What Do I Think of Jim Pouillon’s Murder?

What Do I Think of Jim Pouillon’s Murder? September 13, 2009

I see how people on another Catholic blog are wondering why Vox Nova is treating this murder as a “non-event”. I won’t address the implicit assumption that somehow Vox Nova is a giant “borg” collective, with a nefarious strategy designed to annoy and befuddle “true” pro-lifers everywhere! I won’t address the point that the extremist tactics undertaken by so many in the political pro-life movement — and lauded on the right-wing Catholic blogs – seem to be pleasing a smaller and angrier choir, aligning the movement ever more closer to a political philosophy that stands sharply against the core tenets of Catholic social teaching, and turning off the kinds of people we absolutely must persuade if anything is to be done on the abortion front. Others here have addressed that quite well.

No, I want to talk about something quite simple. Murder is murder. The murder of a human being is an affront to the Creator, a most evil and wicked act, that can never be justified, whether we are talking about an abortion doctor or an abortion protestor. But if we really want to stop the murders, to stop the crazy extremists on both sides resorting to murder, the answer is simple – we need forceful gun control. We need to take the weapons out of the hands of those people who would – whether with malice or in passion – use them to kill people they disagree with. I’ve blogged about this ad nauseam. I’ve talked about how the US homicide rate is far higher than comparator countries and how that can be traced to the widespread availability and ownership of guns, particularly handguns. So if we want to get serious, I urge all Catholics to push for rigorous gun control. Let us all support the USCCB on this matter, which has been making this argument since the 1970s, calling for an eventual ban on handguns. Let’s put aside the individualist ideology and constitution worship for a change, and help save lives. And stop dodging the real issue. Gun control now.

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  • I think it’s strange that the same guy who said he was glad George Tiller was killed is criticizing this blog for not being more vocal about Pouillon’s murder.

  • Three things.

    1)There is no “assumption” – why can’t a question just be a question?

    2) My political philosophy IS Catholic social teaching, so I don’t suppose that argument will work very will against me; I imagine there are others who don’t take it very seriously, and that is unfortunate.

    3a) How can you possibly know who is going to kill someone they disagree with? Your call amounts not to ‘gun control’ (which, depending on what is exactly proposed, I can support) but a total gun ban (which I will never support).

    3b) To say that the USCCB has been calling for a handgun ban “since” the 1970’s is a little misleading to me – it is more accurate to say that they brought it up once, in the 70’s, and to my knowledge have not brought up the issue since.

    However, I will be the first to admit that my knowledge, and my efforts to find out what the current position on gun control is, maybe entirely inadequate. Is there a document that has been issued in the last 30 years that I might look to?

    3c) The USCCB, in the final analysis, has no authority over Catholics. It’s positions ought to be respected, but to question the ideological and methodological biases of its research staff is a far, far cry from disobedience to Church teaching. Nowhere in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church do I see this call for the banning of weapons repeated, for instance.

  • A ban would restrict pistols to criminals who would obtain them the same way they obtain cocaine…from Latin America…Brazil…Taurus pistols. Or they would cut down shotguns (which will never be banned in the US) beneath 18″ barrel length to 14″ which the police can do…which is a Class III offense so that you would have many criminals carrying very short shotguns.
    One stands an 80% chance of living through one pistol shot and a 4% chance of living through a 12 gauge shotgun blast with double o buckshot…the equivalent of getting hit with a continous blast from an Uzi….20 gauge is equivalent to getting hit with two 44 magnum bullets at once.
    In short, the victim of muggers with a pistol ban will pray that his muggers have an imported pistol from Brazil.

  • But let me add MM….that your goal is good which is the decrease of murders but murders can always be done with knives and razors and baseball bats too and it’s just utopian in the extreme to imagine them also banned. So the murders have to decrease from an avenue other than banning implements.

  • brettsalkeld

    I’m not sure what to make of the ‘guns from Brazil’ take. Up here in Canada no one is shooting anyone with sawed-off shotguns. The only people shooting others are gang members in big cities and they get almost all their guns from, you guessed it, the USA. We’re all hoping you guys outlaw handguns so that our, comparatively meager, murder rate will go down.

  • Yes, Brett, and the US gun policy is also destroying Mexico as we speak. Where do you think the gangs are getting their guns? For a moral perspective, Americans must take these side effects into account.

  • Bill, that’s true, a dedicated murderer will find a way to complete the ghastly deed if he is really set on it. But not having guns makes it so much harder. You won’t see epidemics of murders by razor blades and baseball bats. This is especially important as so many gun deaths arise from crimes of passion – add a gun to a heated argument, and it can end horribly.

