White House issues advice about shootings at churches – POLL

More great advice from the Obama Administration today.

On the heels of a shooting at a Catholic Church in Utah (HERE), I spotted at RNS, that the White House has issued some advice for how to deal with shootings at churches: Guide for Developing High- Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship.

The White House site is HERE.

From the report about this pamphlet:


According to the new rules, gathered in a 38-page document called “Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship,” fighting back is advised for “adults in immediate danger,” who should:

“Consider trying to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter by using aggressive force and items in their environment, such as fire extinguishers or chairs. In a study of 41 active shooter events that ended before law enforcement arrived, the potential victims stopped the attacker themselves in 16 instances. In 13 of those cases, they physically subdued the attacker.”

The question of how best to subdue a gunman is likely to rekindle a debate within many churches, particularly in parts of the country where it is common to carry weapons: Should congregants bring guns to church?

“Each house of worship should determine, as part of its planning process, policies on the control and presence of weapons, as permitted by law,” the guidelines say.

It also says that individuals must make their own decisions about how best to respond when confronted by an active shooter.

Though the booklet was unveiled at an event on gun violence, it focuses on emergency preparedness in general, whether for a shooter, an arsonist or a hurricane. A special section focuses on “active shooter situations.”

Yes. Suggesting that you, at 20 paces, use a folding chair to subdue a guy with an AR-15 might arouse debate.

Let’s have a couple quick polls.

I will leave the combox open but THINK before posting.

Provided that laws of a state permit, should people bring concealed or open carry weapons to church?

View Results

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And then this… which is nearly impossible to fathom and hard to take seriously:

Trying to imagine the horror of a wacko shooter firing rounds at me and my loved ones in church, I would rather...

View Results

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Look, 99% of us don’t know how we would react in such a situation.

Again, THINK before posting.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in POLLS, The Drill, The future and our choices, You must be joking! and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. ronrule says:

    According to this fascinating article, eye-to-eye confrontation, especially when supported by a group, can often end violence:

    . . .[The victims] collectively could have saved more than ended up being killed or wounded, if they had used their superior numbers to confront the attacker. I don’t mean just the possibility of physically overcoming him, but taking advantage of the fact that groups are always emotionally stronger than individuals, if they can keep themselves together and put up an emotionally united front: they could probably have made him stop shooting.

    So it seems fighting back with anything possible, even if it’s just emotional engagement, is better than hiding. I’d recommend a mix of concealed weapons, eye contact, and hymnal-chucking at the attacker.

  2. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Nobody would rather have me shooting. I have serious lack of eye/hand coordination. :)

    There are two conflicting things here. On the one hand, traditionally churches are sort of a truce/sanctuary area, where nobody has had to carry weapons and where killing deconsecrates a church. In the interest of peace between warring factions back in Europe, people didn’t come armed to church, plenty of places, and I expect the old West was like that in many places.

    OTOH, I don’t think any American Catholic has a problem with off-duty policemen attending church armed, and responsible gun owners carry weapons for similar protective purposes for the community.

    So as long as there’s no need to set a good example for, or prevent a shootout among, the local Crips and Bloods and Zetas and Hell’s Angels (none of whom probably are big massgoers, but let’s say they were), I don’t see why guns in church would be a problem per se.

  3. TundraMN says:

    I obtained a permit to carry a couple months ago in Minnesota and I have carried a pistol concealed a couple of times to Mass with me on Sunday. I have had mixed opinions in my head about whether or not I should carry into a church as it is a place of peace . On the other hand, I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with carrying in a church. Having a gun is nothing other than having a tool on your belt; a tool that I will probably never have to use for its protective purpose. I would also have a hard time coming to terms with myself, after the fact, if a gunman did enter the church during Mass and opened fire and I, having my permit to carry, did not have my pistol on me with which to protect others, especially the priest. Any thoughts?

  4. Titus says:

    Here is my thoughtful reply, Father; I hope you will not mind it being in the form of a question.

    Is shooting a gunman inside a church an act of sacrilege? Does the answer to the question depend on whether someone else has been shot inside the church already? Or if that person has or has not died?

  5. Suburbanbanshee says:

    That said, a folding chair isn’t a bad weapon at 2-3 paces, especially if the baddie’s not expecting it. Probably better used as a polearm than a missile weapon, though.

