Should American Catholics Own Guns?

Should American Catholics Own Guns?

Comments invited…

Comments (83)

  • Petrus

    I think this is an interesting question.  I suppose it depends on why the individual owns a gun.   There’s a large hunting fraternity in the States and Canada.  I know many people find hunting distasteful,  but I don’t think it’s necessarily sinful.   A friend of mine in this country owns several guns and goes along to a shooting club and shoots targets.  Again, this is harmless. I have to say that owning a gun for self defence disturbs me.  However, if I lived in America and guns were everywhere, knowing that nutters had guns would make me want to have one.   

    Sent from my Samsung device

    June 21, 2015 at 10:30 pm
    • editor


      Knowing that nutters all around me had guns would make me want to emigrate! I can’t see the logic, with respect, of joining Club Crazy… 😀

      Having said that, I remember being very surprised when I spent a week in the USA some years ago, to find that every Catholic I met owned a gun, all very good and very sane (or so they seemed at the time!) people. They justified the gun laws/culture arguing that if the government/military etc. were allowed to use guns but the population not, the population were effectively enslaved – words to that effect, at a disadvantage, at risk.

      Different places have different laws, so some of them had a concealed weapon (which I think means they couldn’t carry it about in their handbags – not even the women!) while others were allowed to keep them on their person. As you can imagine, I was politeness personified during my entire stay, partly because I could never remember who were carrying guns and who’d left them at home!

      My gut reaction to the question “Should Catholics own guns?” is “no” – unless for farming etc. reasons, with police oversight. Even if I owned one for self-defence, I can’t imagine ever firing it – or, on the other hand, I can imagine firing it in a panic and killing some innocent window cleaner, mistaking him for a burglar with intent to break in and steal my miraculous medal !

      June 21, 2015 at 11:35 pm
      • Petrus

        I suppose emigrating would be a bit more drastic than just buying a gun, but I can see where you are coming from. No offence to any American bloggers but this thread has reinforced my relief that I don’t live in America! Guns are only one reason I say that.

        I just couldn’t imagine ever firing a gun at someone. I laughed out loud at the editor shooting the poor window cleaner, but I think I would be the same. In fact, in a ” situation” I’d more of a hindrance than a help!

        I am quite happy for guns to be licenced for sport and farming. I’ve no problem with hunting. It always strikes me as hypocritical when liberals oppose things like fox hunting and go to great lengths telling people theu oppose fox hunting because it is so cruel on the poor fox, but they have no issue with a baby being butchered in the womb! Crazy!

        As for concealed weapons, I’m completed against this. Even the most mild mannered person can lose the rag. If this happens whilst carrying a gun I dread to think what might happen. (If the editor carried a concealed weapon in that handbag of hers I’d be dead long ago! 🙂 ) How many stories have we read where a child has found a gun and shot someone?

        I suppose what I’m trying to say is that we can disagree and hold a personal opinion on this. I can see the reasons for guns and the reasons for gun control.

        June 22, 2015 at 8:12 am
      • editor


        “…If the editor carried a concealed weapon in that handbag of hers I’d be dead long ago! 😀 ”

        Again, I cite the Fifth Amendment!


        “I can see the reasons for guns and the reasons for gun control.”

        Spoken like a true liberal!

        June 22, 2015 at 10:53 am
      • Petrus

        You’re a naughty woman! I’m off to fly my red flag and start a hearty rendition of “The Internationale”.

        Seriously, I’ve got no problem with licenced weapons for sport or hunting. Other than that, I feel uneasym

        June 22, 2015 at 11:10 am
    • Petrus

      I suppose I should ask – if the nutters have guns, which prompts me to go out and buy a gun, does that make me one of the nutters?

      June 22, 2015 at 8:16 am
      • editor


        “… does that make me one of the nutters?”

        I’ll take the Fifth Amendment on that!

        June 22, 2015 at 10:50 am
  • bencjcarter

    A gun is completely neutral morally, just as is a bowl or a tricycle wheel or a fork. It is the use of it that entails a moral question, surely.

    And it is an interesting moral question. Three years ago I was the victim, in Africa, of an armed robbery in the house I was living in. Being forced to kneel in your own bathroom with a pistol to one side of your head and a machete to the other side is not my idea of a fun night out.

    Foreigners are allowed (licenced) guns in Kenya. If I had had one, would I have used it? Possibly yes, because of the stark terror I felt as the two strong doors I had locked against the intruders were each smashed off their frames by concrete blocks. But I know myself very well: if I had used a gun and had survived the robbery, then within nano-seconds I would have been feeling sorry for the robbers and my conscience would have cursed me from that night until the end of my life. I am glad I wasn’t armed and of course that I lived to tell the tale (in the end by a whisker, and I am sure by the multiple Hail Marys I was saying as said doors were being smashed down).

    Yet I certainly support the use of violence (if required) to protect one’s life, family and property. So a difficult question.

    June 21, 2015 at 11:50 pm
    • Petrus

      What a terrible ordeal! Thanks be to God and His Mother that you survived to tell the tale.

      I often wonder what I would do if someone broke into my house hell bent on murdering my wife and children. Would I kill them if I got the chance? Yes, I probably would. Would this be morally justifiable?

      June 22, 2015 at 8:18 am
      • bencjcarter

        Yes, of course it would.

        It is a blessing that I was alone in that house.

        June 22, 2015 at 8:26 am
    • editor


      Horrendous experience. Thank goodness for that “whisker” !

      I’ve known several people who have holidayed in Africa and every one of them has suffered an attack of some kind (none with guns, thank God) in attempted robberies. I’ll stick with the Ayrshire coast thank you very much!

      June 22, 2015 at 10:56 am
      • bencjcarter

        Yeah, it was horrendous. In the end I had to see a shrink because of the post-traumatic thing. Took me six months to recover and to be honest three years later I still have to have some sort of light on in the bedroom at night.

