The Right to Keep and Bear Arms

by Jimmy Akin

in Law, Moral Theology

The odds that it is being infringed went down this week when, among other things, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark decision (.pdf)in which it held that the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms applies not only to the federal government but to state and local governments as well.

Because this isn’t a legal blog, I’m going to pass over the legal intricacies and arguments that the case involved (though they are fascinating) and go to the moral issue in question: Is it a good idea for people to have the right to own guns?

Of course, we are not talking about all people without exception. As the decision in this Supreme Court case as well as the previous one noted, lawmakers can reasonably bar felons and the mentally ill from owning guns. (Personally, I would change “felons” to “violent criminals,” due to the absurd extent to which federal law has started classifying things as felonies; I’d also shore up “mentally ill” to make sure that only those who pose a danger to themselves or others are intended, due to the tendencies to classify everything under the sun as a mental illness, but those are other issues.) The question is: Should ordinary, law-abiding, mentally stable individuals be allowed to own guns?

And by “guns” I mean “firearms that are in functional condition,” not “pieces of disassembled metal that could be taken out of a locked container and/or assembled and/or unlocked and/or loaded and so be turned into functional firearms in a few minutes time.” (Sorry for the verbal gymnastics, but that is the state of affairs to which opponents of gun rights have pushed things.)

So: Should ordinary people be allowed to own guns?

Guns are marvelous tools. That’s why we fight wars with them. On a smaller scale, we also defend ourselves with them, we hunt with them, obtain food with them, control dangerous predators like bears and mountain lions with them, control animal populations like deer that would otherwise suffer unless culled, signal the start of sporting events with them, and use them in marksmanship competitions.

The last two cases are atypical. Starter pistols are loaded with blanks or caps and are or are used in a deliberately non-lethal way. Similarly, marksmanship competitions are not the main use for which guns are intended.

The situations we are concerned with are those in which guns are aimed at their primary targets: animals or humans.

What about animals?

The Church acknowledges that animals do not have rights the way humans do. Consequently, it is never murder to kill an animal and we have the right to eat animals, use their skins, etc. Unnecessary cruelty toward animals is a sin, but this involves an abuse of human nature rather than a violation of an animal’s rights. Activities like hunting, obtaining food, eliminating predators that pose a danger to humans or livestock, and culling animal populations to keep them in balance are morally licit in principle.

Still, these considerations don’t go to the use of firearms that gun control advocates are most concerned about, so let’s look at the issue of using firearms against other humans.

What we are talking about, essentially, is war on the individual scale.

The Church views war as something that is always a tragedy, but it acknowledges that the use of warfare is mortally legitimate when a nation needs to protect its (or others’) interests and there is no less destructive practically way to do this.

In the same way, the Church recognizes an individual right of self defense. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor…. the one is intended, the other is not.”

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.

Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life. Preserving the common good requires rendering the unjust aggressor unable to inflict harm [CCC 2263-2265].

So we have a right, and at times a duty, to use lethal force in defending life. Does that translate into a right to own guns?

Well, guns are remarkably good tools for administering lethal force—and by extension they are remarkably good tools for keeping aggressors at bay. They are also tremendous equalizers.

Put on your Father Brown hat for a moment and think like a criminal—a home invader. Whose home do you want to invade? One with a bunch of people in it, including at least one large adult male? Or a home with only one person in it, who happens to be smaller, female, and perhaps elderly? If you are a home invader, you stand a better chance at holding your own in the latter circumstance than the former, making it the logical (if monstrous) choice for you.

But suppose the little old lady has a gun! And goes to the range regularly! And has carefully thought through what she would do in the event of a home invasion!

Suddenly you’re on a much more equal footing with your potential victim—even if you, the home invader, yourself have a gun.

And, of course, criminals often do have guns. If the one attempting to victimize you has one, and if you have a right and/or duty to defend yourself against him (which the Church acknowledges you do) then that right entails the means you will need to perform the act of legitimate defense. In other words, it entails a right and/or duty to use a gun—unless you have some other means of effectively defending yourself against an attacker with a gun (e.g., maybe you’re Wonder Woman and can do bullets and bracelets).

Or suppose that your attacker doesn’t have a gun but that he’s just much more physically powerful, agile, and skilled at violence than you are. To exercise your right to or fulfill your duty to perform legitimate defense in such a situation, you need something to equalize matters, and a gun is a very good option. Perhaps the only one.

It would be wonderful if we lived in a world in which all weapons could be beaten into ploughshares and nobody would make individual war any more, but we’re not in that world, yet, and ordinary people still have that right and/or duty to defend themselves and others, using lethal force if necessary.

So there is a significant case to be made that ordinary, law-abiding, mentally-stable people ought to be able to own guns.

Of course, there are arguments against this—that having more guns around increases gun violence, that there would be gun accidents, etc.

Such claims should not be taken uncritically.

There are two sides to this story, as there are to so many, and people on both sides of the issue need to have their facts and arguments vetted.

Statistical arguments are interesting and need to be given their proper weight. So does the question of what you, personally, would do if you (God forbid) find yourself in such a desperate situation.

Because the saying is true: When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

What are your thoughts?

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{ 65 comments }

The Masked Chicken July 1, 2010 at 5:23 am

Should ordinary people be allowed to own guns?
Own? Sure. Fire? In the ideal world, where criminals and wars did not exist, a gun would be merely an interesting physics experiment.
Notice, the Second Amendment does not say the right to bear guns, but rather, the right to bear arms. In that light (no pun intended), why aren’t laser guns a better way to go? They shoot straighter, have pin-point accuracy, are almost impossible to stop, leave no powder residue, do not scatter matter, and leave no blood. There is a company (who shall remain nameless) which just released, for the public (!) a 1 watt laser (not a gun – think flashlight size) for only $250. That thing will burn through flesh, blind in an instant, and probably incinerate mice at twenty feet.*
Really, guns? How 19th century :)
The Chicken
*The instructions, from what I gather for the laser are hilarious: “If caught in laser beam, turn off laser with remaining hand.” A laser that powerful will burn out the retina faster than the blink reflex can close the eye (about 1/3 second). Clearly, this laser is a law suit waiting to happen. Flashlight collectors (there are many, see, here) are waiting to get one because they know that the lasers will probably be pulled from the market in a few months.

