The National Catholic Review

I am not a political person.  I do not follow, say, political campaigns, or the ins and outs of various pieces of legislation, as closely as some of my friends do.  But I am a religious person.  Many of my political opinions, then, are formed by my religious ideals: for example, a commitment to help the poor and marginalized, a desire for a peaceful world, and a respect for the sanctity of life from natural conception to natural death.

That is why I believe that gun control is a religious issue.  It is as much of a “life issue” or a “pro-life issue,” as some religious people say, as is abortion, euthanasia or the death penalty (all of which I am against), and programs that provide the poor with the same access to basic human needs as the wealthy (which I am for).  There is a “consistent ethic of life” that views all these issues as linked, because they are.

All of these issues, at their heart, are about the sanctity of all human life, no matter who that person is, no matter at what stage of life that person is passing through, and no matter whether or not we think that the person is “deserving” of life.  The issues just mentioned of course are very different. To take the most obvious example, the agonizing decisions surrounding euthanasia, with which loving families are sometimes confronted, are not to be equated with the twisted decisions of a mass murderer.  But they are all, in one way or another, actions that impinge on the sanctity of human life.  God gives life to every person, and that life is holy. 

In the wake of last week's tragedy in Colorado many were moved to prayer.  With them I mourn the loss of all who died in the shootings.  I pray for the victims, that they may rest with God; for the victims' families and friends, that they may feel God's consolation; and for the perpetrator, that he have true remorse and somehow be reconciled with God and with those to whom he brought such misery.

But our revulsion over these crimes, and our sympathy for victims, may be more than an invitation to prayer.  Such deep emotions may be one way that God encourages us to act.  Simply praying, “God, never let this happen again” is insufficient for the person who believes that God gave us the intelligence to bring about lasting change.  It would be as if one passed a homeless person and said to oneself, “God, please help that poor man,” when all along you could have helped him yourself.

These shootings would not have happened if the shooter did not have such easy access to firearms and ammunition.  So religious people need to be invited to meditate on the connection between the more traditional “life issues” and the overdue need for stricter gun control.  The oft-cited argument, “Guns don’t kill people, people do,” seems unconvincing.  Of course people kill people; as people also procure abortions, decide on euthanasia and administer the death penalty.  Human beings are agents in all these matters.  The question is not so much how lives are ended, but how to make it more difficult to end lives. 

Pro-life religious people need to consider how it might be made more difficult for people to procure weapons that are not designed for sport or hunting or self-defense.  Why would anyone be opposed to firmer gun control, or, to put it more plainly, laws that would make it more difficult for mass murders to occur?  If one protests against abortions clinics because they facilitate the taking of human life, why not protest against largely unregulated suppliers of firearms because they facilitate the taking of human life as well?    

There are some cogent arguments against restricting access to firearms.  People enjoy guns for sport and hunting.  The Second Amendment permits the private ownership of guns (though I doubt that the need for a “well-regulated militia” envisioned by the framers of the Constitution translates into easy access to assault weapons.)  But there is nothing to say that more stringent gun control laws that could prevent such horrible crimes cannot be judiciously balanced with constitutional rights.

The Christian outlook on this of course has less to do with self-defense and more to do with the defense of the other person.  Jesus asks us to love our enemies, not to murder them; to pray for them, not to take vengeance; and he commends the peacemakers among us, not those advocating for more and more and more weapons. 

Was Jesus naïve?  I wonder about that.  I often marvel how some Christians can say that in one breath, and proclaim him as the Son of God in the next.  Apparently, some believe that the Second Person of the Trinity didn’t know what he was talking about.  But Jesus lived in a violent time himself, under the heel of Roman rule in an occupied land, when human life was seen as cheap.  Jesus witnessed violence and was himself the victim of violence—the most famous person to suffer the death penalty.  It was not only divine inspiration but also human experience that led him to say: Blessed are the peacemakers. 

Why am I saying this now?  Not because I want to score political points.  But because this week’s shootings horrified me, and reminded me of the need for religious people who stand for life, and for churches who stand for life, to stand for life at all times.  Why haven’t I written as much on other life issues?  Because the Catholic church’s stance on most of those issues is well known.  By contrast, religious leaders have seemed relatively silent on this other life issue.  Perhaps it is the kairos, as Jesus said: the right time, in this case for religious people to pray about these issues in a new light.

