What Federico Lombardi Actually Said

Here’s the editorial:

The initiatives announced by the United States government in view of limiting and controlling the diffusion and use of arms are certainly a step in the right direction. It is estimated that Americans today possess about 300 million firearms. No one can be under the illusion that limiting their number and use would be enough to impede horrendous massacres in the future, such as the one in Newtown, which shook the conscience of Americans and of the world, of children and adults alike. But it would be much worse if we were to satisfy ourselves with only words. And if the massacres are carried out by people with mental illness or distorted by hate, there is no doubt that they are carried out with arms. Forty-seven religious leaders of various confessions and religions have issued a call to American politicians to limit firearms, which “are making society pay an unacceptable price in terms of massacres and senseless deaths”. I’m with them. But while American society is engaged in this debate of dutiful civil and moral growth, we cannot but widen our gaze to recall that arms, throughout the world, are also instruments for legitimate defense, but surely they are everywhere the main instruments used to bring threats, violence and death. Therefore, it is necessary to repeat tirelessly our calls for disarmament, to oppose the production, trade, and smuggling of arms of all types, fuelled by dishonourable interests for power or financial gain. If results are achieved, such as international conventions, the ban of landmines and other deadly arms, the reduction of the immense and disproportionate number of nuclear warheads…all the better! But weapons are and will always be too many. As the Pope said while travelling to Lebanon, we are all distraught by the massacres in Syria, but the weapons continue to arrive. Peace is born from the heart, but it will be easier to achieve if we have fewer weapons in hand.

All this is common sense, of course.  In fact, it simply mirror what the Catechism has to say:

2315 The accumulation of arms strikes many as a paradoxically suitable way of deterring potential adversaries from war. They see it as the most effective means of ensuring peace among nations. This method of deterrence gives rise to strong moral reservations. The arms race does not ensure peace. Far from eliminating the causes of war, it risks aggravating them. Spending enormous sums to produce ever new types of weapons impedes efforts to aid needy populations;111 it thwarts the development of peoples. Over-armamentmultiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of escalation.

2316 The production and the sale of arms affect the common good of nations and of the international community. Hence public authorities have the right and duty to regulate them. The short-term pursuit of private or collective interests cannot legitimate undertakings that promote violence and conflict among nations and compromise the international juridical order.

Lombardi, like any sensible person, recognizes that violence begins in the heart and that confronting it means more than tech fixes.  But he also recognizes that finding ways to keep arms away from monsters and maniacs helps.  Unfortunately, any suggestion of this gets drowned out by hysterics about taking away all arms from law-abiding citizens and leaving them prostrate under the jackboot of Leviathan. To sum up a weekend of such hysterics on FB in response to Lombardi: “Trusting the government to provide for our safety and needs didn’t work out well for native Americans here, or Jews in Germany.”

Yes.  Rome was definitely demanding that all Americans have their guns confiscated and march trustingly into the concentration camps that HITLERSTALINMAOBAMA!!!!! is building.  The state is mother. The state is father.  Trust the State.  That is the clear and obvious point that Lombardi, the bishops and Benedict are making. If Benedict has learned anything from his upbringing in Nazi Germany, it’s that an omnipotent state can always be trusted. And besides, what could be easier or more practical than rounding up and wresting away from Americans the 300 million guns they possess?  Obviously this is an imminent threat and Obama’s mild proposals clearly will lead straight to this and Lombardi intends to do everything he can to make sure that occurs.

In the same way, all parental notification laws and partial birth abortion bans will certainly lead to the establishment of a Handmaid’s Tale theocratic fascist state in which women will be stripped of all rights and forced into polygamous breeding harems for the pleasure of domineering fundamentalist males (or so I am assured by *that* end of the fantasizing political spectrum).  The Church also desires this outcome when it urges us to oppose abortion and choose life.

It’s amazing how much abortion culture and gun culture rhetorical strategies mirror each other.

No. My point is not that each act is morally equivalent. My point is that the rhetoric used by each camp is the same. Each speaks as though the *slightest* attempt to subject the personal liberty of their camp to the common good is to be met with absolutist hysteria. Both, in the end, declare that “my rights” absolutely trump all consideration of the common good and any consideration of the common good has to mean “the total negation of my rights”.

"With apologies to Principal Skinner...https://www.youtube.com/wat..."

Raymond Arroyo: Derision Over Truth
"If I remember correctly, I think General George Patton said "I would rather have a ..."

Raymond Arroyo: Derision Over Truth
"Fr. Murray: "The dialogue is important if it’s a dialogue in which information’s being communicated ..."

Raymond Arroyo: Derision Over Truth

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • deiseach

    I noted with some grim amusement this story in the news.

    If you can be accidentally shot at a gun show, where all the gun enthusiasts are trained in the use of weapons, safety precautions are taken, and everyone is perfectly normal and not a crazed killer or a member of a drugs cartel, then where are you safe?

    • Stu
    • Michael

      “Where are you safe?”

      Nowhere, except perhaps in a cage, cared for and protected from the world. The flip side of that question is, when did we all become cowards, fearing for our safety first and foremost?

    • Sus

      I hope the shooters in these gun accidents are prosecuted. Maybe if people knew they would spend a few years in prison these accidents would be few and far between.

      Stu, your arguments would make sense if they were gun related but they aren’t.

      It’s too bad our founding fathers can’t see what has happened with their sincere thoughts about the second amendment. It’s hard to believe they would support what is happening in this country with people and guns.

      • Stu

        Right, because life is so safe except for the guns present.

        • Rosemarie


          Well, like little 8 year old Hinna says, “I think if there are no guns on the street, no one could get hurt.” And the White House approves of that statement, so it must be true, right?

      • So there are to be no allowances made for accidents? Really?

        Every single one of the three incidents in the linked article are accidents. These accidents *are* few and far between. The largest and most effective accident prevention programs regarding firearms are run by the NRA specifically because the national gun culture has long recognized the problem and has been fighting Hollywood’s irresponsible cultural messages on gun handling, instead teaching people how to handle guns responsibly and safely. One accidental discharge is one too many and people should be vigilant in teaching proper handling to avoid accidental discharges. It is inevitable that it should happen though and the best thing is to use these as an opportunity to yet again teach how to do these things the correct way.

    • Where are we safe?

      In peace we can make many of them ignore good and evil entirely; in danger, the issue is forced upon them in a guise to which even we cannot blind them. There is here a cruel dilemma before us. If we promoted justice and charity among men, we should be playing directly into the Enemy’s hands; but if we guide them to the opposite behavior, this sooner or later produces (for He permits it to produce) a war or a revolution, and the undisguisable issue of cowardice or courage awakes thousands of men from moral stupor.
      (4) This, indeed, is probably one of the Enemy’s motives for creating a dangerous world—a world in which
      moral issues really come to the point. He sees as well as you do that courage is not simply one of the virtues,
      but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or
      honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions.

      The main point is that precautions have a tendency to increase fear. The precautions publicly enjoined on your patient, however, soon become a matter of routine and this effect disappears. What you must do is to keep running in his mind (side by side with the conscious intention of doing his duty) the vague idea of all sorts of things he can do or not do, inside the framework of the duty, which seem to make him a little safer.

      -C.S. Lewis, the Screwtape Letters #29

      Something to think about.

    • Dan C

      You and your family are less under real physical threat now than any black man and his family in the 1960’s. Listen to MLK.

      You and African-Americans who have taken up arms to defend yourselves create a greater threat to the community, and as such decrease the common good.

      No magisterial teaching of the 21st century states violence is neutral. It always a failure.

      • I don’t think the situations are directly comparable. The African-American community was considering offensive action. Whatever type of militias exist today, they seem to be considering defensive action.

      • This is simply, factually, false in terms of violent threat assessment. Stop making stuff up.

  • Mercury

    Mark, I get what you are saying, and I am with you.

    However, Lombardi’s words do seem to indicate that he is for the banning of ALL arms and for the use of international conventions to do so. He does say they can be used in legitimate defense, but then says he opposes the trade of all arms, and that international agreements should strive to this goal.

    I’m not a gun owner, nor do I ever plan to be, but this seems to be extreme. Maybe I am too American.

    • “it is necessary to repeat tirelessly our calls for disarmament, to oppose the production, trade, and smuggling of arms of all types, fuelled by dishonourable interests for power or financial gain.”

      There could be a loophole suggesting he isn’t saying what it appears he’s saying, but he would not be the only one calling for such a complete ban. Actually, it’s quite consistent with what I’ve read and what I’m seeing.

  • HokiePundit

    Lombardi’s statement seems confused. He starts off by talking about small arms, but then goes and conflates them with landmines and nukes. Should landmines be banned? Probably. Do we need all the nukes we have? Probably not. Lombardi doesn’t actually seem to come up with a reason to further restrict small arms, other than there being support for it.

    Mark, is it possible that America’s gun laws are already just right, or even unconstitutionally strict? Is it really true that Something Must Be Done, and For The Children? Look at the rest of the world throughout history. Gun registration has always inevitably led to confiscation attempts, whether we’re talking about Nazi Germany or Canada (which I’d imagine is pretty much the spectrum for most things). What specific legal actions or gun features strike you as beyond the pale? 30-round magazines? Collapsible stocks? Private-party sales? Silencers? Ownership of multiple guns? Semi-automatics? Concealed (or open) carry? Plastic/ceramic guns that can pass metal detectors?