Yeoman July 1, 2010 at 6:50 am

Should people be allowed to own firearms? Absolutely.
Indeed, the entire concept that people should not be allowed to own firearms is generally quite recent, and pretty strongly associated with a high degree of nanny state type thinking. It’s been well established that lots of firearms does not equate with lots of violence, and firearms are a useful tool in a lot of ways, including a lot that have nothing to do with self defense.
On the Chicken’s comments, fwiw, the use of the term “arms” in the Constitution means small arms. Small arms were and are a class of arm. The reason that this matters somewhat in this context, is that many of the more destructive weapons that people like to interject into this argument would have been classified as “ordnance”. You often hear, for example, “well what about rocket launchers”. Well, rocket launchers are, in the 18th (and 19th) Century context, ordnance, not arms.

Mark Scott Abeln July 1, 2010 at 7:05 am

Socialists generally state that individuals do not have the right to protect themselves – while Libertarians generally state that individuals have the right to any kind of weapon. These both appear to be violations of common sense and the natural law.
I once discussed the idea of self-defence with a socialist; she thought that no such right existed. At first she said that Christians must not kill, and this initially seems convincing. But then I asked if she would NOT protect a loved one who was being attacked. Eventually she agreed, but thought that too many people are too willing to kill others with only the slightest pretext of self-defence, and I can agree with that.
I also discussed this with an libertarian, who thought that private individuals should own nukes for self-defence. But why can’t other people defend themselves by not allowing others to have nukes? These weapons are not specific and local, and any nuke can be a threat to people around the world.
I would think that the Just War Doctrine applies not only to governments going to war, but also to private individuals or groups defending themselves. Self-defence, and defense of others is a natural, inalienable right of human beings, but must be regulated by the principles of justice. This would seem to allow weapons of a personal nature, but not those that kill on a large scale.
How does being a Christian modify this? Certainly it would seem that the moral use of force would be greatly curtailed. However, some socialists seem to tell us that we ought to just roll over and be conquered, which is not just and rather self-serving on their part. Perhaps we can gain inspiration from the acts of noble Catholic knights during the days of Christendom: they would praise their enemies if they fought honorably and justly, and would rather make a new friend than kill an adversary.

Marcus July 1, 2010 at 7:05 am

I was going to make the same point as the chicken. I think we have the right to defend ourselves, but seriously, is propelling a piece of metal at high speeds with the hope of hitting something vital on an attacker really the best we can come up with? Should I also replace my home alarm system with a moat.
My “problem” with guns is that it seems like a lot of already bad situations end up way worse because of the quick access to a gun.

Mark Scott Abeln July 1, 2010 at 7:11 am

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

2309 The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
- there must be serious prospects of success;
- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the “just war” doctrine.

This seems to be also relevant and morally binding for self-defence and revolution.

Yeoman July 1, 2010 at 2:11 pm

I may be in error, and would yield to correction, but I think there are significant differences between just wars and private self defense. Self defense is not only very immediate, but very limited. You are confronted, believe yourself legitimately to be in danger of severe harm or death, and use force. Once the force stops the opponent, you must stop. That is, once the danger is gone, you no longer have any license to use force.
War, on the other hand, is a legal state between nations. Once commenced, the participants are licensed to use lethal force without being in imminent danger of harm. Combatants in war have no duty to stop and assess the threat posed by an enemy, although they must, morally, spare an opponent who is known to have ceased fighting or be incapable of doing so.
Anyhow, I don’t think we can really compare warfare and private self defense.
Also, I don’t know that the current Catechism sanctions revolution. The Catechism speaks solely to “defense by military force”. Armed revolution is the overthrow of an established authority by means of arms. That’s normally an offensive, not defensive, action. I suppose you can argue about resort to arms against violent oppressive governments, but that does put the debaters out on a limb.

The Masked Chicken July 1, 2010 at 4:03 pm

On the Chicken’s comments, fwiw, the use of the term “arms” in the Constitution means small arms. Small arms were and are a class of arm. The reason that this matters somewhat in this context, is that many of the more destructive weapons that people like to interject into this argument would have been classified as “ordnance”. You often hear, for example, “well what about rocket launchers”. Well, rocket launchers are, in the 18th (and 19th) Century context, ordnance, not arms.
Yeoman, put the idea of arms in historical context: the term is meant to reflect the weapons useful for a militia in 1787. The militia of that era were, in many cases, pick-up armies of town folk. As such, they had to have their weapons nearby in case of a sneak attack. What weapons were those? They were, generally, flintlocks and muskets. The modern equivalent would be the hand gun and the rifle. These were considered arms. Things like cannons were considered ordinances, primarily because they could not be stored in the home and had to be keep and regulated. In addition to rifles, one would, rightly, consider a bazooka to be an arms in modern equivalences, even though it did not exist during Revolutionary times. This is due to its ability to be kept in the home.
In modern military terms, however, an ordinance is something that is regulated by an authority who ordains its use. Who ordains the use of a weapon is a function of law. As such, it is within the ability of the government (note well) to define what is an ordinance. The gun and the rifle have been defined by the Constitution and historical practice as being arms; the bazooka would have been so classified, had it existed during Revolutionary times. Since it was a weapon developed in 1942, the classification fell upon the government (properly, the President, since it is up to him to ordain the use of new weaponry in a militia).
All that being said, people are not as smart about arms as they were back during the Revolutionary War days and the arms back then were much less powered. I would go so far as to say that anyone can own a musket if they want. The odds of killing someone is small. I think the modern arms are not what the writers of the Constitution could envision. As such, I do not think that the Constitution, from an historical perspective, when referring to arms includes modern guns and rifles, so I do not think that the Supreme Court has the authority to rule in the matter. A modern gun and a modern rifle would have been stored away, safely, during the Revolutionary period, not in the home.
People buy guns, today, for protection against thieves. This was not the intended protection of the right to bear arms guaranteed by the Constitution.
All that being said, there is the question of parity. Arms may be considered to be a parity of weapons with the enemy. If the enemy attacked a city in the US (say, they developed an invisible air craft), they would attack with guns and rifles. In that sense, the Constitution would provide that the notion of arms be that which is at least at parity with the arms of the enemy.
So, one may consider that from an historical perspective, no one has the right to bear modern arms, but from a philosophical perspective, everyone does.
Of the two, the philosophical perspective is the more general and the one that is more rational. Thus, if laser rifles are developed, I would expect that they would fall under the definition of arms.
The Chicken

