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Thinking about Aurora Print E-mail
By Brad Miner   
Monday, 30 July 2012

“Aurora” will soon rival “Columbine” and “Virginia Tech” in its association with guns and madness and death, solidifying as a one-name argument against the private ownership of firearms and undermining Second Amendment rights.

Although the Supreme Court has recently reaffirmed the right of individuals to bear arms – in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) and in McDonald v. Chicago (2010) – a second Obama term, during which one of the Court’s justices retires and a new one is appointed, may well lead to new cases with different outcomes. Stipulating this eventuality, why should this matter to Catholics?

Simply stated: the loss of one essential liberty threatens the loss of others. As goes the Second Amendment, so goes the First.

Besides, our faith does not require (in most cases) either pacifism or martyrdom.

Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Ginsburg, and Breyer are all over 70. If Ginsburg or Breyer (or both) were to step down, the effect on the Court’s philosophical balance would probably be negligible. But if it were to happen that President Obama is called upon to fill the seats of Scalia and Kennedy, the Court would be “liberal” for decades to come (after all, both those men were appointed by President Reagan). The difference between a weak 5-4 “conservative” Court and strong 6-3 “liberal” one would be great indeed.

I hail from Ohio and, although I’m not from the Youngstown area, I shared the embarrassment of many Buckeyes over the antics of Rep. James Traficant, a Democrat; he of the pompadour hair and narrow neckties, who was expelled from Congress and served nearly seven years in the clink. But here’s the thing: his bizarre and criminal behavior had little effect upon anyone outside Ohio’s 17th C.D. But the appointment of two radical jurists to the Supreme Court will affect everybody everywhere.

I believe a 6-3 liberal majority would wreak havoc on American liberty: in upholding such incursions against religious liberty as the HHS mandates and by finding same-sex “marriage” somewhere in the Constitution; in allowing universities and other institutions to limit free speech in the service of “diversity;” in restricting gun ownership to what amounts to government employees – and these are just a few examples of issues pressing in on us right now. Imagine what might come if ultraliberal Judicial and Executive Departments are restrained only by a fractious, divided, and ineffective Congress, which Mr. Obama has already shown his willingness to bypass, as he did on immigration.

After “Aurora,” Mr. Obama has been coy about gun rights; he’ll cease to be if re-elected.

But what is the official guidance for Catholics in the matter of gun ownership? Let’s begin with the USCCB. Although published a dozen years ago, the bishops’ Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice offers food for thought:

All of us must do more to end violence in the home and to find ways to help victims break out of the pattern of abuse. As bishops, we support measures that control the sale and use of firearms and make them safer (especially efforts that prevent their unsupervised use by children or anyone other than the owner), and we reiterate our call for sensible regulation of handguns.
Sensible regulations are good – and uncontroversial.

But there is an ominous footnote in the document. The bishops cite a 1990 USCCB document on substance abuse with this prefatory comment: “However, we believe that in the long run and with few exceptions (i.e., police officers, military use), handguns should be eliminated from our society.”

Perhaps only America’s bishops could conceptualize such a future, living as they do in a nation in which cops and soldiers respect the rule of law. We don’t have coups. Still, it seems an odd position given how many bishops have recently written encomia to For Greater Glory, a film extolling the Cristero War, which wasn’t prosecuted by pacifists.

And in the Catechism (2264) we read:

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 . . .
The Catechism then quotes Thomas Aquinas:
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. [Emphases added.]

We are called to make prudential judgments, but it’s foolish to suppose that victims of an ongoing crime may know the end result of either action or inaction, although history indicates the latter (surrender to tyranny, whether of the state or a criminal) often ends badly. Even the decision to call for help (to 9-1-1 or to neighbors) may result in precious seconds lost in the war declared by criminals who set upon the innocent with evil intent.

Of all the slogans offered up as bumper-sticker wisdom in the gun-ownership debate, one resonates with truth: When guns are criminalized, only criminals will have guns.

