the human costs involved, the Second Amendment “necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table.” The justices are right. But the human cost is intolerable. Repeal the Second Amendment (emphasis added)

Thus an argument against the individual right - despite the afterthought of categorizing it as a "positive right" (when it was clearly not ascribed as such - consider the Declaration of Independence and the reference to "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights"), and the artificial limitation of the call for repeal to somehow apply to firearms alone... it is at worst an insult to our intelligence and at best a hasty and ill-prepared bit of apologetic sounding covering of one's backside.

And let us say that we banned guns. We have now condemned the weak to be prey of the strong, as it was in days of old. The phrase "God didn't make man equal, Colonel Colt did" is not an advertising slogan from the 1800's, but a reflection of the reality that human ingenuity had provided a means of defense to the weaker, older and feebler amongst us against the largest and strongest of thugs and evildoers. Kind of like the rock and sling, albeit without His hand to guide it.

And if the Founders were correct in their observations of the human condition - that is, that the 2nd is the guardian of the other Amendments - how long before you would be publishing an editorial calling Catholics and other people of faith to action against the government movement to eliminate organized religion on the basis of "tolerance", "diversity" or some other machination of those that would see us believe in a kingdom of man instead of the kingdom of God? Many times it only takes a small percentage to stand and fight for what is right to protect the whole from tyranny. But what could we do as defenseless as we would be to stand up for the beliefs that we have, or for the beliefs and rights of others, if your suggestion was heeded?

Whether you wish to admit it or not, you called for us all, regardless of our individual exercise of the right to keep and bear arms, our age, and our faith, to be condemned to victimhood in support of a social agenda, Mr. Malone, and to abandon our natural right as given by God.

It was unforgiveable and we will not forget, no matter in whose name you suggested it.

Thomas Omlor | 3/29/2013 - 10:24pm

A basic premise of the article (and of the gun debate in general) is that fewer guns would result in fewer murders. However, when comparing gun ownership rates per country with murder rates per country* there is very weak correlation between the two. And what correlation there is is actually negative -- meaning lower gun ownership rates result in higher murder rates.

* I used the Wikipedia statistics on "Number of guns per capita by country" and "List of countries by intentional homicide rate". The correlation coefficient comes out to be -0.22. A correlation coefficient is a number between -1 and +1 with -1 being the strongest negative correlation, +1 being the strongest positive correlation and 0 being absolutely no correlation.

Dominick Ahrens | 3/29/2013 - 5:29pm

You describe the utopian existence of the gun free haven of Washington DC, and claim:

“the new law helped to prevent nearly 50 deaths per year”.

I find it interesting that the NEJM study showed such numbers, while the FBI Uniform Crime Reports for the 25 years following the DC gun ban indicate that the murder rate increased 51 percent while the national rate decreased 36 percent.

You write:

“Experts at the Harvard School of Public Health found that when gun availability increases, so do gun homicides.”

The Harvard School of Public Health? Now there’s an unbiased organization.

Or it would be, save the opinion publicly expressed by Deborah Prothrow-Stith, their associate Dean, when she was quoted in 1996:

My own view on gun control is simple. I hate guns and I cannot imagine why anyone would want to own one. If I had my way, guns for sport would be registered, and all other guns would be banned.

She certainly seems like she would approach the topic of a study with an unbiased attitude and scientific eye, doesn’t she? Kind of like the honest assessment one would find in a study of racial diversity by the KKK.

You echo the oft-used statistic:

“approximately 30,000 people, or 80 per day, die from gun violence”

but a statistic without context is useless – or propaganda.

That number includes 17,183 firearm related suicides, 400 cases of Lawfully Justified Homicides by Law Enforcement and 200 cases of Lawfully Justified Homicides by Law Abiding citizens that occur each year.

The vast majority of the roughly 12,000 remaining victims of “gun violence” are not typically the innocent schoolchildren or movie attendees you mention. 73 to 75% of those victims have criminal histories, and many are killed while committing criminal acts by other criminals.

While such deaths are tragedies, people are referred to as criminals when they choose to disregard the laws we establish as a society – including prohibitions on rape, robbery, murder. Should we expect different behaviors from them about those laws regulating firearms?

While we’re on the topic I should mention that suicides occur without regard to the availability of guns. In countries that restrict gun ownership, people find ways to shuffle off their mortal coil by other means, and often at notably higher rates than here in America.

You dismiss the possibility of defending oneself from an intruder with a gun:

“One study of three U.S. cities revealed that injuries involving guns kept at home almost always resulted from accidental firings, criminal assaults, homicides and suicides by the residents, not self-defense scenarios.”

This is an obvious reference to the Kellerman Study of Seattle WA, Memphis TN, and Galveston TX, which originally claimed that “a gun in the home was 43 times more likely to be result in a murder of the occupant”, a statistic which was repeated as often as possible by those who sought to deny us our rights.