The Masked Chicken July 1, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Okay, I need help from any legal types in the crowd. Could one make the following argument?
Section 8 of the Constitution says the following:
Section 8 – Powers of Congress…
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

The Second Amendment says:
Amendment 2 – Right to Bear Arms.
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.

It seem that there are three entities mentioned in Section 8: a standing national army, a standing national navy, and a state-regulated militia. In the second amendment, one aspect of the militia is spelled out: people could have their own arms. It would seem that the original intent of the militia was for it to be a pick-up type army as in the Revolutionary War, not the National Guard which has since developed. It seems that this has caused a sort of cognitive dissonance in legal theory, because if states can regulate the militia, it should be able to define the militia and who gets to carry arms, and yet, it would seem that the original intent of the Constitution was for the state to merely employ and train the militia.
It is that word, “train,” which is the focal point of the equivocation, in my opinion. Does training mean from within or without? In other words, in musical terms, is a conductor responsible for providing musical instruments to the any old person who asks and to train them to become musicians, or is he responsible for conducting the people who show up with musical instruments and training them to act as an ensemble?
It would seem unequivocal that the framers of the Constitution intended that, both positions be held, in part, but that the second interpretation be held more strongly, since they spelled it out in an amendment. When it says that it is the responsibility of the Federal Government:
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
It envisions that people could show up to be trained to be incorporated into a state militia if they were of service to the Federal Government, however, all other training for state uses would be done by the state. These trainings can be at cross purposes, however. This happened during the Civil War.
Specifically under arming, however, things are mushy. The Federal Government is given the power to arm the militia for Federal purposes, but nowhere so I read that the state is given the right to arm the militia. I suppose one could argue this under States Rights, however, its appears that the Second Amendment wanted to make it clear that EVEN IF the states did no arm their militia, the people, who would be called to form the militia by the state, would have the right to arm themselves. This is the basis for the right to bear arms of individuals. The idea of a state-sponsored National Guard where the state provided the guns is only one realization of a militia envisioned by the Constitution.
Consider the following scenario: an enemy attacks a state at point A with overwhelming force so as to call out all of the National Guard, while, simultaneously, launching a sneak attack at a much weaker and hitherfore unrecognized important target. In this case, the state would have the right to allow the establishment of instant militias composed of towns people who would be able to defend the unrecognized target. Thus, it would seem that there are three types of militia uses: 1) for Federal Government, 2) an organized militia for state defense, 3) an militia for emergencies not considered.
Thus, Section 8 and the Second Amendment may be reconciled by considering that Section 8 pertains to cases 1 and 2, while the Second Amendment pertains to case 3. As such, the right of an individual to bear arms is considered an emergency grant. Since being attacked by a thief may be considered a “war in miniature,” the right to carry a gun for self-defense would seem to be included in the Second Amendment.
Okay, fire away, so to speak. I may get a legal education for free.
The Chicken

Ben July 1, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Chicken, I would challenge this statement of yours: “People buy guns, today, for protection against thieves. This was not the intended protection of the right to bear arms guaranteed by the Constitution.”
I agree with your later post about are use of militias, and people were expected to be already pre-trained in small arms fire when they joined militias. Thus, one reason for the 2nd amendment. Yet, that hardly constistutes the only reason for that amendment’s existence.
The amendment is traceable back to England, where laws were established by Parliament essentially disarming the enemies of state (Catholics or Protestants, according to the times). This didn’t go well. Furthermore, people expected the right to personally protect their property from sheep-rustling and the like way back in British history.
It has not been mentioned here, but self-preservation in normal circumstances, is not only a right, but a sacred duty (if you are an innocent party).

Ben July 1, 2010 at 5:37 pm

Heh, that’s what I get for posting without reading: I see Jimmy made my “duty” point loud and clear in the NCR portion of his blog.
I’ve found Scalia’s 2008 decision in Heller v. District of Columbia (the case preventing the federal government from stepping on the individual’s 2nd amendment right) to be an amazing read. It obviously paved the way for this ruling. Scalia’s presentation gives a succinct historical backdrop, and its ultra-clear logic is something to keep even Jimmy’s wonderful writing humble. It’s only about 40 pages, and I highly recommend reading it.

The Masked Chicken July 1, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Dear Ben,
I made the argument more clearly in my second post. In the first post, I was talking about military use, but I was still wrong. I corrected it in my second post.
As such, the right of an individual to bear arms is considered an emergency grant. Since being attacked by a thief may be considered a “war in miniature,” the right to carry a gun for self-defense would seem to be included in the Second Amendment.
The Chicken

Leo July 1, 2010 at 8:52 pm

Should ordinary people be allowed to own guns?
If King George was about to invade – yes (with exceptions)
In the Wild West – yes (with exceptions)
In a civilized society – no (with exceptions).
The US Catholic Bishops are generally pro gun control.

bill912 July 2, 2010 at 3:16 am

Maybe, someday, we’ll live in a civilized society. Until then, we’ll have to deal with the barbarians in our midst.