Have the bishops prophetically visualized a time when government will have managed somehow to confiscate every single weapon not in the hands of the police or the military and, perhaps, will have nationalized weapons making? And what sort of government would be capable of that? In the world today, I can think of only one: North Korea.

 
Brad Miner is senior editor of The Catholic Thing, a senior fellow of the Faith & Reason Institute, and a board member of Aid to the Church In Need USA. He is the author of six books and is a former Literary Editor of National Review.
 
 
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

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Comments (31)Add Comment
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written by Martial Artist, July 29, 2012
Mr. Miner,

You write "Of all the slogans offered up as bumper-sticker wisdom in the gun-ownership debate, one resonates with truth: When guns are criminalized, only criminals will have guns."

I rather firmly believe that there is a second slogan that is (at least) a very close second to the one you proffer, namely "When seconds count, the police are only minutes away."

And, in view of the likelihood of a major financial collapse in the foreseeable future, the incidence of lawlessness, and ergo, increased violent crime, I would humbly suggest that the threat is likely to increase in the coming few decades.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer
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written by Frank, July 30, 2012
Major John Pitcairn. Few people if any know that name but they should. Major Pitcairn was ordered by General Howe to Lexington and Concord and with 215 British Regulars under Pitcairn's immediate command, were to sieze all muskets, gun powder and ammunition privately owned and in the central armories of the towns. An important part of Paul Revere's ride is left out. "The British are coming, the British are coming!" To do what? To take your guns! That's what! In every city the British occupied, firearms were confiscated and that is a very smart move indeed. No occupying army wants to face an indigenous population armed sufficiently to provide resistance.
This of course was not lost on the Founding Fathers. The origins of the Second Amendment like many of the first ten amendments are borne from the actions imposed by the British Crown.
I would also encourage readers to read the Declaration of Indenpendence IN ITS ENTIRETY and pay close attention to what the authors state about rebellion itself.
"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."
The Second Amendment is not, repeat IS NOT about hunting four legged critters to put meat on the table. It is the ultimate check to ensure that when men and women are vested with political/legislative power, they are to behave and serve the people from whence they came and from whom they were elected. There are approximately 300 million firearms in the possession of 80 million Americans and this statistic validates a principle of Carl Von Clausewitz that "quantity has a quality all of its own." Self defense from murderous criminals and tyrannical politicians IS and always will be, the first human right. And if the Bishops are so concerned about disarmament, perhaps the should send a letter to the Vatican and the Holy Father that all of the firearms in the Vatican Armory utilized by the Swiss Guards past and present be beaten into plowshares. Until such time, this Catholic will stay well armed. Eternal vigilance IS the price of freedom.
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written by Jon S., July 30, 2012
Pacifism is a form of the mushy, utopian thinking that Christian love has completely replaced justice. To surrender the right to defend oneself or others is one example of the mushy, utopian thinking that God wants us to surrender all our rights all the time. There will be times when the loving thing to do will be to surrender a right; there will also be times when the loving thing to do will be to exercise a right. May God gives us the wisdom to make the right choice of when to be just and when to be generous.
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written by Grump, July 30, 2012
Brad, good column. There are almost as many guns in America as people. There are about 17,000 homicides annually in the U.S., 11,500 which were attributable to firearms.

Chicago, the "murder capital" of the U.S. averages around 500 per year, or more than one a day. Are these the "Chicago values" that Mayor Rahm Emanuel boasts about in criticizing Chick-fil-A, a Christian-owned fast-food chain that believes in traditional marriage?

As a lifelong handgun owner who target-shoots and plinks, I nonetheless pack when I go to Chicago, bringing plenty of ammo. Although I try to stay out of the "bad neighborhoods," you never know who might be a threat. As Hobbes (I think) said, "anyone could be my murderer."

Although arch-conservative, Scalia is now dropping hints that semi-auto rifles and 100-clip magazines might come under the court's scrutiny. This is as disconcerting as the bishops' call for eliminating handguns.