  6. beefcake73099 says:

    I conceal carry at church/Mass/Knights of Columbus meetings every time I am there and it is for precisely this reason. The last time I was attending mass, there were no folding chairs or even non-folding chairs to be found, just a bunch of pews which I really doubt I could use. Concealed carry by peaceable, lawful citizens is not something to be feared in church. I do think it is a shame that so many priests and bishops have the same emotional, knee-jerk response of many of our elected leaders in response to this issue. I’m not saying that churches need to display giant flashing “Guns welcome” signs but at the same time their presence in these locations is almost universally denigrated

  7. Elizabeth D says:

    I agree very strongly with the statement made by the bishops of my state, discouraging bringing concealed carry weapons to church. Some parishes may wish to put up a sign excluding concealed carry weapons, in many others it’s probably fitting to just say that is not what we are about. A Catholic parish is not a David Koresh thing and we are not living in fear. At the same time Fr Z, if anyone tries to do anything to anyone at Mass I am right there to try to stop them. A Catholic woman in London kept a bloody terrorist murderer calm till the police came, I’m up for that or if the person has to be charged and physically stopped I am right there with the men and it might be hard to stop me even if I am not the most useful for that.

    But if someone is determined to kill me at Holy Mass in hatred of the Catholic Faith, I pray that they may be converted and believe in Jesus Who is Love and Mercy, but I pray for the grace to forgive them and say like St Ignatius of Antioch, I am God’s wheat, ground fine by the lion’s teeth to be made purest bread for Christ.

    I guess what I am saying is, talk of defense against violence ceases to be Christian if it is actually

  8. Elizabeth D says:

    … to the point of denying that Martyrdom is an immense grace and witness to the crucified Lord and His Resurrection and that He has won for us Eternal Life.

  9. Therese says:

    I think I went for the folding chair because I don’t carry. If I did carry, I’d be sufficiently practiced to disable her in the arm or leg and thus end the incident.

  10. Supertradmum says:

    I am not sure that being shot either going into Church, while in Church, or coming out of Church can be a basis for being declared a martyr. Martyrdom means witness but it is ACTIVE not passive. In other words, one is martyr for 1) openly standing up for the Faith in public in words; 2) refusing to cooperate with idolatry and sin connected to idolatry; 3) refusing to abjure Christ.

    If one looks at the lives of even the most recent martyrs, they were killed for fighting against evil, as in the 498 Martyrs of Spain who were executed for the Faith, or the 800 Martyrs of Otranto who refused to convert to Islam.

    Being shot by a madman inside or outside of a Church is not grounds for martyrdom. This happened at Conception Abbey, if you remember, in 2002, when two monks were killed and the man, who was not connected to the Abbey at all, killed himself. He was insane or very depressed. I think this type of thing is very different than martyrdom.

  11. Supertradmum says:

    May I add, to refusing to abjure Christ, refusing to renounce the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church and Her Pope.

  12. Priam1184 says:

    I don’t know if it is a good idea to have a weapon of any kind in a church. We are a Church built on the blood of martyrs, starting with Our Lord Himself, who did not lift a finger to defend themselves against the violence and hatred of the world but held fast to the promise that not a hair of their head would be forgotten. Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp, and the list goes on and on even to our own day with all of those martyred in churches and cathedrals in Baghdad and Mosul and all around Iraq during the last decade. I am in no position to criticize anyone who does carry a weapon if the law of the land and the local Ordinary both permit it, but I would hope that everyone remembers that we must rely not on our own strength but on the power and will of God in all things.

  13. The Egyptian says:

    May I suggest this is a use for the “Beretta” you have discussed in earlier posts ;>)

  14. Ann Roth says:

    I appreciate the serious and thoughtful responses here and apologize that I don’t have one.

    It’s Father Z’s fault for making me laugh with:
    “Suggesting that you, at 20 paces, use a folding chair to subdue a guy with an AR-15 might arouse debate” and “get out my phone, call the police, the order a pizza, and wait to see who arrives first.”
    Not sure if I would do that or just get out of Dodge leaving my loved ones behind.

    One shooting in a church and they are issuing federal guides on how to prepare?