Ben July 2, 2010 at 5:14 am

As long as “control” means reasonable restrictions on the sale of the handgun, but never the ban of its use, the Supreme Court said in the Heller case, there would be no problem. I particularly like the New Zealander’s idea posted in the other thread that his country requires a quickie course in gun safety as a prerequisite. Certainly licensing is another good prerequisite, as are criminal background checks.
So, in a certain sense, the Bishops cited are completely correct in the need for more control. And they are also correct about the ideal. And they may also be correct if they question if guns are the most effective way at safeguarding the individual and family from attack. Perhaps they have solid stats, suggesting dog ownership is. I definitely sympathize with them over the amount of violence that handgun ownership has led to. Nevertheless, I would think they are wrong if they clearly and forcefully advocate immediate handgun bans contrary to this week’s ruling, both as a matter of law and as a matter of morality. I assume there is not much moral difference between a handgun and any other weapon like a knife or a piece of rope. If wrong in that assumption, please someone show me the error in my thoughts.

David B. July 2, 2010 at 8:32 am

Good post, Jimmy. I always like it when one includes accurate quotes from the catechism. :-D

David B. July 2, 2010 at 8:36 am

P.S. The “right to bear arms” always reminds me of a “get fuzzy” comic, in which (IIRC) the naive dog is upset that others have a right to the arms of bears. ;-D

bill bannon July 2, 2010 at 9:00 am

Let’s remember that Elias who will return just prior to Christ’s return was a prophet who killed 450 prophets of Baal in I Kings 18:40 by slitting their throats: “Elijah had them brought down to the brook Kishon and there he slit their throats.”
None of your softie saints will return prior to Christ “on that terrible and great day”…Elias will.
Shotguns for home defense kill better and lose lethality better as to multiple wall penetration and harming nearby houses and people. Miss with a 50 caliber Taurus revolver and you’ll hit an innocent in Duluth even though you live in Maine..:)…hyperbole to make a point. Ironic. I have a pistol grip shotgun in case someone breaks in and one shot is the equivalent of a burst of multiple uzi fire. The reason you kill is because as long as a bad person can move their trigger finger, you or a loved one stand a chance of being killed or paralyzed for life by his 9mm (probably) and therefore if paralyzed, you will be fighting bedsores for the next decades of your life…which sores can also kill. It is the perps time to face God. Don’t bring in the “maybe he’ll repent” song and dance. It’s his time because the situation says it is. unless you are from Vox Nova. They can’t help it. You don’t discuss…those of you who are female….you shoot to kill if he is moving toward you or if he is stationary and holding a gun. Discuss and you are dead. Watch Lifetime for Women network on cable….a woman is always discussing as the perp moves closer to her to aikido the gun off her.
No movement allowed; no pistol holding allowed; no discussions allowed. It’s his time.
Think real Vatican. Swiss Guard have Heckler and Koch MP5A3′s….on sale in the in the wind market, they are 13K each (retail 15K) and the intent of those submachine guns is not to wound. Their intent is the particular judgement since it is the attacker’s time.
Think real Vatican…not Civilta Catolica editorials.

Mary July 2, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Note this: Letters of Marque and Reprisal.
That means that the Constitution thinks that a private citizen can build a ship of war and sail it off.

Mike Melendez July 4, 2010 at 5:29 am

Mary: I’m not sure what you point is. At the time of the Constituion, _all_ oceanic merchant ships were armed. Today, that would cost too much, particularly in insurance, so they aren’t. Though the waters of the Red Sea are getting shipping and insurance companies to reconsider. The reason is the same: to fend off amateur navies.

John F. Kennedy July 4, 2010 at 10:51 am

The Colonists were armed with “state of the art” arms. They had the same type of weapons as the British. (Many considered themselves British.) These weapons included firearms, pistols, muskets.
The first 9 amendments pertain to individual rights. There aren’t any group rights listed. The 10th list that those not covered by the Constitution are held by the States.
This right is to fight off oppressive Government not to hunt or protection from thieves. We need similar weapons as the soldiers just as the Colonists were similarily armed as the British soldiers. That means automatic weapons, body armor, clips, etc.

Richard Stevens July 4, 2010 at 10:13 pm

I have read the arguments from Americans as to why they must defend the right to bear arms. I can say that I have a lot of sympathy for those arguments and I do worry that in my own country only the criminals are ending up with guns.
However, I, like most non-Americans still feel that there are far too many guns, especially high powered guns, in the United States and that far too many people are being killed by them every year.
Your gun death rate (per thousand of population) is far higher than ours. Certainly we now have more and more knife attacks in my country, but a person can’t kill as many people in a given time with a knife as they can with a gun.
If you look at cold, hard statistics, the homicide rate in the United States is far too high when compared to other Western countries and most if this comes from gun deaths. So while the right to bear arms sounds fine in theory, in practice a lot of people are dying.

bill912 July 5, 2010 at 5:34 am

And how many of those deaths are from legally owned guns?

bill912 July 5, 2010 at 5:37 am

BTW, in the United States, the highest homicide rates are in those counties which have the most restrictive gun control laws, while the lowest homicide rates are in those counties which have the least restrictive gun control laws. (See, for example, John Lott’s “More Guns, Less Crime”).

The Pachyderminator July 5, 2010 at 7:35 am

“In the United States, the highest homicide rates are in those counties which have the most restrictive gun control laws, while the lowest homicide rates are in those counties which have the least restrictive gun control laws.”
But correlation is not causation. Are the high homicide rates a result of restrictive gun laws, or are the restrictive gun laws a reaction to high homicide rates?

Bernie July 5, 2010 at 7:36 am

Two crack addicts enter a basement window and with a history of rape and two victims in the hospital with internal injuries from a week ago see a women making tea in her kitchen at 3am. They surprise her and one suspect tells the other lets make this one a “saw movie”. The husband hears the conversation and takes his Glock model 20 and as he enters the kitchen his wife was already disrobed and the suspects both had large kitchen knifes in there hands. One suspect holds the wife and the second one say to his buddy kill the B***. Being a Recon Marine for over 8 years the husband shoots the suspect holding his wife in the head and does a double tap to the other suspect (One to the head,One to the heart) THIS IS NOT A MOVIE – IT WAS REAL. Semper Fi, Do or Die.

bill912 July 5, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Over the past 25 years, many states made it easier for law-abiding citizens to get carry permits. All of them saw their homicide rates drop. All of them saw their violent crime rates drop (see Lott’s book). Now, either the knowledge that their intended victims might be armed scared the criminals into changing their behavior, or it’s one heckuva coincidence.