The only effective gun control is to make sure you have two hands on the grip to assure a better aim. If there is a lesson to be drawn from Aurora it is that, paradoxically, if someone other than Holmes had a gun, the death toll might have been much lower.
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written by Manfred, July 30, 2012
May I respectfully add a note of balance here, Brad? A news network reports that 100 people are killed in car accidents EACH DAY for a total of 40,000 people killed in car accidents each year! Do we hear any call to make cars illegal? Of course not. We have aborted 54 MILLION Americans and we still cannot end abortion. The first step a totalitarian state, which the Obama administration aspires to be, takes is to disarm the citizenry in order to make it compliant. Gulag-type camps exist in many countries today. BTW, the LAST group I would look to for guidance would be the USCCB.
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written by Pete, July 30, 2012
I do not agree that a gun-free society equals a dystopian nightmare a la North Korea. There are a lot of peaceful, normal countries in Asia and Europe where citizens generally do not have guns. Admittedly, this may not be possible in the US, due to our history and the large number of guns already in circulation here.
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written by DS, July 30, 2012
Aquinas shows us a roadmap to a more nuanced Catholic position. Yes, one can be a faithful Catholic and certainly support private ownership of guns. Yet his warning against use of excessive force is reason for Catholics to support a ban on assault weapons or the accumulation of a private arsenal that goes beyond any reasonable need for self defense or fulfillment of civic duty.
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written by Louise, July 30, 2012
I checked to see if this is an authoritative document from the bishops (the first once cited by Brad, RRR). it appears to be so since at the end it says it was ordered published by the full body of bishops, one of the two ways it can be considered an authoritative statement of the bishops conference since JPII published "Apostolos Suos". It would be helpful for the Conference to clarify if that is a prudential type of "decision statement" with which Catholics can disagree regarding the elimination of handguns. Perhaps TCT could initiate such an enquiry.
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written by Brian English, July 30, 2012
"There are a lot of peaceful, normal countries in Asia and Europe where citizens generally do not have guns."

And then there is a country like Switzerland, where there are more guns per capita than in the US.

"is reason for Catholics to support a ban on assault weapons"

Can we please stop with this fraud? "Assault weapons" look like military rifles, but fire one bullet at a time, just like hunting rifles. The only people who have fully-automatic weapons are: (1) holders of special federal licenses; and (2) criminals.

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written by Athanasius, July 30, 2012
Seeing how the Obama administration shows no respect at all for religious belief or conscience clauses, and further seeing how the mayors and other officials in Boston and Chicago will abuse the power of the state to punish a private company such as Chick-fil-A for disagreeing with their political views, I have no doubt that given the time and complicity of a bare majority of the people that Obama and his like-minded politicians would become totalitarians. Lest anyone forget, that is how Hitler rose to power. While we Catholics always want to be charitable, it would be negligent to not see the dangers to our freedoms posed by this administration. As others have mentioned, prudence is a key virtue here. We need to preserve our right to self-protection, but we also need to pray for the grace and wisdom to exercise this right prudentially.

I think Pope Benedict XVI's Regensburg address offers excellent guidance in thinking clearly with faith and reason, and in rejecting violence except when absolutely necessary to protect the innocent. Paradoxically, honest citizens possessing firearms actually will reduce violence in the long run because it will put doubt into the minds of would be totalitarians.
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written by Martial Artist, July 30, 2012
@Grump,

You write "The only effective gun control is to make sure you have two hands on the grip to assure a better aim." With all due respect, I think you missed a couple of rules, all of them thanks to the late John Dean "Jeff" Cooper, LtCol, USMC (ret):

1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.

2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. (For those who insist that this particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)

3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target. This is the Golden Rule. Its violation is directly responsible for about 60 percent of inadvertent discharges.

4. Identify your target, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything you have not positively identified.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer, LCDR, USN (ret)
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written by Chris in Maryland, July 30, 2012
USCCB, per wikipedia, was started in 1966. It has a budget of US$180 million, and a staff of 300, with 16 main committees. There is a new ad hoc committee on Religious Liberty, which will need to be made permanent (thanks to the malignant new edition of anti-Catholicism unleashed by the current administration). The committee on Doctrine is showing some real guts these days, and is to be applauded. I’m sure others try to do good things and deserve support.