    I’d ask why we suddenly have these mass killings in America only over the past twenty years or so, when automatic weapons were available without background checks or waiting periods or physical trips to the store in the past. The guns haven’t changed; they’ve perhaps even been neutered from a few decades ago. Want to see our future at this rate? Look at Britain. Most guns are pretty thoroughly outlawed over there, yet gun crime still happens and violent crime (strong preying on weak) has dramatically increased. Why? Because 1) there are so many guns out there that it would take centuries to reduce their number, 2) as long as the military and police have guns, some will be stolen or go “missing,” and 3) illiterate peasants have made AK-47s in the mountains of Afghanistan and M-16s in the jungles of East Timor; what do you think someone with the skills to run even a meth lab could do with access to a Home Depot?

    • Stu

      4) Home manufacturing will get even easier with 3D printer technology.

      Time to reconceptualize the challenge.

      • B-Rob

        Ding ding ding! Winner!

        People need to step back and realize we are living in a digital manufacturing society. All these dumb laws won’t mean squat in a literally 5 years. Yet no one on the gun control side wants to even think about this looming reality (hence why no one will respond to your comment).

      • Hezekiah Garrett

        A dremel, stamp plate, taps and dies, a few rat tail files. It adds up to under $200 at Harbor Freight. With a handful of hand tools, I can crank out semi and full auto weapons by the score, for the cost of sheet metal and galvanised pipe. Not elegant, but deadly accurate nevertheless.

        Unless you want to outlaw knowledge, you won’t rid yourselves of technology. if I want a gun, the only way you will stop me is by putting me in a cage. Lucky you, I don’t right now.

    • Mark Shea

      Mark, is it possible that America’s gun laws are already just right

      Only if you think 10,000+ murders a years, punctuated by the absolute certainty of Columbines, Auroras, Virginia Techs and Sandy Hooks is “just right”. I think that’s insane.

      • Stu


        At what number of deaths will you call it “just right?”

        • Mark Shea

          I’m willing to aim for “fewer”. Not really complicated.

          • Michael

            The number has not been trending upwards. It has been moving in the direction you desire with the laws we have.

            • Sus

              Why not strive to make the number even lower?

              • Stu

                No one disputes the goal.

                At issue are the unreasonable “solutions” that are being thrown about that aren’t even remotely focused on that goal by those who don’t understand firearms.

                • What’s to understand? You point. You shoot. A lump of metal comes out at a fantastic speed and rips through anything it meets. If it meets human flesh, it is sure to do dreadful damage, and most often to kill. And the implement serves no other purpose but this. That’s enough to understand. P.S.: I served in the Italian Army and was taught all the usual stuff – dismantle and rebuild your gun, safety procedures, shooting. So please don’t try to pull rank. The only thing you need to know about a gun is that it is made to kill people.

                  • Here are three other uses for guns besides actual killing: intimidation, threat, and bluff. Do I need to explain them in detail?

                    There is a criminal skill in evaluating someone walking down the street, whether they make a good victim or not. CCW license holders who are armed overwhelmingly are read as not good targets by the discerning criminal and are simply not selected as victims by those with eyes to discern. Do you object to this use of firearms?

                    • Kristen inDallas

                      Is that because the would-be criminals are inspecting every potential victim’s gun licence, or because gun owners tend to be threatening -looking types who probably wouldn’t get picked as often on with or without a gun?
                      If a petite, demure, 20-something girl walking alone at night happens to be a registered gun owner, does that make her suddenly less likely to be a target of violence? These perceptive criminal masterminds knew just by looking at her, she was packing heat. Or perhaps they’re making judgements based on likelihood of having a weapon, or percieved threat, rather than, you know, actual gun ownership…
                      Given that most threats, and acts of intimidation are made by people in positions of power against those they consider of weaker stock (with or without a weapon), your non-killing reasons for gun advocacy are falling on deaf ears.
                      I am suseptible to the rifles=hunting=food argument, however.

                    • c matt

                      Precisely why I am for OPEN carry.

                    • c matt

                      Don’t leave those criminals guessing!

                    • Kristen inDallas – I would suggest that you speak to local law enforcement about the phenomenon. It’s a read of body language, mostly. Posture, gait, eye behavior, path choices, these are all elements that go into it and carrying a gun tends to subtly change it enough for a certain type of criminal to simply avoid that person. They don’t necessarily know why. They just know that you aren’t a good victim for some reason.

          • Stu

            Define “fewer?”

            How do you measure the effectiveness of a proposed law.

            If we save one life, is that worth taking action?

      • Mike in KC, MO

        I know I’m going to be instantly attacked and probably accused of hating children or something for suggesting this, but has anyone perhaps thought that the proper way to address the terrible violence in our country, which according to the FBI uniform crime statistics, is NOT evenly distributed and is in fact VERY concentrated in certain areas of major metropolitan centers, is maybe addressing the cultural and social problems (and yes, in some cases, economic) that actually, you know, foster it, instead of trying to push more laws that are proven to do nothing and are already being broken by those who commit the violence?

        This might be a better idea instead of pushing gun laws that have been shown to have zero net effect on violent crime and wouldn’t have prevented any of the massacres up until now.

        This will sound like heresy to others who are pro-gun but yes, there are some steps we can take with the law with regard to firearms. But I would also point out that I seriously doubt that people who are pushing these current laws actually care much about violence or the death. Why? None of the laws they push would have prevented anything. Also, they don’t want to take any action on the social and cultural ills that foster this violence. So, no, they aren’t serious at all.

        But then again, we aren’t serious about REALLY preventing terrorism, fixing out drug problem or any other problem we have nationally, so I guess why should we bother to start being serious now?

        • Jon W

          Why did everyone ignore this comment? Can anyone tell me why it is not right on?

        • I have been consistently saying that the laws should be changed and the framework is to examine what we have (the unorganized militia), evaluate how well the current system is working and the cost thereof, and changing the law to make the benefits more and the costs less. The NRA and every pro-gun person I’ve ever met is perfectly fine with this sort of reform, so long as it’s not window dressing on the road to confiscation.

          Last I checked, Mark Shea keeps spinning the fable that the pro-gun lobby is stuck on the status quo. It is a falsehood.

      • The Deuce

        Only if you think 10,000+ murders a years, punctuated by the absolute certainty of Columbines, Auroras, Virginia Techs and Sandy Hooks is “just right”. I think that’s insane.

        But what if all government attempts at gun control have the effect of *increasing* the number of murders per year, which given precedent is exactly what I believe to be the case. Would you still be for it, or would you agree that our current laws are correct?

        • Ding-ding-ding. We have a winner. Thanks, The Deuce. Has anybody actually read the Harvard study?

          • Because probably nobody will bother to read the Harvard study, here is a very concise summation:

            Contrary to conventional wisdom, and the sniffs of our more sophisticated and generally anti-gun counterparts across the pond, the answer is “no.” And not just no, as in there is no correlation between gun ownership and violent crime, but an emphatic no, showing a negative correlation: as gun ownership increases, murder and suicide decreases.

            The findings of two criminologists – Prof. Don Kates and Prof. Gary Mauser – in their exhaustive study of American and European gun laws and violence rates, are telling:

            Nations with stringent anti-gun laws generally have substantially higher murder rates than those that do not. The study found that the nine European nations with the lowest rates of gun ownership (5,000 or fewer guns per 100,000 population) have a combined murder rate three times higher than that of the nine nations with the highest rates of gun ownership (at least 15,000 guns per 100,000 population).

            • The Deuce

              The correlation is even more obvious in the US, where the places with the highest murder rates are the ones with the strictest gun control. Perhaps most telling, in the four years since Washington DC’s gun bun was struck down, the murder rate there has been more than cut in half! The result is so dramatic and sudden that you can’t reasonably attribute it to something else.

              Think about it. The evidence strongly suggests that there are hundreds of people who are alive today who would have been murdered in Washington DC if the gun ban were still in effect. To those who advocate gun bans like DC’s in spite of this evidence, my question is this: If you think DC’s gun ban should have stayed in place, then which of those people should be dead now?

      • (a lot of the following cribbed from Briggs)

        Only if you think 10,000+ murders a years, punctuated by the absolute certainty of Columbines, Auroras, Virginia Techs and Sandy Hooks is “just right”. I think that’s insane.

        1) That’s still fewer than it was in previous years (even the Columbines, Auroras, etc etc are decreasing). So… what’s your complaint? It’s not decreasing fast enough? Well it doesn’t always rain when we ask it to either.
        2) Of the 10k+ murders, not all of them were by guns. 50% are with handguns. The rest are “other guns” (rifles, assault weapons, etc), knives, blunt objects, poisons, fires, etc. The catch though is that there must always be a #1 killer (at least until nobody dies at all). Just because you get rid of every firearm doesn’t mean you drop murder by 50%. You could just as easily increase knife killings enough to make up the difference. (oh wait, that’s what’s been happening in places like Britain)

        Removing instruments won’t make that much of a difference if we don’t remove the murderous intent from people’s hearts.