        June 22, 2015 at 12:20 pm
  • Christina

    A gun is completely neutral morally? In the case of the handgun, I do not believe it is. The purpose for which it was invented and made was and is to kill and ‘thou shalt not kill’. On another thread it has been shown that a condom is not morally neutral because it is designed and made for a purpose that is sinful. The cases are analogous. If a condom is used as a balloon, that does not alter the matter, and nor, I believe, does the fact that a gun may be used for target practice.

    June 22, 2015 at 7:18 am
  • Benedict Carter

    A gun is an inanimate object. Of course it is morally neutral. As is a hydrogen bomb. The moral question only comes in when its use is being considered. The same goes for any weapon. Sword, spear, a pair of scissors. You can kill someone with a brick. Are bricks also morally suspect?

    June 22, 2015 at 7:24 am
    • Christina

      A condom is also an inanimate object. It is NOT morally neutral. A brick is not made for an evil purpose, therefore it IS morally neutral. I am not a moral theologian, but, with respect, I don’t think that your opinion that the moral question only comes in when use is being considered is correct. A handgun kept on the person or in the home has no use other than to kill or maim. Therefore, if you keep a handgun you must accept that you might use it, and for this reason my answer to the question at the head is ‘No’. Weapons used in a just war are not the issue here.

      June 22, 2015 at 12:04 pm
      • bencjcarter

        I think a condom is entirely morally neutral as it sits in its packet unopened. It’s a piece of plastic, nothing more. The moral question comes into play the moment the packet is opened.

        June 22, 2015 at 12:21 pm
      • bencjcarter

        Just a postscript Christina. I do believe that you are badly wrong on this. I didn’t have a weapon in Kenya but if I had I may well have used it. I suppose you would say that its use in defence of life and property would fit into the “just war” category (and I would agree with that).

        My point of disagreement with you centres on the moral status of any object. I do not believe that any object has any moral value at all. Its use is where the moral question comes into play.

        Now, one could say that certain objects are intrinsically evil even if they are not used (so I am about to contradict myself, I know). I am thinking of voodoo dolls or the paraphernalia used by witch-doctors or satanists. In this case, there is a clear spiritual evil that is clearly evident. But I would put these things in a special category.

        In the end, I suppose my point of view is summed up by Clint Eastwood in the first “Dirty Harry” film, in which the following dialogue takes place:

        The Mayor: Callahan, I don’t want any more trouble like you had last year in the Fillmore district. You understand? That’s my policy.

        Harry Callahan: Yeah, well, when an adult male is chasing a female with intent to commit rape, I shoot the bastard that’s my policy.

        The Mayor: Intent? How’d you establish that?

        Harry Callahan: When a naked man is chasing a woman through a dark alley with a butcher knife and a [crudity removed], I figure he isn’t out collecting for the Red Cross.

        [Callahan leaves]

        The Mayor: I think he’s got a point.

        June 22, 2015 at 12:30 pm
      • Christina

        BC thank you for your thoughtful PS, but I’m a cross-grained ould biddy and so we’ll have to agree to differ. The same argument was played out on another blog with the piece of plastic being called a piece of rubber, but the sides remained unreconciled there too. I do see your point(s), and would have agreed until recently when I read a piece by a moral theologian – I thought on this blog, but I can’t find it! Maybe I imagined it!! As to your special pleading in the case of voodoo dolls, well that does contradict your argument, as wax, straw, pins, etc., are not evil in themselves. You deny them moral neutrality because you know the purpose for which they are made. This is why I deny it to condoms and handguns which are made exclusively for sinful acts, which, incidentally, are also satanic. Pax!

        June 22, 2015 at 10:28 pm
      • bencjcarter

        I’d like to see your moral theologian’s piece if you could find the link. It’s a subject I’d not really considered before this thread was written so the subject is indeed an interesting one.

        June 23, 2015 at 6:59 am
      • Martin

        The purpose for which things are made must speak to the morality of the possession, and use, of them; some things can never be morally neutral. A gun is always intended to wound or kill, and have no other purpose. A Kitchen Knife could be used for a purpose different to its intended use, but its creation was for a morally justifiable one.

        June 23, 2015 at 7:54 am
      • Christina

        Ben, will do, but I’ve already spent quite a while searching. I know it was recently, but threads grow so fast and I can’t even remember which one it was!!

        June 23, 2015 at 1:26 pm
    • Martin

      Pope Francis has said you can kill people with “gossip”, and “abuse”. How right he is.

      In December last The Pope is reported to have said:

      The Gospel reading at Sunday’s Mass contained the story of Jesus explaining to the disciples that he had come “not to abolish, but to fulfill the law” of the old covenant.

      Jesus offers the example of the fifth commandment, “do not kill,” and goes on to add, “but I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be guilty before the court.”

      “With this, Jesus reminds us that even words can kill!” explained the Pope. “When it is said that someone has the ‘tongue of a serpent,’ what does it mean? That
      his words kill.”

      “Therefore, not only must one not make an attempt on the life of others, but one must not even pour on him the poison of anger and hit him with slander, nor speak ill of him. And here we arrive at gossip. Gossip can also kill, because it kills the reputation of the person,” stressed the Pontiff.

      Jesus proposes another way to his followers, “the perfection of love: a love in which the only measure is not to measure, but to go beyond all calculating.”

      Many column inches would disappear from blogs if people stopped attacking The Pope, alone.

      Ed: “attacking” the Pope? Or defending the Faith? You’re clearly not learning a darn thing from this blog.

      June 22, 2015 at 12:16 pm
      • westminsterfly

        He’s not here to learn, he’s here to troll. And he’s a hypocrite, because he ‘speaks ill’ about people on this blog.