    It is utopian to suggest that we can eliminate murder. It is not utopian to suggest that we can reduce the US homicide and suicide rate to that of other countries of smiliar economic development by controlling the availability of guns.

  • Here’s what a quick google search pulls up, Joe:
    http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/criminal/gunsample.shtml

    Faithful Citizenship kept it pretty vague, but it tied it all into the culture of violence: “supporting reasonable restrictions on access to assault
    weapons and handguns” alonsgide reducing violence in the media and abolishing the death penalty.

  • Brett
    You have 7.8 people per square mile. You can’t find each other let alone shoot each other. The US has 80 people per square mile. In fact there are few countries with less density than yours. And you did not have a history of oppressing a group who is now crowded near you but making less income. Your native Indians are 3.8% of your population but your lack of density prevents some problems. We have density and a black population that was oppressed and is now 12% of the population and was brought here by coercion while many who come to the US are the type A’s from Europe etc which mix is a recipe for trouble. Yet many Catholic countries of Latin America have a higher rate of murder than the US does.

    Japan has 870 people per square mile but it has ethnic homogeneity and is the third safest country in the world and ethnic homogeneity is a factor in safe Switzerland and Iceland and Norway.

  • MM
    Actually New Jersey for example is very strict as to obtaining pistols as to her laws but criminals simply travel several states south and obtain them through an accompanying relative who has no jail record and has a driver’s license.
    Unless things have changed in the past few years, you can buy a semi-auto assault weapon in NY with a drivers license but that same weapon is illegal and is a five year sentence in New Jersey and you could not buy it there if you were a policeman for his own house. But 20 minutes away, you could buy it with a driver’s license.
    Countries are the same problem. You would have to ban handguns internationally and close those industries in each country during this current economic climate in order for your laws here to work.

  • Just as a point of fact: To my knowledge there is a much bigger law enforcement problem with American gangs (especially in California) getting guns from Mexico (often types which are totally illegal in the US) than there is with Mexico getting guns from the US. Among other things, US arms are fairly expensive compared to the world arms market — so there’s really no motivation for criminal organizations to get their guns from the US. It’s not the Colt 1911 .45 being sold for $800 at your local gun store which is likely to be a problem — is the cheapo .38 revolver brought into the US illegally and sold on the street for under $100.

  • Darwin
    There is a problem with Mexican gangs getting high powered assault weapons in the US which weapons are armor piercing. Los Zetos is a Mexican gang which started off as ex military who were protecting cartels and now are one themselves but they have been buying things like AR 15’s in the US and with them, they can easily overpower ordinary Mexican police.
    The US allowing these weapons to be sold is bizarre since neither a hunter nor a home defense person needs them. For home defense, if you miss with an AR 15 the bullet can not only go out the window but travel a very long distance and kill a child blocks away. A shotgun has more trauma effect close by and loses power exponentially with distance traveled and also the contents spread so wide that ironically they are safest as to people outside the house being hurt… depending on loading them with shot designed to dissipate quickly.

  • Well, I suppose if they really wanted AR-15s, they’d have to buy them in the US — though I’m not really sure why they would other than as a status symbol. The AR-15 is not capable of automatic fire, and the .223 Rem cartridge is not really the greatest one in the world by most standards — having its pre-military genesis (and most of its civilian use to this day) as a varmint cartridge.

    The main uses of the AR-15 in the US would be not for hunting or home defense but rather target shooting, being one of the three “service rifles” approved for us in the High Power Rifle tournaments which involve shooting with iron sights only from 200 to 1000 yards:

    http://www.nrahq.org/compete/highpower.asp

    Regardless, the big problem (at least in the Southwest where I’m from) is with US gangs bringing in fully automatic weapons via Mexico, things like the fully automatic version of the AK-47, which can be got very cheaply in most violent, third world countries.

    Fact of the matter is — the AK-47 and other similar third world assault rifles would probably be much more dangerous to Mexican police, being fully automatic and thus able to spray bullets around indiscriminately. The AR-15 (being the civilian model of the M-16) may look scary, but it’s no more dangerous than any other semi-automatic rifle.

  • Darwin
    I’m on the NY harbor and your area is scarier to me than our area is. Though here we are getting these awful sex related murders which this Annie Le of Yale University will probably turn out to be and such murders have little to do with guns. They have found what appears to be her body within a wall and the person who did likely had a Yale ID card. Very awful with similar things having happened at Columbia University in NY City but there in the surrounding neighborhood. Why in the world has not science come up with a tranquilizer gun for humans rather than for bears that women could carry to disable such men. Let us all pray for the families of victims that they can still love God despite what His will permits to daughters like Annie Le. The permissive will of God is an area that is fraught with spiritual temptations in these tragedies.

