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”.