Mary July 5, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Your gun death rate (per thousand of population) is far higher than ours.
Oh horrors of horrors!
It’s so much more pleasant to die of being stabbed, or strangled, or beaten to death with a baseball bat than to be shot.
What sort of person hypes up a difference in “gun deaths” as if other deaths were somehow not so fatal?

Mary July 5, 2010 at 2:33 pm

But correlation is not causation. Are the high homicide rates a result of restrictive gun laws, or are the restrictive gun laws a reaction to high homicide rates?
Definitely the former because the crime rates follow the laws. Look at England, where a century ago you had complete gun freedom and a much lower rate of murder.
Heck, Washington DC is seeing a crime decline with the estimated number of lawful guns in the city being in the hundreds.

Richard Stevens July 5, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Mary said:
“Oh horrors of horrors!
It’s so much more pleasant to die of being stabbed, or strangled, or beaten to death with a baseball bat than to be shot.
What sort of person hypes up a difference in “gun deaths” as if other deaths were somehow not so fatal?”
Mary,
Your comment about “what sort of person…etc” completely ignored my total statement.
I said:
“Your gun death rate (per thousand of population) is far higher than ours. Certainly we now have more and more knife attacks in my country, but a person can’t kill as many people in a given time with a knife as they can with a gun.
If you look at cold, hard statistics, the homicide rate in the United States is far too high when compared to other Western countries and most if this comes from gun deaths..”
In other words your homicide rate is notably higher than other western countries and is mainly due to gun deaths. Obviously I do not think being murdered by other means is any less terrible. It is just, as I said, easier to kill more people with a gun.
By the way could you not get personal next time? Your comment ” What sort of person …etc” was unecessary. I take ALL deaths very seriously and do not regard one type as being less serious than another.

bill912 July 5, 2010 at 6:39 pm

“And how many of those deaths are from legally owned guns?”

Richard July 6, 2010 at 2:01 am

bill912 said:
“And how many of those deaths are from legally owned guns?”
You have repeated your comment in case we didn’t see it.
I don’t disagree that many of the deaths may be from illegally obtained guns.
However, that does not alter the point I’m trying to make. I believe that America has so many guns that they are easily obtained and too easily used in crimes. The American homicide rate (per hundred thousand) is notably higher than my county’s rate and I can’t help thinking the wide availability of guns is a major cause.

Mary July 6, 2010 at 6:31 am

“In other words your homicide rate is notably higher than other western countries and is mainly due to gun deaths. ”
Then you should have said so in the first place.
Then we could cut straight to the point and point out that in fact the USA is about in the middle in homicide statistics, and the countries with the highest rates also have draconian gun control laws so it’s not the lack of such laws that’s the problem.
Then we all get to sneer at your “western” modifier, which is as bad as your “gun deaths” statistics. Why not cut the bait-and-switch arguments?

Beadgirl July 6, 2010 at 7:00 am

“BTW, in the United States, the highest homicide rates are in those counties which have the most restrictive gun control laws, while the lowest homicide rates are in those counties which have the least restrictive gun control laws. (See, for example, John Lott’s “More Guns, Less Crime”).”
This “fact” keeps coming up in discussions about gun control, but it is simply not true. Or rather, there may very well be counties with strict laws and high homicide rates, but there are plenty where the opposite is true. For example, NYC has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, and Mayor Bloomberg has made enforcement of those laws one of his causes, and yet the homicide rate in NYC is at a historic low (as are other crime rates). In other words, strict gun control laws, whether they are in and of themselves a good idea, do not cause an increase in homicide or crime in general.

bill912 July 6, 2010 at 7:48 am

Beadgirl, it is not a “fact”, it is simply a fact.
“…there may very well be counties with strict laws and high homicide rates…”
Not in the U.S.

Richard July 7, 2010 at 4:54 pm

“Then we could cut straight to the point and point out that in fact the USA is about in the middle in homicide statistics, and the countries with the highest rates also have draconian gun control laws so it’s not the lack of such laws that’s the problem.
Then we all get to sneer at your “western” modifier, which is as bad as your “gun deaths” statistics. Why not cut the bait-and-switch arguments?”
The reason I spoke about Western countries is that minimises factors such as poverty and educational standards etc which are often used as excuses for high crime rates.
If you would like to “sneer” at my comment go ahead because calm reasoned debate does not seem to be your forte. And yes, I will again point out that America’s gun death rate is alarming. The chances of being murdered, mainly by a gun, is approximately five times higher in the United States than it is in my country.

The Sarge July 7, 2010 at 6:10 pm

The chances of defending oneself against the imminent use of deadly force is much greater in the United States. Atleast, in those parts of the United States that allow its law-abiding citizens to legally carry handguns.

Alan July 8, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Maybe, someday, we’ll live in a civilized society. Until then, we’ll have to deal with the barbarians in our midst.
I’m sorry you live in a country where so many barbarians have guns, I give thanks that the country I live in severley restricts guns for everyone – barbarians and the curently civilized , and believes all citizens should have free healthcare

The Sarge July 8, 2010 at 2:54 pm

“…I give thanks that the country I live in severly(sic) restricts guns for everyone…”
Probably one of the criminals thankful that he doesn’t have to worry much about his victims being able to defend themselves against him.

The Sarge July 8, 2010 at 2:56 pm

“…and believes all citizens should have free health care.”
If you believe that ANYTHING in this world is “free”, I have a bridge to sell you.