This stance will most likely be unpopular politically.  Some on the political right will object my stance on firmer gun control.  Some of the political left will object to my stance on abortion.  But that doesn't bother me, because I am not political.  I am religious.  And so I am for the sanctity of life.  Therefore, I am for stricter gun-control laws that will protect lives, not end them. 

Comments

Jillian George | 12/27/2013 - 10:23pm

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-...

Janice Baker | 7/24/2012 - 10:55pm
I am a pro-life Christian. I've never supported the dealth penalty until more recently when I did a persuasive essay on the matter. My research explored both criminal justice and Christ's Justice (biblical word) regarding the issue. Being raised Catholic, now Christian protestant, I found it impossible, based on my studies to support my original argument. I always believed; 'killing is wrong', taking a life, even one of a convicted killer is wrong, what if the inmate was wrongly accused, etc. And, I always found the expressions 'eye for an eye' and 'kill them all and let God sort them out' as gruesome and brutal as the original crime. But, although it is a difficult pill to swallow, Christ's word is clear on this matter.
Vince Killoran | 7/24/2012 - 10:39pm
Let's let a real authority weigh in on this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLjNJI54GMM
Janice Baker | 7/24/2012 - 10:33pm
I guess the problem most NRA supporting individuals have with stricter gun control is foregoing their right to bear arms. Unfortunately, a gun ban will affect law abiding "peace-keepers" as much, certainly more than criminals. Criminals will always be able to obtain guns!

Not suprisingly, my family was just in the middle of this very discussion, as I'm sure many American families are, in wake of the tragedy in Aroura. Conversationally, my father asked, "Why wasn't someone in that theater carrying a concealed weapon?" If a law abiding, concealed-weapons permit carrying, Smith & Wesson packing individual had the presence to gun down the shooter, how many innocent lives would have been lost~ zero. I don't believe that loving your neighbor means allowing someone to take your life for no reason, without a fight...as I do respect life as a holy gift from our Creator.

As I think of this very unusual individual, I wonder, "what turned him into a time-bomb?" I am certain that he did not know and receive Jesus. Like the old adage, 'hate the sin, not the person' goes, it is neither the gun, nor really the persons (shooters) that we should hate.

Fear is a giant factor in the cause of violent crimes. Also, it is what causes victims to be submissive. Remember 2001? How many died after succumbing to the fear evoked by a few box cutters? Hence, it is not the gun, per se, but the fear of an unstable person who does not know the heart and will of Jesus Christ.

We cannot love a person who threatens our holy lives as he waves a gun before us, we must love these people before we know them. Reaching out to children at young ages, strangers in our communities, supporting our neighbors rather than shutting doors, spending time with shy kids who dissapear into computer screens, speaking with distant family memberts, visiting elderly/shut-ins, etc. The effects caused by the decline of the American family, community institutions, religious devotion, and attempts at self-sufficiency can be devastating, as we've seen.

Sometimes, the "right" answer, or maybe I should say, the most effective course of action, is not always the one we first think of as being the obvious solution. For example, statistics show that stricter gun laws alone do not equivocate to lower violent crime rates.
Vince Killoran | 7/24/2012 - 3:03pm
"J. Vincent" recycles a claim from many pro-gun websites, i.e., that crime has increased significantly since Australia instituted stronger guns laws after the Port Arthur massacre in the 1990s.

It hasn't.   Follow this link to an article, based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Institute of Criminology: http://www.snopes.com/crime/statistics/ausguns.asp. 
Vincent Gaitley | 7/23/2012 - 6:01pm
@30. Keep in mind that the Swiss are armed, and rather well trained in firearms, too, but simply don't have the notion in their heads to shoot each other. You affirm my point, that in the end a disarmed body politic is a dead body politic.
Allan Kidd | 7/23/2012 - 5:49pm
To not defend yourself is not pro-life.  The author is advocating passive suicide.  Suicide is a sin.
Vince Killoran | 7/23/2012 - 4:30pm
Ah, yes: American exceptionalism at work once again.