        • Mark Shea

          Let’s get rid of all criminal law and provide each citizen with a nuclear weapon. There’s no point in trying to limit anybody’s access to the technology of mass slaughter since a) evil comes from the heart; b) any attempt to limit such access is a total waste of time unless it is 100% effective; and c) all efforts to keep monsters and maniacs from the technology of mass slaughter are utopian and have as their real object the utter enslavement of the entire population.

          That is the argument–the insane argument–the gun lobby keeps making over and over. It’s an argument for elimination of all law enforcement. Nuts.

          • Stu

            I haven’t heard anyone making such an argument.

            I’ve heard reasonable people asking for focused measures aimed at preventing further massacres.

          • Mike in KC, MO

            Mark, while there are few others who can set up a strawman and knock him down in such a spectacular fashion, I think the main issue is Mr. Grim didn’t seem to correctly state the problem.

            “1) That’s still fewer than it was in previous years (even the Columbines, Auroras, etc etc are decreasing). So… what’s your complaint? It’s not decreasing fast enough? Well it doesn’t always rain when we ask it to either.”
            – This is a very poorly stated argument, but I think I understand the underlying idea. What he said is factually correct according to the FBI uniform crime statistics. Now, is some murder ok? NO! It’s NOT! I don’t believe he’s saying that, and I think you know that.

            What a person using his reason and not simply emoting might say is something like the following: “Over the last 20-25+ years, violent crime of all types has been drastically decreasing. Also over that time, gun laws have been increasingly liberalized (concealed carry offered by almost all states now, ‘assault weapon’ ban expired, etc. Now, unlike what some people try to say, no, more guns doesn’t somehow magically equal less crime. What we MIGHT think about doing, though, is looking at the DRASTIC fall in violence over that period and ask ourselves “what exactly is the cause(s) of this decrease? What cultural/social/economic factors were involved? When we identify it (them), what can we do to do MORE of it, seeing as how that seems to be actually having the effect we want (a reduction in violence)?

          • Mark, the difference between arms and munitions is for the *advanced* discussion of the 2nd amendment. You still haven’t gotten past the basics yet. Once again, actual pro-gun people are quite ok with keeping guns away from the deranged and criminal so long as the methods used to do it are as reasonably light as current technology permits for the sane, law abiding people who would like their gun purchase completed now.

            The pro-munitions camp on the 2nd amendment is tiny and inconsequential. Stop straining at gnats.

          • c matt

            b) any attempt to limit such access is a total waste of time unless it is 100% effective;

            That isn’t what they are saying. They are saying (backed up by that bastion of gun totin’ conservatism “Hahvahd”) that stricter gun laws actually INCREASE the number of murders. It is somewhat counter intutive – much like the argument that contraceptive use actually increases the abortion rate. But the facts are the facts, which you have not addressed.

            • Mark Shea

              That is exactly what a lot of them are saying–constantly. Every. single. proposal for the *slightest* change to the status quo is met with defeatism, counsels of despair, and denial. That’s what every stupid meme declaring that “if Adam Lanza hadn’t had guns, he would have used knives like that guy in China” is getting at–without acknowledging that the kids in China are alive and the ones in Sandy Hook are dead. It’s what the gun lobby says every time some measure is proposed: “Oh *that* will *end* gun violence in America.” One of the favorite rhetorical tricks is to say that anything less than immediate 100% effectiveness is “trying to legislate morality” and a utopian refusal to face the fact that “evil is found in the heart, not in guns.”

              And, yet again and for the umpteenth time, I’m not talking about “stricter gun laws”. I’m talking about making tech that can’t be used by the wrong people. And being met by instant defeatism, counsels of despair, and non sequiturs about confiscation.

      • HokiePundit

        And what makes you think that fewer guns will result in fewer deaths? Maybe that’s so, but maybe these people would simply resort to bombs or other means. Look at what happened in Newtown: an apparently able-bodied young man killed several women and many children. Are you convinced that he would not have been able to do the same thing with a knife or an ax?

        How many innocent lives are lost each year due to gun violence? How many lives are saved by the weak being able to resist the strong? We don’t have reliable numbers for either question: number for the former always seem to include gang violence and for the latter don’t include times where an attacker is scared away by a brandished gun.

        I understand that a causal relationship between more guns and more gun deaths seems true, but we don’t actually have hard evidence that this is true. It may or may not be so. And, if it is so, what is the appropriate balance? Are there other things we should do to result in fewer deaths, such as outlawing mixed drinks so there are fewer DUIs, spoons so heroin is harder to overdose on, swimming pools and buckets so kids don’t drown, gatherings of more than a certain size so gangs can’t organize, and reducing the speed limit to fifteen miles per hour? Each of these things would reduce deaths, and most of them actually have data to back up that assertion.

        Swimming pools and Mai Tais are not a right. Access to an effective means of self-defense is. If that right is to be abridged, then it’s going to take more than nebulous assertions that the proposed remedy will be effective, because history has shown that it will not be.

  • Mike in KC, MO

    “But he also recognizes that finding ways to keep arms away from monsters and maniacs helps.”
    – And see, this is what makes me think that Fr. Lombardi either doesn’t know what exactly Obama passed or doesn’t understand the current American situation.

    I say this simply because, after reviewing what Obama signed, and what he’s pushing, NONE of it would have prevented any of the previous massacres. If that’s really what we’re trying to prevent, then what the heck was this recent rush of laws even about?

    • Stu

      Doing something.

      It’s like a magician moving one hand so you don’t see what he is doing with the other hand.

      I would love to see true leadershp and political courage by the administration to actually bring gun owners on board to address the challenges. But such a reasonable approach will never happen because they make better political enemies for the ruling class. Then there is the who ideological chasm as well.

  • IB Bill

    In Australia and Great Britain, laws were passed that amounted to confiscation. The Australian buy-back program required Australians to surrender their rifles and register their pistols, i.e., not exactly a “willing seller” model.

    So yes, the end point of the gun-control movement is to take our rifles and pistols away from us, and approve and control what we may have and the circumstance under which we may have it, and it’s disingenuous to say otherwise. Pistols, semi-automatic handguns, and repeating shotguns — gun-control proponents want them out of our hands.

  • Adam L

    A few thoughts:

    1) Rushing to pass of legislation of any kind out of a sense that “we have to do SOMETHING” either in the wake of a tragedy or during a real or perceived crisis is a recipe for bad law and/or a power grab by the state.

    2) There is the important distinction that abortion is an inherently evil act, whereas owning a firearm is not, whatever the rhetoric employed by the interested parties.

    3) Whatever we may think about the pros or cons of gun legislation, there is a legitimate concern for *how* we arrive there. Even if we think a particular policy would be a good thing, do we really want these implemented by means of executive fiat, as opposed to going through the normal legislative process?

    4) Doesn’t it all amount to a kind of “pre-crime” mentality? We are trying to ban/restrict something which has legitimate uses, and which the overwhelming majority of people do not commit a crime with, on the premise that they *may* commit a crime in the future with it, and therefore we need to intervene before hand to prevent this.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    What many Americans think the Second Amendment says:
    A completely unregulated armed populace, being necessary to be ready to overthrow a tyrannical government, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    Now, read what the Second Amendment actually says:
    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    “Well regulated” being the key phrase. Once again, the Church speaks sense on this issue.

    • Stu


      What did “well regulated” mean in that era?

      • Michael

        It meant well trained and effective. Obviously, to be such a population would need arms with which to train.

    • The Deuce

      Yeah, but note that they’re talking about the militia rather than the guns themselves. In the context of what they’re talking about, “well-regulated” means “effective,” as in a “well-oiled machine.” What they mean is that the militia (and by “militia” they meant basically all men of fighting age who might be need to defend their land if necessary) must be well-armed to operate effectively should the need arrive.

      • Stu

        Like a “well regulated clock.”

        It tells time without government intervention.

    • IB Bill

      You want everyone with a gun to join a militia 🙂

      • Stu

        Title 1o of the United States actually puts all able-bodied men between the ages of 18-45, who are not in the military, in the unorganized militia.

    • Michael

      “A completely unregulated armed populace, being necessary to be ready to overthrow a tyrannical government, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

      Nice strawman. Only someone who has never purchased or carried a firearm could think that the armed populace is completely unregulated. We are subject to a multitude of regulations in what we are allowed to purchase, who is allowed to purchase, who is allowed to carry, and where. These regulations affect law abiding citizens, most of whom are probably not particularly excited about the prospect of fighting the government.

    • Adam L

      Here is a pertinent piece by Sanford Levinson:


    • The largest and most effective practical program for ensuring that the unorganized militia is well regulated is run by the NRA. Did you know this? Do you have a problem with the NRA’s gun safety and training programs? Do you have improvements you’d like to submit? I’m all for better regulation, but in the originalist sense of the word.

  • Jessica

    I agree with Mark that the rhetoric is very similar and very ridiculous. Most gun owners I talk to agree that gun laws are needed. But I am not convinced that the left’s idea of “regluation” is the answer; I think they let their emotions decide that it’s okay to infringe on the rights of those who disagree with them. I think the right does this as well, but on different issues. And everyone presents facts and studies that show opposite results. How do we know the present laws are not doing what they were intended to do?