Tim July 8, 2010 at 4:01 pm

What would Jesus shoot?

bill912 July 9, 2010 at 5:33 am

The above bit of wit assumes that it is never permissible to defend yourself, contrary to the teaching of the Church; that Jesus was a pacifist, Who would never use force of any kind, which would have come as a shock to the buyers and sellers, whom He whipped out of the temple.

Mary July 10, 2010 at 2:28 pm

“I give thanks that the country I live in severley restricts guns for everyone – barbarians and the curently civilized ,”
HAHAHA!!!!
You live in a country which severely restricts guns for the currently civilized. The barbarians ignore your laws.

Mary July 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm

“The reason I spoke about Western countries is that minimises factors such as poverty and educational standards etc which are often used as excuses for high crime rates.”
You admit they are excuses and not reasons but still you expect us to swallow that it’s just a handy coincidence that it allows you to call the USA the worst?
Incidentially, give us a definition of “western” that if applied across the board will give USA the worst.

Hank Archer July 10, 2010 at 6:20 pm

What would Jesus do?
Check what he said in Luke 22:36
[Jesus] 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.”

james July 12, 2010 at 8:33 am

I came across an interesting thing during my reading a month or two ago. I read that the English, during colonial times in America, had a much more defensive understanding and legal obligations for people using guns. You could be prosecuted, for example, if you had a chance to escape a robbery by using a gun but did not do so. In other words, unless the criminal/attacker continued to attack you, your moral/legal obligation was to exit the situation without actually firing. I would assume now that we have police that holding him until the police came would be acceptable. Now, obviously a million scenarios could complicate things and muddy the water, but I like the emphasis of using a gun without necessarily shooting — unless one absolutely has to. That means that I am not necessarily morally justified to shoot an intruder just becasue he breaks into my home…although I may. This fits with my moral philosophy: intruder and defensive gun users are responsible for the actions and choices…even ones they didn’t have to make. What did Clint say, “It’a terrible thing, killing a man.”

Hank Archer July 13, 2010 at 8:24 am

James,
What you describe here is pretty much the way the law is today. I do think that the courts have generally ruled that breaking into an occupied home indicates an intent to harm. Homeowners do not have to wait until some of their blood is on the ground to defend themselves. Refusal to leave and continued advancement would normally be adequate legal grounds for shooting.

bill bannon July 13, 2010 at 9:19 am

Hank
In NJ, police warned me that I must feel my life is in danger to use my short shotgun on an intruder. “Refusal to leave” might not suffice and here is why. I suspect they see many cases of wandering mentally ill who wander into an open door unarmed and are not really there to rob or kill. So one must have compassion as first if possible with them.
But even with the mentally ill one must be careful and not presume harmlessness if (as you note) they “advance” toward you. There was the case in Jersey City 2 years ago of a Merrill Lynch manager (murdered in broad daylight and leaving a wife and 3 children) who was stabbed repeatedly by a mentally ill man on the light train station platform after work with no provocation whatsoever. Ghetto residents from his own area chased him down and held him for police. But mentally ill people can vary greatly as to violence.
In one’s house and faced with one, dialing 911 would probably work in most cases while he is there.
Locking doors at all times is best in all US big cities and our doors are never unlocked…(and all our windows have individual alarms). And I periodically pray that I see no more violence in my life having seen too much when younger. But if a thug enters and triggers a window during the night and keeps coming in after that, he’ll lose because I’ll be on the floor like a rug and no thug expects that and I’ll throw a flash light to his area…and a river will run through him…3″ shells…awful power… and their sound like an actual explosion will chase anyone with him. Gun ranges don’t like you practicing with them on crowded days…they are so loud and they swell up your hand.

Andy Lucy July 14, 2010 at 11:41 pm

Having spent 10 years as a 911 dispatcher, I carry my firearm whenever I am out of the house, as does my wife, a juvenile case worker. Pie in the sky fantasizing about the good in human nature is all well and good, until you have to handle the hot call for a home invasion. 22 year old female is home alone, guy smashes in her front door. She hides in the closet and calls 911. I have officers enroute, when I hear the closet door open, and she screams. He beat her senseless with a chair leg and was gone before the officers arrived 2 minutes later. Two minutes. Most people can hold their breath for that long. Next to a couple of suicides, that was the single worst call of my career.
Where we live currently, the response time for a sheriff’s unit is 20+ minutes… on a good night. The Remington 870 stays in the rack by our door and the Sig stays on the night stand.
Tell that 22 year old how much safer she was calling 911 and how much better off she was not having the means to defend herself (she lived in public housing… no “legal” guns allowed). When seconds matter, the police are just minutes away. As to the wiseguy who asked “What would Jesus shoot?” well, I thought it was common knowledge that it would be a Sig P226R with a Surefire 400 tactical light/laser with a Walther PK380 for backup.

bill bannon July 15, 2010 at 9:50 am

Andy
Great post. Jesus permitted…that is did not stop his men from carrying swords since if a person were mugged prior to modern medicine, one could be disabled and thus be a beggar for life due to badly set broken bones inter alia. Hence swords continued in European civilization while the best of Euro culture was being built or painted. And so the modern Euro claim of greater civilization of some posters is actually inappropo since even great French cuisine (postdating the great art but predating modernity by centuries) had its beginnings while men still protected themselves and executed murderers. The best of what one sees or eats in Europe then was created largely prior to modern times and at a time when just violence was little questioned.
Christ chided Peter in the garden of Gethsemane to put his sword away because the reality was that Peter was “living by the sword” in the sense of seeing violence as the solution at all times. In context, Peter was going against one of the requirements of a just war: that it stands a sane chance of success. Peter with 11 other men plus Christ was simply near provoking an eventual massacre of those with him by not observing that requirement.

Paul July 15, 2010 at 4:13 pm

“which would have come as a shock to the buyers and sellers, whom He whipped out of the temple.”
What comes as a shock to many people is that while John 2 reports that Jesus made a whip and drove them all from the temple [area], it does not actually say that Jesus or the whip struck any person, not even an animal.
“Jesus permitted…”
Jesus permits good and evil. The Church teaches that God “permits [moral evil] becaue he respects the freedom of his creatures” (CCC#311).
“…that is did not stop his men from carrying swords”.
And Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
Jesus concealed from no one that to follow him involves sacrifice, sometimes also the supreme sacrifice. He said to his disciples, “If any one would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

bill912 July 15, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Point?

