Guns have no rights, only people do. Yes, one of them is the Right to defend yourself, your family, your property and your neighbor. My purpose in this editorial is NOT to enter into the charged debate referred to in shorthand as gun control. Good people can and do have differing opinions on the legitimate concerns which this debate brings up. My purpose is to attempt to clarify the language and set the issue in a context for my readers, most of whom are Catholic or Christians of another community.
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - Part III of the Catechism of the Catholic Church is entitled Life in Christ. There we find the paragraphs which expound upon the Fifth Commandment, You Shall Not Kill. The entire section can be read here. Catholics who seek to enter into the debate surrounding what is often called gun control should begin here.
We should approach all of the issues we face in a Western culture which has lost its moral compass as Catholics first, last and all in between. However, as in other areas of serious cultural concern, many Catholics tend to simply consider the various arguments, choose one they agree with, and then jump in. Even if the approach is well intended, it can lead to error and ineffective participation.
We are called to first form our conscience in accordance with the truth. The truth is revealed in the Natural Law, expounded upon in the Sacred Scripture and the Tradition and taught by the Magisterium (teaching office) of the Church. Consciences can be uninformed, poorly formed, deformed, or become darkened and lead us to a confused state where we wander in our own land of Nod, East of Eden, following in the footsteps of Cain. (See, Gen. 4:16)
We live in a precarious time in the United States. Many are concerned about the apparent effort to infringe upon the rights delineated in the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution. One of those Rights is found in the Second Amendment which reads "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
My purpose in this editorial is NOT to enter into the charged debate referred to in shorthand as gun control. Good people can and do have differing opinions on the legitimate concerns which this debate brings up. My purpose is to attempt to clarify the language and set the issue in a context for my readers, most of whom are Catholic or Christians of another community.
Only Human Persons Have Rights
In an age of sound bites and agenda driven news reports, the architects of a new cultural order have slipped one more phrase into the lexicon of the cultural struggle which we adopt at our own peril. The phrase is Gun Rights. Guns have no rights. People do. Rights are goods of human persons. Human Rights come not from a civil government but from God. The Right at issue is the Right to Self Defense. Civil Rights are those rights recognized by the Civil Government and properly protected. Again, Human Rights do not come from the government. Let me give two examples.
Over the course of our human and civil rights struggle to protect our youngest neighbors in the womb from being intentionally killed through procured abortion we have experienced the lethal power of words. The Right to Life is confirmed by the Natural Law and medical science. The child in the womb is our first neighbor. It is always and everywhere wrong to kill our innocent neighbors.
The phrase Abortion Rights was manufactured by cultural revolutionaries who oppose the true Right, the fundamental Human Right to Life. They inserted it into the lexicon of the cultural struggle. The Complicit Media adopted the shorthand language of these architects of a culture of death. Procured Abortions are deadly acts. They have no rights. Only human persons do. The first of which is always violated in every procured abortion because a child is killed.
Sadly, even some in the Catholic and other Christian media adopted the language. In so doing, they are propounding the evil.The same sort of verbal slight of hand is now routinely used by those who oppose marriage.
The leaders of a homosexual equivalency movement want a society where homosexual sexual practices are considered morally equivalent to the sexual expression of marital love between a man and a woman. They further demand that homosexual relationships, incapable of achieving the ends of marriage, be given the same legal status as a marriage. They want to use the police power of the State to accomplish their cultural revolution by insisting that homosexual persons have some right to marry.
Marriage is not simply a religious construct. The Natural Law reveals - and the cross cultural history of civilization affirms - that marriage is between a man and a woman, open to children and intended for life. However, a complicit media, including some within Catholic and other Christian media, have advance the equivalency activists agenda by using phrases such as gay marriage and marriage equality. Those who defend marriage are accused of being against a right to marry or something called marriage equality.
Guns have No Rights, People Do
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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