When a tragedy strikes involving firearms strikes in other countries (Australia, Norway) the citizens call for more & better gun control.  When it happens here we double down on our pro-gun stance. More death.
Jason Yergler | 7/23/2012 - 3:37pm
As a Christian, I am embarassed by your logical errors.  Let me address them one by one.

First, the act of comparing gun control to abortion clinics is so flawed I can not believe an educated person would use the analogy.  Abortion clinics' SOLE AND SINGULAR purpose are the extinction of human life.  Firearms in private hands are used literally millions of times every year for beneficial purposes from hunting to self defense.

Next, there are hundreds of thousands of incidents of firearms used in self defense every year.  Without firearms, there would be far more rapes, robberies, and murders completed.  If you doubt me, look at FBI statistics or John Lott's book ''More Guns, Less Crime'' (and he was an anti gun guy before he ran the statistics). ''What about the police?'' you ask.  Well, the Supreme Court of the United States has spoken and ruled that the police are under no duty to protect you individually from crime, but are there to catch criminals after the fact, thereby protecting society.  

Additionally, the Second Amendment is not about hunting, it is about maintaining the people's last defense against a tyrannical government.  Despotic governments have killed far more people in this century than privately owned firearms (Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, etc.).  A wise man once said that if every Jewish household in Europe possessed a Mauser rifle, a box of ammunition, and the will to use them, the Holocaust would never have occurred.

Finally, your contention that firearms suppliers are unregulated is a position of such colossal ignorance (I mean that in the real sense of the word, in that you do not know of what you speak, not as an insult) that it is not even worth discussion.  The industry is HEAVILY regulated.  I have been through so many background checks, it is difficult to count them.  I will make the point that the Catholic Church would have been well served to have a similar system in place regarding the placement of priests (rather low hanging fruit, I know, but it is an analogy that while cheap, makes the point). 

The problem is the degredation of our culture, the weakness of the humans making up the Body of Christ, and the victories of the Culture of Death and Godlessness.

This issue affects me personally. I attended Arkansas State University at the time of the Jonesboro shootings.  I know families that suffered loss in that tragedy. I was playing soccer and saw the ambulances roll that day.  Not once did I take the intellectually weak and morally vacuous position that the guns were the problem.
Vincent Gaitley | 7/23/2012 - 1:19pm
When your earnings are taxed, your economic liberty is gone and that is a lesser form of slavery. When your gun rights disappear, your liberty is gone, and your neighbor is your oppressor, your government your murderer.  The Germans understood this in the 1930s and 40s; the Communists in China and North Korea and Cuba practice this still.  A religious issue?  The Psalmist sings for God to strike the enemies of the righteous.  Does God truly help those who help themselves? Some of us believe the Second Amendment is one form of answered prayer, tears and all. And I don't own a gun, yet.

Yes the killings are brutal and unforgiveable.  We live in a culture of death, no surprise that we will die that way.  I appreciate Fr. Martin's comments, truly.  But these days the Church has lost its teaching authority in all matters, big and small. If a child victim had shot his abusive priest, who would condemn that?  Not me as a Juror.  So when we wail about the lack of gun control, we the people, and we the faithful have our fingers on triggers of mistrust, distrust, and disgust.  A few weeks ago in Philadelphia over 40 persons were shot in one weekend, and since more have been shot, but not all together.  We shrug our shoulders and move on. Life is cheap, we've been taught.  And we are starting to believe it. 
Carlos Orozco | 7/23/2012 - 11:42am
The President might pick up the issue during the present campaign, just so people get distracted from the current state of the economy.

It would also be highly hypocritical on his part, considering that his Administration has sold THOUSANDS of automatic firearms to rival drug cartels in Mexico (operation Fast and Furious) and is blocking congressional investigation on Attorney General Holder on the issue.
Amy Ho-Ohn | 7/23/2012 - 9:26am
I dislike guns. They're dangerous. And it's not because I don't know how to use one. I was in the Army for six years. I'm happy that I live in a state where gun control laws keep most guns in the hands of the police and the really bad bad guys, who mostly shoot at each other.

But this is an issue that I and a lot of women (and priests) just don't completely understand. A lot of men really like guns. In a lot of parts of the country, a gun is an important symbol of masculine honor, it confers the ability to take care of oneself and protect innocent people. I know a lot of very good men (and a few women) who belong to the "You'll have to pry it from my cold dead fingers" school of thought. They're not criminals, they're not killers, and they're not dangerous. They just feel naked when they're unarmed.

