Missouri Church Raffled off Assault Rifles as Father’s Day Marketing Ploy

No. Really.

The reading was from the Revised American Version:

You have heard that it was said, “Love your enemies.” But I say to you, “Blow your enemy’s head off.” Again, you have heard that it was said, “If your enemy strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” But I say to you, “Stand your ground. If your enemy so much as makes you *feel* threatened, blow his head off.” And if someone compels you to go one mile, that is kidnapping and you have the right to blow his head off.

“But Mark, doesn’t the only part of the Church’s teaching I ever read when it comes to gun violence say that we have a right to self-defense and just war?”

Actually, it turns out the Catechism’s teaching on the fifth commandment has quite a bit more in it than just the bits about just war and self-defense.

For instance, there is this:

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-armament multiplies 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.

The tendency of American conservatives to immediately home in on the “When might we tragically have to kill?” bits of the Catechism and translate it as “When do we *get* to kill?” is a huge part of the problem of the spirit behind that church’ ploy. Christ is the Lord of Life, not the Lord of Looking for Excuses to Slaughter.

The church was a million miles from “When might we have to kill?”  Recall that it was a Father’s Day marketing stunt: an advertising ploy.

“But Mark, once we have them in the pews we can hit ’em with the gospel!”

Great!  Then let’s reach out to the porn addicts by offering lap dances and strippers for Father’s Day too!

Sorry, but the message, loud and clear, of this ploy is that it’s not about “self-defense” or “Just war”.  It means “Mechanized Viagra for men with… masculinity issues… available here.  Gospel optional.”  Lets not kid ourselves that it’s about a Catholic understanding of the fifth commandment.

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  • Scott

    Really poor analogies. Really making a stretch here. I expect more of you.

    • Pete the Greek

      When it comes to firearm topics, you really shouldn’t. He will disappoint every time.

  • Dave G.

    Yeah it’s a stupid stunt, but simply a stupid stunt in a long line of ‘come to church and you can win a new car’ line of thinking. Added to that modern ‘what can we do to shock our way into popular culture?’. It really isn’t connected to the rest of the post about guns, that being a different topic really. This is what happens when being relevant becomes the driving force behind evangelizing. A tendency not necessarily confined to breakaway independent evangelical congregations. There are actually more than a few who think ‘doesn’t matter what harm is done, as long as we reach one lost sheep (see appropriate parable for reference)’.

    But we should also be careful. This post’s approach reminds me of that child of post-Talk Show style discourse. Find some really, really strange and extreme case of something, and then cast the net far and wide to either normalize it or try to herd as many who i disagree with into the circle.

    • Pete the Greek

      Nah, I just smell click bait and Google Analytics. And I fell for it. Again.

      • chezami

        I have no idea how Google analytics works.

        • Pete the Greek

          ???????????? Seriously? OK, totally different topic, but you REALLY need to learn it. It doesn’t take much to read the stats. Writing is your life’s blood, man. I know you’re not trying to get filthy rich writing books, but seriously, you should be leveraging how your blog gets out so you can get the most out of your time and effort. Drop me an email and I can get you some excellent free info on how it all works.

  • Mr. Adams

    Strippers and Lap Dances aren’t the same thing as having a machine that is our constitutional right.

    • Cypressclimber

      And…there is nothing intrinsically evil about a gun.

      Really, there isn’t.

      It’s a tool, like a knife or a hammer or a chain saw. A chain-saw can do a lot of terrible damage to human beings, if it’s directed that way. And they are kind of scary-looking too.

      Does our host oppose chain-saws being prizes for raffles?

      • Eve Fisher

        What other purpose do guns have other than to kill something that is alive?

        • Pete the Greek

          Enjoyment, hobby, training, investment, etc.

          In short, what 99.999% of all firearms possessed in the United States did this week.

          • petey

            that’s not really an answer. what special enjoyment is there in owning guns that would not apply to a non-lethal object? what is the training for if not to use the gun to shoot at things and kill them? and there are lots of things to invest in, why is the commodification of guns an argument for their moral acceptability?

            • Pete the Greek

              “that’s not really an answer.”
              – Eh, yes it is. It’s just not an answer you like.

              “what special enjoyment is there in owning guns that would not apply to a non-lethal object? ”
              – Because, and this may blow your mind and seem impossible, but not everyone is into beanie-babies and collecting stamps.

              ” training for if not to use the gun to shoot at things and kill them?”
              – OK, I have a question. What is your experience with firearms? What real life experience do you have with them? I ask because you sound like someone whose experience is totally limited to what you have been shown on TV and I really don’t want to make false assumptions. So, what is your experience?

              “and there are lots of things to invest in”
              – Can you name a few things within buying power of an average person that had, in several cases for me, 200% return on investment within one year?

              “an argument for their moral acceptability?”

              – No, the onus is actually on you. While the Church calls for limits on proliferation of weapons, particularly in national conflicts, and orders us to seek peaceful means for resolution (I very much support both points), the Church does NOT teach that simply owning a firearm is immoral, though such ownership can be misused.

        • Cypressclimber

          Exactly how is your question even relevant to my point?

