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Guest Opinion: Gun Control - What Would Jesus Do?
By Dr. Frederick Liewehr
January 1st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
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.
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.
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.
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?
"I stationed guards down below, behind the wall, near the exposed points, assigning them by family groups with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 8 I made an inspection, then addressed these words to the nobles, the magistrates, and the rest of the people: "Have no fear of them! Keep in mind the LORD, who is great and to be feared, and fight for your brethren, your sons and daughters, your wives and your homes." (Nehemiah 4:7)
"These letters, which he wrote in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with the royal signet ring, he sent by mounted couriers riding thoroughbred royal steeds. In these letters the king authorized the Jews in each and every city to group together and defend their lives, and to kill, destroy, wipe out, along with their wives and children, every armed group of any nation or province which should attack them, and to seize their goods as spoil." (Esther 8:10, 11)
What did Jesus have to say about all this? We read in Luke 22:35-9 that He tells the disciples in verse 36, "But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one." The disciples, not understanding his figurative reference, respond in verse 38, "Then they said, 'Lord, look, there are two swords here.' But He replied, 'It is enough!" , indicating that He was annoyed that they did not, as often was the case, understand that He was speaking figuratively. What the passage says about our Lord's anticipation of the need for swords is the subject of debate, but it is clear that among the disciples at least two carried swords, and Jesus evidently had no objection.
Crimes are committed at a lower rate by concealed carry permit holders than by the general public. People who obtain permits to carry know that they are not licenses to use their weapons irresponsibly, and know that the their use will lead to an irreversible alteration of their lives. Nobody wants the enormous legal problems that using a gun will cause. Carrying a gun is not comfortable, nor is it fun. Those who do understand that they may be called to defend themselves or their neighbors from evil, and are willing to bear the inconvenience and risk to answer the call.
For those who do not want to bear that awesome responsibility, they should at least recognize the reality of violence in our society, and that the police cannot be everywhere to prevent or stop it. They should reject the facile solutions of the anti-gunners that are based upon a fairy-tale vision of a society without guns. There are an estimated 270,000,000 guns in the US, and it is unreasonable to imagine that even the most draconian confiscation could remove more than a fraction of them from circulation, or that any attempt to do so would disarm criminals. As the old adage goes, "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns". To hide behind gun control legislation that has never worked and can demonstrably be shown to have actually increased the crime that it is supposed to eliminate, is merely wishful thinking that we can avoid "getting involved", and avoid the personal responsibility that we all bear.
In the book of Genesis, the Lord asks Cain, who had just murdered his brother, "Where is your brother Abel?" Cain answered, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" The Lord then made it clear that he was indeed his brother's keeper, and He holds us similarly responsible for preventing the violence that threatens to become an epidemic if it is not stopped. We must not sit back and let politicians pass feel-good legislation that does nothing other than to allow us to abdicate any personal responsibility for what is going on all around us. It is time for us to stand up and be counted. If we are not part of the solution, as they say, we are part of the problem.
Dr. Frederick Liewehr is an endodontist who teaches and works in private practice. He converted from Protestantism to Catholicism in 1983, having been drawn ineluctably to Christ's Church by the light of Truth. He is a member of St. Benedict parish in Richmond, a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and a Cooperator of Opus Dei.
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