  • KM

    Here’s something I didn’t know about Martin Luther King:

    “…his work against US violence and militarism…was central – indispensable – to his worldview and activism, yet it has been almost completely erased from how he is remembered.”

    Why do I bring this up on MLK Day? It is related to both Obama’s war policies *and* to gun violence in America:

    1. “Obama’s policies are a manifestation of exactly the militaristic mindset which King so eloquently denounced. ”

    2. “Endless war wasn’t just destructive in its own right, but is something that ensures that America’s “soul becomes totally poisoned”, fosters “spiritual death”, perpetuates the “malady within the American spirit”… In sum, to pursue endless war is “to worship the god of hate” and “bow before the altar of retaliation”.”

    Glenn Greenwald paraphrases MLK thus:

    “…a citizenry whose “soul becomes totally poisoned” by endless war is incapable of considering nonviolence as an alternative. It loses its capacity for empathy (to understand what motivates others’ actions), for self-assessment (to acknowledge the role one’s own actions play in perpetuating this violence), for rationality (to consider whether those being killed are actually implacable foes), and for communion (to see “the enemy” as anything more than dehumanized Others who must be extinguished). Thus do we hear – in the face of endless reports of dead children and innocent adults from US violence – this morally stunted defense: I can’t think of an alternative other than boots on the ground. That’s the mantra of a degraded citizenry trained to recite from a script of endless war.”

    The article I’m linking to below is written by Glenn Greenwald at a lefty website. Even so it provides valuable insight and relates to what Fr. Lombardi was referring to in his editorial.

    Glenn Greenwald: MLK’s Vehement Condemnation of American Militarism
    His vital April 4, 1967 speech is a direct repudiation of the sophistry now used to defend US violence and aggression
    January 21, 2013

    • “joe”

      “at a lefty website. Even so …”

      *bangs head on wall*

      • KM

        What *should* I have said?

        I called it “lefty” so as to prevent someone with rightward leanings from saying, “Well I’m not going to bother with that site because it’s obvious it’s biased.” I was trying (and obviously I failed) to say, “take a look at this; it has something worthwhile.”

    • c matt

      The same MLK who applied for a concealed weapon permit, and was unfairly denied because of race?

  • KM

    “As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action.”

    From MLK’s speech:
    Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence
    By Rev. Martin Luther King
    4 April 1967

    • That’s great, but self-defense is not really covered by that statement.

      • KM

        The Catechism of the Catholic Church mentions legitimate self-defense, but also mentions non-lethal self-defense along with the common good.

        #2267: If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.


        • Stu


          I am a gun owner. I also carry concealed on a regular basis. Speaking for myself, though I believe I am the norm, I would always look for a means of escape for me and my family if confronted with a deadly threat.

          That being said, if I am forced to pull my weapon in such a situation then it means I intend to use it to it fullest effect.

          Again, I would be willing to bet that most gun owners, that aren’t criminals, have this outlook.

          • Sus

            Stu, have you ever been out and about and ended up in a threatening position that required a concealed gun for protection from a person(s)?

            I’m curious because I’ve never been in a situation where I needed a gun for protecting myself or anyone else. Thank God for that.

            • Stu

              Been knowingly shot at two places in my life. Afghanistan and Memphis, TN.

              I now live in the Norfolk, VA area. My family in I moved into a house to be near a specific parish. That puts me right on a border with a very sketchy part of town.

              • Sus

                Sorry. I forgot the military experience. I did mean here in the US.

                • Stu

                  I realized that. I offered both places because of the contrast in locations. I should also add that I own property “out in the sticks” right next to a well-known Benedictine Monastery in the midwest. I have friends living in the house now who were shocked one afternoon to find an escaped and dangerous convict knocking at the door. Law enforcement isn’t always readily available out there and the local sheriff recommends having a firearm fro protection. Thankfully, my friends were armed. The convict later found his demise at the hands of another law-abiding citizen (older woman who lived alone) who was similarly armed.

                  • Sus

                    Stu, if all gun owners had the training and experience you have had, there wouldn’t be nearly the gun violence there is currently.

  • Dan C

    1) There are very very few saints and martyrs for whom the use of deadly force is held out as the way to holiness. We have Maximilian Kolbe, Servant of God Dorothy Day, and Franz Jaggerstatter as models presented by God for our time. Kolbe, Jaggerstatter and even Day achieved a victory over violence and evil which threatened them more than the NRA ever offered. Such is God’s teaching.

    2) MLK rejected violence at a time others thought it a reasonable solution for the black man in America. Men more under attack from real oppression than the fakers like Bob Struble of Catholic Lane or those who provide intellectual cover with lines like “I understand when people are so fearful….” In my lifetime, the US government really attacked huge portions of its populace based on race, oppressed them ridiculously and systematically assured them of routine violence upon their families. MLK wisely rejected violence and armed response. Had African-Americans, and other Americans paid more attention there would be less trouble.

    3. Reading the Mainstream Catholic right blogs that seem somewhat playful with violent secession and the passionate embrace of gun ownership by other members of the Catholic right is not at all reassuring. The Catholic right is toying with unjust violence and is given intellectual safe harbor and a moral “pass” by the entire Catholic right. The present and evolving spectrum of violent threats on the Catholic right are measured as follows: “I can understand where folks can think such things..” then evolving to “The days will come when we will be under attack…” to “we must prepare to defend ourselves when they come to kill us..” to “we must get ready to defend out way of life…” to finally “we must begin the battle to shake off the oppressors.” Bob Struble of Catholic Lane is toying with the final stage of declaration I noted.

    I once found intellectual challenges and faithful with good intentions on the right wing of Catholicism. The violent paranoid fantasies are causing me to separate from any discussions. You are heading down a path, and dragging the name of Christ into the sewers with these violent, fatalistic fantasies.

    Such creation of a climate of war and violence is immoral and hateful. Lay down your weapons. They are an occasion of sin. Listen to MLK on his day.

    • Stu

      So, is everyone who disagrees with you on this issue simply part of the “Catholic Right?”

      Your pitting of Saints who willingly gave up their lives against people who would legitimately defend themselves or their family against an injustice is “off.”

      It’s one thing for me to adopt a pacifist nature when my life is threatened, but another thing for me to simply refuse to act if my children were threatened and I had the means to defend. In fact, not actin would be an injustice. Violence, in of itself, is morally neutral.

      • Dan C

        You and your family are less under real physical threat now than any black man and his family in the 1960′s. Listen to MLK.

        You and African-Americans who have taken up arms to defend yourselves create a greater threat to the community, and as such decrease the common good.

        No magisterial teaching of the 21st century states violence is neutral. It always a failure.

        • Stu

          Well, if we are in such a low threat situation, why all the call for new laws?

          “Magisterial teaching of the 21st century?” Is that when the Church started for you?

          Violence can be a legitimate response in the face of injustice. Check your Catechism.

          • KM

            Yes there is legitimate self-defense that requires a lethal blow, but only as a last resort. The self-defense part of the catechism needs to be read in its context.

            Catechism of the Catholic Church:
            #2267: If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

            I don’t think anyone here in the gun debate is arguing against the second amendment or having guns as a self-defense. We’re arguing, like MLK did, that violence is a bigger part of our society and needs to be addressed, but not with more violence. That is also the Catholic belief.

            • Stu

              It’s a both/and approach. Not everyone will respond to non-violent approaches. That’s why we have a back-up plan.

            • Hezekiah Garrett

              2267 has nothing whatsoever to do with self-defense. It is a discussion on capital punishment. That is an extraordinarily ignorant claim on your part, made more than once.

              I guess it could be dishonest, rather than ignorant, but I am looking for the most charitable interpretation.

              • KM

                That whole section 2263-2267 includes personal defense and capital punishment. I’m reading the entire section in context, and I cited it in support of Fr. Lombardi’s statement. Fr. Lombardi’s statement is the best clarification.

                “But while American society is engaged in this debate of dutiful civil and moral growth, we cannot but widen our gaze to recall that arms, throughout the world, are also instruments for legitimate defense, but surely they are everywhere the main instruments used to bring threats, violence and death.”

                If we must defend ourselves, we should first consider using non-lethal force.

                • KM

                  The prior passages to 2267 discuss legitimate self-defense, love toward oneself, lethal blows, and moderation. When I read the entire section, along with what Mark cited in his post, I understand that there is legitimate defense for people and a nation; however if authority must be careful with that power in the case of capital punishment, it follows that individuals must take great care with that power as well.

                  “Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow. ”

                  That word “forced” implies that there is no other choice but to take another’s life because one’s life or that of loved ones is under immediate threat. Also noted further is a distinction between moderation and “more than necessary violence.” There is a distinction between maiming/injuring an aggressor versus killing the aggressor, i.e. moderation versus more than necessary violence which depends on the threat/ circumstances.

                  2264 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:

                  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.66

                  2265 Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.

        • Seriously? Always? So the myriad cases every year where home invasions are thwarted by armed defense of the homeowners, and thus the residents of the home are spared death, rape, or who knows what brutality are “failures”

    • KM

      I understand what Dan is stating here. The Catechism of the Catholic Church does mention legitimate self-defense but only as the last possible avenue. Like Dan, I am increasingly turned off from discussions on the Right which have devolved into dark, fearful paranoid violent fantasies of impending doom. Such dark visions don’t help people come together and discuss solutions.