          • Eve Fisher

            Because knives can be used for cooking, cutting ropes, whittling wood, etc. Chain-saws for felling trees, making interesting sculpture, etc. Hammers are for nailing things. All can be misused, of course, to kill people, but they were not originally invented/created for that, and using them as such is a total misuse of their original purpose. Guns are lousy for cooking, whittling, felling trees, making sculpture, or nailing things. Guns were created in the first place solely to kill something that is alive, either animals or people. And a large chunk of the many modern types of guns were solely created for the purpose of killing other human beings. The other uses – as part of a collection, investment, or hobby shooting of targets – came after the original purpose of their invention. So, there’s nothing intrinsically evil about a gun, because it is indeed all in what’s done with it, but comparing it to a hammer or a chain-saw is a false equivalency.

            • MarylandBill

              Its easy to make arguments about the original intent of tools, but the simple fact of the matter is that knives and hammers are so old (older than history literally) that we have no idea whether their original intent was to hunt (and thus kill) or some other more benign purpose.

              Also, I would point out that the rifle was not at first developed to kill people; rather it was developed for hunting (prior to the invention of the Minie ball it was difficult to load a rifle).

              Ultimately original intended purpose is, imho, less important than actual use. When it comes to rifles, the simple fact of the matter is that only an incredibly tiny percentage of them will ever be used to kill (well at least outside the military). Lets put things in perspective.

              There are approximately 110 million rifles (of all sorts) in the United States. If we include accidents, maybe 500 people are killed by rifles every year. Therefore the risk of a given rifle causing a death in a given year is… .00045%. In contrast, there are about 255 million cars on the road, and about 30,000 thousand deaths (rounding down to give cars the benefit of the doubt), for a risk per car of .012% (about 25 times the risk of the rifle).

              Now mind you, I grant that you are discussing more than just rifles here (Overall, the risk, if you include suicides, is about the same as a car’s) but Mark’s original article was about rifles, not guns in general.

            • Cypressclimber

              My point was that guns are a tool, and as such they are morally neutral.

              You respond, but they are designed to kill living things.

              That second statement does not in any way refute anything I said.

              So…thanks for the commentary; but if you were offering any sort of rebuttal, you have not done so.

              • Eve Fisher

                Okay. Are all tools morally neutral? ICBMs? Thumbscrews? Methamphetamine? Is it always perfectly fine to make anything – say a neutron bomb – and it sits, perfectly neutral, and it’s only the use of it that makes it moral or not?

                • Cypressclimber

                  I wouldn’t say all tools are morally neutral; I’d have a tough time with thumbscrews or ICBMs, for example.

                  But guns are.

                  You claim they are created to kill people. Not necessarily. They are, to be precise, designed specifically to propel something, usually ammo, but not always. They do so with varying degrees of accuracy and force. That ammo can be propelled at anything: targets, people, animals.

                  When they are shot at people, they are quite morally used to deter or stop aggression. It is never acceptable to intend, directly, to kill anyone. However, it is entirely moral to use a weapon with the intention of stopping aggression. Not only morally acceptable, but morally necessary, in some cases.

                  And you are quite right: guns can be very useful in this regard.

                  So they can be used either for good or evil: morally neutral.

                  • Eve Fisher

                    Good logical dissection.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Except it is false. The fact is violence, even in self-defense, is tinged with sin. Even killing someone justly in just war was seen to cause the killer to be contaminated with sin that they needed penance to restore them to communion with the Church. Violence is never morally neutral, however compelled and just it might be. That is the problem I have with his argument.

                    • Eve Fisher

                      Well, it gets back to the fact that logic is a tool, too – and it’s all in how it’s used. I entirely agree that violence is never morally neutral. In the pre-modern Church, soldiers were indeed required to do years of penance for the violence done even in just wars. But today, the argument is that violence is totally justified and morally correct as long as you are defending yourself and/or someone else; most Church theologians would disagree and have disagreed. Including the words of Jesus: “Put up your sword; he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword”. And “turn the other cheek.” But then we all – myself included – want to be Christians without being crucified.

                    • Since these are likely to be used as hunting weapons, you might want to qualify that statement. Or did you mean to put the Church stamp of approval on the vegetarian lifestyle?

                • The trade name for meth is called desoxyn. It’s used to treat ADHD. The reason I point this out is that you are being sloppy about your examples.

                  If my children are hungry and we’re poor, hunting can be one of the cheapest ways to make sure the family stays fed. That I contract out my animal killing and don’t do it myself as my father used to on the farm when he was young does not affect the morality of the transaction.

            • Killing a living thing, when it is not a human, is a morally neutral act. It can be good or bad depending on context.

        • IRVCath

          But often those living things are things we are allowed to kill. Like cattle, or deer, or rabbits. You know, because farmers sometimes want to eat meat.

          • Eve Fisher

            Absolutely true. And nothing wrong with that. (Although farmers do have a tendency to raise their own meat – pigs, chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, cows, etc.) But it’s still killing something that is alive which is, as I said, the primary purpose for which guns were invented. They’re not much good for anything else but target practice and hanging on a wall.

        • entonces_99

          I use mine for target shooting. Those paper targets sure aren’t alive.

  • Elaine S.

    I agree that this rifle raffle was an extremely stupid and tone-deaf publicity stunt, but I’m not so sure the portion of the Catechism you quoted was relevant to the situation. I always understood that it was about the INTERNATIONAL arms trade/race — about countries trying to acquire as many conventional and/or nuclear weapons as possible. As for the rifle raffle (I kind of like the alliteration there) I wonder why the church had to pick a really scary looking military type gun, rather than a hunting rifle or bow and arrow or something that could be used recreationally.