Or at least it was, until most of academia had disproven his “study”, in part because he refused to release whether the guns were in fact owned by the victims or brought there by the assailant. He also declined to inquire – or reveal if he did – whether the victims had criminal histories or were involved in criminal activity at the time of their death. Such details are far too important to be carelessly discarded, so one has to wonder if Dr. Kellerman didn’t wish to clarify them in order to promote his agenda. In addition, Kellerman used a methodology known as the “case control method” of analysis, which is generally viewed within academia as being unable to demonstrate causation.

You express a concern about law abiding citizens in Aurora, and imply that the outcome would have been worse:

...consider the tragedy in Aurora. Imagine if just 10 other people in that movie theater had been carrying guns. In the confusion of the onslaught, would fewer people or more people have died when those 10 other people opened fire in the dark?

after mentioning Virginia Tech, Fort Hood, Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek and Columbine. Yet you omit to mention that five of the six locations were “Gun Free Zones” where the law abiding were not allowed the chance – however slight – to defend themselves on anything approaching equal terms.

“Gun free zone”. An odd choice of words, since it certainly seems that that moniker has only served to facilitate those with criminal intent.

You also omit the following events where law abiding people with concealed firearms kept the killers from achieving the full measure of their evil intent:

Klackamas Mall, Portland WA; Mayan Palace Theater, San Antonio, Texas; Winnemucca, Nev; Appalachian School of Law, Grundy, Virginia; Santana High School, Santee, Calif; Smith County Courthouse, Tyler, Texas; New Life Church, Colorado Springs, Co; Pearl High School, Peal MS; Parker Middle School, Edinboro, Pa.

When lawfully armed civilians stop shootings? The average number of deaths is 2.3.
Where the victims are forced to rely on 9-1-1 to do the job? The average rockets to 14.3 deaths.

Oh, did you know there were actually two shootings in Aurora, CO in 2012? While you were referring to the July AMC Theater shooting, there was a shooting three months earlier at the New Destiny Church in Aurora that was stopped by a “good guy with a gun”.

You write:

We do not have to live in such a world. Both Australia and Britain, for example, experienced gun massacres in 1996 and subsequently enacted stricter gun control laws. Their murder rates dropped.

This statement ignores two important considerations.

The first is that murder rates in England and Australia were already lower than the US. In the late 19th century the per capita homicide rate in Britain varied between 1.0 and 1.5 per 100,000. In the late 20th century, after the gun ban you exhort went into effect, the homicide rate remained at or near 1.1 per 100,000. This certainly seems to indicate that the homicide rate doesn’t change due to gun control or availability.

Secondly in the years since the gun bans went into effect murder may have dropped (by 3%) but manslaughter rose by 16%, armed robberies rose by 51%, unarmed robberies by 37%, assaults by 24% and kidnappings by 43%. And the BBC reported that handgun crime in the United Kingdom rose by 40% in the two years following their 1997 ban.

You state:

Americans must ask: Is it prudent to retain a constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms when it compels our judges to strike down reasonable, popularly supported gun regulations? Is it moral to inhibit in this way the power of the country’s elected representatives to provide for the public safety? Does the threat of tyranny, a legitimate 18th-century concern but an increasingly remote, fanciful possibility in the contemporary United States, trump the grisly, daily reality of gun violence?

If by “reasonable regulations” you mean the complete public disarmament of law abiding citizens, leaving them easy prey for the criminals in our society?

In that case it absolutely is

Why?

In 1856 the Supreme Court issued the South v. Maryland decision, which specified that the government bears “no affirmative duty” for the protection of the individual, and that that responsibility is borne by the individual.

There have been two dozen cases since then decided in nearly identical fashion, but I notice no mention of making the government liable for a failure of protection. And despite their “enlightened attitude” the governments of England and Australia share a similar immunity.

Additionally, studies by groups - including the Department of Justice - have shown that lawfully owned guns are used anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 million times each year to prevent a crime.

Reduce that number by half and is the positive uses still outnumber the evil ones by a factor of 30:1.

You call the threat of tyranny:

an increasingly remote, fanciful possibility in the contemporary United States”

I’m certain that the people in the following examples considered themselves very erudite and modern as well:

In 1911, Turkey established gun control.
From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control.
From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated

China established gun control in 1935.
From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated

Germany established gun control in 1938.
From 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.

Guatemala established gun control in 1964.
From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Uganda established gun control in 1970.
From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

Cambodia established gun control in 1956.
From 1975 to 1977, one million educated people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

56 million defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control, many of them educated, and most of them practicing believers of their religions.

You state that:

“reasonable restrictions on handguns are morally licit in the Catholic tradition. Indeed, we may have a moral duty to enact such laws”

and later envision a place where only

“some people will possess guns: hunters and sportsmen, law enforcement officers, the military, those who require firearms for morally reasonable purposes”

revealing an interesting and thoroughly Americanized interpretation of doctrine, akin to the one exercised by members of the Church who claimed to be obedient and faithful Catholics, yet proudly proclaimed their support for Barack Obama, despite his being completely supportive of abortion to the point of voting against the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act” no less than four times.