      • Stu

        “The Right?”

        Who is this vast group? Anyone here?

        Using this as baseline for discussions here won’t allow any real discussion.

        • KM

          “The Right” for me means social / traditionalist conservatives (including protestants and some Catholics) and libertarians. I’ve been to many websites that come from those angles, and generally speaking the discourse has descended into fear and darkness. Mark’s site has been a welcome retreat for some interesting discussion.

          • Stu

            So are you the “left?”

            • KM

              The unnamed/unaffiliated middle. I don’t identify with the left either. To me the left is the current Democratic Party with its pro-abortion stance. I humbly try to follow Catholic teaching as much as possible.

              There are some on “the Right” who were opposed to Bush’s wars and now Obama’s wars, and there are those on “the Left” who are opposed to Obama’s drone killings. So it’s not such an easy division to categorize. I’m with Mark on this: I refuse to pick a team and then hate “the Other” team. It only ends up stifling debate and solutions.

              On the gun issue, the division is not so easy to categorize. There are liberal and conservative gun-owners who have reasonable things to say in this debate.

              • Stu

                I don’t affiliate with either party myself and I think the current calls for action by the Federal Government to further regulate firearms is unfocused, unproductive and a terrible precedent that further us down the road of the Patriot Act, unreasonable searches, enhanced interrogation and other similar initiatives aimed at makings us “safe” in the arms of holy mother the State. As someone who doesn’t subscribe to the belief of “American Exceptionalism,” I also believe that having an armed populace is a good hedge against possible domestic tyranny. If it can happen anywhere, it can happen here.

                Funny how you can’t always categorize people.

                • KM

                  I don’t think that the 23 executive orders Obama signed will lead us down a slippery slope of tyranny. Many of the EO’s clarified and strengthened current law. A few directed the CDC to study gun violence and also violence in the video games/entertainment industries so we have a better understanding of the issue. Another asked for PSA’s to educate the public about gun safety. Another addressed mental health access.

                  Obama’s legislative recommendations need to go through Congress which is the correct democratic procedure. Those laws may or may not pass, but they at least need to be considered, debated, and voted upon. I think all these actions are a step in the right direction, as Fr. Lombardi said.

                  The Patriot Act is a whole other matter that both left/right have rightfully criticized.

                  • Stu

                    I wasn’t speaking only of the EOs. All in all, I found most of them to be window-dressing aimed at keeping up appearances and not even remotely related to what happened at Sandy Hook. I do think the calls for doctors to report on their patients to the Feds to be a bit concerning. Understand the intent, don’t like where it can lead.

                    Legislative calls to ban additional weapons and register arms are what I take issue with. I also think requiring the government to get involved with private transactions regarding firearms of law-abiding citizens to be ill-conceived. Al together, it does set a base for a follow-on government to exploit most likely in the name of “safety. ” It’s the Patriot Act template.

                    With 300 million firearms in this country and a growing ability to simply manufacture weapons (even automatic ones), it’s time to reconceptualize the challenge. Falling back on the same old approaches won’t work. They will only make life more difficult for the citizens who already choose to follow the law. But they will be great revenue source for the government with all of the background checks, registration fees, etc.

                    • KM

                      My husband is a doctor and was worried about the EO regarding the doctors after he heard Hannity or someone hyperventilating about it. “Doctors are going to be deputized!” Asking doctors to report dangerous patients is not mandatory, and it is also commonsense.

                      The doctor EO is just a clarification to say “current law doesn’t prevent a doctor from mentioning a possible threat.” That EO came about because a Breitbart writer was incorrectly saying that the ACA stated doctors could not ask a patient about firearms etc. If you think about it from a legal standpoint, it makes sense for a doctor to inform law enforcement of a dangerous patient so as not to get sued. I wouldn’t want my husband (and therefore my family) to get sued if he failed to inform law enforcement of a psychotic patient who seems homicidal.

                      The 300 million firearms are also a great revenue for the gun and ammo makers who are profiting from this. So I’m not so upset about the government making revenue off of background checks and registration fees because the revenue is not meant for profit, but for safety.

                    • Stu

                      I didn’t mention all of the things that Hannity apparently did. In fact, you seemingly listen to him much more than I ever do. I realize what the EO clarified, I simply don’t necessarily like the trend of the Fed encouraging it. Yes, I tend to distrust the ruling class.

                      As to the government making money off of regulation. When the money flows, the issue of safety takes a back seat. Revenue rules the day and we would be foolish if we didn’t think that people put forth “safety measures” just for that reason. At any rate, the Feds have no business in that realm. They have enough problems that they mismanage and can’t solve as it is.

      • Dan C

        It is more than the fantasies. It is the open discussion of secession. With parrenthetical notations that it will be “hopefully peaceful.”

        • Mark Shea

          Yep. Hannity was fomenting this the other day. Insane. Aside from its (usual, when convenient) opposition to abortion and (usual, when convenient) opposition to euthanasia, the right has decayed almost beyond recognition to me. The spectacle of uber-patriots like Hannity loving America so much they are contemplating seceding and making war on it is madness squared.

          • I think it’s more a symptom of how insane our government has become. And if the government did not allow a hypothetical state who wished to secede to do so and instead marched on that state or sent drones to put them in their place, whose fault would that be?

            Personally, I think Roe vs. Wade alone is sufficient reason to secede, not that anyone will actually do it. It’s certainly a better reason than the Americans had to revolt against the Brits.

          • Stu

            Hannity and these people post here? How vast is this movement? Millions? Or is it possible that the media again likes to whip things up?

            On the flip side, we have a President who has built upon what his predecessor gave him and taken government mandates to a whole new level. Is it any wonder that the more extreme elements in this country are already vocal about it?

            But again, do those elements post here or is there some other reason that anyone who believes that the government passing more laws about gun ownership gets lumped into that group? Is it a case that if you aren’t for us, you are against us?

            BTW, the best defense against Hannity to listen to something else. I would recommend podcasting Catholic Answers in your car if like me you don’t have Catholic radio in your area.

            • KM

              A month or so ago Elizabeth Scalia mentioned at her blog how normal everyday people at her salon were talking fearfully about preparing for some big apocalyptic event. I’ve seen this same type of mentality at various blogs I used to frequent. Talk of secession, the end of America, and fear have dominated a lot of the discussion.

              On the more extreme side some are even linking to Alex Jones, Glenn Beck and other more obscure sites that have dark conspiracy theories. The discourse has become uglier on a wider scale. I’ve stopped going to some of my favorite blogs because of that.

              The worst case I’ve seen so far is the growing belief that the Sandy Hook massacre was a conspiracy by the government to bring about gun control. That vile youtube conspiracy video has millions of views and has led to the harassment of the kind old man who sheltered some of the children at his home on Dec. 14.

              • Stu

                Why do you think that is?

                What has happened that makes people believe such things?

                Why would a Cardinal in the Church state that he can envision Catholics being arrested in the United States for simply preaching their faith?

                • KM

                  I know why it’s there — fear, and fear of Obama/government. Or fear of the next Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Katrina. I refuse to live in that fear. Perhaps it could happen, but then again it may not. I’m not going to allow the fear of the unknown dictate my life. I prefer to live in God’s grace which eliminates fear and provides peace, come what may. By our faith in God we can move mountains.

                  Again, I understand that fear. Some of my friends have it. I tell them, live your life trusting in God and loving your family and neighbor as much as possible.

                  I lived in Iowa during the great floods of 1993. My city and home lost water for 2 weeks and power occasionally over that time. There was no violence (that I’m aware of) and very little looting. Neighbor helped neighbor, and we made it through. Yes that was 1993 but I still cannot believe it’ll all fall apart into some Mad Max scenario. There are good people among us.

                  • Stu

                    Yes, fear by the actions of a Federal government that increasingly hostile to a segment of the population. I understand it too. Like you, I don’t let such things consume me but I do prepare for such things just in case. Trust in God doesn’t mitigate me using prudence to be prepared.

                    I would submit it is also fear that moves people to want to take action against firearms.

        • Adam L

          I’m sorry, but what exactly is insane about a healthy discussion about state nullification and secession? As I recall, this country was founded after seceding from the British Empire. Did secession as a valid option expire after the eighteenth century? And if you want an example of peaceful secession, then I would point to the breakup of the Soviet Union. What right does the federal government have to hold states in the Union against their will by use of deadly force if the people of the state choose to leave either through their state legislature, or through a referendum? The Constitution is a compact between the states, and there is nothing in it that prohibits the states from leaving the Union. The Union is not sacred, and it is nonsensical to assume that it must be preserved at all costs, even if the people of the states don’t want to remain in the Union. It is appropriate to debate the merits of a particular state choosing to seceded for particular reasons, but there is no reason to characterize the idea of secession as such as somehow insane.