    Perhaps this is yet another example of how young men in a fatherless culture, who do not learn to become “real” men, end up becoming either wimps or super macho jerks.

    • Dave G.

      Do we know that this was an attempt to appeal to young men in a fatherless culture? I’m not so sure that this approach to gun ownership is necessarily part of the ‘fatherless’ culture, or that those who were going after the raffle weren’t, in fact, fathers themselves. Again, not saying it wasn’t stupid. But the two issues may not be the same in this case (unless we know the target was fatherless men, and that those who indulge in this particular approach to gun ownership tend to be without fathers, etc.). Note: I don’t know. I’m just curious if there are stats to link the two, or examples in this situation that support that notion.

      • Elaine S.

        I’m not saying that THIS particular event was targeting fatherless men, just that the general tendency of men to overemphasize either machismo or “sensitivity” is simply one fruit of a culture in which young men lack committed fathers or father figures.

        As for the argument that guns have no purpose except to kill something, marksmanship is a sport/skill in its own right; it’s part of the Olympic biathlon (combined with cross-country skiling!). I believe some people just enjoy seeing how well they can aim and shoot a gun, a crossbow, or whatever without necessarily having an ulterior motive of wanting to kill something. Are there not also people who collect guns simply because they are fascinating pieces of machinery like cars, boats, airplanes, motorcycles, clocks, etc?

  • I’m probably more upset with the Church’s drive to be “hip” than the giving away of two guns. Here in the South, church’s have raffles for guns. It’s just how it is. Those church’s that believe in raffles that is. Most probably see it as a form of gambling, which they’d have more problems with than “assault” rifles.

    These guns are “scary” looking, but are banned for hunting purposes in some states because they aren’t powerful enough (it doesn’t seem to be the case in Missouri – looks like you can hunt with AR-15s). If they’d given away a hunting rifle, they’d probably be giving away a far more dangerous weapon – capable of killing from greater distances. All of that being said – so what? Hunting, especially in the South, is part of our culture. Responsible gun ownership is part of our culture (I own several and see myself owning more in the future).

    Personally, I think far more good would be done if all the hue and cry about guns were directed against a culture that more and more glorifies violence and degrades faith. Giving away a gun in the South is no different to most sane, responsible people than giving away a fishing pole. But we’ve turned our societal animus against a tool rather than the Zeitgeist that produces individuals who misuse tools for malicious and murderous purposes.

    • Dave G.

      “I think far more good would be done if all the hue and cry about guns were directed against a culture that more and more glorifies violence and degrades faith. ”

      I like that. It puts the burden on all of us to examine the culture we’ve made, rather than just drawing a line around “Them”. As a non-gun owner not in the South, I approve.

      • Pete the Greek

        But…. we can still throw a spittle-flecked nutty about it, right?

    • In the states that don’t permit hunting with .223, you can rechamber the rifle to make it legal to hunt with. That’s one of the things that’s making these weapons popular, their modularity. Further up in the thread, I gave a link on that.

  • Pete the Greek

    “But I say to you, “Stand your ground. If your enemy so much as makes you *feel* threatened, blow his head off.””

    – And here is my problem.

    Yes there are differing perspectives, and very valid differences of opinion on this topic. But what I find really irksome is when someone like Mark, who has openly said he knows very little about the topic in question, feverishly emotes blatant stupidity like the quoted line above.

    Do you people REALLY believe that’s what ‘Stand your ground’ laws actually mean? Honest question here. And those of you who DO believe that, how many of you have actually READ the law as it stands in your own state? (I’m not going to ask Mark, as it is self evident that he hasn’t.)

    I just loved this line from one of the linked articles, after mentioning how one of the Church’s musicians won one of the rifles, that it will “give way to new violence”. Yes, because if there’s one thing I know, it’s that Church musicians are just brimming cauldrons of hyper-violence.

    Publicity stunt, yeah. So?

    “strippers for Father’s Day too!”

    – Ok…. so the implication being that selling your body as sexual titillation, an evil act, is morally equivalent to firearm ownership, which is NOT objectively evil?

    Mark, why don’t you get someone who doesn’t throw emotional tantrums to check your work before you post? You REALLY need a service like that sometimes.

    • You clearly don’t know very many church musicians.

      (Yes, that’s a joke.)

  • Indy Trucker

    Instructions for the Time of Crisis.35v He said to them, “When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?” “No, nothing,” they replied.36w He said to them,* “But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one.

    Luke 22:35-36 USCCB Site

    • Eve Fisher

      “Put up your sword. He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.” Matthew 26:52

      • MarylandBill

        That passage can be interpreted multiple ways. Jesus could have meant that those who turn to violence as their response to any threat will ultimately be killed. After all, the Gospels make it clear, it would not have been anything close to a fair fight.

      • The same people who approved one of those passages to go in the Bible approved the other. The fact that they did not see a contradiction might mean that they’re not actually contradictory.

  • ivan_the_mad

    Lame tacticool weapons. Now if they were to raffle off a Henry Repeater …

    • Pete the Greek

      Or a nicely restored Sharps… 🙂

      • ivan_the_mad

        Ha! I had in mind one of Henry Arms’ more recent productions. An original Sharps would make for quite the raffle!

        • Pete the Greek

          What can I say? I’m a real sucker for old classics!

