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I was in elementary school when I had my first personal experience of gun violence. My younger sister and I had gone out to meet our mother in the garage when she came home from work. She cried. “David is dead,” she told us.
David was my friend’s stepfather. He had big eyes and a gentle soul and he was always kind to me. He had a big black mustache and drove a Pontiac Fiero, which always fascinated me because the engine is in the back of the car. David was a Vietnam veteran. My mother explained to me after my sister fell asleep that night that David had shot himself in his bathroom.
“Why did he do that? I asked my mother. She told me he was sad. I did not understand.
We will no doubt continue to disagree on a specific policy. But to move forward, we must center our conversation on the sanctity of human life.
According to Statistical, 42% of Americans own a firearm. Still, there are more guns – about 400 million – than there are people in this country, so many people own more than one. In 2020, more than 45,000 people died from gunshot wounds, and 57% of those deaths were suicides. Most gun-related deaths each year are suicides, which accounted for about 60% of gun deaths over the past decade.
Why do people own guns? Self-defense is the main reason cited by gun owners, followed by hunting, according to Bench. But guns can also convey power and security to their owners. Often those who abuse the right to bear arms feel helpless and hopeless. People who commit suicide often feel the same way.
Are guns inherently bad? Saint Augustine said that evil exists in the free will of human beings. Things are not bad in themselves, he would say. It’s more the way things are used. I tend to agree. Even when firearms are used to kill – as in the case of self-defense – are we sure that their use is wrong? These questions become more complex in light of the fact that Ukraine has distributed more than 18,000 weapons to its citizens to defend itself against a Russian invasion.
Often those who abuse the right to bear arms feel helpless and hopeless.
The first gun I ever owned – one of the few – belonged to my maternal grandfather in the Dominican Republic, where I was born. I was a kid, and he let me hold his .38 snub nose because he could be sure it was empty. There is a strange gun culture in the Dominican Republic. I suspect it’s at least partly because of Raphael Trujillo, our pedophile, rapist, and murderer dictator who ruled from 1930 until his assassination in 1961. Among his crimes was a massacre of tens of thousands of Haitians in 1937. In the end, Trujillo himself was shot dead, shot when my mother was just a child.
Given this trail of violence and suffering, can I, as a pro-life Catholic, support gun rights and gun ownership? I think the answer is yes. In my experience, citizens of democratic republics should be allowed to own firearms. I think these are tough questions because they involve the self-defense concerns mentioned above – including against tyrannical dictators – as well as the fact that guns are often misused.
I don’t own a gun, but I would say most gun owners don’t like to flash them.
I don’t own a gun, but I would say most gun owners don’t like to flash them. When I was a child, I had a friend next door whose father had guns, I was told, but I never saw them. My friend wouldn’t even point a toy gun at anyone because he took it so seriously. One of my best friends today is a gun owner. He and I lived in the same house, but I never saw his guns. Gun theft is a serious problem, but I’m not convinced that’s why they keep them private. I would like to think that most gun owners realize that what they own can kill a human being.
Nearly half of Americans say gun violence is a major national problem, and it’s not hard to see why. Most of us didn’t notice, but there were 34 school shootings in 2021. It happens so often that we become numb to shootings until they happen in our own communities.
He also feels bad for using numbers so casually. All of these victims have names. They have families. They were all created in the image of God at the time of their conception. And shouldn’t they still be with us? Do we have trouble talking about it because some Americans value guns more than human life?
The dignity of human life is the foundation of Catholic social teaching. I would argue that what Catholics think about gun ownership has a lot to do with how they view it vis-à-vis human dignity: do guns uphold or denigrate human dignity? human?
We will no doubt continue to disagree on a specific policy. But to move forward, we must ground ourselves in Catholic teaching and center our conversation on the sanctity and defense of human life. For human life is precisely what is at stake.