You quote Tommaso Di Ruzza, as well as Cardinal Dolan with quotes that support your position, but show an alarming lack of knowledge of Catechism, especially for a Cardinal and a member of a Pontifical Council who is a supposed “expert”.

Allow me to refer you to The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part three, Section Two, Chapter Two, Article Five – “The Fifth Commandment”, which reads in part:

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. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote:

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.

Legitimate defense can be not only a right but 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.

The defense of one’s self seems pretty “morally reasonable”, doesn’t it? I guess when one is playing politics, either as a Cardinal or consultant, the facts are optional.

You call your proposals “practical” and gun control "reasonable", thereby imparting a authority to them that does not exist when viewed in the light of reproducible and externally verifiable statistics.

Additionally, you carefully qualify your measures as “potentially life-saving”, clarify your support of those measures with words like “potential”, say that it is “very likely”, state that “at least some” incidents might not have occurred.

This is language that has no other purpose but to backstop the supporters of a program in anticipation that after it is implemented it will fail to provide any of the results that were promised.

Supporters of the right to keep and bear arms can produce more studies and support for the idea that an armed law abiding citizenry reduces the rate of violent crime than you can show a reduction in crime in protecting criminals by legislative disarmament.

You can envision

“a world with far fewer guns... in which no one has a right to own one”

but have you considered that there are those in this country who hate the freedom of religion as much as the right to keep and bear arms? You state:

In the national imagination, the Constitution is too often thought of as a kind of sacred text. Yet neither our founders nor our forebears held to that view. The Constitution is mere human law.

Yet that document, human as it is, recognizes and protects the texts and ceremonies that are sacred to us. Perhaps the reason we have enjoyed our freedoms as long as we have is the presence of guns in our country, and culture.

Consider that all too often those that argue in favor of gun control are the ones who argue in favor of unlimited abortion.

They are the ones who seek to reduce the role of the church or religion in every facet of American existence.

They argue the “separation doctrine” to the point where wishing someone a “Merry Christmas” on government property results in an EEOC complaint and ACLU lawsuit.

And they argue that guns prevent them from enacting the social policies they, in their wisdom, have determined that we need.

A group of Black religious leaders recently released a statement where they expressed that gun control is really about controlling people, and emphasized the racial considerations present in many of the “gun control” laws in this country.

Are we so blind as to not see this ourselves?

Ron Smith | 3/29/2013 - 12:58pm

I know it may sound a tad racist but is taking a district which is 90% African American and over-analyzing how gun control affects THEM a poor analogy for how gun control might affect the rest of the nation?

I mean the rest of the nation doesn't spend it's pay check on lotto scratch off, dope and schlitz malt liquor then try to resolve the rest of the week with a Saturday night special and ski mask. I'm just sayin!

Don't hate the messenger because you don't like the message..

Dave Hickman | 3/29/2013 - 10:20am

The First Amendment was written to allow complete freedom of speech. The Second Amendment was written to enforce the First Amendment. With an entire population disarmed there will be NO freedom. The problem is not guns, the problem is guns in the wrong hands. All of the shooters in the mass killings in recent years (Columbine, Sandy Hook, etc,etc were taking medications that can have disturbing influences on the mind. The murders were done by people who were under the influence of mind altering drugs. Some of the drugs have warnings that clearly warn of side effects such as thoughts of suicide and a multitude of other negative side effects. It seems like there should be more care in prescribing these drugs rather than disarming a nation. Clearly there is no easy solution, but the cause of the killings should be more carefully assessed. The government uses these mass murders as a way to fulfill a more sinister agenda. I fear that Americans with good intentions are unaware of the results of total disarming themselves.

Tom Pilkington | 3/28/2013 - 9:53pm

This article has the feel of the Progressive Social Justice infestation that has seeped into the Catholic Church. One can only pray that Pope Frances can clean it all out.

Ron Howell | 3/29/2013 - 8:57am

The Catholic Church would like America to abolish our gun rights as seen by these comments here. Our Founding Fathers gave us the First Amendment preventing The establishment of religion (the Catholic Church). People who don't want us to have guns will have to use guns to take them from us! How many "children" will die in that war???

Albert Saukaitis | 3/27/2013 - 2:27pm

My feelings on your editorial are expressed in this article from Natural News. I believe that your thoughts are incredibly naïve. You need to read history to understand the error of your decision.

Yes, Hitler really did take the guns from Jews before throwing them into concentration camps (or gas chambers)

Monday, March 25, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes

(NaturalNews) They say those who learn nothing from history are doomed to repeat it, but then again, sometimes repeating history is exactly the point, as longtime anti-gun Sen. Dianne Feinstein's new "assault weapons ban" planned legislation for early next year proves.