        June 23, 2015 at 9:16 am
  • Petrus

    I suppose a related, but slightly different question is whether or not the police should be armed. Any thoughts?

    June 22, 2015 at 8:13 am
    • westminsterfly

      I’m sure Jean Charles de Menezes and his family didn’t think it a
      good idea . . .

      June 22, 2015 at 10:48 am
      • Benedict Carter

        He shouldn’t have been in the country, should he? At a time of international terrorism, with London already a target and many people dead, vaulting over a turnstile to escape justice was hardly prudent.

        An armed Police Force – good arguments for an against. In the world we live in now – I am “for”.

        June 22, 2015 at 11:28 am
      • Martin

        On 25th July 2005 The Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, said he believed he was here legally, and , as he was shot dead, we will never know why he jumped over a turnstile.

        Common sense, and Christian Charity, surely require we do not speak ill of the dead, (Ed: remember that next time you’re insulting Archbishop Lefebvre) and that we oppose American style shootings of suspects.

        He chose, of course, to live in a country with a democratic elected government, and the rule of law, and not any despotic country that permits him to do business there.

        June 22, 2015 at 11:47 am
      • editor


        The police were manifestly in the wrong in this case. The lad was legally here, was not engaged in any wrong doing and probably jumped over the turnstile when he realised he was being pursued by men with guns. the police lied their heads off, including the chief of police (another Blair, another BLIAR) and, if my memory is correct, ultimately resigned. Good riddance.

        Their behaviour on that day, and the number of shots pumped into that poor boy, is one very strong argument against an armed police force.

        June 22, 2015 at 1:56 pm
      • Martin

        Mostly, Editor, I can agree with you.

        June 22, 2015 at 2:18 pm
      • Petrus


        I couldn’t agree more.

        June 22, 2015 at 5:13 pm
      • Benedict Carter

        Fair enough. Sounds as if I am poorly informed on the matter.

        June 23, 2015 at 6:52 am
  • Martin

    If a person was truly pro-life that would seek to from the world everything that kills a person: abortion, weapons, poverty, hunger, disease etc.

    Some of course, are selectively pro-life and favour despotic. unjust, regimes as long as the market rules.

    Editor: No evidence provided for this baloney – because there is none. It’s a typical “Question Time” statement to draw the applause of the brainless idiots who make up their unthinking, PC audiences. I’ve never met a pro-lifer who is in favour of weapons, poverty, hunger or disease. Gerragrip.

    June 22, 2015 at 10:55 am
    • Martin


      Many “pro-lifers” favour weapons of mass destruction, and Capital punishment, and, of course, in The USA carry “personal” weapons.

      Editor: I doubt anyone is really in favour of weapons of mass destruction, pro-lifers or not. If you mean some people or many people argue to maintain them as a deterrent, well, that’s one of those things. People do tend to believe politicians. I don’t. But “many” if not most people do. I would bet money that you went into a polling booth on General Election day and put your cross against the name of one of those institutionalised liars who masquerade under the title “politician”. As for capital punishment – that is permitted to States by the Church, always has been, and it is perfectly possible to be in favour of it without offending God. The carrying of weapons by Catholics is the topic under discussion – so far I can’t see you having contributed a single argument for or against, just the usual hurling of non-sequiturs. Gerragrip (but not of a gun!)

      June 22, 2015 at 11:22 am
      • Martin

        Some “thinkers” base their theology and morality on the ludicrous musings of a Clint Eastwood character. I rest my case.

        Ed: you’ve lost me. Clint Eastwood?

        Much later that same day… i have now read the post with the “musings” of the Clint Eastwood character. It was an example, that’s all. Debate its quality of argument, if you wish, but don’t just hurl insults. All that does is put YOU in the wrong. Can’t you see that – yet?

        June 22, 2015 at 1:21 pm
      • Martin

        On the contrary, the dialogue shows highlights the possibility of wrongful killing/condemnation, and a rush to judgement. It my be the man was the victim, and the woman was fleeing her victim.

        June 22, 2015 at 6:02 pm
      • Martin

        By the way recent Church Teaching effectively outlaws Capital Punishment. The latest edition of The Catechism Church, states “2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor…….today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

        In October 2014 Pope Francis said “”All Christians and people of good will are thus called today to struggle not only for abolition of the death penalty, whether it be legal or illegal and in all its forms, but also to improve prison conditions, out of respect for the human dignity of persons deprived of their liberty. And this, I connect with life imprisonment,” he said. “Life imprisonment is a hidden death penalty.”

        June 22, 2015 at 5:31 pm
  • bencjcarter

    Editor, Martin as a token leftie loony is well-worth some exposure here. He reminds all readers of the fatuity and sheer lack of common sense of the leftist.

    June 22, 2015 at 11:30 am
    • Andrew

      Ad hominem and therefore fallacious as an argument. Apart from which, I wasn’t aware that Catholicism and left-wing political leanings are incompatible.

      June 28, 2015 at 10:23 pm
      • editor


        Correct. Ad hominem attacks are always a sign of either bad manners or weak argument. Or a combination of (a) and (b) above! On the other hand, it could just be Ben Carter being Ben Carter and playing silly beggars again.

        In any event, you are perfectly correct to note that “left wing political leanings” are not incompatible with Catholicism. I’m very tempted to say “they’re sure better than right wing political leanings” but I cannot go beyond what the Church teaches which is to warn us away from the extremes of both right and left.

        Now, let’s stay OFF the subject of political leanings and stick with the religious, spiritual and moral aspects of the topic – please and thank you!

        June 28, 2015 at 10:50 pm
  • Therese

    Most contraceptive pills are abortifacients, M. Do you take a moral stand against their use?

