Should a catholic support GUN RIGHTS?


Any Catholic bishop on it?


Why, are you one? If not don’t worry about it.


I think the point is that the bishops have weighed in on the issue and support more controls…or at least a significant subset of them do.


But we are not talking about a matter of faith, and it would be stretch to say gun ownership by law-abiding citizens is a matter of morals. Outside of that, it is just their opinion, just like mine.

As I said in another thread, I have been a Catholic for 65 years, served the Latin Mass, learned the old Catechism, went through Catholic grade school and high school and sent my kids through the same. I’ve been a Catholic music minister for 40 years. I only recently heard of the USCCB and its predecessors, or of bishops, as a group, having any say over anything. I would have thought that in 65 years, if it were important, I would have heard of it from a nun, or in a sermon or something. When I was growing up, we knew we had a bishop and he occasionally wrote a letter that got read in church, usually about contributing money to something.

This new era of activist bishops trying to exert influence in political matters is new to me and I don’t buy into it. From what I read, most US catholics agree with me. They aren’t listening to the bishops either. And how does being a priest all your life qualify you to have an opinion on this topic? Plus, as you say, the bishops are not even in complete agreement on this.


I don’t think it’s true to say “most” Catholics… there are lots of Republican Catholics, lots of Democrat Catholics, and everything in between. Bishops have always been involved in politics to one degree or another. The national conferences of bishops have only been around for the past 50 years or so in most countries, but that doesn’t mean bishops didn’t express opinions on political matters in the past. Everything has a moral dimension. No you’re not necessarily bound by every political statement from the bishops…but you always owe them the highest respect you can show for any man as vicars of Christ and successors of the apostles.


I don’t disrespect them. But as you say, I am not bound by their political statements.


I am not worried. I do not know what my emotions would have to do with the answer. As to why, the Domestic Justice Chairman of the USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, released this statement:

Domestic Justice Chairman Urges True Debate on Gun Violence
If the point you make is that we here do not speak with any ecclesial authority, I consider it a reasonable question to ask if there is any authority you consider, besides yourself. Obviously you may say simply decline to answer. I do not mean to imply any obligation to answer.

FYI, this part is not a political statement, but a moral imperative:

While acknowledging the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and related jurisprudence, we live in a fallen world with daily advances in modern technology. Some weapons are increasingly capable of easily causing mass murder when used with an evil purpose. Society must recognize that the common good requires reasonable steps to limit access to such firearms by those who would intend to use them in that way."

I am sorry if it is not Republican enough and seems political. That is the danger of turning a deaf ear to the Church.


I just read this. I guess that explains it, though it is most sad. Still, it is not unheard of in this day of gay rights and abortion to have people who say they are Catholic but do not respect those who lead us in our faith.


Note who the bishops state who should have the restrictions, those who have an intent to do evil.

No restrictions on those arms are mentioned regarding those who do not have such an intent.


I go to Tanzania every year to do mission work. The bishop there owns 2 Egyptian Maadi AK-47s, full auto. Not the government, the bishop. Plus several other firearms.

Once in 2010, I needed to go to a parish that was not far from the Rwanda border. He send two men with me and armed them with the AKs. They were not government employees, not police, not even professional security guards, simply 2 men from the Cathedral parish who had been in the Army.

Even this last year, I lead a team of 37 people from my parish, mostly upper teens\young adults. We stayed at a guest house at the bishop’s complex. And every night, he had two men out there with the AK’s as our guards.

Did the bishop morally err in having those AKs?, did he (as a civilian) have legitimate authority to own them?


No statement is made as to how best to limit access to such firearms for those who would used them.


You’re asking me? How should I know?


Well, he is not part of the government. Is he still responsible for the lives of others, and should fully automatic arms be in the hands of civilians.


Use them or use them with evil intent. The Bishop only mentioned restricting access to those with evil intent. Nothing about restricting access to those of neutral or good intent.