Feinstein, a California Democrat, was instrumental in enacting a similar piece of legislation in 1994; with the help of President Clinton and Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress, that ban lasted a decade before being allowed to expire by a Republican-controlled Congress in 2004.

But her current measure would go much further and, in many ways, actually mirrors anti-gun measures enacted nearly 75 years ago by Nazi leader Adolph Hitler, in a bid to disarm a particular ethnic group he loathed.

This is gun control redux

Prior to 1938, when Hitler's new restrictions were put in place, the earlier Weimar Republic government had already enacted gun registration. "The laws adopted by the Weimar Republic intended to disarm Nazis and Communists were sufficiently discretionary that the Nazis managed to use them against their enemies once they were in power," says Clayton Cramer, author of the book Firing Back, as told to the website The Straight Dope. So what Hitler essentially did was strengthen existing German law (which was aimed primarily at preventing Jews from being armed).

And that is the all-important difference. Bernard E. Harcourt, writing for the University of Chicago Law School and Political Science Department, notes:

If you read the 1938 Nazi gun laws closely and compare them to earlier 1928 Weimar gun legislation - as a straightforward exercise of statutory interpretation - several conclusions become clear. First, with regard to possession and carrying of firearms, the Nazi regime relaxed the gun laws that were in place in Germany at the time the Nazis seized power. Second, the Nazi gun laws of 1938 specifically banned Jewish persons from obtaining a license to manufacture firearms or ammunition. Third, approximately eight months after enacting the 1938 Nazi gun laws, Hitler imposed regulations prohibiting Jewish persons from possessing any dangerous weapons, including firearms.

The point was, Hitler had it in for the Jews, so he first disarmed them before carrying out his murderous campaign against them. And, unable to resist, millions died.

"In Germany, firearm registration helped lead to the holocaust," National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre wrote in his book, "Gun, Crimes and Freedom."

Nothing new under the sun

Here are some key aspects of the 1938 law:

-- Police permission was required to own a handgun;

-- All firearms had to be registered;

-- Any Germans who enjoyed shooting bolt-action rifles were told to join the army "if they wished to shoot 'military' rifles," writes LaPierre, in his book;

-- The Nazi regime "also enacted the "Regulations against Jews' possession of weapons" within the days of Kristallnacht - the 'night of broken glass' - when stormtroopers attacked synagogues and Jews throughout Germany," he wrote;

-- Firearms registration lists were used to identify (and persecute) gun owners (bear in mind that a New York newspaper just published the names and addresses of legal handgun permit holders after obtaining them via a Freedom of Information Act request, because permit holders by the very nature of obtaining the permit had to be registered [http://www.naturalnews.com/038479_gun_owners_New_York_newspaper.html]).

Let's compare these Nazi-era gun control requirements to what Feinstein is proposing. As posted on her Senate website, her legislation would:

-- Ban the sale, transfer, importation or manufacture of 120 specifically-named firearms;

-- "Certain other semiautomatic rifles, handguns, shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine and have one or more military characteristics;"

-- "Semiautomatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds;"

-- Require that currently owned weapons that would be grandfathered in nevertheless be registered under the National Firearms Act;

-- Require a background check of any owner and/or transferee;

-- Provide the government with the type and serial number of the weapon;

-- Require a photograph and fingerprint to be on file with the government;

-- "Dedicated funding for [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] to implement registration" of firearms (keep in mind the BATF is the federal agency responsible for launching "Operation Fast and Furious," in which federal agents supplied thousands of weapons Feinstein wants to ban to Mexican drug gangs, several of which have since been tied to the murders of Mexican citizens and U.S. federal agents [http://www.naturalnews.com]).

What we've seen before, we may see again

It doesn't take a genius (or conspiracy theorist) to figure out the parallels between Nazi gun control laws and some of the same provisions being pushed by Feinstein. Understanding that our country is not a totalitarian state (yet), Feinstein and other gun-controllers like President Obama, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others all know they have to take a longer, more measured approach to disarming the U.S. public, that they can't just mandate it overnight.

But make no mistake, new gun control laws like those being proposed are nothing more than rehashed mandates dredged up from the past, with similar intentions: To make political opponents and the masses less powerful and less able to resist.

Sources:

http://www.infowars.com

http://www.naturalnews.com/038479_gun_owners_New_York_newspaper.html

http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/assault-weapons

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=557183

http://www.naturalnews.com

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/039630_Hitler_history_gun_control.html#ixzz2O...

Tom Gunn | 3/22/2013 - 10:18pm

The author obviously has never tried to purchase a gun 'legally'.
They refer to "lenient gun control laws".
Every gun purchase that I have ever made, required me to show my identification; concealed carry license; fill out the form that would incriminate me if I lied; and required a call to the FBI to clear the purchase.
Where did they get their statistics?
All emotion, no reason.
Please do yourself a favor and educate yourself by reading, 'More Guns, Less Crime' by John Lott.
I'll be kind, because I don't want to effect the fragile mental state of the author, because they might get a gun and shoot someone, but he/she is a lunatic.
Our guns are for protection from our government as much as they are from the criminals.
Freedom isn't free.
Repeal the Second Amendment and the First and all the others go away.

franklin ohlin | 4/9/2014 - 7:33pm

Mike, you seem to be in a distinct minority here...