  • brettsalkeld

    The density argument is a non-starter. We have huge tracts of virtually unpopulated lands in the north that make that stat jump out, but the vast majority of the population lives within 100 miles of the US border. (Edmonton is the only major city outside of that zone.) Our cities have a similar density and our cities are notoriously not ethnically homogeneous.

    I used to live in Regina, a city that has a significant community of native peoples who suffer significant social disadvantages due to historical circumstances. There are occasional murders in that community, but it is usually a stabbing or someone being beaten to death at a party where alcohol and drugs blew some minor issue out of proportion.

    Now, for every murder by stabbing and beating, there are innumerable stabbings and beatings that do not lead to death or even hospitalization. It just takes way more effort and way more persistence to kill someone in these ways than with a handgun. Usually before someone dies, someone else is able to intervene or cooler heads prevail. There is room to back off once you’ve beaten some one with the leg of a coffee table. Not so much when you’ve shot him in the face.

  • Sadly, most Americans are clueless about Canada.

  • Brett
    A simple handled razor bought in Home Depot applied with moderate strength to the carotid artery beneath the ear on the neck and forward will kill in minutes. You can thank God you have a lot of non researching knife fighters there. I’ll summarize briefly…the US has a mix of aggressives and passive aggressives that result in our successes and our problems… thanks to history which constitutes an unfortunate mix and the aggressives will prevent pistol control because many states have pistol control which requires mental health checks and felony checks but their prudence is overcome from other states having much less thorough checks and a simple drive ruins the prudence of some states. In the NY harbor area a year ago but on the New Jersey side (New Jersey allows scarce pistol carry permits) two white men were arrested with a car trunk filled with pistols bought down south that they were trying to sell in a black area of a northern city. That is the US problem…many states with different background checks on pistols and assault weapons purchases and some states selling easily to those who would get rejected in their own state. The reason no pol would succeed in getting a Federal law against pistols is that the populace would feel and rightly to a degree that criminals would still get them from e.g. Taurus in Brazil through criminals dedicated to making the same trips that cocaine traffickers make.
    If we cannot keep out cocaine and 12 million illegals, you can hardly convince home defender minded people that you will keep out pistols from reaching the very same people that South American cocaine is reaching each week for a half century.

  • brettsalkeld

    A simple handled razor bought in Home Depot applied with moderate strength to the carotid artery beneath the ear on the neck and forward will kill in minutes. You can thank God you have a lot of non researching knife fighters there.

    I can’t see quite what this has to do with anything. Yes, if more people were trained in the fine art of killing without a gun, then standard household items would be more likely to end up leading to deaths, rather than just injuries, in the heat of the moment. You say that we can thank God that more people don’t have such training. Why not add to that prayer, I wonder, my gratitude that they don’t have guns?

  • Brett
    You in Canada are pretty good on murder rates but you are not ideal which is the impression you are giving and if you live in Nova Scotia perhaps that area has a better safety rate and you see that reality as widespread in Canada. Wiki actually seems to have the most detailed list for recent years of 140 countries wherein Canada is 88th and the US is 48th up from Honduras as worst (five Catholic countries are in the top 11 murder rate countries) but that does mean that you have a higher rate without pistols than 52 countries (or 37% of the earth) do…with or without pistols.

    So you are safer than 63% of countries and we are safer than 34% of countries (17 of those less safe countires being Catholic). But you are worse than 37% of countries and we are worse than 66% of countries. So we both need a death penalty that is quickly used (which the US has never had but one sees it in Acts 5 wherein scripture says “the whole community took fear”)but we need it with high standards for evidence in such cases…you know…the same death penalty that Catholicism affirmed for most of the years between Augustine in the 5th century and 1952 when Pius XII affirmed it while he had “modern penology” as an alternative (read…”life sentences” as the catechism’s coded “modern penology”….which life sentences an Avignon Pope, Clement VII used against some of the Knights Templars so it was a miracle of conformist tendencies that John Paul was able to convince nearly a billion people that life sentences were new).

  • Bill Bannon: Have to give you credit for being such a tireless advocate of the death penalty. Your dedication to the cause is inspiring.

  • Michael,
    I won’t ask what exactly it inspires.

  • Bill,

    Good move!

  • LOL

  • Brett

    I live in downtown Toronto. I spoke this weekend at a parish at the intersection of Jane and Finch, the epicentre of a neighborhood that has probably the highest murder rate in Canada. It has been taken over by gangs that run guns from the States.