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    Our Knights of Columbus raffles off a firearm every fall. There’s lots of hunters here and the raffle raises a lot of money, which goes to buy wheelchairs for people in third-world countries who would have them other wise. Last year it was a shotgun; the year before a .22. They don’t raffle AR-15’s because my father is the gun dealer who buys and donates the guns and he thinks AR-15’s are ugly.
    I wish people would stop using “Assault weapon” every time a gun looks scary. AR-15’s get a lot of press, but a semi-auto .45 has more stopping power, is easier to conceal and easier to reload.

  • MarylandBill

    This is going to sound like nitpicking, and in one sense it is, but it serves to illustrate a point. The guns in question are not assault rifles. Assault rifles must be capable of selective fire (i.e., the ability to fire on full auto, or at least controlled bursts). The guns in question can only fire in semi-automatic mode. The guns in question could be defined as assault weapons, which tends to mean anything reasonably scary looking that a media type or a politician points to and claims is a an assault weapon..

    Now, why do I bring this up? Because it indicates how poor media coverage is when it comes to gun violence and gun control, and also how ineffective many gun control laws actually are.

    In the wake of a number of mass shootings, the media and politicians have once again focused on the assault weapon as the gun problem that needs to be solved. However, if one looks at the statistics like these ones provided by the FBI http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-8 , a different picture emerges. An assault weapon is generally a rifle, none would be considered a handgun. Even if we assumed that every case where the weapon type was not stated was an assault weapon (which seems kind of unlikely), by far, the largest number of homicides would be committed with handguns and assault weapons would be competing with knives for the number 2 spot. A fairer redistribution of the uncategorized guns suggests you are about as likely to be deliberately shot with a rifle of any sort as you are to be killed with a blunt object.

    So, what should we take away from all of this? I have a couple of thoughts.

    1. People who buy and use rifles, even “assault weapons” are not likely to ever deliberately point them at another human being. They tend to use them for target shooting, shooting small game, or sometimes just the fun of pulling the trigger quickly. Its not something that would interest me, but then again, watching basketball doesn’t interest me either; that doesn’t make it wrong. Sure there might be some who have fantasies, but in practice, knives are a bigger threat to society than all the rifles in the United States put together.

    2. If we, as a society, decide to pursue gun control as a means of bringing down the murder rate in our country, we should concentrate on the weapons that are most likely to be used to commit murder. Hand guns are far more likely to be used in most murders. Why don’t we focus on them more? Perhaps because the victims are far more likely to be minorities and poor than the victims of mass shootings (where the assault weapons are far more likely to be used).

    In the end, a church giving away a rifle to get people in the door makes about as much sense as giving away a car (and based on the likelihood of dying in a car accident, giving a car away is about as dangerous). If people only come to get the give away, they are likely to leave as soon as they got it.

    • Cypressclimber

      It’s all about guns that look SCARY! With scopes and stocks that extend, and, and, all those bolts and things that…well, obviously do SOMETHING BAD!


  • Willard

    Here’s what I don’t get. The same people who tell us that if we ban/control guns “only the bad guys will have them” are a lot of the time the same people who want to ban abortion. But if a criminal will find a way to get a gun, why won’t a woman find a way to get an abortion?

    • MarylandBill

      This is an argument from false equivalence, and it is a logical fallacy. Guns are morally neutral objects that can be used to commit evil. Abortion by its nature is an intrinsic evil. A better argument would be why should we have laws banning murder since people still commit murders anyway. Of course the problem with that is no one is going to think legalizing murder is a good idea.

      • Willard

        Yes your analogy with murder is a good one. Recognizing that banning/controlling guns won’t automatically eliminate gun violence shouldn’t stop public policy makers from trying.

        • MarylandBill

          I wasn’t comparing gun control to murder, I was showing that murder was a better equivalence to abortion than guns are.

          A better equivalence to to guns would be automobiles. One could argue that no law preventing traffic accidents is going to stop people from having traffic accidents, therefore we need to ban automobiles.

          In other words, in both cases, you are looking to eliminate the problem by eliminating the means. In both cases, the means of achieving it often ignore the benefits that result from those means. And of course the argument breaks down further in the sense that the vast majority of deaths by automobile are the result of accidents while the vast majority of gun deaths (suicides and murder) are deliberate and some unknown percentage of them will continue even if guns are eliminated.

          And what about knives? Knives account for a far larger number of homicides than the evil assault rifle. How come people are not arguing to have them banned?

          • Pete the Greek

            “How come people are not arguing to have them banned?”
            – In Britain they are, unfortunately.

            • MarylandBill

              It doesn’t surprise me. Ultimately, some people will not be satisfied until the government has banned everything that can possibly ever hurt us. Steps really should be gone too; way too many people trip and hurt themselves on them.

    • Pete the Greek

      “ban/control guns “only the bad guys will have them””
      – This is not an ‘argument’, but more a statement of reality. People are recognizing that the act of making the possession of some item illegal does not make that item magically vanish from physical reality.

      It’s why we still have crack cocaine, meth, X, heroin, child pornography, etc.

      Now that some people DO use it as an argument, this is true. Taken as an absolute, no, it doesn’t work, and is a very bad argument.

      The statement is actually false, as well. I very much doubt that outside some SERIOUSLY hardcore libertarian/anarchist circles you will find people who demand ZERO controls of any kind on weapon possession.

      Also, as MarylandBill point out, abortion is an objective moral evil. Simply owning a firearm itself is NOT an objective moral evil.

      • Willard

        I hear that “argument” all the time. In fact, it seems to be the default argument when someone points out how successful Australia was in their efforts at gun control. I’m glad you agree it is a bad argument and hopefully we can get on with the debate itself and avoid the simplistic cliches.