Paul July 15, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Did Jesus have a point to his whip? Some say that would have made it a scorpion, as when Rehoboam threatened: “My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions.”

SouthCoast July 15, 2010 at 7:14 pm

In my house there are 3 handguns, one shotgun, one inoperable, heirloom 1830s muzzleloader, one broadsword, two longbows, and an atlatl. There is also an assortment of rock and mineral specimens used as bookends, etc., that could make a definite dent, if flung, in a human cranium. Nonetheless, in the gravest extreme, it would be the operable firearms I would choose, while waiting for the Highway Patrol and/or the County Sheriff to take their 40 minutes to find my house.

The Pachyderminator July 15, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Paul:
“What comes as a shock to many people is that while John 2 reports that Jesus made a whip and drove them all from the temple [area], it does not actually say that Jesus or the whip struck any person, not even an animal.”
This is completely fatuous. Driving someone away with a whip means either striking him or threatening to do so. If all the merchants and money-changers left immediately and without resisting, it is possible that Jesus didn’t actually strike anybody. But I don’t see how you can claim that he would not have struck anyone while remaining faithful to the text.
By the way, here is a quotation from the Catechism that is much more relevant than the one you present (CCC 2263-2264):
The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor…. The one is intended, the other is not.
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.


bill bannon:
“In context, Peter was going against one of the requirements of a just war: that it stands a sane chance of success.”
How do you get this from the context? The context is Jesus saying: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” If Jesus had called on twelve legions of angels, would that not have stood a sane chance of success? Paul’s error is in overlooking the fact that while the scriptures (and therefore God’s plan) being fulfilled required Jesus’ death, it does not require that everyone who is unwillingly entertaining a robber, murderer, or rapist sit back and let it happen.

Paul July 15, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Pachyderminator, you wrote, “This is completely fatuous. Driving someone away with a whip means either striking him or threatening to do so… I don’t see how you can claim that he would not have struck anyone while remaining faithful to the text.
Yes, your response is, in part, “completely fatuous”.
First, I did not “claim that he would not have struck anyone”, nor did I claim he would have struck anyone. I made no claim either way. What I said is that John 2 “does not actually say that Jesus or the whip struck any person, not even an animal.”
I will say that “he would not have struck anyone” under the specific actual circumstances *IF* in fact he did not strike anyone under the specific actual circumstances. In other words, what he “would” have done in that situation is no more or less than what he in fact did do in that situation, whatever that may be.
Second, John 2 also does not actually say that Jesus threatened anyone. If it’s your opinion that “driving someone away with a whip means either striking him or threatening to do so,” then that is your opinion, but opinions differ. Some opine that the whip in John 2 was not an instrument but an emblem, a sign of authority and judgment. If someone feels threatened in the circumstance of Jesus holding a whip (or of a policeman holding a gun), that does not necessitate that Jesus (or the policeman) is threatening anyone. Rather, the person may feel threatened by his own fear, distrust, guilty conscience, etc. One who fears is not yet perfect in love. Whose fault is that?
You speak of “Paul’s error” and “sit back and let it happen”, but you’re speaking of your own interpretation. Jesus said, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do… I tell you, do not worry about your life… or about your body… Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan?” And Jesus said, “Come to me… and I will give you rest.” Is that “sit back and let it happen”?
Jesus said, “store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” Is that “sit back and let it happen”?
Paul said, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” Is that “sit back and let it happen”?
And Paul said, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Is that “sit back and let it happen”?

The Sarge July 16, 2010 at 4:01 am

“Did Jesus have a point to his whip?” When they answer a simple question with a question instead of an answer, you know they don’t have a point. Or a rational answer.

Paul July 16, 2010 at 5:16 am

Jesus was asked, “Are you the King of the Jews?”, and Jesus replied, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?”
Jesus was asked, “Tell us, by what authority are you doing these things?”, and Jesus replied, “I shall ask you a question. Tell me, was John’s baptism of heavenly or of human origin?”
Jesus was asked, “Is it lawful for us to pay tribute to Caesar or not?”, and Jesus replied, “Show me a denarius; whose image and name does it bear?”
Jesus was asked, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”, and Jesus replied, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?”
Jesus was asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?”, and Jesus replied, “What did Moses command you?”

The Sarge July 16, 2010 at 5:34 am

And he makes my point for me.

bill bannon July 16, 2010 at 10:53 am

Paul
You are indulging in numerous scriptural metaphor games knowing full well that one would need an hour to answer all of them. And then you’d still escape with more verbiage. Thus in my case, you conflated the permissive will of God in general… with Christ permitting his disciples to carry swords. By that logic, had the disciples also chosen to bring concubines, Christ would have allowed it despite its giving scandal. Thus the swords were either scandalous or rightly carried and they were rightly carried. Games over.
Pach..etc. provides the Catholic answer easily by cutting to the chase and to the catechism.
Christ didn’t need a sword Himself in everyday life because John 10:39 shows Him escaping those who would stone/arrest Him by passing through their hands inexplicably…ie miraculously.
The disciples are not shown being privy to that power. Hence they rightly carried swords for self defense from the type of muggers who appear in the story of the good samaritan.
Pach…etc. I agree with you on self defense; read my other posts.