          • Mark Shea

            Yes. It is insane. And dangerous. And when some kook acts on it, it’s going to get innocent people killed. The spectacle of uber-patriots loving America so much that they want to secede from it and make war on it–a strategy that was tried with the bloodiest results in our history–only persuades me that such people are nuts. That somebody as influential as Sean Hannity is mainstreaming this nuttery without losing his job tells me that insanity is working its way out of the fever swamps and starting to invade the upper eschelons of the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism. I want nothing to do with such toxic madness.

            • Presumably, Adam L (and I’m guessing, Hannity, though I have literally not heard a word he said in years) is talking about a situation where a state would take a vote and then decide to secede, not a group of folks getting together on their own and going Rambo. If the Soviet Union could let some of its important states and satellites leave peacefully, and we don’t think the U.S.A. would allow it to happen peacefully, what does that say about our country?

              • Mark Shea

                No state is going to do that. But when Hannity foments this sort of thing, he runs the risk of encouraging nutjobs to try to hurry history along.

          • Sus

            It goes beyond insane. What will happen to the people in the state voting that voted no, they want to stay with America? Will we set up refuge camps on the border states? Tent cities on the border states for all the women and children to get away from drone bombings?

            There’s a faction of people lusting to have a war on America’s land. I don’t think they understand how war works. There are some people that are pissed off that they haven’t had a chance to use their weapons. They have been told over and over, we need these guns to protect ourselves from the government. As these people get older, they are getting impatient.

            Hannity – I don’t have anything Christian to say.

            • I don’t think it’s going to happen, though with more raw power grabs from Washington, anything is possible, but if a state did vote to secede, I’d think that anyone who wanted to leave could leave and anyone who wanted to come could come. I’m pretty sure that this state wouldn’t want war. If war came, it would be because of an unjust attack by the USA…you know, the same kind of unjust attacks that the USA has become expert at.

              • Kenneth

                If a state did vote to secede, there would be war because that act of secession is illegal and therefore treasonous and an act of war in itself. The state seceding would have no more legitimacy in asserting its “independence” with force than would any armed foreign force which tried to lay claim to U.S. territory. The inevitable military response from the United States military would be the sole responsibility of those who provoked it, and it would be richly deserved.

                • Stu


                  Again, do you have any limits? Or could the ruling class impose any manner of edict on you and you would willingly take because for you to fight back out of a sense of justice would only warrant military action against you which would be richly deserved?

                  • Mark Shea

                    You seem to be indulging some fantasy about an imminent police state, much like pro-aborts indulging fantasies about the imminent Handmaid’s Tale Theocracy. Perhaps some attention to “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” and “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” would be wiser that revving up for The Revolution.

                    • Stu

                      No, Mark. I just prepare for things because you never know what can happen.

                      I preflighted my survival gear in the military prior to every flight in the UNLIKELY event that I would need it.

                      That’s just prudence.

                      Your comment reminds me of my experience with Saudi pilots. As a “stash” Ensign at Water Survival in Pensacola, I was tasked with teaching them to swim. They didn’t take it seriously and mostly goofed off. When I asked them about being prepared, they told me that they would never fly over water because the US Navy had the Persian Gulf covered and if their plane went down and if their g-suit didn’t keep them afloat and if their SV-2 didn’t inflate, then clearly Allah wanted them dead. I guess that is one way to presume.

                      I preferred a more balanced approach of trusting in His plan but being prepared in case it becomes apparent that I am to be a tool in responding.

                    • Stu

                      BTW, I do appreciate the slight on my character that I am fantasy revolutionary.


                  • Kenneth

                    I’m not making this stuff up. It’s established in our nation’s law and history, in no uncertain terms. I’m only editorializing to the extent I say secession by force of arms (there is no other kind), is deserving of the response they get. It boils down to this: Either an action has legitimacy or it does not. Armed secession does not have any more legitimacy than I would if I opened fire on police serving a warrant on me. There is nothing noble about either act. In some ways, the secessionist is more morally debased. If I turned criminal and violent, I would only endanger myself, my family, and the officers and immediate bystanders involved. The secessionist endangers millions and dishonors the blood shed by every veteran who fought to hold this country together for as long as it has.

                • Dave

                  “If a state did vote to secede, there would be war because that act of secession is illegal and therefore treasonous and an act of war in itself.”

                  Exactly the position you’d expect a tyrannical state to take.

                  “The state seceding would have no more legitimacy in asserting its “independence” with force than would any armed foreign force which tried to lay claim to U.S. territory. ”

                  So much for the idea of democracy….annnnnnnd we’ve established that the Soviet Union is more just in dealing with its member states than the United States. Good to know. And people are worried about the paranoid fantasies on the right?

                  • Mark Shea

                    We are done talking about secession fantasies.

                    The Management.

                  • Kenneth

                    Our history and nature of union is radically different than that of the Soviets. Unlike them, we never dragged any state into the union against its will or by military force. (The considerable exception of aboriginal people aside). I would also not be too hasty to describe the Soviet disposition of its former member states as “just.” The original Russian core of that dissolved union didn’t exactly turn its former satellites loose with a handshake and a smile. To this day, they heavily interfere in the governance of those “free” states through threat or use of military force, assassinations, manipulation of internal elections and economic coercion.

                    • Hezekiah Garrett

                      What else would 1/3 of a population entering into armed revolt and terrorising the other 2/3rds be?

                      Basically, you are arguing, if arguing honourably, that your own nation is and always was an illegitimate bunch of wealthy thugs.

                  • Rosemarie


                    >>>>“If a state did vote to secede, there would be war because that act of secession is illegal and therefore treasonous and an act of war in itself.”

                    >>>Exactly the position you’d expect a tyrannical state to take.

                    So the US has been a tyrannical state since 1861?

            • Stu

              “There are some people that are pissed off that they haven’t had a chance to use their weapons.”
              I’m not worried about both of those guys anymore than I worry about the Black Panthers.

          • Kenneth

            “I’m sorry, but what exactly is insane about a healthy discussion about state nullification and secession?”……

            I have to assume from this statement that you never took your history book out of the locker in grade school. Give wikipedia a whirl sometime and look up “American Civil War.”

            I’ll even give you the Cliff Notes rundown here. Three quarters of a million Americans killed at the hands of other Americans. Hundreds of thousands more who were shattered physically or psychologically. Half of our country mired in economic backwardness, racism and terrorism for a full century afterward.

            That was the end product of our last “healthy discussion” about secession. The bloody settlement of that “discussion” determined that secession is off the table for further discussion. It is not a legitimate public policy debate. It is flirtation with a call to treason and murder. Those advocating the reopening of this issue are not patriots in any sense of the word. They have no more appreciation or respect for what our nation stands for than does any foreign terror group.

            Just like the Islamist mullahs and all purveyors of extremism, they don’t even have the courage to put their name to what they’re really advocating. They swear they’re not advocating violence, but they dangle the idea out in the wind, all hypothetical of course, hoping that somebody bites, and then denying responsibility for their rhetoric.

            • Stu

              Yeah, we should have just kept slavery going.

              • Mark Shea

                If memory serves, it was the secessionists who were keen on slavery. Something about their Sacred Right to Property trumping the common good.

                • Stu

                  But we should have avoided the conflict, right?

                  • Mark Shea

                    Yes. Insane secessionists should have avoided the conflict. They should (and will, as of now) stop fantasizing about it on this blog.

                  • Kenneth

                    Those who provoked it (the secessionists), should have avoiding instigating it. That said, they had the excuse that they could not fully appreciate the terrible circumstances of their recklessness. Secessionists today do not have that excuse.

    • “joe”

      “Lay down your weapons. They are an occasion of sin.”

      the exact correct understanding.

      • Stu

        So police officers, by having firearms, are all in danger of sinning with their weapons? How about the military?

        How about a hunter looking for something to eat? Another near occasion of sin?

    • The Deuce

      Dan C:

      Lay down your weapons. They are an occasion of sin.

      I’ll just repeat the question I asked above: In the four years since Washington DC’s gun bun was struck down, the murder rate there has been more than cut in half! The result is so dramatic and sudden that you can’t reasonably attribute it to something else.

      Think about it. The evidence strongly suggests that there are a couple hundred people who are alive today who would have been murdered in Washington DC over the past four years if the gun ban were still in effect.

      To those who like yourself who advocate gun bans like DC’s in spite of this evidence, my question is this: If you think DC’s gun ban should have stayed in place, then which of those people should be dead now? How many living, breathing residents of Washington DC do YOU, Dan C, believe should have had their lives cut short, since their capacity for self defense is an “occasion of sin”? If I were to show you a phone book, would you be able to pick out the names?

      • Dan C

        I do not put much effort into gun grabbing, since it is politically impossible. Gun lovers have too much power. You win, have won, will continue to win.

        Such full-throated claims on behalf of citizens of a ghetto fail to see how many are truly armed and how little such a heavily armed population does to reduce the violence or promote deterrence. Knowing completely retribution and return fire is likely, gun fights occur, and while tragic, are not surprising in my nearby cities of Camden and Philadelphia. Everyone I work with has a close relative or friend who has been affected by gun violence. Murder disrupts the community tremendously.