        • Pete the Greek

          “points out how successful Australia was in their efforts at gun control.”
          – This is a bad argument as well, it that it ignores facts. In fact, comparing countries on this topic, to the benefit of EITHER side does nothing to really advance our understanding.

          Before the gun bans, Australia really didn’t have mass shootings to begin with. Further, Australian culture is much more different, and they also don’t have the serious racial, and cultural problems we do. Also, violence problems in the US are not universal, as such comparisons give the implication that you are just as likely to be mugged in a corn field in western Iowa as you are in a back alley of Chicago.

          On the other side, you can point out that Switzerland has MUCH more lax gun laws than most of Europe (though it is not the Libertarian Mecca in this regard that some think), and their crime rate is not bad. So, lax gun laws beat control laws! Right? Well, not necessarily… Again, Switzerland doesn’t have a lot of our problems, etc.

          Neither the problem, nor the solution is ‘guns’. As long as people keep insisting that it is, nothing will ever change.

          On the flip side, as Mark Shea himself pointed out, the US is at a near 40-50 year LOW for violent crime (media blitz notwithstanding), at the same time gun laws in the US have, overall, become MUCH more lax than they were 20 years ago. So the simplistic argument that gun availability drives crime rate is not necessarily true.

  • Eve Fisher

    It would be nice if, instead of asking “well, when DO we have the right to shoot someone”, people would ask, “How can I avoid killing someone and at the same time defend myself?” There are a lot of alternative answers, including running away.

    • MarylandBill

      Of course it is not always simply a question of defending yourself, it might also be a question of defending your family, and running away might not be an option. Most other means of defending yourself contain at least some risk of harming the attacker.

      Self defense in most places requires you to retreat if it is safe to do so unless you are in your own home.

    • Pete the Greek

      “people would ask, “How can I avoid killing someone and at the same time defend myself?””
      – That’s actually what most self defense classes, particularly those that address armed self defense stress above everything else. Ask anyone who has actually gone through CCW training: Awareness, Avoidance and Deescalation.

      • Eve Fisher

        I know: true martial arts is largely about how to keep things from escalating. I would love it if everyone who purchased weapons went through CCW training. But many don’t. They go to a shooting range and think that’s “training”, and are pleased as punch because they can hit a target in a controlled environment.

        • Pete the Greek

          Well, serious people usually get training when they can. If not in person, they at least do their reading. Even outside of actual training, the primary mentality you will encounter is what I’ve already described. Yes, you will meet yahoos, and they are disliked by the rest of us gun people too.

          As far as FORCING training, as an idea, it sounds great. In practice, not really. As I said, people who want to know how to handle things get said training in some sort. Those who don’t care, even if forced to attend, simply forget it and ignore it later. This isn’t only true with firearms either. At my office, we all recently had to go through a CPR course. I was the only one who really wanted to know the info, as everyone else hated the fact that they had to waste half a day on this. To this day, I and one other guy are the only ones who remember the training (I’ve taken more as well, on my own accord) Everyone else I’ve spoken to, no one else remembers any of the specifics we went over.

          There is also the principle of it being a Constitutional Right. To be honest, I think it would be beneficial to force such things as training and a pass/fail civics knowledge test on everyone who wants to vote (if you fail, no vote for you). But, then, that would be limiting people’s rights. In some ways it would be good for people to have to demonstrate that they knew some basics of the topic under discussion before being allowed to exercise their 1st Amendment rights (On this topic, I think Mark Shea would be disqualified), but again, not a good idea.

          In general, I don’t think it really matters. Most people who purchase a firearm only do so because they enjoy firing them at the range, etc. People like myself who, while liking range work, also carry for self defense and family, already have to demonstrate skill. This is understandable, as if we have to use our weapon in public, we are responsible for EVERY round we fire until it comes to rest. There is no legal excuse for accidentally hitting an innocent.

          To be honest, we would end up having less legal troubles overall if LAW ENFORCEMENT officers were forced to practice and engage in the regular training that most of us CCWs do.

          • Eve Fisher

            I suppose I don’t have as blithe and bonny view of a gun ownership in America as many because I’ve worked in judicial systems too long, and still do, on a volunteer basis. I’ve seen too many so-called “militia” who threaten judges, file phony liens, claim to be expatriates without ties to the United States, and who, in general, terrorize their neighbors and as much of law enforcement as they can, and then fall back on their constitutional rights (ironically after denying all governmental jurisdiction, right down to traffic laws). And sometimes they launch a stand-off with casualties; the latest trick is to put the women and children in front, so if there is shooting, they can claim… well, there’s a whole lot of claims. Too many people who have shot family members because they cannot let them go. And there are a whole lot of people who are in prison right now who are nice guys but an angry drunk, and used their weapon to wound or kill someone.

            And there are the gun shows where no background checks are necessary; and there are those who don’t want any background checks at all, even against the mentally ill; and they certainly don’t want anyone convicted of assault – even if it is a felony – to be denied a gun, especially if “all” they did was assault their wife, etc., etc. There are too many people who get home bases in states they don’t live in, and with those get everything from voting rights to concealed weapons permits, and we don’t know who they really are or what they’re doing.

            I know the mantra, “the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” – except that it’s damned hard to tell the good guys in the middle of a fire fight. Or when they’re walking around a playground, open carrying and laughing – and then getting angry at the mothers who are scared for their kids.