    June 22, 2015 at 12:59 pm
    • Martin

      As I am evidently a pro-lifer, who specifically mentioned the evil of abortion, I think your question speaks more to your comprehension of complex issues, Therese, and perhaps explains some of your quirky views.

      Ed: there are “pro-lifers” (they think) who have no issue with contraception. Answer the question which Therese asked, without muddying the waters..

      June 22, 2015 at 1:28 pm
      • Martin

        I have done. Abortion in every form is wrong.

        Editor: do you approve of contraception? Answer clearly.

        Now, the sheer volume of your posts here, within short spaces of time, as you’ve done under previous usernames, means I am unlikely to be able to release them for several days from now on. You have another two in this lot – I’ll look at them and perhaps release, but no more so go away and read to learn about Catholicism prior to THAT Council. Start with the papal encyclicals prior to 1962. That wold be a better use of your time than posting comments that won’t be read for several days.

        June 22, 2015 at 1:36 pm
      • Therese

        I’m just a simple, uncomplicated lass M4rtin, as you’ve guessed. When I ask a simple question I naively expect a simple answer. I hope my question – and its implications – weren’t too complex for you, and I’ll be interested in your reply.

        June 22, 2015 at 4:39 pm
      • Martin

        This thread is not about contraception, as such, but essentially pro-life issues, and killing. I have stayed on topic. As a valued commentator why don’t you Therese?

        June 22, 2015 at 4:45 pm
      • Christina

        THERESE QUIRKY? You’ve got to laugh! Google ‘personality traits of a quirky girl’, Therese, and you’ll ROFL (I think that’s it).😂

        June 22, 2015 at 10:46 pm
      • Therese

        WOW Christina! That’s sooo meee! (Did I I get the emphasis right?). Mind you, I do like dresses with pockets…

        June 23, 2015 at 6:22 pm
      • Therese

        I’d like to know M4rtin’s views on Humanae Vitae though – he’s seems to be a fan of papal encyclicals, so how about it M4rtin? Your views?

        June 23, 2015 at 6:24 pm
  • pew catholic

    I’m surprised no-one has yet mentioned Father Z’s blog. He is a real gun enthusiast. For example, he argues that weapons are justified in Scripture.

    June 22, 2015 at 1:22 pm
    • editor

      Pew Catholic,

      I never (or very seldom) think of visiting Fr Z’s site because I know (from personal experience) how heavily censored it is. However, will check out that link later. Sounds interesting. Fancy a priest being “a gun enthusiast”. Another reason why I will make a point of never being alone in his company!

      June 22, 2015 at 2:00 pm
    • gabriel syme

      Despite my anti-gun post below, I do remember seeing a picture of Father Z hanging out with the local Police SWAT unit and thinking he was cool lol

      Western culture eh?

      June 22, 2015 at 10:18 pm
  • gabriel syme

    I agree that guns themselves are morally neutral objects and can employed in both just or evil fashions. However, I do not think that even millions of people owning guns safely and responsibly is worth society suffering even one of these gun massacres, which are by now commonplace in the USA.

    America is a violent, fearful and paranoid society. I am incredulous about the passion for firearms which exists there. This despite the endless litany of pain and tragedy these items have wrought on American society, when in the wrong hands. Its like a nation wracked by drug addiction glorifying and defending heroin use.

    The (imagined) ‘right to bear arms’ is fiercely defended in American Society, and the passion it stirs up is probably only matched by the great animus the suggestion of a ‘right to healthcare’ produces in some quarters of America. America is so deeply mixed up in places.

    They justify gun ownership to themselves by saying they need guns, because the Police have guns, or the neighbours have guns etc etc. They have created a sinister domestic arms race, which reminds me of the frantic dreadnought building in the lead up to the First World War. And just like that european arms race helped exacerbate the tragedy of the War, so too does America’s domestic arms race make violent incidents (which exist in every society) all the more brutal and deadly.

    The population is armed and forms militia groups, on the grounds that Government agencies (Police etc) are armed and so guns are needed to guarantee freedoms. In response the Police become even more heavily armed, to the extent that many American Police forces today resemble Paramilitary Forces (employing machine guns, armoured cars and the like) more than they do local constabularies.

    You can tell a lot about a society by looking at its Police Force. It speaks volumes that American Police likely have more in common with Afghan Police, than the British Police – in terms of their public appearance, how they understand themselves and their role and how heavily militarised they are.

    Routine massacres, Paramilitary-Police, Local Militia Groups – none of these are indicators of a healthy society and all stem from American gun culture and the mindset it engenders.

    There are many things I admire about America, but the love affair with guns is certainly not one of them.

    They would be setting themselves free if they were to throw away their guns, but no-one likes the idea of being the first to put down their gun. Such a person will likely prove a hero or a martyr and most folk would rather pass on a stark choice like that.

    June 22, 2015 at 10:17 pm
  • Frankier

    If an armed person broke into my home I would feel a bit more secure if I had a gun handy in the same way that I fee safer at the moment having golf clubs within a short radius if required.

    I often wonder how many lives have been saved in America because of their gun laws.

    June 22, 2015 at 11:51 pm
    • Martin

      A better question is how many wholly innocent people have died because of their possession? Today, more so than ever before, there are many more non lethal means of detection, and defence, than ever before.

      June 23, 2015 at 7:58 am
    • gabriel syme

      I see your point Frankier, but it does demonstrate the “arms race” outlook I was talking about. I.e Someone has a gun, so I need one too. I tend to think the more guns involved the more likely there is to be a tragedy.

      If someone broke into my home I would certainly think twice about initiating a gun battle, (or even risking the possiiblity), whilst my family slept nearby.

      There have been innocent people killed accidentally when firearms have been discharged within homes, thanks to “over penetration”; that is, shots travelling through walls / ceilings and hitting an unintended target on the other side. So if you shot at an intruder and missed, there is a high chance of striking an unintended target in a different part of the home.