Michael Zorn | 3/8/2013 - 10:01pm

That cover and editorial will certainly shake up your subscriber list.

I would have expected more from a publication run by Jesuits - once the intellectual arm of the Church. Things have changed greatly since I attended a Jesuit high school.

The most charitable thing I can say about your position is that it is misguided, ill-conceived, and harebrained.

The country tried an almost-as-idiotic thing some time ago, with the 18th Amendment: prohibition. It turned out to have been such a gigantic mistake that that Amendment had to be repealed, some 13 years later.

I commend to your reading "The Federalist Papers", which made the case for the Federal Government, and to histories of the Convention. Some members wanted the first 10 Amendments included in the original Constitution, and were persuaded to sign only on the assurance that they would be ratified shortly after,

Consider the wording of the Bill of Rights: "Congress shall make no law respecting ...."; ... shall not be infringed"; "No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house...."; "... shall not be violated, "; "No person shall be held...."; "... shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial..."; "... the right of trial by jury shall be preserved,"; "Excessive bail shall not be required,..."; "... shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people"; "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States...".

One after another, these limit the power of government over the people.

To argue only from practicality, this proposal would amount to putting the toothpaste back in the tube, the cat back into the bag, and the evils back into Pandora's box. There are millions of firearms in circulation, among both good men and evil men. As long as evil men have them, good men need them for their protection.

On another practical issue, that proposed Amendment would need to be ratified by 2/3 of the States - something as unlikely as the Cardinals electing the Caliph of Baghdad the next Pope.

On a larger scale, the pages of history are littered with stories of countries who either would not or could not arm themselves against neighbors who both would and could.

It is much less than wise to tamper with the Bill of Rights,

I also think a good case might be made that gun availability is not the root cause of gun violence. Consider how many of those millions of weapons in circulation have not been used to kill. Gun violence is most likely caused by the breakdown of civil society, brought about partly by the welfare state, the one-parent family, the children who live in isolation, touching others only through tiny little keyboards. Consider also how many of the recent round of school shooters who were "maladjusted loners".

We can all agree that there is a problem. The hard part, the "trick", is to find out how to address it, Taking away guns will not assuage the rage that seethes in those at the edges of society. Murder will still happen, if not by guns, then by knives, poison, even by hand.

pale horse | 3/27/2013 - 4:27pm

Obviously availability of guns is not the problem as the liars writing the article also erroneously claim the US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world per capita. This is false. Switzerland has the highest per caita gun ownership and their guns are supplied by the government. They are all military grade, full auto capable rifles. Where is all the gun violence in Switzerland?

Joseph Gregrich | 3/8/2013 - 12:31pm

I cannot disagree more with the title or the premise of this article. The fact that a very small percentage of Americans use guns to commit crimes is not an absolute for gun-control; it requires a closer look. More gun control laws or outright prohibition will not stop immoral, criminal acts. The US Constitution and the Bill of Rights work well when they are applied to a moral citizenry.

I want to focus on a theorem the author uses when he states, ‘”True, guns do not kill people; people kill people. In the United States, however, people kill people by using guns”. The corollary to this statement is that if access to guns is decreased or further limited, killings will decrease.

It’s true there are approximately 300million guns in civilian hands in the United States. The author is misleading, however, when indicating that 30,000 people die from guns violence. The actual number of murders is approximately one-third of that number, or roughly 10,000. Sadly, suicide makes up the other two-thirds of deaths by gun violence. Accidental gun deaths, although not insignificant to the families that have lost loved-ones this way, are insignificant statically—averaging 600-700 deaths per year.

But let’s use the author’s 30,000 number, and considering the current population of America (approximately 310million), the percentage of annual deaths by guns is less than 100th of 1 percent. The actual math works out this way, 30,000 ÷ 310,000,000 = 0.00967%. Ironically, the U.S. population and the number of guns in civilian hands in the U.S. are almost identical, 310million and 300million, respectively. Given that, the formula above could be restated to conclude that less than 100th of 1 percent of civilian-owned guns are used to commit murders. This could lead one to the conclusion that law-abiding American gun owners, overwhelmingly—by 99.99%—do not use their guns to kill other people. Yes, the gun-control debate is based on a false premise. Access to guns is not the primary issue. The primary issue is the criminal’s access to guns. There is plenty of evidence to show that most murders are committed by individuals with prior felony records. Common sense should tell us that criminals will not likely go through lawful channels in order to gain access to a gun.

