Editorial: Guns Do Not Have Rights, People Do. Legitimate Self Defense is One of Them
A similar verbal pattern is emerging in the debate surrounding the Second Amendment and government efforts to regulate the purchase and use of guns for self defense. Let me be clear. I do not own a gun. However, I have nothing against gun ownership.
I believe it is protected by the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights. I may choose to own a gun in the future if the trends which have been unleashed in the nation continue. Trends which I fear increasingly threaten a proper understanding of ordered liberty and limited government.
However, I think many of my friends who are attempting to weigh in on this important social issue are falling prey to another media short hand verbal engineering tactic when they use the phrase Gun Rights. Guns have no rights, only people do. Yes, one of them is the Right to defend yourself, your family, your property and your neighbor.
You may be asking, "Is this simply a matter of semantics?" I insist it is not! The pattern is the same one which was used to undermine the defense of the Right to Life and the Defense of True Marriage. Incorrectly framing the debate by changing the language in order to undermine the true right is a tactic of cultural and social engineers.
Change the language
Catholics, other Christians, and other people of good will should watch our words. What we must protect is the Right to Self Defense and the Defense of others. One of the means we may have to use involves the ownership of guns. The Right to Self Defense is vested in us - not in those objects we use - to be used if and when it may be necessary.
There is no question that the Second Amendment protects the Right to keep and bear arms. The text, and the interpretation of it in the clear judicial precedent considering the proper application of the Amendment is clear. However, the larger issue should remain the focus of our contribution to the debate.
The following sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church should be read and studied by Catholics - and anyone else concerned with the real threat we face in this area. The text contains footnotes to Scriptural texts and the insights offered by the great St Thomas Aquinas which should be read for further assistance in informing our own understanding.
2263 The legitimate defense 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-defense 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."
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-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one's own life than of another's.
2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. 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.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: 2d amendment, gun control, gun rights, right to bear arms, self defense, defense of others, second amendment, catholics and gun control, Keith A Fournier, Deacon Keith Fournier
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