Good gun control is a question of finding the right equilibrium point. Policies that make it harder for bad guys to get them are good. But policies that make it harder for good guys to get them are bad. What's appropriate in Massachusetts is not necessarily appropriate in Arizona.

James Holmes seems to be a very sick young man. If he hadn't been able to get his hands on firearms, he could have done about as much mayhem with Molotov cocktails.  Tim McVeigh killed hundreds with fertilizer.
David Smith | 7/23/2012 - 1:03am
Someone offered a statistic the other day showing that by far most guns used by criminals came from family and friends.  If ''gun control'' means passing a national law forbidding the sale of guns to bad people, it might be about as useful as a national law forbidding the sale of nuclear weapons.
Sara Damewood | 7/22/2012 - 11:20pm
Well said, Fr. Jim.   Gun control certainly is a pro-life issue.   Thanks so much for taking a stand on this!
james belna | 7/22/2012 - 10:47pm
There is one -and only one - statement in Fr Martin's article that I completely agree with, which is his admission that he ''is not a political person.'' This is plainly the case, because political persons have to consider the world as it really is, and not as one naively hopes it to be. Consider, for example, the assertion that stricter gun control laws could prevent acts of terror such as occured in Aurora - unless by ''stricter gun control'', Fr Martin is advocating that the government conduct a house-by-house search of every residence in America to confiscate hundreds of millions of guns. Perhaps he is. Of course, even if it were possible to make all guns magically disappear overnight, there are countless other ways for criminals to kill innocent people. The ONLY thing that could have prevented (or at least limited) the carnage in that movie theater was if some brave soul in the audience had been carrying a handgun. In fact, if would-be murderers had to confront the real possibility that their victims are armed, most would never even try. Fortunately for aspiring crazed mass murderers, Fr Martin is devoting his considerable rhetorical gifts to make sure that every theater (and every other place where innocent people may congregate) is a ''gun-free'' zone, so that homicidal maniacs may go about their business without fear of unpleasant interruptions. The next logical step (which Fr Martin has already anticipated with his indiscriminately absolutist position on the inviolability of human life) is to disarm the police. 

 
James Bjacek | 7/22/2012 - 9:31pm
Indeed there is a need for gun control, and I think that state legislatures should pass strict licensing statutes and have a criteria (reasons) for legitimate purchasing of these types of weapons. Additionally, there should be leeway for urban areas to have stricter regulations, since there are more people in a very dense area, which means that people are more vulnerable and they are make more numerous targets for such shooters. 

(There will always be the problem of illegal attainment, though :/ ) 

I support the 2nd ammendment, but it must not be seen a simply a license for hedonistic pleasure-killing, but a call for responsible commitment to the community. Communities do need citizens to have arms, not just for the protection of their families, but of their neighbors as well. The best way to ensure this is to create guidelines at the state and local level.
MONICA DOYLE | 7/22/2012 - 8:37pm
I work in a local community pharmacy.  It is harder to buy pseudoephedrine for a stuffy nose than it is to buy guns and ammunition.
david power | 7/22/2012 - 2:50pm
Very sad.
I can only imagine what they are going through if I imagine it was one of my own family taken from me so insanely.
No Goodbyes.
I don't believe people are all that political or religious, they just stick with what serves them best.
This from the Nobel Prize winner.

"I believe in people's lawful right to bear arms. ... There are some common-sense gun safety laws that I believe in. But I am not going to take your guns away."
Barack Obama.
Any talk of respecting people's rights is nonsense.
That said I am open to correction or teaching on this point.How on earth can Americans justify having a police force if you also still need to "bear arms"?How can you justify the US arm-y if the citizens are all swisslike in their self-defence?.In China they use Chopsticks for no other reason than tradition.Fork and Knife does the job better.The first generation of chinese who eat with fork and knife still bring their heads to the food , a natural reaction after a lifetime of using an inferior system. It is a useless struggle.My Chinese friends no longer pine for chopsticks.Why Can't America just adopt the superior european approach to guns?
Again maybe there is a very good reason.The usual is a sophisticated version of "we likes our guns"
 