        Gun violence has increased where I am. Gun lovers claim that the emascualted laws they gutted prior to passage are the cause. To prevent something, one must be effective. The preventative must happen in the beginning not as some mystical thing called “deterrence.” For gun laws to revent violence, guns must be taken from people, restricted in sales, both to certain people and certain types of weapons cannot be allowed. As such, no gun law will ever be effective in the US, because the US has a Faith and Tradition, a deep Mystagogy about its guns.

        Ending abortion has not the passion, the base of support, or the wealth behind it that gun loving does. Just an observation.

        • Dan C – You are counting incorrectly. The young toughs are just as armed now and 5 years ago. What has changed is that somewhere between 1-5% of the victims are now armed (if DC is like most other jurisdictions) and the toughs can do sufficient math that they calm down and act with less violence. The right people are feeling less fear and the right people are feeling more fear and fewer people are dying. This is a good thing all around in my book but your ideology counts it as a bad thing. I cannot fathom why you would want more death and call it Catholicism.

  • Jose

    The long useless argument on this gun issue is as if we were arguing about the 10,000 abortions happening by illegal abortion and how to stop it, while the million legal abortion killings go on yearly which only need a public say-so to stop. It’s not the time nor the place.

    • Good point…as Mother Teresa said, “If we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people to not kill each other? Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want.”

  • ivan_the_mad

    I see that the comments in this post are providing abundant support for your thesis, Mark.

    • Mark Shea

      Yup. The alacrity with which people leap to slap down Lombardi, the bishops and the Pope reminds me of nothing so much as Planned Parenthood shouting down some mild parental notification measure with dark warnings of women stripped of their rights and imprisoned in breeder farms.

      • Mercury

        I was just confused at how Lombardi says on the one hand that legitimate self-defense is not anything the Church has a problem with, then seems to call for a worldwide ban on ALL arms, legislated by international agreements.

      • Adam L

        Reductio ad abortion?

      • Stu

        Pope? Did he speak out on this?
        The Bishops? Didn’t see their collective word here?
        Father Lombardi? Yes, he did have a personal editorial on Vatican Radio. Very general in nature but I don’t see anyone “slapping him down.”

        Plenty of room for disagreement on the what is the best approach here. Get harder when characterize many of your readers here as wanting everyone to have nukes, no regulations or uncaring about their fellow man.

      • I still await the Church’s treatment of the unorganized militia. I have not seen it. I literally do not know what they think of universal military systems except the external observation that they must be at least somewhat ok with the swiss system because of their multi-century use of the Swiss Guard.

  • Adam L


    Thank you for not actually addressing any of my points in your reply, and instead simply reasserting that the idea of secession is “insane”. We might also be well advised to stop promoting the dangerous idea that the unborn are human beings and that abortion is murder. Some kook might decide to act on it and do something that would get innocent people killed.

    So if for some reason Vermont decided to secede, that would mean that it is making war on America, and the US military would need to be sent in in order to “defend” itself?

    • Mark Shea

      reductio ad abortion to justify the lunatic talk of secession and civil war. Perfect.

      • Adam L

        Are you being willfully obtuse? I think my point was rather obvious, namely that just because some hypothetical kook might do something, is not a valid argument against the points that I raised, any more than kooks who attack abortion clinics are a proof aginst the pro-life position.

        Please be so kind as to answer my questin: If the people of Vermont (or any other state) vote to secede from the Union, should the federal governmentforcibly prevent this from happening?

        • Adam L

          Sorry for the typos. I posted this comment from my phone.

        • Mark Shea

          That question was answered in 1861 at the cost of more blood than any other war in our history. Violent fantasists raising it now–while bragging about being “patriots” are insane. The center of this talk is the gun cult. Somebody will get killed when somebody tries to hurry history along.

          • Adam L

            Sorry Mark, but it was not answered in 1861. Might does not make right. And I see that you continue to evade my question. If a state decides to secede from the Union and the federal government sends in the military to prevent that, the aggressor is the United States. I would also point out that the Constitution says “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or, in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” Therefore in the above hypothetical situation, were the president to send the military, he would be guilty of treason.

            Mark, I have made appeals to both the Constitution and to history. You have continued to insist that any discussion of secession is verboten, else it will necessarily lead to kooks blowing things up. Really? You are constantly complaining about the growth of the empire and police state, yet you are unwilling to even consider the possibility of peaceful secession as a means of putting a check on this. Even if no state actually secedes, if the discussion of the issue leads to it being accepted as a viable option for the states, then the mere possibility of secession may help in at least retarding its expansion. I would argue that construing the Union as perpetual and indissoluble actually makes radicalism and violence more likely as it leads to large populations being held within a political union against their will, as opposed to allowing for a peaceful mechanism of secession.

            I would also just point out that Christ did not guaranty that the Union would last until the end of history. I would ask that you please reconsider your position on this issue. If the Union indeed probably won’t last until the end of history, let’s at least have a mechanism that allows for the possibility of a peaceful dissolution. But in order for that to be the case, the issue of secession needs to be brought to the public consciousness and discussed as a serious issue.

            God bless,

            • Mark Shea

              Yes. It was. At the cost of an ocean of blood and suffering.

              • Stu

                There was an ocean of blood and suffering of a greater proportion that caused it.

              • Adam L

                Sorry to hear you feel that way. I am in no way questioning the amount of death and suffering during that war, but I’m sticking by what I said: Might does not make right. I think a large part of the problem is that the Civil War plays such a central role in the narrative of the civic religion of this country and how Americans view themselves. It has unfortunately been elevated to the status of a virtual Holy War and therefore it has become taboo to question the wisdom and motivations behind that war, especially for those of us in the North, or even to point out the negative consequences of the war, in addition to the great good of the end of slavery. It seems to me that if you are looking for the foundations of the American Empire and its ethos of spreading its unique goodness via military might, you have to go back to the Civil War. I think the Empire knows this, which is why the Civil War is presented as a single packaged deal. I think it would be better for us to remember that God achieves his good ends through a deeply flawed humanity.

                • Mark Shea

                  Tough shit. This is your final warning. Bring it up again (including via these back door “I really regret you won’t let me indulge my insane fantasies”) and you are gone. I don’t let pro-aborts use my blog to make appeals for the killing of innocents and I won’t let you do it either. And your fantasies are, inevitably, an appeal for the killing of innocents. Got it?

                  • Adam L

                    Sorry, I only posted it because I hadn’t seen your other post. I was typing and the page hadn’t been refreshed. Check the time stamps. I respect that it’s your blog.

            • Kenneth

              It was answered in the 1860s, and not only by force of arms. It was decided in 1869 by the Supreme Court in Texas v White. That decision, rendered by the only legitimate final arbiters of our Constitution, made it crystal clear that unilateral secession by a state is not possible or valid under the Constitution, ever. Any state authority which asserted secession and defied federal authority under threat or use of force would be engaging in treason. They would have no more legitimate standing under the Constitution for what they were doing than did David Koresh or any Taliban unit trying to overrun a U.S. base in Afghanistan.

              The majority opinion in Texas left only one legal avenue for reconsideration of the perpetual Union – “consent of the states.” That consent is not spelled out, but it implies that all states, or at least a simple majority, would be needed to do that.

              • Stu

                So do your rights come from the Constitution?

                • Kenneth

                  No, they don’t come from the Constitution. The Constitution recognizes them, and provides the framework for proper and peaceful adjudication and balancing of my rights against those of others. If I reserve the right to adjudicate and enforce my rights unilaterally and with deadly force anytime I disagree with the mechanisms of the Constitution, that’s not civilization anymore. It’s Hobbes’ State of Nature, and can only be enjoyed in some truly lawless place like Somalia.

        • Sus

          Yes the government should intervene on behalf of the people in Vermont who think the idea of secession is insane.

          • Adam L

            Well, thank you for at least giving a definite answer to my question. And what about the majority in Vermont who voted to leave? Couldn’t the minority who wished to remain in the Union either move out of state or themselves secede from Vermont? So much for democracy and self-determination.

            So what about the United States itself? This country only came about after an act of secession. Or what about the former Soviet republics? If a dictatorship like the USSR could allow for a peaceful breakup of their union, why not the United States? Or were these examples of insanity as well?

            For all the talk of the right being paranoid and being anxious for a military conflict, I keep hearing their critics talk about how even the very notion of secession is insane, and now you have explicitly stated that military aggression is the appropriate response should a state dare to want to leave the Union.

            • Stu

              I have to add that had I been on Active Duty and ordered to fire on a peaceful move to secede by a state, I would refuse the order.

            • Mark Shea

              Fantasy scenarios about secession in an insane gun culture like ours do nothing but feed insanity, just as fantasy scenarios about ticking time bombs did nothing but feed justifications for torture. Instead of dwelling on fantasy scenarios, try living in reality. Discussion of secession ends here. Comprende?

              • Instead of dwelling on fantasy scenarios, try living in reality.

                Like… the fantasy that weapons can be eliminated completely? Like the reality that guns can and do prevent crimes and/or save lives?

                Mark, you should just steer clear of this topic, it’s really bringing out your glass house.

                • Mark Shea

                  If you could point to where I have said that weapons can be eliminated completely? Indeed, have you not noticed at all that I have stated I think the attempt confiscate 300 million guns is absurd?

                  • Really? Like where you can point to where I have said that:

                    Let’s get rid of all criminal law and provide each citizen with a nuclear weapon.