      (Modern homes are well built and well insulated, but the materials are all very light; even a low powered handgun bullet would probably travel through several plasterboard walls – to say nothing of the shotguns and other powerful small arms Americans often keep for “home defence”).

      I think the best thing to do in such a situation is to lock / barricade yourself away and call the Police; certainly the Police do not advise forcing a confrontation with intruders.

      Ultimately there will be violent persons and criminals in every society; but to deny them easy access to firearms is to massively reduce their capacity to cause harm.

      June 23, 2015 at 3:06 pm
      • Frankier


        I had a nephew in California living in a scattered community and he felt safe even without locked doors because nearly everyone had access to guns.

        Most criminals are like the rest of us, not too sure about committing the crime when the odds are fifty fifty. I am quite sure that an armed criminal in this country will be less nervous than one in America when they are planning their attack. Maybe though that type wouldn’t have an itchy finger, as John Wayne might have said.

        According to a few cases both here and in America the law enforcers themselves have been a bit trigger happy, to say the least, but I still feel that it would be less safe if they weren’t armed.

        You say that you wouldn’t be too keen in initiating a gun battle but I would think that in the large majority of cases the battle would be initiated by the intruder and they are going to aim at either yourself or a family member.

        June 24, 2015 at 2:07 am
      • Jobstears


        You are right! Friends in Texas say break-ins are hardly heard of in their community because every homeowner typically owns a gun.

        June 24, 2015 at 4:02 pm
  • Jobstears


    To answer the question,”Should Americans own guns”? I don’t see why not? I don’t own a gun but I am not opposed to my neighbor owning one.

    Yes, Americans like guns and own them but owning a gun doesn’t cause crime anymore than buying multivitamins causes disease! The gun laws in the US manage to deter the honest citizens from getting guns. No criminal (in his right criminal mind) would submit to a background check! But honest citizens do, they have to, if they want a permit to own a gun. Owning a gun and carrying one are different matters, though. In some states, you may not carry a loaded gun, the bullets have to be carried separately!

    Once the criminal element is armed, what sense does it make to disarm the honest folks? I don’t see how that becomes a pro-life issue.

    June 23, 2015 at 3:24 pm
    • Martin

      It is a pro-life issue because Guns kill! That includes a significant number of children who have found a gun in an handbag, and other such places. Police, on both sides of The Atlantic have shot unarmed people, and homeowners have done so too.

      You are using the same logic of some drug dealers: if others do it I might aswell do so.

      Or to stretch you strange logic further, others perform illegal abortions, and so we should provide them legally. An argument many of us are familiar with.

      Likewise, people, by means of fraud, obtain legal things illegally by use of false documents. You truly want a dog eat dog world.

      June 23, 2015 at 4:15 pm
    • editor


      I think the question I wanted to discuss was more about “American Catholics” owning guns. Should there be a different standard for Catholics than for the populace at large?

      In any case, it’s very clear that there’s an entirely different attitude to gun-ownership and use, on your side of “The Pond” to the mentality over here.

      I agree that “owning a gun doesn’t cause crime” but might it contribute to a more casual attitude to violence/killing than may be the case in a society where guns are illegal for general use?

      When I heard the news about the church murders, and the fact that the killer’s father had given him a gun for his 21st birthday, I was flabbergasted. My gast, was truly flabbered! Why on EARTH would any parent even THINK of giving a gun to his son as a birthday present? Incredible. I think it’s that very casual attitude to guns that some of us (me, for example!) find very difficult to comprehend in this part of the world.

      I’m sure there are occasions when lives have been saved (in self-defence) but it’s the apparently casual attitude to gun ownership and use by the population at large, that some of us find difficult to understand.

      You make a good point about the criminals not being willing to present for background checks – and I suppose that’s a key issue, that the crooks will always be able to get their hands on a gun, if they want to do so (same in the UK).

      Here, however, our run of the mill burglars are unlikely to be carrying a gun, I think / hope I’m right in saying. Whereas in the USA it seems to be a given that everyone, good, bad or indifferent as their characters may be, will be able to shoot first and ask questions later 😯

      June 24, 2015 at 12:32 am
      • Jobstears


        Should there be a different standard for Catholics than for the populace at large? Like the standard of dressing? Called to a higher standard – which would mean not owning a gun? I had never thought about that before! Although I’m tempted to say no. The Catholic would use the gun only in self-defense.

        And yes, there is a different attitude to guns here 🙄 More casual? Probably. I’d be less shocked and alarmed to know my neighbor owns a gun than you would be, I think 😀

        The Charleston murderer was also known to be racist, I’m not sure I buy the idea of insanity. And if he is indeed, insane, I would lock up the father as well, and throw away the key!

        June 24, 2015 at 4:39 pm
      • editor


        I do understand the arguments for having the freedom to own and use guns, and I sympathise – perhaps if I lived in New York I’d make sure I had one under my pillow! I just wonder about the “Catholic” angle because although we are permitted to defend ourselves, I’m unsure of the proportionality of doing so with a gun, even if others own guns – is that a bit like “an eye for an eye”? And – this will raise a few smiles if not eyebrows – I also wonder how the gun arguments fit in with the theology of dependence on God’s Providence, not to mention the protecting role of one’s Guardian Angel !

        Now I know some smart blogger will come on and say, well, in that case we needn’t bother looking right and left before crossing the road, our Guardian Angel will protect us 😉 but I put it forward anyway, since there’s a world of difference, methinks, between common sense checking before crossing the road, and going into a shop to buy a deadly weapon.

        Over to thee!