Paul July 16, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Bill, you wrote, “you conflated the permissive will of God in general… with Christ permitting his disciples to carry swords.
No, I didn’t conflate them. Did you conflate them by your interpretation? I pointed out that in the English language and Church teaching the word “permitted” is used in the “permissive” sense.
You also wrote, “By that logic, had the disciples also chosen to bring concubines, Christ would have allowed it despite its giving scandal… Games over.
I’ve already expressly disclaimed that sort of “would have” pseudo-logic game in my post to Pachyderminator. Had the disciples in fact brought concubines, or ridden unicorns, or whatever, it “would” indeed be that Jesus “permitted” / “allowed” it. It would be a different story altogether. As it is, Jesus “permitted” Simon Peter, as rash as he may have been, to carry a sword, and for him to lop the man’s ear off.
You speak of Pachyderminator providing “the Catholic answer”, but there is no answer when there is no question.
As to your self-defense from muggers explanation, it’s not very convincing. For example, you say “the disciples are not shown being privy to that power”, but the disciples are also not shown being mugged, whether before or after they acquired two swords. And you cite Jesus escaping a crowd as if it demonstrates a miracle, but the story is more vague (five words: “he escaped from their hands/grasp/power”) rather than “inexplicable” and not convincing that the escape was any more “miraculous” than escapes that happen every day. Many people are quite skilled at it.

The Pachyderminator July 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm

“You speak of “Paul’s error” and “sit back and let it happen”, but you’re speaking of your own interpretation.”
Watch out, Paul, responding to a rebuttal by saying “That’s just your interpretation of my post” without explaining whether or how the interpretation is wrong is a mark of a troll. It was one of Terry’s favorite games. (In fact, his style was rather similar to yours…hmmm…)
My interpretation of your post was that you were arguing that the gospel never says Jesus struck anyone in support of a philosophy of peaceful nonviolence, and my rebuttal was directed toward this interpretation. If my interpretation was wrong, please correct me and suggest a better one. If you cannot do so, what purpose did your original post have? Please don’t respond with a meaningless rhetorical question. You’ll notice that Jesus used the “question answer” technique as a way to open discussion, not as a way to avoid defending his statements when challenged.
“I’ve already expressly disclaimed that sort of “would have” pseudo-logic game in my post to Pachyderminator.”
Your disclaimer is itself pseudo-logic, and here’s why: because Jesus always did what was right, discussing what Jesus “would have done” is merely a rhetorical technique for discussing what is morally right. Thus saying that Jesus “would have” struck the money-lenders with a whip simply means that violence (in this case nonlethal) is sometimes justified, and saying that he would not have means that it is not. I know you haven’t explicitly made the latter statement, but you seem to be going to great lengths to avoid being caught in any definite statement. (Just like Terry did…hmmm…)
I think we’ll get on better if you make one now. Are you or are you not in disagreement with the Church’s teaching that it is permissible to use deadly force if necessary to defend one’s own life? If so, please say on what grounds. (The verses you cite in your reply are of little relevance. Yes, Jesus told us not to worry about food, but he didn’t tell us not to eat, and the same principle applies to the life of the body.) If not, we in fact do not have anything to argue about, other than which of us is more fatuous. And while that question is very interesting, I don’t think it would be productive to try to hash it out here and now.

Paul July 16, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Pachyderminator, you wrote, “Watch out, Paul, responding to a rebuttal by saying “That’s just your interpretation of my post” without explaining whether or how the interpretation is wrong is a mark of a troll.
Again, you’re speaking of your interpretation. When I told you, “You speak of ‘Paul’s error’ and ‘sit back and let it happen’, but you’re speaking of your own interpretation”, I was not telling you that your interpretation is “wrong” or right. I was reminding you whose it is. Whatever you interpret my posts as saying, whatever “error”, “philosophy”, etc. you allege to be mine, whatever it is you claim to “rebut” is yours, your interpretation. And I needn’t tell you that, because after all, it’s your interpretation. You said as much yourself: “My interpretation… was that [...], and my rebuttal was directed toward this interpretation.” Yes, your rebuttal was directed toward your interpretation. So why should I say that your interpretation is wrong or right? You’re already rebutting it. I remind you whose it is.
You asked, “what purpose did your original post have? Please don’t respond with a meaningless rhetorical question.
Is it past tense? Is it not yours? Do you believe these are “meaningless rhetorical questions”? Rather than “a” question, how about several?
You wrote, “You’ll notice that Jesus used the “question answer” technique as a way to open discussion, not as a way to avoid defending his statements when challenged.
You may notice that the discussion is as open as you are, no less and no more. If you choose to continue challenging / rebutting your interpretation, that’s your choice. It is permissible.
You wrote, “because Jesus always did what was right, discussing what Jesus ‘would have done’ is merely a rhetorical technique for discussing what is morally right“.
If “Jesus always did what was right,” we can discuss what Jesus in fact did and say that was right. But that doesn’t mean what Jesus didn’t do is right, and that includes what Jesus “would have done” which is always what he didn’t do. Thus, discussing what Jesus “would have done” is discussing what didn’t happen but as if it did, i.e. discussing fantasy. John 2 does not actually say that Jesus struck anyone. But one could use a rhetorical device involving a fantasy combat Jesus rich in fantasy detail not found in John 2. And one could use a rhetorical device involving a fantasy Jesus chatting with the animals like Dr. Doolittle complete with a stylish whip and special affection for doves.
You asked, “Are you or are you not in disagreement with the Church’s teaching that it is permissible to use deadly force if necessary to defend one’s own life?
There’s that word “permissible” again. In Paul’s words, perhaps quoting some Corinthians, “Everything is permissible for me”. Or if you prefer another translation, “Everything is lawful for me”. Even the words “if necessary” make it a rather rhetorical question. After all, who is blameworthy/culpable for what is “necessary”?

Tim J. July 17, 2010 at 10:04 am

Yes, Paul is trolling. S/he has posted here under many names.

bill912 July 17, 2010 at 6:54 pm

I’m shocked! Shocked!

Eric S. July 20, 2010 at 7:14 am

“Should ordinary people be allowed to own guns?”
Should ordinary people have freedom of speech?
Should ordinary people have the right to own their own property?
Should ordinary people have the right to have children?
Should ordinary people have freedom of religion?
Should women have the right to drive?
Should people have the right to read what the want?
Should people have the right to breath?
Should people have the right to think?
I think so!

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