 
ed gleason | 7/22/2012 - 2:34pm
We need to ban assault weapons and big clips at the  least. The whine about the 2nd amendment is as false as the the creeps who cite kiddie porn as OK by the !st amendment.
I would never vote for a pol who follows the NRA demands..
Mark Hill | 7/22/2012 - 1:32pm
Thank you Fr. Jim for speaking about this issue!  You articulated my thoughts exactly and provided the religious justification better than I ever can.  Thank you for being so brave in challenging some people's beliefs.  
MARY VANDERHOOF | 7/22/2012 - 12:13pm
Excellent piece, Fr. Jim! I agree completely and hope that as a Church we can agree that we need to speak out consistently on the full spectrum of sanctity of life issues without allowing partisan politics to get in the way. 
Kang Dole | 7/24/2012 - 7:46pm
Wow, this one sure did bring out the cray.
Clarence Crosby | 7/24/2012 - 6:21pm
I too believe fully in the sanctity of life ,  As did my savior Jesus Christ , proven when he admonished his deciples that if they have a cloak ,, sell it and buy a sword , as he knew he would no longer be on earth with them in all their travels .  You can't ban some without a total ban beause man is clever enough to improvise whatever he wants .  leaving the less clever with a disadvantage . The very best solution is to have more of the good guys armed than the bad guys , which you can't disarm because they don't obey the rules .  Thank you for hearing me and may God bless us all
Vince Killoran | 7/24/2012 - 5:06pm
Is Boudeca a first name or a surname?
John Vincent | 7/24/2012 - 1:57pm
I agree that things need to be changed; but where do we change them?  Do we change the rules for law abiding gun owners or the repercussions for criminals using the weapons? My vote goes for the one that makes the criminal suffer the consequences for his actions, not restrict the safety of the law abiding person.  Peter had a sword and used it to try and protect Christ.  Christ was willing to die to save us.  Just as I would face any attacker to protect my family.  Until we can disarm the criminal, we need to stay vigilant and preparred to defend our safety.  Until we can disarm the powers that want to destroy our freedom and way of life; we need to be preparred and protect our Country.  Until we can worship without the fear of a religeous sect storming into our Church and killing our congregation; then we need to be armed in the pew! If responsible citizens were armed and it was not a "Safety Zone" (unable to carry concealed weapons), the man would not have gotten as many shots off before being stopped! This has been the case of every mass shooting that has happened recently.  They have happened in "Safety Zones"! Schools, Political Rallies, Theaters and so on; all have been Gun Free Safety Zones!  Check your current crime rates in Australia since it went gun free!  Crime has doubled. Because, only the criminals have guns!!!
Kang Dole | 7/24/2012 - 1:16pm
I think that Father Martin and his supporters have forgotten that the reason Jesus was able to escape those sent to capture him in Gethsemane and thus go on to found the United States is because of Peter's quick and decisive use of his sword. What if nobody with Jesus had been armed? He might have wound up on a cross or something!

It's the same principle today.
J Cosgrove | 7/24/2012 - 10:56am
Unfortunately, this issues is an arithmetic one as are most discussion on life or the lost of it. Do guns cause lives to be lost and facilitate crime. Most definitely yes. Do guns save lives and reduce crime. Most definitely, yes.


So the concern is which is greater, the lives lost by the availability of guns or the lives saved. If one is going to take a stand on this issue, then that is what has to be part of the discussion.  Certainly there are other considerations besides the enumeration of lives lost or saved or the reduction/increase of crime.


One is the issue of protection from an imperious government.  How valid is that?  And just what level of self protection is one allowed from criminal predators or the possibility of government intrusion in our lives?
Janet Hartmann | 7/24/2012 - 10:14am
Addendum to post #35:

I had pondered at times whether I would ever be able to kill a person in self-defense or not and I was later given the opportunity to find out.

I was car-jacked and robbed at gunpoint by two men, and believe me, I knew right then in that awful moment that I would not ever regret shooting people who were attempting to harm me or others. All I need is the gun to defend myself and I will.
Michael Moorehead | 7/24/2012 - 9:40am
Fr. James, your compassion for life is laudable. However, your argument is founded in a false premise; inanimate objects (such as guns) do not cause problems... people do. Making guns illegal merely guarantees that only those who are evil will be the only ones with guns.  Like all other tools, guns can be used for good or for evil. Self-defense protects life and is a Biblical precept which is made possible by gun ownership. A single concealed carry permit holder could have intervened and prevented this loss of life. Self defense is not only a right, it is also a moral obligation!