            So, I’m glad you and your pals have had good training and know how to use a gun, and when to use it, and how to deescalate situations. But a lot of people don’t. I’ve seen them.

            • Pete the Greek

              “and there are those who don’t want any background checks at all, even
              against the mentally ill; and they certainly don’t want anyone convicted
              of assault – even if it is a felony – to be denied a gun”
              – OK. How many people do you know who actually want it to be legal for a convicted violent felon to purchase and own a firearm? I have heard the argument that those who have ‘served there time’ and are declared ‘reahbilitated’ should have their rights restored, but not quite on board with that myself yet.

              I’ve lost count of how many gun people I’ve met, and I’ve traveled around quite a bit and in some various organizations. I have never set foot in the ultraviolent Lovecraftian hellscape you are describing. Perhaps it comes from you working in a legal field. I have several friends who are beat cops that also compete on IDPA. They see nasty stuff all the time and have a very cynical outlook on humanity, probably more than yours. But then I don’t make the mistake of thinking the majority of people in the US are made of of all the same ones who get swept up by the vice cops on Saturday from the wooded parks.

              “except that it’s damned hard to tell the good guys in the middle of a fire fight.”
              – What is your experience and knowledge base when it comes to firearms, BTW? I think you may be confusing movies like “Heat” and “Desperado” with actual events, or simply accepted uncritically what you have been told by a beer and shampoo selling media. No, in civilian shootouts, it pretty much always clear who the combatants are. If you want to talk SWAT raids and battlefield, that’s a totally different topic.

              “And there are the gun shows where no background checks are necessary”
              – This is a myth. Any firearm purchased from a dealer at a gun show requires a background check. Period. There is nothing magical about a gun show that suspends federal and state laws. I don’t think you know too much on this topic. It’s a BIT more complicated.

              ” But a lot of people don’t. I’ve seen them.”
              – As have I. I’ve seen drunk drivers and road ragers too, FAR more of them in person than violent lawful gun owners. This is reason to be cautions and have certain prudent laws in place. It is NOT a reason to be irrationally afraid and engage in panic bans like too many do.

              • Eve Fisher

                Re the gun shows, half the trade goes on in the parking lot. I know many people who have gone to them and had other people offer to buy their guns in the parking lot. The people who don’t want background checks on mentally ill or felons with assault charges are those who argue that they would be used against ex-soldiers and others who suffer from PTSD, etc. Yes, I have met them. I have had them explain to me, in depth, why they and people who have been convicted of domestic violence should be exempt from felon bans. I’ve also had men show up with guns at courthouses with the intent to shoot us all; I’ve received, along with others, death threats; etc., etc., etc. Fine. That’s what happens when you work in judicial/law enforcement.

                You also get jaded, working in judicial/law enforcement. I do realize that these are not the majority; but I also realize what the majority do not really want to admit: (1) there is a dark side to gun ownership and (2) the people who own the most guns, with the most firepower, are likely to be either harmless collectors OR extremely dangerous “militia” types. And, sadly, a lot of times you can’t tell them apart until the crap flies. I don’t believe in panic bans. (I do want everyone to have to have a background check and gun insurance; I consider that a no-brainer.) But I do believe in being realistic about what’s going on.

                • Pete the Greek

                  Half? No. Some does, certainly. However, laws about selling to felons still applies. If I sell a shotgun to someone who turns out to be a felon and the trace if thrown on the shotgun, guess what? I’ll be arrested. That’s why I’m very careful whenever I sell.

                  “used against ex-soldiers and others who suffer from PTSD”
                  – I’ve heard this. This is partially because the ‘mental illness’ gets thrown around a lot not just for serious cases, but even for things that normal people wouldn’t come close to calling ‘mental illness’. The argument also made is that if you begin stripping soldiers who serve honorably of their rights based upon circumstances they don’t have control over, many will stop seeking help. The issue here is not one of absolutes, but one of categories. Properly set laws I don’t think would cause a problem. But when it comes to gun laws lately, few people bother to try to be rational about it.

                  ” I do realize that these are not the majority”
                  – Thank you for not painting us all as murderous psychopaths.

                  “there is a dark side to gun ownership”
                  – Which is…. ?

                  ” I’ve also had men show up with guns at courthouses with the intent to shoot us all; I’ve received, along with others, death threats; etc., etc., etc. Fine. That’s what happens when you work in judicial/law enforcement.”
                  – You’re not special. I’ve had similar incidents and I work in low income real estate.

                  “the people who own the most guns, with the most firepower, are likely tobe either harmless collectors OR extremely dangerous “militia” types.”
                  – Yes, in much the same way that the swarthy, dark skinned guy working at the local deli is either just a non-white business owner/employee OR…. an Al Queda sleeper agent! He could be, I guess. The militia thing is WAY overblown. Genuine revolutionists in this country are about as common actual KKK members anymore, thank heavens. Mainly their specter is brought out to scare people.

                  ” But I do believe in being realistic about what’s going on.”
                  – As do I, which is why I’m not frantically pushing for more laws at a time when violent crime in the United States is near a 50 year low while at the same time firearm laws have in general grown much more lax.

              • ” I’ve seen drunk drivers and road ragers too, FAR more of them in person than violent lawful gun owners.”

                I’ve had the “privilege” of knowing someone who was both — my cousin was killed by a man with a lawfully-owned gun, in a case of road rage. The man had a history, too, of waving his gun in public and threatening to shoot people, but apparently he was still allowed to keep his gun. Because Florida.