Of the 16 committees, there are 2 that carry political names indicating vintage from 1960s-70s, and tend to "sacralize" pet political projects, resulting in the sort of destructive political meddling reported by Mr. Miner: Domestic Justice and Human Development; and International Justice and Peace. A relatively new committee, Protection of Children and Young, is a more recent concoction, but seems to be serving a politically-correct agenda. The 16th standing committee, called National Collections, reportedly functions to distribute funds flowing from diocesan collections across the other committee programs, including those spawned by the committees named above. That’s how money from the collection basket goes to the tangled network of non-Catholic (The Campaign for Human Development), sometimes anti-Catholic (pro-abortion, pro-contraception, etc), and sometimes outright political organizations (e.g., ACORN). There'a also a "Cultural Diversity" committee, whose name alone sounds like political mischief.

The bishops should cancel the money flowing to some of these committees, and send it instead to the committee dealing with Catholic Education, which seems to be failing at its mission (assuming it actually has one consonant with its name).
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written by DS, July 30, 2012
To Brian - The distinction is not a fraud. I am using the legal definition of "assault" weapon (admittedly not a favorite with gun advocates) which includes both semi-automatic and automatic weapons. The latter are indeed heavily regulated. The former can include normal hunting rifles if they are outfitted with certain features, including large capacity ammunition feeding.

If guns had existed at the time of Christ, I wonder if his directive to the Twelve (Luke 9:3, "Take nothing for the journey....") would have carved out an exemption for carrying a sidearm.
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written by Brian English, July 30, 2012
"The distinction is not a fraud. I am using the legal definition of "assault" weapon (admittedly not a favorite with gun advocates)" "

It is not a favorite with gun advocates because it is a fraud. Politicians throw around "assault weapon" so they can make people think they are protecting them from something scary. A semi-automatic rifle, even one called an assualt rifle, actually shoots only one bullet for each pull of the trigger.
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written by Grump, July 30, 2012
Keith, I entirely agree and note some others, some of which are posted at my local shooting range:

1) Wear ear and eye protection.
2) Don't crossfire.
3) Point guns downrange during loading and sight adjustment.
4) Paper targets only.

and, of course, never drink and shoot.

By the way, Keith, I am ex-Navy, honorably discharged 1963. Ol' sparky. My brother works at a gun shop in Albuquerque and has quite a collection.

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written by Bill M., July 30, 2012
This is throughout an engaging article, but I could wish that Mr Miner had amplified his first great claim: "Simply stated: the loss of one essential liberty threatens the loss of others. As goes the Second Amendment, so goes the First."

I do not deny that the implications of USCCB statements on guns are questionable. But is the suggestion that they should say something else, or say nothing? From the way the article began, I tend to think that Mr Miner would like for them to come out in favor of the Second Amendment.

Many of us would like to see the USCCB step back from policy pronouncements and focus on being good shepherds. That is because most of the things they address concern prudential decisions about which reasonable people can disagree. What is interesting about this article, then, is that defending the free exercise of religion in the First Amendment would seem to require that the bishops defend all rights, even though this would seem to be the job primarily of the laity, and would entangle the bishops in countless policy battles for which they have no competence and probably no interest.

I would be curious, then, how these distinct arguments connect in this article, and if Mr Miner is not pointing for the need - yet again - to step back from "rights language."
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written by Grump, July 30, 2012
Luke 11:21

"When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe."
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written by Martial Artist, July 30, 2012
@DS,

You write [emphasis added]: "The distinction is not a fraud. I am using the legal definition of "assault" weapon (admittedly not a favorite with gun advocates) which includes both semi-automatic and automatic weapons."

It is incorrect. The original definition of an "assault weapon" (from the German Sturmgewehr, lit. "assault rifle," [1944]) was what designed the breed. The legal definition is irrelevant, given the propensity of modern governments, not in any way excluding our own to use nomenclature to generate acceptance/revulsion depending upon the regnant political issues of the day (cf. the use of choice as opposed to abortion to describe the willful taking of an innocent unborn human). Turning the generic name of an object into a term of demonization and then redefining it so as to include previously excluded categories of object is fundamental dishonesty and ergo rank demagoguery.