        June 25, 2015 at 10:55 am
  • Alex F

    As much as I don’t want to carry guns, there is nothing wrong with Catholics defending themselves- in fact, it is our duty to defend our family from people who would harm them. I’m glad I live in a country that doesn’t have much gun crime relatively speaking, but if all my neighbours had a gun, I couldn’t take the risk of being the only neighbour who doesn’t have a gun. Not that I want to start shooting window cleaners, but if there is an armed burglar in my house in the dead of night I would be glad of it.

    June 24, 2015 at 12:39 am
  • Benedict Carter

    You might need one, Alex F., when your children’s “Named Person” comes to take your kids away.

    June 24, 2015 at 9:15 am
  • Benedict Carter

    Come on Martin!

    We are still waiting for your yes or no to Therese’s simple question: are you in favour of the use of contraception?

    June 24, 2015 at 9:19 am
    • Therese

      I doubt Martin’s going to answer my question, Benedict. No prizes for guessing why!

      June 30, 2015 at 5:12 pm
  • christiana

    A set of figures I saw today:

    Death by handguns last year:

    UK 8
    Japan 48
    Switzerland 34
    Canada 52
    Israel 58
    USA 10728

    Says it all really! I do not know how you would persuade Americans to get rid of their guns but they do need to do something about the endemic gun culture.
    It would be interesting to know if fewer Catholics own guns, we never considered having one when we lived in Johannesburg but many people did.

    June 24, 2015 at 5:35 pm
    • Alex F

      These statistics are quite concerning and back up what many people say about gun culture in the US, but it doesn’t tell the full story. Firstly, you have to take into consideration the size of the US population in comparison to those other countries, and remember that many other countries, including the UK, have seen gun massacres despite stricter controls on firearms.

      Secondly, it is necessary to look at the murder rate as a whole and not just those caused by guns. If you want to murder someone but don’t have access to a gun, there are alternatives.

      June 24, 2015 at 6:42 pm
  • catholicconvert1

    I personally am all for guns, but it depends on your intentions. If you are deranged or a criminal and go out to buy a gun with the sole intention to kill someone then that is obviously wrong, but if I, or any other law-abiding person, buys a gun to protect myself, my family and property ‘just in case’ I experience a home invasion or a murderous lunatic attacking me, then that, to me is entirely permissible. It says the following in the Catechism:

    Legitimate defence

    2263 The legitimate defence of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defence can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not.”65

    2264 Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow:

    If a man in self-defence uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defence will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defence to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.

    2265 Legitimate defence 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. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.

    This passage mentions ‘necessary violence. If I experience one of the above scenarios, then I would use non-lethal force to disable the aggressor, maybe by blowing his or her kneecaps off, but if, in a split-second moment, I had no time to think about it, I would shoot to kill without hesitation. I also believe police offers should be able to carry guns. Think of Dale Cregan who killed two female police officers with a gun. If they were armed, they would have a fighting chance of survival.

    If I could have a gun, I’d probably have a revolver. Or even a shotgun, because with a shotgun you can’t miss.

    As for the above blogger who criticised capital punishment, I would recommend he read this:

    June 25, 2015 at 4:38 pm
    • gabriel syme

      Wrt the Dale Creggan case CC, for me the answer would have been to prevent him accessing a gun in the first place, not to add additional guns into the mix.

      America is armed to the teeth, and yet still has to routinely face piles of corpses following attacks at schools, shopping centers, universities, churches etc.

      The MAD theory (i.e. that everyone has a weapon, but none dare use it, for fear of the retaliation in kind) works with nuclear weapons, but not with small arms.

      The proof is in the pudding:

      The US argument goes that civilians needs guns to defend themselves from harm . The UK makes no such argument.

      And yet, public firearms massacres are routine in the US, but not in the UK.

      In my lifetime I can only think of one such incident in the UK (Dunblane); outwith my lifetime I can think of only one more (Bloody Sunday in Derry).

      June 25, 2015 at 11:40 pm
    • Andrew

      It does not wholly surprise me that you are “all for guns”, and appear even to relish the opportunity to use them if that were to arise.

      As regards capital punishment, I have read the links you posted, but would suggest as a counter-point, in addition to a careful re-reading of Matthew 5:3-12:

      June 28, 2015 at 10:32 pm
      • Athanasius


        I’m afraid that linked statement of Pope Francis, like many of this Pontiff’s personal interpretations, does not chime with the Traditional teaching of the Catholic Church. Nor in fact does the new CCC chime well on many points with its predecessor Catechism. The conflict arises because Pope Francis and the new CCC are liberal, or more precisely what St. Pius X called “Modernist”. Quite what the beatitudes in Matthew 5 have to do with capital punishment eludes me, so I’ll skip comment on that.

        Suffice it to say that Sacred Scripture is replete with references to secular authorities having the power from God to punish serious evil doers with capital punishment, the only provision being that such punishment is declared in justice and not out of revenge, affording the criminal the opportunity to make his peace with God before sentence is carried out. The Church upheld this right and duty of the State for many centuries before Vatican II, so I have no idea where Pope Francis is coming from.

        His Holiness certainly makes some valid points regarding the illegality of abducting and detaining suspects without trial, of using torture, etc., but he is completely off track with his absolute opposition to capital punishment and life imprisonment for the most serious offenders against society.

        But what strikes me as most tragic with this Pope is that while he hammers on constantly about the welfare of human beings, their bodily comfort, their rights, etc., he appears to say little about the present global destruction of immortal souls. Ireland and the United States are the most recent countries to legislate in favour of “gay marriage,” for example, and yet we hear nothing from the Vicar of Christ on this breach of the Commandments of God. The same may be said about cohabitation. Rather than encourage those who sin in this way, the Pope speaks of accommodating such irregular relationships, provided they are loving ones of course! The world is drowning in immorality and all the Pope can speak about is the comfort and welfare of human beings. What about Our Lord and His Commandments?