                I’m not actually in favor of complete bans; I believe I have mentioned before that my father owned guns, both for protection and hunting. But I think we need better and more laws and better enforcement of said laws (depending on the jurisdiction).

                • Pete the Greek

                  That’s terrible.

                  While no lawyer myself, I do know something of gun laws. Brandishing a weapon and threatening lethal force with said weapon consists of multiple felonies, at least in my state. So, no on pressed charges in this case?

                  I ask because it reminds me of the Naval Yard shooter. He was SEVERELY mentally disturbed, and had committed multiple acts of assault, but NO ONE CHARGED HIM WITH A CRIME. He was even picked up on felony charges while still in the military, and had he been charged instead of being let go because they didn’t want to jeopardize his record, he wouldn’t have been able to get the weapon he used.

                  Same thing with the Santa Barbara shooter. What good are these laws if no one bothers enforcing them?

                  • Right. He was arrested for those incidents, but apparently never convicted (if I remember correctly). I never fully understood why, and obviously I was distracted by grief then. I meant to ask my father ( a criminal defense attorney, who flew down for the trial to support his sister), but I never got around to it and, well, he has since died.

                    • Pete the Greek

                      Well, sorry to bring that up. I think if we actually prosecuted people who did things like that, brandish and threaten with a weapon (totally different from just yelling you’re going to ‘slap someone upside the head’ say,) we could prevent a LOT of problems later.

                      Are you familiar with the North Hollywood shootout of some years back, where two guys with heavy body armor turned several blocks of Hollywood into Mogadishu for over an hour?

                      Same kind of thing: Those SAME perps had been stopped by the California State Police WEEKS before, and found with illegal weapons and drugs. They just…. let them go.

                    • “Well, sorry to bring that up.”

                      Don’t worry about it. Instead (sigh) we could talk about my husband’s college roommate, who was shot to death in Florida on Friday; it’s made the national news now: http://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/local/2014/07/19/fsu-law-professor-dies-shooting/12891513/

                      Actually, Mark, if you are reading this, would you mind turning this into a prayer request? For Dan’s family and friends, and especially his two little boys.

            • Pete the Greek

              BTW, was it you I was talking to that said their neighbor was planting land mines in their yard? What ever came of that? Did you report it?

              • Eve Fisher

                He died a while back. While he was alive, everyone knew about it, and everyone was too afraid of him to do anything. It wasn’t worth the fire-fight, I suppose.

                • Pete the Greek

                  OK, so he’s dead. But, as the occasional exploding tractor/plow in French fields prove, explosives tend to have a long life when properly placed. So you’re telling me that the mines are still there and nobody bothered to check? Really?????

          • I see your point that those who a dead set against learning won’t, and that those who do want to will seek out the knowledge on their own, but I think there is a third category of people who either hadn’t given much thought to proper training or who are a little lazy or clueless about how to get it. They are the ones who could be reached through mandatory training. I think, also, it would set a good example to the public at large and especially kids and teens about the importance of training — especially to counteract the Hollywood narrative of a lone wolf who doesn’t play by the rules and won’t by cowed by paper-pushing bureaucrats taking out a cartel/terrorist cell/gang with nary a missed shot or a moment of panic.

            • Pete the Greek

              “who either hadn’t given much thought to proper training or who are a little lazy or clueless about how to get it.”
              – As to the first category, almost always women, gun salesmen (as women almost ALWAYS purchase from a brick and mortar store) will always suggest ways to familiarize them. Ranges I’ve gone to even go so far as to offer basic instruction for free, at very minimum, that of safety. They get what they need anyway.

              The ‘little lazy’ aren’t a third category. They belong to the same category as those set against it. They are the people who buy a fire extinguisher and throw away the directions and forget what the instructor says anyway. (BTW, this category is almost always guys).

              ” especially to counteract the Hollywood narrative of a lone wolf”
              – These people also belong to the ‘set against’ category. Forget it. Secondly, the dominant Holywood culture is that civilians owning firearms is DOUBLE UNGOOD BAD and probably means you’re a murderer or, God help you, a Republican.

              People have too much of a fetish for training for simple stuff. Unless you are going to carry your weapon on your person around in public, you really don’t need training. You need to know basic safety and operation, which is offered free almost always. Most guns never go anywhere except the house and the range so it doesn’t really matter.

  • SteveP

    It is okay, Mark, as they were not bundling in targets depicting cartoon characters allegedly same-sex attracted.

    The KofC here raffles off a rifle every now and again; maybe it was a shotgun a year or two ago. I don’t think any anticipated an increase in church membership because of the raffle. Perhaps that is your criticism of the congregation in MO–that they have such a low view of men i.e. they can be lured with tools.

  • IRVCath

    Look, Mark, I’m not per se opposed to gun control, but can’t you argue that the assault rifles will (let us pray) be used for recreational purposes (ie. shooting cans and watwrmelons?). Regilate it, sure, but it’s unlikely the winners will use it for anything else than wasting their money shooting empty cans of Corona or fruit.

    • Reading the story, the most likely use the things will be put to is dinner acquisition. People hunt with them. It’s become popular. But Mark doesn’t realize this so he ends up out of touch and elitist.