The breed is characterized by:

• the use of either full-automatic or selective fire, the latter allowing the operator to choose between continuous firing as long as the trigger is depressed, or firing one, and only one, round for one depression of the trigger.

• the use of a smaller projectile than standard battle rifles (M-1 and M-14, to cite two examples),

• loaded into a smaller cartridge case, both of the above attributes chosen, despite limiting effective weapon range, in an increase in the number of rounds that assault troops can carry on their person without requiring resupply, which typically has the added advantage of tending to make

• the rifle more compact and lighter in weight than a conventional battle rifle, adding still further to available combat load of the assault infantry.

The legal definition of any object does not make the object the named thing. If it did, the legislature could pass, and the executive could sign into law a piece of legislation that classifies an ice cream cone containing some minimum weight of ice cream as an "assault weapon," and it would be so, despite the absence of any of the defining characteristics.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

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written by Frank, July 30, 2012
I normally keep my posts to one per subject. One point forgotten and I forgot it when I posted earlier this morning is that we focus on criminals and forget that through recorded history and particularly in the 20th Century, more people have died at the hands of a government (their own or another) than have died at the hands of criminals. Why we extend carte blanche virtuous behavior to government is a mystery to me. We also forget that at the time of the American Revolution, the technical advantage to weaponry in the context of hand held firearms was with private citizens; frontiersmen in particular. Their possession of the rifle i.e. a rifling twist in the barrel made their weapons far superior to infantry with smooth bore muskets. Many a British soldier was the unfortunate recipient of ball in the head from 300 yards out...the Pennsylvania Flintlock was not something one wanted to be on the receiving end. And we don't need tanks, aircraft or other military stuff the other side always argues we think we need. First off, they're too expensive to maintain and second there's not enough of them when compared to the number of American in private possession of firearms. But I do want parity or greater when it comes to firearms and that includes assault rifles with high capacity magazines. Like I said, the Second Amendment is not about hunting and swords, knives, spears and bows in the time of Jesus are just as lethal. Self defense is like I stated earlier, the first human right.
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written by Brad Miner, July 30, 2012
@Bill M.: Of course, my comment concerning the fragility and future of rights is prospective, but the portents are dark.

As to the USCCB, I don't wish the bishops would come out in favor of the Second Amendment; as you suggest, it's not really their place to enter into the political debate over gun ownership. But I do wish their pronouncements were in sync with the Catechism, which in the matter of gun ownership is not the case.

@Manfred: You didn't offer a note of balance; you changed the subject.
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written by Subvet, July 30, 2012
My wife was leery about guns in the home until some schmuck tried walking into ours one day while she watched from down the street. He didn't get in, but the better half called 911 to have him apprehended.

Nobody ever showed up.

When we pulled the string on that one it turned out the 911 operator had judged it to be a "confused senior citizen wandering the neighborhood" rather than a real criminal. The justification for this was my wife's calm demeanor during the call.

The bride is an RN, trained to control her emotions in time of crisis. DUH!!

The local cops were no help, the police chief played "company man" and said the call could have been taken either as one for a confused citizen or an actual criminal. He ended the conversation when the wife opined the worst of the two options should always be assumed.

Since then we've gotten some firepower in the house. On her first day at the range, the better half filled the center of the target with her shots. When I noted the good shooting she just looked at me and stated, "Honey, I'll be protecting my family if I have to use this pup."