                    So is it strawmen for thee but not for me?

                    No, what you’ve actually said is:

                    There’s no point in trying to limit anybody’s access to the technology of mass slaughter

                    When i already pointed out that of the “tech” used in committing murders, 50% (give or take) are handguns. Semi-automatic or less. (and yes, the evidence in shows that only handguns were used in Newton as well)

                    So let’s parse your statement a moment. You say you want to decrease 10k+ murders. Well if we assume things like “assault rifles” and “other guns” are what you mean by getting rid of “weapons of mass slaughter” then… you’ve barely made a dent in the number (assuming it is even effective, that’s like… 2k) and you’ve certainly not prevented any more Sandy Hooks.

                    So really, the only conclusion one can make is either that, yes you are lobbying for the elimination of all guns because “all guns” are the only things left which fit all of your criteria.

                    • Mark Shea

                      Okay. I’ll take that as an admission that I have never called for the elimination of all guns.

                    • Mark Shea

                      No. I’m not.

            • Sus

              Why should the Vermonters who want to remain citizens of the USA leave? Vermont floats their own boat politically but there are many flatlanders there also.

              Maybe there is a country you can buy in what was the Soviet Union.

    • Adam L – It is absolutely not the time to secede. This is incredibly premature to the point of lunacy and introduced with such a bad rollout that I question how much of the pro-secession stuff out there is a false flag operation.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    “Nice strawman. Only someone who has never purchased or carried a firearm could think that the armed populace is completely unregulated. We are subject to a multitude of regulations in what we are allowed to purchase, who is allowed to purchase, who is allowed to carry, and where. These regulations affect law abiding citizens, most of whom are probably not particularly excited about the prospect of fighting the government.”

    Tens of thousands of gun-related deaths per year in this country. Many of them children. If that’s your definition of “well regulated,” then I guess we’d have to call Adam Lanza “well behaved.”

    In most of the mass murders in the past 30 years, the firearms were obtained legally.


    • The article has a chart whose legend says it is graphing the US against other OECD countries and then text mentioning that the other OECD countries who are more violent are omitted. Chile, an OECD member, is neither listed as omitted, nor is it included as the violence rate in Chile is much higher than in the US. This does not give me great confidence in the honesty of any part of the article.

      The plain fact is that there are three countries in North America, Mexico, the US, and Canada. Their violence rates are in exactly the same order. The average violence rate in Latin America makes the US look good and as the cases of Mexico and Chile make clear, they’re likely to make the US look much less like an outlier as these countries get their economic act together and join the OECD.

  • sbark

    I think the following on the gun debate are clear:

    1) The 2nd Amendment limits the governments ability to control people’s ownership of firearms.
    2) Much of the debate in Washington is about passing laws that do nothing to address the issues that they are purported to address. From what I’ve read the last “assault weapons ban” focused on features that are mostly cosmetic. Unfortunately, politicians are often more interested in the appearance of addressing a problem than they are in really addressing it.

    I think the biggest thing that is unclear in the debate is whether increase gun ownership really increase gun violence, decreases gun violence, or pretty much has no net effect. There are plenty of studies and examples to argue either side of the case. At this point, neither side has really convinced me of their argument.

    The thing that makes me nervous about the whole debate is how many people seem to be willing to allow Congress to attempt to legislate their way past consitutional limitations. If society as a whole decides that gun ownership is a problem, then fixing the problem needs to involve repealing the 2nd Amendment. If our nation is willing to ignore one of our consitutional rights and remove that right without amending the Constitution, what stops other rights from being removed.

    I think it’s pretty clear that the next right to go would be our freedom of religion. The Obama administration has already attempted to define that right down to a right worship. We’ve seen the federal government order Catholic institutions to commit acts defined as immoral by the Church. We’ve also seen arguments that religious institutions shouldn’t be allowed to use “hate speech” by which they mean teaching right from wrong.

    The last thing I want to see is the federal government watering down any of our constitutional rights without going through the procedures that the constitution provides for changing those rights.

    • “The thing that makes me nervous about the whole debate is how many people seem to be willing to allow Congress to attempt to legislate their way past constitutional limitations. If society as a whole decides that gun ownership is a problem, then fixing the problem needs to involve repealing the 2nd Amendment. If our nation is willing to ignore one of our consitutional rights and remove that right without amending the Constitution, what stops other rights from being removed.”

      The Second Amendment says that, given the necessity for a state to have a well-regulated militia, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. “Arms” is a broader category than includes more than just guns. Already, however, state and federal laws prohibit individual possession of certain kinds of arms, such as fully automatic weapons or hand grenades or rocket launchers, without amendment. I would think, too, that federal or state law could regulate or ban the possession of semi-automatic rifles as well, without a constitutional amendment. Why couldn’t it? If it can’t, then is the contention that federal or state law may not prohibit the possession of any arms without constitutional amendment? If, in the end, the language of “arms” applies only to hand-held projectile firing devices, are we to conclude that it is unconstitutional for law to prohibit the possession of fully automatic weapons?

      From where I sit, the Second Amendment is confusing. For instance, what is the relation of the right to bear arms to existence of a state militia? My state, California, has an official state militia, to which I do not and conceivably never will belong; does that have any bearing on my right to keep and bear arms? Are we to believe that an amendment that was written in the context of the 18th century and its technology must be interpreted in precisely the same way in the 21st century as it was two centuries ago? That the only way to ban some arms is to undergo the long and nearly impossible task of repealing or amending the Second Amendment? Such a scenario, I submit, would violate the common good — for the protection and promotion of which any body of law exists.

      Theodore Roosevelt said it best: “The Constitution was made for man, not man for the Constitution.”

      • Hand grenades are munitions, not arms. So are rocket launchers. You really should learn the distinction between the two. Any right to munitions is via the 9th and 10th amendments, not the 2nd.

        Your confusion would be largely resolved if you actually looked at your state military law. The key term is “unorganized militia”. You can likely google up your state military code. Every state has one. Ask yourself what is the purpose of the unorganized militia and what are the modern use cases for its existence. Does it work as it should? What law changes would make it work better? From that framework you will find an abundant number of reforms that can improve things and you may just be surprised to find that the NRA does not oppose them.

        • Perhaps you could enlighten me further on this, Mr. Lutas

          Websters indicates that armament is a synonym of munition. The definition of armament includes “arms and equipment.” In also includes “ammunition.” Based on your distinction, then, munitions would include guns. Are you referring, perhaps, to a more specialized meaning of the terms “arms” and “munitions”? If so, what is your source? And, finally, are you certain that the use of “arms” in the Second Amendment respects the distinction you are making?

          You speak of the ninth and tenth amendments; but the determination of the retained rights referred to in those amendments requires first a determination of what powers the Constitution actually grants to the federal government. That determination has been a matter of dispute for over 200 years.

      • c matt

        Already, however, state and federal laws prohibit individual possession of certain kinds of arms, such as fully automatic weapons or hand grenades or rocket launchers, without amendment..

        Not sure that is accurate. Federal law at least does not “ban” automatic weapons – it does highly regulate their ownership (class III weapons) and requires a lot more red tape – and rightly so. Hence, their hefty price-tag.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    I’d have to oppose Vermont seceding.

    But I’m all for selling Texas to the highest bidder.

  • KM

    Another mass killing via easily accessible guns, another family destroyed, more sorrow. Every day I pray we as a nation can stop the bloody wreckage caused by gun violence.

    Albuquerque, NM: On Saturday Jan. 19, a 15-year-old boy had a minor disagreement with his mother. While she slept he killed her, his three siblings (ages 9, 5, and 2), then his father later in the morning, shooting each multiple times. Sheriff’s investigators found multiple weapons at the home, including an AR-15 semiautomatic assault-style rifle and a .22 caliber pistol…both used in slayings. “His plan was to head for the nearest Walmart. Once there, he planned to kill several people and wait for police to arrive. Ultimately, he planned to spark a gunfight with law enforcement and die in a hail of bullets. ”

    The boy wanted to be a soldier, always wearing Army clothes and camouflage. MLK’s words were prophetic: our culture’s soul has become poisoned by endless war.


  • Matt

    I’m just going to point out that the SAME GUY who just rushed a haphazard insane bill in New York that was so mis-handled that it even bans cops from carrying normal-capacity magazines in their guns (but “common sense prevailed”), also did this: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cuomos-extreme-abortion-bill-creates-a-civil-war-with-democrats-catholics

    A little close for coincidence.

  • Loud

    Tere is a differance between having the duty to regulate guns (which the government already dose regulate) and citizens not being allowed to have them. Tere is nothing morally wrong about OWNING a gun, so whether or not you should own them is based off ofwhat you would do with it. Chesterton carried one because h eliked the symbolism of it, but most gun owners can do him one better:they lke being able to defend themselves and their loved ones. O ething ol GKC loved to say(i paraphrase from memory, but its in “whats wrong with the world”) was that it was abackwards society who saw a metal poker beside afireplace and thought “the owner miht use that to beat his wife”, a sane one would first consider that it be used to poke a fire.

    • Mark Shea

      And that would matter if there were some proposal to repeal the second amendment or confiscate all guns.