  • KM

    All I need to know about this church — which is called humorously enough “Ignite Church” — is summed up in these paragraphs:

    “To lure them in, Sunday morning services start later (10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.) than many churches, the rock music is loud, the black-and-green color theme is almost reminiscent of a video game system, and the pastor has tattoos and a short mohawk.

    “We’re not trying to put on a show for anybody,” Mooneyham said. “We’re just dudes.””


    What? You mean the rock music and the tattooed pastor with a mohawk aren’t enough to draw in “dudes” to the Ignite Church? I’m shocked. It almost sounds like a bar-pretending-to-be-a-church.

    • KM


      Here’s Pastor Heath Mooneyham of Ignite Church, wearing his Drink Up t-shirt and his Bass Pro Shops hat. Just the guy to teach us about Jesus.

      • Rebecca Fuentes

        I know we are supposed to be charitable, but I can’t stop laughing. It feels like an Onion article.

        • KM


          Pastor Bartender Dude’s youtube video is even more hilarious.

          I’m beginning to think that the gun industry is punking average Muricans. “Hey, let’s set up some “churches” (wink wink) that are really bars and gun shops. We get tax exemption and we get to sell more guns. WIN!”

          • KM
            • KM

              Starting at the 2:00 mark, Pastor Heath says: “Get your butts to church. If you’re late don’t cry to me that you’re a pansy and you can’t set your alarm. Alright, you’re a big boy. You got big balls between your legs. You’re a dad, right? Get up, set your alarm, don’t be a wuss….” He also says “screwed,” “crap” and “you’re awesome” all in this one video.

              • Pete the Greek

                This has the greasy feel of a late night TV infomercial…

                They should have used the ShamWow (SP?) guy instead.

                • KM

                  Good point. Based on the description the “church” itself seems more like a party clubhouse community than a church. Turns out the “church” was started with the help of the Association of Related Churches (ARC) which is like a franchise operation. In exchange for helping set up ARC church plants with seed money, ARC gets a percentage of revenues. Seems like a business scam.

                  • Dave G.

                    It’s all descended from the old “Seeker Sensitive” Church concept. Whatever it takes to get them in the pews. All other considerations are irrelevant. This is just an extreme example. It’s like the Catholic Churches that look like anything but a Catholic Church in order to be outreaching. Really. I used the restroom in a church a year ago waiting for my boy’s game to start. The stadium wasn’t open yet, so I had to find a bathroom, and fast. I was in and out and had no clue it was Catholic. Until I saw the sign on the opposite end of the church from where I came in. Protestant mega-church is what it looked like. So it’s all part of the same trend, this is just a more extreme example.

              • Rebecca Fuentes

                But no mention of God, Jesus or the Bible at any point. Hmmm.

                • KM

                  According to his bio on his blog, after being a “youth pastor” for a year or two without any formal training in theology whatsoever, Heath Mooneyham and a group of people decided to start their own church for “reaching the lost.”

                  One of the church’s six core values is “Party: Eat, Drink and Be Merry.” Among their beliefs is “We liberally allow freedom for conscience and wisdom to guide where the Bible is silent.” http://ignitechurch.tv/about-us/substances/

                  To add more strangeness to the weirdness, “Pastor Heath” reveals that his favorite color is green, he enjoys all food, and he likes the “The Matrix” movie trilogy. http://ignitechurch.tv/about-us/staff/

                  Wondering if the Onion is behind this, because it seems like a joke.

          • Rebecca Fuentes

            I bet you that I could start a rousing chapter of Guns for God right here in my hometown (not that I’d want to). Sadly, it would appeal to too many.

          • Joe

            Did I hear him say “rifle-y so”–slurred speech? No, that can’t be it!

  • Joe

    The only thing stranger than American-style Catholicism and American-style Protestantism.

    • Joe

      Correction: The only thing stranger than American-style Catholicism is American-style Protestantism.

      • Dave G.

        Thank you. I was waiting and wondering just what could be stranger than those two things (though I can’t help but think some of it in other cultures is just as strange, but to us Americans, it just looks neat and exotic).

  • iamlucky13

    Mark, I appreciate the legitimate point buried in the middle of your post, and am not a fan of whatever form of this form of evangelization, but this sort of exaggeration that defines just about every comment I’ve seen you make regarding firearms is childish, probably counterproductive to your intention, and borders on dishonest.

  • Mark, really, seriously, go google “modern sporting rifle”. A lot of AR-15s are used to hunt these days. You’ll see plenty of links like the one below.


    You’re the top result on the search you linked to but here’s a quote from the second link at the NY Daily News:

    “Local music shop owner and lead guitarist for the church band Dan McCain won one of the weapons.

    “I’ve never won anything in my life, so it was exciting. I enjoy hunting and target shooting. I haven’t had the opportunity to hunt in a while, but hope to change that this season,” he said.”

    Maybe that might have given you a clue that you’re taking this in the wrong direction?

  • entonces_99

    I read several of the linked articles about this raffle, but I couldn’t references to how either the church or those participating in the raffle intend to use these rifles to blow anybody’s head off. I’m sure I just wasn’t looking carefully enough, but could someone please show me where that was their intention?

    Seriously though, what people generally use AR-15s for is target practice, competition, and hunting, *not* for blowing anyone’s head off. Rifles of any kind are rarely used for either illegal homicides or for self-defense. Accusing the church of celebrating killing, because they are raffling off a rifle that has plenty of wholesome, peaceful uses is like condemning the raffling off of an F-150 truck because some people use them (or could use them) to run other people down.