  15. Priam1184 says:

    I guess I should clarify, in reference to Supertraduum’s comments, that being killed in a church does not necessarily make one a martyr. But it would be good to ponder their example and rely on that which they relied upon. Or maybe it is just that the idea of bringing any kind of weapon into a church really troubles my heart, but then again I live in a concealed carry state where personal gun ownership is pretty widespread so who knows? Maybe I am the only one at Mass on Sunday who isn’t carrying…

  16. LeighAnna says:

    I have strong, but mixed, feelings on this issue. On the one hand, what Suburbanshee said really makes sense to me: “OTOH, I don’t think any American Catholic has a problem with off-duty policemen attending church armed, and responsible gun owners carry weapons for similar protective purposes for the community.” But while that appeals intellectually, I have a hard time reconciling it in my heart with churches as places of absolute sanctuary. But then again, if the sanctuary has already been violated, it should be protected.

    It’s also difficult to evaluate because I keep coming to the issue from two different perspectives. On the one hand, for various reasons most of my adult life I’ve attended Mass by myself, so if a crisis occurred, my first instinct would be to hide/run away, call 911 on my cell phone, or if need arose, hopefully have the courage to bodily protect a stranger. But now it keeps hitting me that I attend Mass with my husband, and in a few months, will with our firstborn. When my family is my first priority, especially encumbered by children, running away might be impractical, martyrdom looks a lot less appealing than staying alive to protect my children, and waiting for someone else to solve the problem just doesn’t seem good enough anymore.

    There are so many cases where an attacker was stopped simply because someone else had a gun and wasn’t afraid to show it–not even use it, just show it. That kind of bottom-line result is hard to argue with.

  17. Supertradmum says:

    Well, I think if anyone is squeamish about weapons in a church, they should visit the Co-Cathedral in Malta. And, now that we are hastening back into the middle ages, if not the age of the barbarians, I would like to see knights in church (protector males) with weapons. Why not?

  18. monmir says:

    Although I am not favorable to gun in churches, it is clear that most shootings happen in gun free zone , or in such a manner that the shooter is more or less protected from being shot at.
    The day of guns in church would be a sad day.

  19. Therese says:

    On the other hand, this is advice from the Obama administration, of all things. Maybe I should follow Chesterton’s admonition to listen very carefully to establishment wisdom then go off and do the exact opposite. Or: “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” (Illustrated London News, 1/14/11)

  20. inexcels says:

    I was amused by Fr. Z’s ironic use of the politically correct practice of alternating between male and female pronouns.

    I don’t have a problem with concealed carry in church, the world being the dangerous place it is.

    OPEN carry in church, on the other hand — not a fan of that. As Fr. Z has pointed out, decorum matters.

    “I’d be sufficiently practiced to disable her in the arm or leg and thus end the incident.”

    If you were a practiced shooter, you’d never aim for the arm or leg: you’d aim for the center of mass.

  21. Therese says:

    “If you were a practiced shooter, you’d never aim for the arm or leg: you’d aim for the center of mass.”

    Rats. There goes my aspiration to be a cowgirl. ;-)

  22. Therese says: I think I went for the folding chair because I don’t carry. If I did carry, I’d be sufficiently practiced to disable her in the arm or leg and thus end the incident.

    Aiming for an extremity is actually a good way to miss. You aim for the trunk of the body: that’s the biggest target.

    I know the peerless pastor of the Utah parish in question, and I think I can guess how he would answer this poll.

  23. JohnE says:

    Nice use of inclusive language in the poll.

  24. I see absolutely no basis or justification – or honor – in going about unprotected. The idea that one should think that to be slaughtered in church was somehow glorious, or in any way a good thing is both wrong and wrongheaded. The way I see it, God has blessed me with a life, and blessed me with a beautiful family, and blessed me with the responsibility of taking care of them and protecting them in all situations. Would I not be remiss in my responsibilities as a father to allow my family (or myself for that matter) to be killed by a madman when I had the ability to stop that from happening?

    I live in a state where it is allowed, and carry on a regular basis, and that includes at Mass. I know that there are quite a few others who do as well – at least around these parts. And for that, I am thankful.