        June 29, 2015 at 12:16 am
      • Andrew

        There are indeed numerous references in the Bible to capital punishment. I do find it interesting that only murder is the only crime nowadays debated in this respect. Why not the others, including disobedience to one’s parent’s, blasphemy, working on the Sabbath, fornication with a woman who is engaged?

        Is that moral relativism or do you think capital punishment should still apply in these cases? And if not, why not?

        You will doubtless point to texts to show I am mistaken, but personally I find it very hard indeed from my reading of the New Testament to find any support for capital punishment from the teachings of Jesus. Quite to the contrary.

        July 1, 2015 at 12:05 am
      • catholicconvert1

        You are 100% wrong. I certainly would not ‘relish’ using a gun because I do not like violence and am generally one to avoid confrontation and prefer to negotiate and the thought of taking another life chills me, but I would do it without hesitation to protect my family.

        As for your, and the Pope’s, comments on Capital Punishment, I must say that I have never read such left-wing and modernist baloney. I am stunned beyond words at this latest from the Pope by saying life imprisonment is a ‘hidden death penalty’. Tough. If you don’t want punishment don’t commit crime. There was a serial killer in America, who was sick and warped by American standards, by the name of Dean Corll in operation in Houston in the late 1960s-early 1970s who killed around 30 young men, in the most horrific manner. He strapped them to a board, sodomised, tortured and strangled them to death. The torture is too horrific to recount. The families were broken, with some parents divorcing, suffering from mental illness and alcoholism. Some even committed suicide. Are you and the Pope saying that this scum should not be hung or locked away for life? Crimes of this nature need a punishment commensurate to the crime, and provides closure for the parents who will have the comfort of knowing that the killer isn’t still breathing when their child is not.

        June 30, 2015 at 1:27 pm
      • Andrew

        If you really have never read “such left-wing and modernist baloney” I would suggest you widen your reading list. And I would also suggest that as a young Catholic Convert you might treat what the Pope (and previous Popes) says with just a little more respect. You may regard them with disdain, but I suspect they still have a thing or two they could teach you, were you disposed to listen of course.

        A heart-rending story indeed in support of the death penalty. One that could be countered with other heart-rending stories of innocent people put to death. In fact, in at least one state in the US more of these than those put to death not subsequently found innocent (at least yet).

        I realise that may not be a sufficient concern for you to question whether capital punishment is the right decision, but it certainly is for me.

        July 1, 2015 at 12:15 am
      • catholicconvert1

        If you came to my house you would find that I have quite a substantial library, I just tend to stock it with material of a traditional Catholic nature, as I desire to avoid spiritual corruption.

        As for treating the Pope’s views with respect, I will respect them when they are not heretical or false and line with traditional teaching. Should I respect Papal views on atheists getting to Heaven, ecumenism, the TLM being a ‘fashion’, baptising aliens, not believing in a Catholic God, no need to go to Sunday Mass if you don’t feel in need of God’s mercy, climate change? Certainly not!

        I respect the views of the Popes up to 1958, as they weren’t modernists.

        As the Russian meerkat says….simples!!

        July 1, 2015 at 12:05 pm
      • Andrew

        Each to their own, but I try to read as widely as possible, including views I agree with and those I don’t, and I encourage my kids to do the same. I consider that an important part of learning (throughout life) and greatly reducing the risk of confirmation bias.

        I’m afraid we will have to disagree regarding the Pope. As a Catholic I simply cannot accept that Popes Francis, Benedict and John Paul (to take the last three) are heretical and/or false. If I did think that I would have to give serious consideration as to whether I should or could remain a Catholic (that’s not meant as any comment on you, just how I would see it for myself).

        July 1, 2015 at 4:12 pm
      • catholicconvert1

        That’s fair enough. It is a fault of mine I suppose, but the shutters go up as soon as I hear or read something I disagree with. I do not regard the post-1958 Popes as false, as I am not a sedevacantist, I just filter what they say. As it happens, I have an undying respect and admiration for Benedict XVI, as he was certainly a holy man, recognised the strengths of traditional Catholicism (not least in Summorum Pontificum) and defended doctrine regarding the family and so on. I do not believe Kasper’s antics would have been tolerated under B16. John Paul II was a bit of a curate’s egg and, as a modernist, was orthodox on one page and liberal on the next. He supported ecumenism and then supported Dominus Iesus. As for Francis…he is as Bishop Fellay said, ‘100% modernist’. If he speaks truth, then fine, but I’ve just never heard anything good yet. He seems like a nice chap though, if that’s any consolation to you.

        July 1, 2015 at 4:47 pm
      • Andrew

        I strongly suspect the answer to why you’ve “never heard anything good yet” from Pope Francis lies in your second sentence.

        July 1, 2015 at 8:36 pm
      • editor


        I know I’m about to lead us off topic, but I just cannot resist responding to your comments about Pope Francis…

        Your praise of Pope Francis beggars belief, given the sheer volume of his ridiculous through to heretical statements right from moment he appeared on the balcony of St Peter’s.

        Compare the gravity with which, in his latest ridiculous “green” encyclical, he warns against mistreating animals, with his wishy washy remarks about abortion – the murder of the unborn human child. No comparison. Of course, silly me, he told us at the outset of his pontificate not to “obsess” about the murder of unborn babies. Now we know why. Animal rights is the thing…

        Now, click here to see how thrilled is the Animal Rights brigade – and with very good reason: “If we take the Pope seriously on this idea, Western culture in particular will need to totally rethink its relationship with animals as mere tools or products for us to use in sinful social structures of technological consumerism.”

        Note, nobody’s talking about “Western culture” having to “totally rethink its relationship with baby humans” as a result of Laudato si.

        You may think he’s a good through to great pontiff, Andrew. I – absolutely – disagree. It’s difficult to imagine how the damage he has done and continues to do to Christ’s Church, can be put right.