If the United States currently possesses enough civilian-owned guns to give one to every man, woman and child, then perhaps we should take the more prudent approach of education about guns. I have participated in NRA gun safety and training courses, and my children have been taught how to safely handle guns. There would be no harm in allowing local police departments or the NRA to come to schools and teach and demonstrate gun safety. With only 600-700 deaths per year by accident, and approximately 40% to 45% of US households with at least one gun on the premises, it would seem reasonable to assume that gun owners, by an overwhelming percentage, safely and lawfully use their guns. Repealing the Second Amendment not only insults their level of responsibility, it impugns the intent of the Founding Documents. The Founders believed that individuals were far better equipped to govern themselves then a central government. Not only the Second Amendment, but the whole Bill of Rights protects law-abiding American citizens from the over-reaching of a relative few installed in government.

Enjoy a couple quotes from our first president, George Washington, who said, "The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good.", and, "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." Yes, firearms are everywhere—300million in American households. Are firearms second only to the Constitution in importance? God willing we will never have to test that assertion. Our central government, however, has as its first law, the Declaration of Independence, which expresses the peoples’ right to throw off their government when it no longer recognizes or protects the unalienable Rights of its citizens. The Bill of Rights is the protection that all law-abiding American citizens deserve and keeps our central government in check. Repeal the Second Amendment, I think not.

A couple sources for anyone who would like to do further research.
http://www.justfacts.com/guncontrol.asp#general

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/02/gun-violence-in-amer...

J McCredy | 3/6/2013 - 11:39am

Surrendering even one of our rights will start the surrender of more. Nazi Germany started by removing rights, one at a time. Do we want to go down that path. If this is the attitude of the editors of America, then I will not welcome the magazine in my home. Once we loose the second amendment rights, what's next...freedom of religion?

Mary McManus | 2/28/2013 - 1:51pm

Wow. Fantastic editorial. Surely you'll take a lot of heat for it, but thank you for the courage to print it and for challenging us to re-examine what our culture considers sacrosanct.

franklin ohlin | 4/9/2014 - 7:35pm

Mary, both his courage to print it and your ability to read it are covered by the second amendment... enjoy it.

David Haschka | 2/27/2013 - 12:53pm

I seem to recall that once before, a determined minority in the USA sought to control individual behavior they deemed harmful and distasteful by means of amending the constitution. The result was the 18th Amendment, How'd that work out?

Those who would ignore history are doomed to repeat it!

Frank Huber | 2/27/2013 - 10:22pm

Interesting discussion! As I am not a hunter, am no longer in the US Military and have developed other interests by which to hone and test my mechanical skills, I have no use for guns. They hold no allure for me. I applaud the Jesuit Editors for their examination of the 2nd Amendment. It is not surprising there is blowback, mostly from those who live in fear or those who believe they are entitled to their own facts. It is interesting, also, that our Supreme Court is currently dissecting the Civil Rights Act and likely will repeal some of it because it is no longer relevant (they say) in our current society. The same process needs to apply to the 2nd Amendment, as it needs to fit into our current society and culture which has grown and changed a great deal since the 18th Century. It's a tough issue, but much of the current discussion reflects how poorly our citizenry understands or practices critical thinking, much less civil discourse.

Gerald Mucci | 2/26/2013 - 10:06pm

I was shopping for a Christian/Catholic magazine for my Kindle Fire. Upon reading this editorial that promotes the removal of one of our cherished rights of self-defense in this country, I will certainly look elsewhere. Do the editors really believe that outlawing our right to bear arms will make us safer? Their opinions are irrational and untrustworthy. Look at Chicago! Or are they coming from the perspective of being entirely "Christlike" by subjecting ourselves and our families to gang rape, theft, murder, torture and mayhem.

bill carson | 2/22/2013 - 9:24am

Fight the Jesuits to the death!

john andrechak | 2/21/2013 - 10:57pm

sad but I should not be surprised- those ranters such as the one of "taking my R 15 when I am dead must be the contemporary US version of the Spanish Catholics who backed Franco-Flangist, etal. or Chilean Catholics who sided with Pinochet

Kenneth Borah | 2/21/2013 - 6:06pm

This is one of two issues (the other being immigration reform) that official and quasi-official elements of the Catholic Church should refrain from commenting on. As a non-Catholic who supported the Catholic Church in its grievance against the Obama Administration over the requirement to provide birth control, I am offended that you would so casually dismiss my right, as a free man, to defend myself and my family. I would venture a guess I'm not alone in these feelings. Since you want to tinker with the Bill of Rights, if you're going to repeal my 2nd Amendment rights, let's take a look at the rights afforded to you under the 1st Amendment. Furthermore, while we're repealing fundamental rights, let's talk about repealing the 2nd Amendment when you advocate for the repeal of clerical celibacy.

