Guns and the Culture of Life
Cardinal Dolan recently published a blog post titled Advocating for Gun Control in which he makes the claim that private gun ownership, assault weapons, and the gun culture further the cause of the “Culture of Death”. I have rewritten this draft a dozen times trying to find the right approach to take issue with his hyperbole-filled, emotionally based argument in favor of gun control. After many attempts, I decided to address only his premise that guns promote the Culture of Death and argue that a strong gun culture is evidence of a strong Culture of Life.
For me, regulating and controlling guns is part of building a Culture of Life, of doing what we can to protect and defend human life. The easy access to guns, including assault weapons, that exists in our nation has contributed towards a Culture of Death, where human life and dignity are cheapened by the threat of violence.
I’d like to first take Cdl. Dolan’s first sentence:
For me, regulating and controlling guns is part of building a Culture of Life, of doing what we can to protect and defend human life.
The average individual purchases a firearm for personal protection, whether at home or out of the home. The desire to defend one’s self and one’s family gives evidence to the inherent dignity of human life, that it is something to be protected, even if requiring a lethal blow (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2263-2265). Police are not the first responders in a home invasion, the home owner is the first responder. The home invader breaks into the home, and the home owner responds before police ever arrive on the scene. In many cases, the police do not arrive until after the crime is committed and the criminal has fled. Upholding the dignity of the human person requires allowing the human person to defend his own life.
Cdl. Dolan’s second sentence comes without any explanation:
The easy access to guns, including assault weapons, that exists in our nation has contributed towards a Culture of Death…
How does easy access to guns promote a Culture of Death? Cdl. Dolan makes no explanation, gives no observation of human psychology, no criminology studies, or any other piece of evidence to link guns with the culture of death. I would, however posit that the opposite is true, that the restriction of guns gives way to the Culture of Death.
The restriction of private firearm ownership conveys the belief that the government is the sole body capable of protecting life, that private individuals are incapable of the skill, maturity, and virtue to handle a firearm and repel attackers with an appropriate use of force. Interestingly enough, those states which have the strictest gun control also have the highest abortion rates, especially among minors, and the most open access to abortion.
Let’s compare, for example, my home state of Texas and Cardinal Dolan’s state of New York. According to the Center for Disease Control, Texas has an abortion rate of 193 abortions per 1,000 live births. New York’s abortion rate is 484 abortions per 1,000 live births, more than double the number of abortions per capita in Texas, and yet Texas provides easier access to firearms. Taking Cardinal Dolan’s rationale into consideration, that should not be the case. What the Cardinal fails to understand is that people buy firearms not because human life and dignity are cheapened, but because human life and dignity are respected and should be protected from those who wish to harm it. Life is precious and because it is precious, it must be defended.
Before I bought my first firearm, I struggled with the decision as to whether or not I would be able to shoot another human being. After much prayer and soul searching, I realized that shooting a criminal who is trying to harm me or my family is not an act which cheapens the life and dignity of the criminal, but upholds and protects the value of life and dignity of my family. The criminal’s dignity is upheld because in stopping him, even if it requires dealing a mortal blow, we recognize that he is accountable for his decisions.
If easy access to firearms contributed to the culture of death, then why do the pro-gun states have the best pro-life record? While on one hand Governor Cuomo, a Catholic, is heralded by Cardinal Dolan for this monumental pro-life action of more strictly regulating gun ownership, Governor Cuomo is currently pushing to reduce restrictions on late-term abortions for the sake of ensuring that abortions continue in the event that Roe v. Wade is overturned.
It seems to me that a person who supports abortion, especially who furthers the cause of abortion through the political process possesses a perverted sense of justice, that it is unjust for a private citizen to have access to firearms for self defense, while at the same time condone and further the assault of the most innocent among us, children in the womb. President Obama, who advocated infanticide, and Governor Cuomo, who advocates for late term abortions, are both guilty of this perverted justice and should not be “tested” as “experts”. Certainly the shooting at Newtown is tragic, but proportionally speaking, the number of children killed* in mass shootings by so-called “assault weapons” is fewer per year than the number of abortions within Dolan’s diocese every day.
Aside from the abortion issue, the states with the most restrictive gun laws also make the biggest push for legalizing so-called “same-sex marriage” to the detriment of free exercise of religion, specifically the existence of Catholic adoption agencies refusing to adopt to homosexual couples. The Culture of Death is alive and well all across our country, but the states which celebrate and protect the right to bear arms largely also are the states which have the greatest respect for the unborn, which is reflected in laws protecting the unborn, not protecting their slaughter. Life is not cheapened by protection under threat of violence, it is cheapened by taking no action to protect it even if, as CCC 2264 says, he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow.
*For the record, Adam Lanza never used an AR-15, Saiga shotgun, or any other long gun or “assault weapon” to perpetrate the shooting at Newtown. He was armed with pistols only and they were stolen from his mother whom he murdered. Not a single one of the “sensible” steps of “common-sense” regulations proposed by either President Obama or Governor Andrew Cuomo would have prevented the Newtown shooting.