I see what you are asking now. Authorities are explicitly mentioned in the Catechism as having the right to bear arms in defense of the common good. That section has been quoted several times in this thread by others. As for civilians, their right to bear arms is not explicitly mentioned in the Catechism, one way or the other. Catholic teaching does not rule it in or out. Therefore governments may establish reasonable limitations on civilian use of guns. If the government of Tanzania has not established any laws restricting the use of AK’s then it is entirely within the bishop’s prerogative to have and use one. If they have established such laws then anyone flaunting those laws would be guilty of disobeying civil authority. Of course the culpability of anyone doing so could be mitigated by extenuating circumstances, such as a genuine emergency.


Limiting access can also mean limiting the number in circulation. At minimum it can mean not allowing them to be sold at gun shows or from individual to individual. The point is, other than what is needed for self-defense, those that are used for sport, the enjoyment of firearms, do not need to be in circulation. Life is more precious than hobbies.

Now we can go on and on with all the bumper sticker slogans the NRA uses. The lack of a perfect solution must not prevent progress.


But what legio grants legitimacy? The Catechism refers to ‘legitimate authority’, not to ‘government’. That may or may not be a legitimate authority.

I would claim that the people themselves are a legitimate authority, as they are the source by which a government derives it’s own legitimacy.


That is proof-texting. The Catechism is not for us to twist according to our political bent. If you actually thinks that is what the Church is saying, then I guess there is little more than can be said, except that criminals are people to, and by your reasoning would carry the same amount of authority to commit crime. Maybe they think it is tax collecting. Such is the problem with anarchists.


If you claimed that you would not be consistent with Catholic teaching. The Catechism defines authority this way:

1897: By “authority” one means the quality by virtue of which persons or institutions make laws and give orders to men and expect obedience from them.

There is much more about authorities in civil societies in sections 2234-2243. In particular, duties of citizens are descried here:

2238: Those subject to authority should regard those in authority as representatives of God, who has made them stewards of his gifts: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution. . . . Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God.”

2240: Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country.

This teaching is not consistent with the idea that each individual is his own private authority. Authorities are clearly normally realized as governments.


This article confuses gun violence and gun control. Gun violence is a moral issue. Gun control is a purely political issue. Most gun violence is drug related, black on black. Yet the article doesn’t mention that at all. Another fact is that criminals seldom get their guns through legal means. So none of the recommendations of the article would do much of anything to prevent gun violence.

  1. Measures that control the sale and use of firearms, such as universal background checks for all gun purchases; - Violent criminals seldom submit to background checks, even though when they are caught doing so, they are rarely prosecuted.

  2. Limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines. - Only works for people who follow the law. If you are willing to break the law, it has no effect. I can build a full-auto assault rifle in my basement. There are even kits for it and CAD/CAM computer programs for it.

  3. A federal law to criminalize gun trafficking; - Already exists

  4. Improved access to mental health care for those who may be prone to violence; - Nice thing to have, but peer-reviewed medical research shows that across the board, people with mental health issues are no more likely to commit violence than anyone else. If you back out the small minority who have violence-prone conditions, like bi-polar disorder, the remainder are less likely to commit violence than the general population. They are more likely to be victims, however. This is a red herring as far as violence is concerned.

  5. Regulations and limitations on the purchasing of handguns; - Again, only works on the law abiding, not the criminals, who get their guns through other than legal means. And again, I can build a working 1911 or Glock in my basement and there are CAD/CAM programs for it. They don’t need to be purchased.

  6. Measures that make guns safer, such as locks that prevent children and anyone other than the owner from using the gun without permission and supervision. - This is a safety issue, not a violence issue. I started handling guns at age 12 and by 16 had unfettered access to guns and ammo. Never had a problem. It’s about teaching kids how to safely handle guns. Why don’t they recommend that?

It is obvious that whoever wrote this either has a political agenda, doesn’t understand guns, or both. I don’t see a need to listen to that level of factual incorrectness from anyone, anymore than Galileo should have listened to the bishops about the Earth being the center of the galaxy.

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