Elmer Stoup | 2/21/2013 - 8:03pm

Kenneth, as a Catholic taught by the Jesuits, I appreciate your support of 1st Amendment rights of all of us. This magazine has always been a liberal Democratic lover of Big Government as a solution to societal ills. As I've pointed out elsewhere in the comments, mainstream Catholic teaching holds that we have an individual right to defend ourselves. You'll notice these left-wing editorial writers don't even try to address Catholic teaching on the natural right of self-defense, but for a one sentence quote from a guy nobody's heard of, which was probably taken out of context..

Steve brown | 2/21/2013 - 3:28pm

The purpose of your American 2nd Amendment is not just for self-protection from thugs or break-ins to your homes, or hunting or any of the other stated issues. It is for protection against "King George" level over reach by your Federal Government. This reason both includes and eclipes all the others. THAT is your Founders reason for including it immediately behind religion and speech freedoms. We are concerned with things to the extent we do not have them--and your Founders were very concerned about all three.

The 2A's purpose is not to "Take over" the government--it is to defend yourself against it. Thus the pledge to obey the Constitution and defend America against all threats, foreign and domestic...that all government employees make from your president to your private.

Keep in mind that at the time of your founding that the British Empire was the most powerful entity on earth. To go to war against a power that had worldwide reach seemed insane at the time. To go against an American government that may/will eventually seek to oppress its people--ALL governments eventually deteriorate to that level (c.f. "Revolution")--seems equally ridiculous. But defense of one's freedoms, home and family has historically carried the day against the largest oppressors.

Follow any gun registration scheme long enough and you'll see that country eventually ends up with some form of depotism. The more facist or socialist the government, the faster this change occurs.

Elmer Stoup | 2/21/2013 - 11:56am

Jeff Moran:

Well reasoned and insightful comments with facts to debunk the editors' phony statistics. I knew there was a large jump in violent crime in Great Britain after law-abiding citizens could not own firearms.

However don't be so hard on the NRA. They are working to defend our individual liberties. I joined four years ago after my Democratic liberal buddies made it clear they didn't give a damn about our individual rights. They thought that, if only they could pass yet another blizzard of laws outlawing handguns, the inner city would magically become safer. Even when they acknowledged these gun bans don't actually stop "gun violence" because criminals and creeps ignore them, they still insisted we had to "do something." That night I decided to join the NRA.

The other thing that bothers me about this article is that the editors of a supposedly religious magazine made almost no attempt to justify, on a theological basis, why people have no individual right to protect themselves. They quote one sentence, probably ripped out of context, from a guy most readers never heard of.

Jeff Moran | 2/21/2013 - 8:03am

Editors,

I study human rights law in Geneva, and I am profoundly distressed and disappointed at this piece for its immoral presumption that the individual's right to armed self-defense should be entirely subordinated to a collective or government interest and that somehow the Second Amendment is now so restrictive that it doesn't allow for serious and meaningful gun control policies.

Current American and international law clearly allows for a balance of the individual's right with the collective and state interest of law, order, public safety. Your piece seems based on a delusion about the law. The fact is that the right to keep and bear arms is not an absolute right just because it is in the Bill of Rights, not even the right to right to life is absolute in the eyes of the law. This is why even in international human rights law there are words like "arbitrary" and derogation clauses.

I'm also disappointed that you wrongly argue, like many others tend to do, that the US should be more like other developed countries by banning guns, because such bans are the reason why mass shootings haven't happened there. Three problems with this.

First off, countries are different, and different approaches are needed to their problems. The international arguments for gun bans in the US make as much sense as saying “democracy seems to work in America, so China must reject Communism now.” To anybody with any sense of international perspective on Chinese history, such a line of advocacy is simply ridiculous.

Second, while America shares many important economic characteristics with other developed countries, and it is democratic like many others as well, America remains exceptional in several respects. America, unlike the usual countries it is compared to, was founded out of an insurgent war of national liberation from an abusive colonizer. As such, the United States has an incomparable political and social legacy, and modern day context. What keeps America exceptional is that individualism is sewn into the fabric of society and constitution (in contrast to collectivism, or the supremacy of a Party, a King, or a religion, etc.).

Third, Australia and the UK have been singled out as good and relevant examples of gun bans done good. They aren't. A quick fact check is in order. While gun killings are not as bad as the US, the UK violent crime rate went up after their gun ban and is now multiple times that of the United States. The same would likely result in the US, and I doubt anybody would trade out guns for a more pervasive risk of general violence. With respect to Australia, you should know a reputable scholarly study (McPhedran & Baker, 2008) suggests Australia's gun ban had no impact on mass killings there especially since New Zealand, a comparable but relatively more heavily armed “control” country that did not have a ban, did not experience mass shootings either during the 10 year study period.

I am also disappointed that you wrongly frame the problem of gun violence as somehow epidemically large and increasing and affecting everybody equally. My 8 February Washington Times commentary addresses this directly. Gun homicide, suicide, and accidents are in fact declining, and relative to other preventable non-gun accidents in America, they are very small.