In fact, the moral obligation to protect life via self-defense is so foundational to an accurate understanding of the Gospel that, in Luke 22:35-38, Jesus tells his disciples; ''But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.''

The taking of innocent life is a greater evil than the taking of life in sef-defense.  In fact, the original Hebrew version of the Ten Commandments forbids ''murder,'' not ''killing.'' By definition, ''murder is the killing of an ''innocent.'' Jesus recognized that evil is real, those who are commited to evil will *find* weapons if they truly want them, and that His followers would occasionally need to defend themselves with deadly force.

I suggest that you abandon the runaway emotion and the false premises and instead adopt the Biblical view that our Lord Jesus advocated!
 
Vince Killoran | 7/23/2012 - 7:05pm
Fr. Martin-you are making a splash on right wing blogs! I suspect many of the new contributors to our discussion on this comments thread have come from "The Blaze"-a website run by Glen Beck.

I encourage IAT regular readers to read the comments section on this link: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/priest-pushes-for-more-control-by-calling-it-a-religious-issue-like-abortion-euthanasia-or-the-death-penalty/.

It makes you fear for our country.
allen monday | 7/23/2012 - 6:11pm
Reverend Martin spoke of the, "sanctity of life."  Everything that has ever lived has died and everything that is alive is going to die.  Where does the sacred part come in?
T BLACKBURN | 7/23/2012 - 4:59pm
Just one tiny point: "When your gun rights disappear, your liberty is gone, and your neighbor is your oppressor, your government your murderer. The Germans understood this in the 1930s and 40s"... (@25). Here is what the Germans understood: They did not take away the guns of Jews until nearly the outbreak of war, long after they had taken away most other rights from Jews. Germans, including Jews, were not ordinarily armed unless they were regular hunters. The idea of a Glock in every school kid's back pack had not caught on, for some reason. During the war, soldiers on leave were required to have their weapons with them at all times while on leave. Taking them into account, the German citizenry was better armed against Hitler than Americans were against FDR.

 That is what was going on. The idea of a dictator disarming a population that was ready to be John Wayne as Wyatt Earp is an NRA extrapolation from its own fears. Germany was a very different place, and lessons from the '30s are not applicable, even if they were drawn from fact rather than fiction.
Bill Collier | 7/23/2012 - 3:33pm
Commenters who have criticized Fr. Martin for his purported no-tolerance policy regarding gun control must have missed or glossed over this temperate paragraph in his post:

"There are some cogent arguments against restricting access to firearms.  People enjoy guns for sport and hunting.  The Second Amendment permits the private ownership of guns (though I doubt that the need for a 'well-regulated militia' envisioned by the framers of the Constitution translates into easy access to assault weapons.)  But there is nothing to say that more stringent gun control laws that could prevent such horrible crimes cannot be judiciously balanced with constitutional rights."

Though I'm much less temperate than he is about the vast numbers of guns in the U.S. - something that many in other parts of the with strict gun control laws find non-sensical about us - I think Fr. Martin has tried to strike a fair balance in suggesting greater restrictions on access to assault weapons. Just what is it about an assault weapon that makes it a necessity for protection from criminals or for an enhanced hunting experience? If the Colorado shooter's assault weapon had not jammed, the death toll in the Aurora tragedy would likely have been significantly higher. Unfortunately, both of the main presidential candidates in the U.S. this year are afraod to take on the NRA about this  issue. That's a political tragedy IMO.  