The Lord has given me a good wife.
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written by Manfred, July 30, 2012
Brad: Point taken. Let me address the bishops and handguns.A few years ago, it was noted that tourists to Florida were being robbed and often murdered by armed criminals while other citizens were not (at the same rate). The investigations determined that the tourists were driving rented cars with the rental company's name displayed on the rear. As parts of Florida have a Right to Carry law, it was soon realized that the criminals preyed on the tourists because they knew they WERE NOT ARMED. Solution? remove the rental company's identification from the vehicle. Robberies and deaths went down. I have a weapon in my home (not to carry) and its purpose is this: if a knock should come at my door and a voice says "N.K.V.D.", "Stasi", "Geheime Stadts Polizei" (Gestapo)or "Shining Path", I will not have to submit and go along. That was always the purpose of the militias-to keep the Federal Government in check. The Fathers of this Country, whether they knew it or not, were believers in the effects of Original Sin.
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written by G.K. Thursday, July 30, 2012
Out of all the discussion here, the most pertinent comment is Louise's investigation into the authority of the "Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice" document (RRR). What is its relation to the ordinary magisterium? Louise thinks it must be of a piece with magisterial teaching since "it was ordered published by the full body of bishops, one of the two ways it can be considered an authoritative statement of the bishops conference since JPII published 'Apostolos Suos'." But "approved for publication by the full body of bishops at their November 2000 General Meeting" (what the document literally says), does not say how the approval was given. This is significant because 'Apostolos Suos' (AS) holds that "Taking into account that the authentic magisterium of the Bishops, namely what they teach insofar as they are invested with the authority of Christ, must always be in communion with the Head of the College and its members,(83) when the doctrinal declarations of Episcopal Conferences are approved unanimously, they may certainly be issued in the name of the Conferences themselves, and the faithful are obliged to adhere with a sense of religious respect to that authentic magisterium of their own Bishops. However, if this unanimity is lacking, a majority alone of the Bishops of a Conference cannot issue a declaration as authentic teaching of the Conference to which all the faithful of the territory would have to adhere, unless it obtains the recognitio of the Apostolic See, which will not give it if the majority requesting it is not substantial" (AS n22). So AS requires a unanimous agreement from the Episcopal Conference for a document to be part of the "authentic magisterium of their own Bishops." Was RRR approved unanimously? The document never claims that (indeed it says that it "originated from the Committee on Domestic Policy"; but AS n22 clearly states that "smaller bodies —the permanent council, a commission or other offices—do not have the authority to carry out acts of authentic magisterium either in their own name or in the name of the Conference, and not even as a task assigned to them by the Conference"). On the other hand it might have been unanimously approved. So we are left in a state of doubt. In that case the principle "lex dubia non obligat," that a law which is doubtful in its application to the case in hand does not bind, must be observed. So until we can ascertain the magisterial status of RRR, it need NOT be held as anything but an opinion of the Episcopal Conference. Does anyone in the Catholic Thing blogoshpere know if RRR was approved UNANIMOUSLY by the USCCB?
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written by Gian, July 30, 2012
The unfortunate necessity of gun ownership to safeguard oneself from crime is an imperfection in the Republic.

Men living in a State of Law do not need guns; since they have 'rights' and a 'right' is in a nature of argument.

It is an entire misinterpretation of the plain text of 2nd Amendment to read it as allowing private gun ownership to combat State tyranny. In fact, the second amendment is intended for the defense of State through an armed citizenry, a standing army not being envisaged.

Thus a Catholic needs to view gun ownership as an unfortunate necessity, a blemish on the State of Law and should not take pride in the guns and must not show-off them, by carrying them about when there is no apprehension of violence.
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written by Brian English, July 31, 2012
"It is an entire misinterpretation of the plain text of 2nd Amendment to read it as allowing private gun ownership to combat State tyranny."

James Madison would disagree with you, and the Supreme Court just ruled a few years ago that you are wrong.
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written by Layman Tom, July 31, 2012
Wow. This is a great discussion. I have often wondered what the rest of the Body thought about guns, but never enough to start turning over rocks. You see, I've been a gun enthusiast all my life. I collect them, I thoroughly enjoy playing with them (target shooting) and I have used them to responsibly put food on the table. I taught my sons to respect firearms and to use them responsibility, just as my father taught me.

