Guest Opinion: Gun Control - What Would Jesus Do?
It is clear that we have the right and the duty to protect ourselves and our loved ones
The Church has always held that it is legitimate to defend one's life and/or property against an unjust aggressor, and it is equally legitimate to defend someone else's life and/or property on the same grounds, even if that defense were to result in the loss of the aggressor's life.Contrary to the assertions of the anti-gun folks, "gun-free zone" legislation is actually counterproductive, and potentially lethal to those it is designed to protect.
SWAT team leaving St Rose of Lima Catholic Parish in Newtown, Connecticut after inspecting for the possibility of a bomb. A bomb threat had been called in to the police and the Church had to be evacuated.
RICHMOND, VA. (Catholic Online) - In the aftermath of the tragic school shooting in Newtown anti-gun fanatics were quick to call for increased gun control, ostensibly to prevent future similar killings. However, as is generally the case, the hysterical call for banning this or that has created much more heat than light. What is needed is a sober examination of the facts, and for Christians, a moral perspective that is often lacking from a strictly political approach to the problem.
The idea of "gun-free zones", whether around schools or, as in Virginia law, in churches, is to prevent would-be killers from doing their evil work. This seems absurd given the fact that it is already illegal to shoot or kill someone. If a criminal has decided to break those laws, how will making it additionally illegal to possess a gun to commit the crime he has already decided to commit going to stop him? It is difficult to understand the logic. Criminals, by definition, do not obey laws, so such laws as deterrents are often ineffective in preventing their behavior. The people who do obey the laws, such as those who are licensed to carry a gun, however, are deprived of their ability and right to protect themselves and others by such laws. So, the only effect of "gun-free zones" is to create "unarmed target" zones.
One can see the result of this sort of law in Britain, where most firearms are forbidden in homes: about 45% of break-ins occur while the occupants are at home, exposing them to obvious extreme danger. On the other hand, in America, where the majority of homes have firearms, only 13% of burglaries occur while the owner is home, as cited in criminologist Gary Kleck's 1991 book Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America. Kleck attributes this to the criminals' fear that homeowners might be armed. In point of fact, a survey of almost 2,000 convicted criminals by Peter Rossi and James D. Wright in the late '80s revealed that burglars are more afraid of armed homeowners than they are of arrest by the police.
So, contrary to the assertions of the anti-gun folks, "gun-free zone" legislation is actually counterproductive, and potentially lethal to those it is designed to protect.
In response to calls from the anti-gunners for more gun control, pro-gun advocates have rightly asserted that the only thing that could have prevented the school shootings would have been an armed person or persons in the school who could have stopped the killer. This is an aspect of gun ownership that is routinely ignored by the press. In fact, law abiding citizens use guns to defend themselves against criminals as many as 2.5 million times per year, depending on which study you read. In the overwhelming majority of cases, 92%, the gun is not fired; its mere presence discourages the attacker.
This happened at a potentially tragic case where a masked man opened fire in a "gun-free" mall in Portland, Oregon. A shopper, who was unaware that the mall was "gun-free" and happened to have a concealed carry permit and his gun with him, pulled out his pistol during an interval where the killer's gun seemed to have jammed, after he already killed two people. He was afraid to fire, out of fear of hitting innocent people, but the sight of the gun caused the killer to train his weapon on himself, and pull the trigger. As is generally the case, the mere deterrent effect of the gun was sufficient to abort the crime, though not before two innocent people were killed. It could have been much worse.
This being the case, many have called for having armed guards in the schools, or for arming teachers and/or administrators. The problem is that if schools become a "hardened target", these psychopaths will simply choose another "gun-free" zone, such as your parish, the mall where you shop, your food store, restaurant, or any other place where the killer feels he will have the upper hand. The answer to the problem is unappetizing. The evidence is everywhere that society is degenerating around us, and that norms of violent behavior that are common elsewhere in the world, but with which we have little experience, are coming to America.
Yes, we have always had murders, but victims tended to be people known to the killer, often family, and more recently gangs feuding with other gangs. The random and politically motivated killings common elsewhere were relatively unknown here. However, as our society becomes post-Christian and loses the moral compass provided by God, and immigration brings societal norms different from traditional American values to our shores, it is unrealistic to assume that America will remain isolated from the everyday terrorism and brutality that have been common in Asia, Africa, and South America, and are increasing in Europe. How are we to respond, as Christians, to this threat?
To consider one Biblical perspective on self ...
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