Vincent Gaitley | 7/23/2012 - 12:56pm
During the lifetime of Jesus Christ in the Roman Age of Augustus, that empire subdued the known world without a single rifle or handgun. Of course, that might be obvious, however, it isn't when you realize their military power arose from two facts: Romans had swords, pikes, and siege weapons; and, secondly, the will to use them.  A swordless population is easily controlled and opressed.  We the people arm ourselves to protect liberty and we suffer the consequences and limits of freedom, and we do suffer.  Assault weapons should be banned, but most of all the will to use them on each other must be addressed.  The Aurora shootings could have been the Aurora bombings easily, and what would be preached about that?  Understanding? Blah.  Forgiveness? Ugh, not yet, Lord.  
joseph o'leary | 7/23/2012 - 9:47am
Hmmm. I'm seeing a lot of fear-based defense of gun ownership in these comments. Maybe the issue in our society is not the "Culture of Death" but the "Culture of Fear"?
david power | 7/23/2012 - 8:02am
@Jim Belna,

I have often heard the argument you made .It is ridiculous.
Fr Jim Martin never said that the government should go house to house and confiscate all guns.Maybe he should have.
The argument during the Civil War and before it was complex as is this.Lincoln was not for the direct abolition of slavery but for the "ultimate extinction" of it.
If America moved towards the abolition of Guns they could have them down to European standards in about 10 years.
Then you would not need some hero with a gun to save everybody.It is not utopian thinking on his part, in fact nothing in the article is even remotely idealistic.
Utopia?Europe.The rest of the World for crying out loud.
If Europe had guns like the States does we would have regular massacres too.
Do you really believe that these homicidal lunatics would be put off by others having guns?Despite the fact that most  of them are gunned down anyway?
The reasoning is that what happened last week was a "lack"of guns, can you just picture the French and German governments relaxing laws now to help people "protect" themselves?What is the worth of handguns in America?The total worth?Buybacks ,governmental buybacks with the revoking of the license afterwards.
Luisa Navarro | 7/23/2012 - 3:07am
It's absolutely fascinating for all of us non-US people.
Of course it's a religious issue. Of course it's a common sense issue.
It's just that it's so... 'American' (in the way you use it: excluding Peruvians, Cubans or any other natives of the continent)...
Jennifer Lade | 7/23/2012 - 12:55am
At Mass today, the priest at my church gave a great homily concerning the shooting. He said very little attention will be paid to the true problem, which is that we are living in an increasingly Godless society. A society without God at its center is one that produces people with such evil in them that they hold themselves at their own god and have nothing stopping them from committing atrocious acts like mass murder.

It is natural for people to want to take action to prevent horrible things from happening. But a lot of people in this string of posts seem to be jumping from a pro-life position to the conclusion that gun control would save lives and is therefore the pro-life option. But consider all the people who will be hurt by not having access to firearms: the woman who is being threatened by a stalker, a law-abiding citizen living in a neighborhood where lots of people have obtained firearms illegally; heads of households charged with protecting their families.