        Our Lady of Fatima is on the case, however, so it will be put right – and I, for one, can’t wait.

        July 1, 2015 at 10:29 pm
      • Andrew

        I cannot read any praise of Pope Francis in my comments. I think that is assumed by you.

        I simply said I cannot accept that he is heretical and/or false, that he should be treated with more respect and that Catholic Convert perhaps could learn something from him were he disposed to listen. I stand by those comments, and it surprises me that anyone who regards themselves as a member of the Catholic Church, of which Pope Francis is the head, could disagree.

        Of course in a Church with something around 1.2 billion members, spanning multiple countries and cultures, there will be differences of opinion. It would be most surprising, even worrying, if that were not the case.

        Part of being in a society, and being a member of such a huge and strong Church, is learning to accept that not everyone will agree all of the time, or even most of the time.

        To have an approach that “the shutters go up as soon as I hear or read something I disagree with” does nothing to bring people together, to engage in dialogue, to win arguments, to have a vibrant and cohesive Church.

        Rather it results in a silo approach, which is profoundly dysfunctional.

        It is crucial that in such a large, geographically and culturally diverse family as the Catholic Church that there is disagreement. That people are prepared to listen to others, to defend their views, not to people who already agree with them, but to those who may not wholly.

        To fail to do this I think is to fundamentally misunderstand the whole raison d’être of a universal Church.

        And it also ends up not with that universal Church but with a collection of self-confirming groups, each believing they have a monopoly over the truth and refusing to even listent to anyone who may deviate even slightly from that group’s views.

        For what it’s worth, my approach is that what the family of the Catholic Church has in common is far more important that the points about which part of that Church may disagree.

        July 3, 2015 at 10:55 pm
      • Andrew


        Also supremely off-topic, in an earlier reply to me you said something along the lines that I must live a quiet life, without having to make judgements.

        For background, nothing could be further from the truth.

        I work as an interim FD, almost always in companies in distress, that have run out of cash. Where the shareholders are in desparation, the directors paralysed by fear and the employees fearful of their future (and whether they will even be paid). My job is to bring stability and then (hopefully) help the business to recover.

        This involves making judgements, very often on the spot, about which parts of the business to close and which should survive, which employees to keep and which to let go (the latter a job I do myself rather than shirking and leaving to others), which suppliers to pay and which not (with those not paid themselves often on the edge as a result).

        I generally work at least 12 hours a day, usually more, often weekends, at locations that can be far from home, in the UK or internationally.

        Furthermore, I only work projects that I have sold (there’s nobody to do that for me), and if I don’t sell them or don’t get paid for doing them (bearing in mind the crises I work in) then I and the family have no income.

        You may regard that as a quite life not involving making judgements. Much though I enjoy what I do (otherwise I wouldn’t do it) that is not the description I would use.

        At home we have 3 lively boys, (15, 13 and 4) fortunately very well polite and well behaved (without ever resorting or even threatening the sort of violent discipline I’ve seen advocated by some on this blog – I cannot and will never condone hitting a child, whatever the circumstances). But nonetheless, supporting them in their various sporting, cultural and social activities is hardly relaxing.

        And, to the extent time permits, I try to contribute to our Church, mainly in running the First Communion Catechists and taking Childrens’ Liturgy.

        Plus cycling and the other things we do.

        A very good and satisfying life, but not the one you assume I have.

        July 3, 2015 at 11:33 pm
  • gabriel syme

    I appreciate the argument some have made, that it is reasonable for a level headed and responsible person to own a gun for “home defence”.

    Fair enough, a level headed and responsible person is no more likely to shoot you, than they are beat you to death with a spanner.

    But for me there are still too many issues which cause the rationale for guns to collapse.

    I have seen news items, more than once, where there has been a tragedy after a child playing unsupervised has, quite by accident, come across the ‘family gun’. Through curiosity, or perhaps mistaking it for a toy, they play with the firearm and end up killing themselves (or another) via an accidental discharge.

    Plus, even the most level headed person is capable of stupidity or recklessness if (for example) they have “one too many” drinks while hosting a dinner party, or when returning from the pub.

    If someone wants to defend their home and family, great, keep a hammer (or similar) where it can easily be retrieved and used as a blunt weapon if there is ever (God forbid) an emergency. (Popular culture suggests baseball and cricket bats are useful home defence items – in fact, they are too long to be wielded freely indoors, thanks to low ceilings, doorways and the like).

    Better still, buy one of these (see link below). They have the advantage that, as well as defend the home like a gun, they can do things guns cant – like cuddle you and make you feel loved lol 😉

    (The downside is that you need to feed them).

    June 25, 2015 at 11:26 pm
  • editor

    Gabriel Syme,

    Some years ago, a colleague of mine told me that she slept with a knife under her pillow, in case of intruder(s).

    She was so petite and young looking that I smiled imaging the startled reaction of any would-be robber – perhaps a bit like the robber who featured on Crimewatch (BBCTV) a couple of years ago, in London. He broke into an elderly lady’s house and when she went downstairs to investigate and saw him, she screamed the place down. He quickly removed his balaclava and put the kettle on saying he’d make her a cup of tea, he wasn’t going to harm her, just calm down. Priceless. Later she showed him a photo of her son, saying she was very proud of him, and asked the robber if he thought his mother would be proud of him…!

    A case of all’s well that ends well, then – but what if she’d had a gun? In her place, I’d have probably shot first and asked questions later about his mother’s pride (not the loaf!) Mind you, it occurs to The Mind that it is possible to shoot to disable, somewhere that wouldn’t cause lasting damage, just enough to stop the intruder harming me, and keeping him there until the cops arrived, so back to the “should Catholics own/use guns” drawing board.

    June 26, 2015 at 12:05 am

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