The problem of gun violence is way more complex, and one-size-fits-all solutions are not appropriate. Suggesting American repeal the Second Amendment without even examining the data on weapons usage, demographic impact analysis, or a look at trends comes off as lazy and unreasoned. Some key facts to recognize:

First, with respect to gun homicide, a quick review of relevant data will show you that it is clearly and mostly a problem that disproportionately affects blacks who account for just 14% of the total population (54% of all gun homicides from 1993-2009 took the lives of blacks according to the CDC).

Second, gun suicides are way more numerous than gun homicides and gun related accidental deaths combined.

Third, accidental gun deaths are so infrequent they don’t even merit serious discussion. Twice as many people die from natural disasters, seven times more people die from drowning, and 36 times more people die from poisoning and accidental gun deaths have decreased by nearly 70% since 1993.

It would seem just from this quick review that suicide and care for the mentally ill seems much more appropriate to fixate on than the means/methods of homicide.

This being said, your citation of "reputable" academic studies is not relevant nor all that helpful. I’m talking about the ones that show the incidence of death going up with greater gun availability. This logic is as irrelevant as it is mockable to me. You could substitute "firearms" with "knives" or even "contaminated food" and one would find an increase in incidence of death. My point is that your reliance on these studies are borderline worthless and present a moral hazard of their own when you use them to extrapolate into the realm of private behavior policy.

Let me also inject some relevant data on weapons usage in the United States by the FBI and CDC. About 58% of all homicides from 2000 to 2010 involved guns says the CDC. But, the FBI says the share of all types of firearms relative to non-firearms weapons in homicide from 2006 to 2010 (the most recent data available) has actually decreased. It didn’t decrease by much, but the point is that it decreased. And, the share of non-firearms weapons in homicide over this period actually increased. What’s more, the same data shows the HUMAN BODY is absolutely more lethal than rifles and shotguns combined in America with the human body becoming more lethal over time while rifles and shotguns are becoming less lethal.

In conclusion, unless you can point to some other data to consider, asserting that now is the time to tackle guns and guns availability is demonstrably arbitrary and indicates you have done grossly inadequate research on the problem you claim to be solving. You don’t even appear to even have a clue about the problem of violence in America. You seem focused on symptoms and a simplistic one-size-fits all “nuclear” option of repealing the Second Amendment and banning guns of all kinds.

The fact is that gun use in homicides is on the decline compared to other weapons like sharp or blunt objects, or the human body. Claiming guns are a growing problem requiring the repeal of the Second Amendment is absolutely unsupportable when reconciled with facts published by the both the FBI and the CDC showing gun use in homicide is decreasing.

I would go even further and say your article is completely off target and socially irresponsible because it jeopardizes rational and reasoned efforts to actually bring about practical solutions with serious humanitarian impact. Shame on you. This is because your article will polarize and motivate many more people to join organizations like the NRA (which has grown from around 4 million to around 5 million in just the past two months). You have succeeded only in pouring fuel on the policy fire. You have delivered the validation irrational and extremely pro-gun people needed to justify their now not-so-crazy view that extreme progressives like yourselves are out to grab everybody’s guns and to dissolve the right to keep and bear arms completely.

Lawmakers and policymakers need to look at facts, not feel with emotion with regard to public policy making. And you have a moral obligation to do this as well. And you seem to have shamefully failed. If we focus on weapons that are truly becoming more dangerous, the data actually shows that sharp objects, blunt objects, and the human body are where to start. But this is misguided too. Americans need to focus on the problem of resorting to violence in the first place, not the means and methods so much. Policies should therefore focus on reducing the probability somebody decides to act violently well before they pick their weapon, whether it be their fist, a club, a knife, or a rifle. This must entail targeted and tailored outreach and care to those most at risk of acting violently, and a complete rethink of how children are socialized in civil society.

Again, shame on you for making matters worse with your editorial. You have done humanitarians a tremendous disservice.

Jeff Moran
The Geneva Academy
of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights
Geneva, Switzerland

Greg Redford | 5/24/2013 - 3:33pm

He doth protest too much ... "Jeff Moran, a Principal at TSM Worldwide LLC, specializes in the international defense, security, and firearms industries. Previously Mr. Moran was a strategic marketing leader for a multi-billion dollar unit of a public defense & aerospace company, a military diplomat, and a nationally ranked competitive rifle shooter. He is currently studying international law of armed conflict with the Executive LL.M. Program of the Geneva Academy. Earlier this year he completed an Executive Master in International Negotiation from the Graduate Institute of Geneva. Mr. Moran also has an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and a BSFS from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service." -- http://iapcar.org/?tag=jeff-moran

Surely there is no bias in your presentation of your facts is there?

Regards,

Michael Zorn | 3/8/2013 - 10:10pm

Jeff: I commend your elegant stand on the side of right and reason. The editors may have been testing the waters. If so, they've found them most uncongenial.

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