You have to logically think through your position and its consequences; gun control does not mean fewer innocent people die.
joseph o'leary | 7/22/2012 - 11:46pm
Consistent, sincere and not naive. You are seeking to make it more difficult - not impossible - to end life, and stricter controls will do just that. We still have drunk drivers, despite tighter DUI laws and enforcement, but that doesn't mean that the legislation is naive, ineffective or unreasonable.
S MCCAFFREY | 7/22/2012 - 8:50pm
Thanks, Fr. Jim, for yet another article that expresses my sentiments exactly! Your ability to write so clearly about challenging issues is a real gift ~ and a real service to all of us desiring to faithfully live out our call to Christian discipleship.
Paul Kelley | 7/22/2012 - 8:09pm
I agree completely and believe that the Bishops should forget about their argument concerning whether the Healthcare provision infringes on religious liberty  and support legislation to limit the possessions of guns.
WILLIAM ATKINSON | 7/22/2012 - 4:18pm
The only way to stop and control this madness in Americs is to use reverse mentality, what with our politicians, governors, courts,  legislators, educators and religious professionals, all on take from NRA: is to issue, get for, hand out all kinds of weapons to everyone, all ages and races, in our country and go back to western outlaw mentality.   Meet the bad guys everywhere, at work, on your doorstep, in schools, at church, in courts, congress, at NRA meetings or KKK ralleys  all the time, with force:  then out of massive chaos will come order and logic.
Michael Schlacter | 7/22/2012 - 4:12pm
Yes We are all about weapons of mass destruction...what's up with these? We go to war over them or when we think someone might have some... We ought to regulate their distribution to those with a need and have demonstrated mental stability to have them.  Very few need what this person had.  This was not target practice, sport or hunting shooting. 
Deal is...there is a lot of money on the other end and the big dollar boys will not have it!
We frisk and abuse old ladies in airports for our safety from others with weapons of mass destruction, we ought to manage the distribution of weapons of mass destruction. 
T BLACKBURN | 7/22/2012 - 3:41pm
It is fascinating to me to see how the gun industry's promotional campaign to boost sales of its product turned the Second Amendment into a religous belief for so many Americans that neither party dare say a mumbling word about wholesale slaughter. The industry and its acolytes ranging from honestly frightened hunters to the black-helicopter paranoids, decided Barrack Obama was going to take their toys away, leading to sales of guns and ammunition being the only boom industry in the Great Recession. Although he didn't try to take their toys away, they stil believe he will. And, although they never will vote for him since they know he is such an enemy of God, country and the Mighty Second Amendment, Obama can't bring himself to say a mumbling word. The world's greatest power, and the leader of free peoples everywhere, trembles in mortal terror before a gun marketing campaign.
 Even the Most Catholic (ever) Supreme Court of the United States says the NRA has the whole Truth.
 Yes, it's a moral issue. But Saturday Night Live can't make this stuff up.
Magy Stelling | 7/22/2012 - 3:05pm
Agree  with you Fr. Jim. You are not a political person for the very reason your views reflect the teachings of Jesus.  A Political person's view  coincide with their party's platform.  Yes these views, at times interact with one another.  When the interaction takes place it does not made one political or religious. However it is the reason behind the stance one takes that makes it political or religious. If one sees abortion wrong and the only issue in a pro life stance then the issue becomes political because  abortion is a part of  that party's platform. However if one see  abortion wrong  along with poverty, war, the death penalty, and other abuses of human respect and dignity  then the stance is religious because one is following the teachings and thoughts of a religion, in your case the following of Jesus.

So I thank you for  bringing your beliefs for our consideration and for your distinction between a political and religious stance. So when one decides on how to form  an opinion on gun control one must descern whether their opinion  is a stance of a political party or a religious belief.  The choice is ours and says  much about who we really are and not who we say we are. 
Janet Hartmann | 7/24/2012 - 9:48am
It is short-sighted to think that gun control and gun confiscation are good things.

I do not want to be in my home alone with no means to defend myself. If all criminals know that I am unarmed due to government gun control and gun confiscation, the criminals will then be emboldened to break into my home and do whatever they please whenever they wish with no worry about retaliation from me. The local police will not be able to prevent these types of crimes.
Also, most police are law-abiding citizens, but some are not and so I want to be able to protect myself from harm from rogue law enforcement members.

After hurricane Katrina, the police confiscated all registered guns and this left the law-abiding citizens unarmed and so they were preyed upon by the criminals who did not have their unregistered guns confiscated.

In Aurora, it is unlawful to carry a concealed weapon so the law-abiding citizens were unarmed. Notice that no one attempted to stop the criminal. No one had a gun except for him. Criminals will always get access to guns regardless of anti-gun legislation. Anti-gun legislation only disarms law-abiding citizens and this prevents them from defending themselves against persons who desire to harm them.
Many people have a double standard: Rosie O’ Donnell is very vocally pro-gun control yet her family’s body guard is armed. I truly wish that people would either practice what they preach or else stop preaching.
Paul Decker | 7/30/2012 - 12:16am
There are many errors in this artice. First, the firearms industry is the most regulated industry in the world. Anyone who buys a gun from a dealer has to go though an extensive police check before purchasing the firearm.  Second,  More guns equals less crime.  Proven by liberal socialogist Lott, in a book by said name, plus numerous articles from more research.  Mike Huckabee said it best,  we don't have a gun problem, we have a sin problem!  The church has failed society as a light on the hill.  If salt has lost it savor it is no good.  The church has compromised on moral issues to maintain tax exempt status (for money!) and has become pollitically correct.  So now we have rampant homosexuallity, fornication, divorce, adultry and moral decay.  Gun control laws will not fix these.  These problems did not exist in the 50's and 60's when everyone in America went to church. Only a mighty moving of God in our nation will solve the problems we have.  As a "religious not political person" our author claims to be he sure missed the mark by recommending a political solution to a religious problem.