  25. Imrahil says:

    Dear @carolina publican,

    I think there certainly is basis or justification, e. g. in what @LeighAnna said. Also I think we have the right and, to some extent, even the duty to not-care about remote dangers. “When you go out of the door, a brickstone could fall on your head”, as the saying goes. We ought to care for responsible securities, of course, but there’s fear of theoretical dangers, or dangers of occasional catastrophies, the best thing about is not to worry. Do not let the criminal win by letting him influence your lifestyle.

    That said, I do not wish to imply that this means you should carry no guns.

    I voted “really don’t know” because “each as he prefers” was not an option; and I voted “bodily attack” because that’s what I should do (carrying no weapon – as forbidden by the State), not necessarily because that’s what I would do.

    For what it is worth, I read that somewhere somewhen in the Middle Ages a dependent peasant was not allowed to bear arms – except for the Sunday Mass, accompanying the formal suit, to which a sword apparently belonged.

  26. Geoffrey says:

    “The day of guns in church would be a sad day.”

    Amen. This entire topic of discussion leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Suffice it to say I voted “No, that might not be good”.

    I am curious if Holy Mother Church has an official position on firearms in a church? Granted, I am sure the Swiss Guard and Vatican Gendarmes are armed, but they are trained professionals…

  27. Priam1184 says:

    @carolina publican : I suppose there is not really any justification in taking yourself or your family unprotected into a place of known danger and seeing them slaughtered, that seems more like suicide to me. But keep in mind that we are not talking about going on a sightseeing tour of Baghdad or Aleppo, we are talking about going to Mass in the United States where, as yet, the chances are pretty nil of someone walking in with an AR-15 who will start blowing people away. If they are a madman or madwoman they will likely not be concerned with anyone carrying a handgun and will take down as many people as they can before they themselves are taken down. If you are in the front of the church to the left by the altar and they walk in the back and start shooting with an M-4 or AK-47 or some variant are you going to whip out your 1911 (or whatever you carry) and take them out from that distance, under that kind of stress, with all of the confused and frantic people in between you and the shooter? Or do we make anyone with a concealed handgun sit in the back where, because they have their back to the shooter when he or she walks in and starts shooting, they will most likely be among his or her first victims? Again, if it is permitted and you want to carry your weapon into a church by all means do so but trust in God first, last, and always.

  28. Gfactor34 says:

    I don’t like bringing anything “of the world” into church, be it my cell phone, wallet, or otherwise. I try to go into mass with as little of the secular junk as possible. But, this question begs an entirely separate thought process. Although, I still would probably not encourage guns in church. That would be a sad day. What better place to die than in Our Lord’s house? Perhaps even as a martyr? Thinking that way, a gun in church is highly unnecessary.

  29. Ben's son says:

    I’m all for protecting yourself and others, and do not have a problem with the concept of packin’ at mass. That said, the holster lump could a distraction for me, making it hard to concentrate on what I’m there for. But on the flipside, if my parish neighborhood devolved into a seedy area to the point where I would be distracted at mass for looking over my shoulder all the time, then the holster lump would have a comforting, calming effect. -Put me down as “It depends.”

  30. tzard says:

    There’s a question of gun safety here. If I had a concealed weapon and I went to Mass, do I go unarmed on my way to Mass? If not, what do I do with the weapon while in mass, keep it in my car? That’s irresponsible. I would carry it with me because that’s the safest place for it – I know no kid or bad guy or klutz will stumble upon it and hurt someone. It’s safe on my person.

    Whether a priest at the altar should carry a weapon is another question, since he’s in the person of Christ. I’d think physical defense at mass is a job for the laity (and there are certainly the numbers for it). I’d be in favor of gun safes in the sacristy – where the priest uses it while vesting.

  31. Ralph says:

    I have a concealed carry permit, although where I live it is no longer a requirement, but I have never carried during Mass. I’m not sure I have a good reason why I haven’t. At one time, we had to have an armed guard at Mass due to violent threats made against the pastor, but even then I went to Mass unarmed. Perhaps a mistake. I will have to ponder this.

    FWIW, we read in the gospels that the disciples were armed (see John chapter 18). I suppose if it was ok for them to be armed in the presence of Jesus Christ, it must be ok for us as well.

  32. DavidR says:

    So, how’d that “the church is a sanctuary” idea work out for Thomas Beckett?