However that part of my life and my spiritual life never really mixed much. (Except that is, that I almost always, eventually find myself in unconscious prayer whenever I sit in the woods, with my gun, and become totally immersed in awe of God’s creation). I suppose I did not want to cross two things that I love only to find that one cannot countenance the other. I certainly had no desire to have to argue with people over it. They will not change my opinion and I really don’t care much to hear theirs.

But here we sit. I’m sorry to disagree with some of you, but Manfred is correct. You may think it silly that he or anyone else is out there thinking that the possibility of that knock at the door is real. I mean, this is the United States of America. That kind of thing could never happen here! A ridiculous premise? Tell me. 13 months ago, did you find the idea that the 1st amendment could be so cavalierly discarded to be similarly ridiculous? I know I did. “ Why, this is the USA” I would have said.” That kind of thing could never happen here”. History is rife with examples of despotism where once there was none. The thing is, it creeps up on you. It never starts out as a knock on the door.

We live in tremulous times. Not unlike those with which the founders were well familiar. I agree with BE. James Madison would be well stocked with hundred round clips.
Cheers,
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written by Manfred, July 31, 2012
"The thing is, it creeps up on you." In 1973, The Supreme Couirt found that a mother had a right to kill her own flesh and blood in utero. Read Hadley Arkes column of July 31st. That right has now been extended to ex utero. In a few years the government's right to annihilate will extend to YOU. Militias begin as citizens armed individually and then collectively. Read up on the Cristeros in Mexico 1926 to 1929. Are you aware that the U.S. lent aircraft to the Mexican Gov't to fight the Mexican Catholics? Are you aware that the KKK offered to send an "army" to assist the Mexican Gov't? They were refused. Think of the predator priests and the bishops who moved them from parish to parish. People cannot be trusted!!!
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written by Gian, July 31, 2012
Brian English,
So the Supreme Court judged itself useless!.
The Citizens can not politically combat State tyranny but ultimately need recourse of arms!.
A complete negation of republican principles, I must say.
Perhaps you misunderstand Supremes and Madison?
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written by Louise, July 31, 2012
@GKThursday, I've looked at a few other docs and they say approved by the "full body" so I think that means unanimous. Which means, as you point out, it merits the "religious respect" that we each owe to the magisterium of our individual bishops. Now, I'm quite surprised to find a statement such as the handgun elimination statement in it and hope that someone has a bishop they can easily ask if this is to be presumed a merely prudential statement by the bishops with which we can disagree or meant to be considered a moral norm they are asking us to adopt.
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written by G.K. Thursday, August 02, 2012
@Louise, thank you for your comment.

However it still leaves us in a state of doubt, since neither you nor I know if the approval was unanimous or not. The phrase "the full body of bishops" is used in several ways by the USCCB on their own website and in a variety of documents. Origins (the USCCB's weekly publication on its own activities, etc.) often writes of "the full body of bishops" hearing speakers, approving administrative requests, scheduling meetings, etc., without ever implying that there was a unanimous agreement about the speaker, the admin requests or the scheduled meeting dates. "The full body of bishops" does not imply unanimity in these cases, so it really is unclear whether being "approved for publication by the full body of bishops" (what the RRR literally states at its end) implies unanimity. It might, but it might not. If it does then it really does not allow much dissent from its positions, since the "'religious respect' that we each owe to the magisterium of our individual bishops" is binding on the conscience of faithful Catholics. Needless to say this would discomfit our author and almost all of the people commenting on this post.

Fortunately, until the state of doubt is removed, we are free to simply respect RRR as an opinion of the USCCB.
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written by G.K. Thursday, August 02, 2012
Oops! A typo crept in: "conscience" should be in the plural.

Also, I should clarify that the phrase "the full body of bishops" often is used by the USCCB to simply indicate that whatever occurred, took place at one of its General Assemblies. If a decision about some important doctrinal or pastoral matter was unanimous, at least in many cases, it is explicitly announced (for example, see the recent announcement concerning the unanimous adoption of the ‘United For Religious Freedom’ Statement on the USCCB website). Since I cannot find any such announcement about RRR in any USCCB materials (including the website), it is a matter of doubt. And in such cases the principle "lex dubia non obligat" applies.

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