    @Ben’s son:

    Try a small firearm in a pocket holster, and an extra magazine or speedloader.

  33. Legisperitus says:

    Different story if Thomas Becket had been packin’.

  34. thepapalbull says:

    I would say being in a church is a mere circumstance, as opposed to changing the object of the action. Circumstances can’t make a morally good action bad or a bad action good. It can however make it imprudent at the time. If the Church affirms a robust teaching of self-defense – which she does – then it can’t be morally wrong to carry in church or justifiably use those arms in a church. It may be imprudent to do so but that is certainly a lesser argument to wage and is subject to an almost endless number of variables, such as training, etc. and is an argument for which there is no definitive right or wrong answer.

    For those advocating defending themselves in the face of an aggressor in church, but stopping short of using a gun – what’s the difference? The Church says we can use an appropriate level of force to repel an attacker; we can use equal force. Why do you think it is any more morally acceptable to beat an armed attacker into submission with fists or a chair than with a gunshot? I can think of no reason.

  35. Supertradmum says:

    I think we have created a false idea of pacifism in the Catholic community. For centuries, people defended themselves against the enemies, whether they were marauding Vikings or in civil wars. Men protected their families and property and this was ok. What has happened is the feminizing of men.

    The entire knightly code was one of protection of women and children as well as the ill.

    I think the problem is that people in America and some in Europe think we live in mostly civilized communities. That is fast disappearing. My ancestors came to the prairies of Iowa and some were on the Oregon Trail. They had to have guns for food and safety. That was the NORM.

    Why are we so stupid and slow in realizing that we are entering into a time of growing anarchy and violence, even violence from a government? We cannot pretend that there will be no violence.

    Dads, protect your families and teach your sons to do the same. Why not? We no longer have rules of engagement for war, as total war, which is immoral, such as indiscriminate bombing and the use of drones, means that we have moved aways from such rules. This started in WWI with the bombings of civilians. Total war is against Church teaching but defense is not. Catholics are not Quakers.

    To pretend we are not going to see an increase in violence is naive. Instead of how to avoid weaponry, we should be talking about responsible defense using weaponry.

    Ladies, never marry anyone who is not willing to protect you and your children. There are many soldier saints and St. Bernard of Clairvaux, one of the holiest men to walk the face of the earth, is one of the founders of the Knights Templar.

  36. phlogiston says:

    Open carry – no. There are enough things that cause the elderly (and the elderly at heart) to have palpitations. Concealed carry, yes, optimally with the pastor’s permission, which is required in my home state. However, if I lived in an area with persistent jihadist activity, I believe that I would approach the issue from the stand point of “it is better to ask forgiveness than permission” regardless of the law. And I’d rather be alive to ask forgiveness than otherwise. This is all motivated by a respect for life, starting with my own and those of my family.

  37. The Masked Chicken says:

    I would just have the choir start up a rendition of Lord of the Dance. The shooter will, quickly, flee :)

    The Chicken

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  38. Theodore says:

    If we believe in the sanctity of human life (abortion and euthanasia) then we must believe in the sanctity of human life in between the beginning and the end of life. Those who say violence never solved anything forget the lessons of history. This doctor has a CCW permit and carries to his office, about town and even to Mass. I feel no dichotomy in this position since I am foresworn to help people.

  39. Ed the Roman says:

    Some states specifically forbid carry in churches. It may be the case that some dioceses or parishes do as well. My state allows carry in churches, and my policy would be not to ask the pastor or the bishop if they have a policy.

  40. John Nolan says:

    I’m sorry but from a European perspective the idea of carrying concealed weapons at Mass, not to mention the priest tucking a .38 Magnum into his cincture, is weird. Why are Americans so obsessed with firearms? (Don’t tell me, I’ve heard all the arguments). [Why are non-Americans so obsessed with Americans?]

    I’m not against firearms per se, having fired everything from a 9mm Browning to the divisional artillery in BAOR.

  41. Tort says:

    I have to support anyone with a CCW permit who carries around town and to Mass. When I took my CCW course, the instructor (who as a police officer) stated that he would not be surprised if those intent on killing innocent people started targeting churches. I hope to never have to use my pistol but I would hate to need it and know it is safely locked in my car.

    And Dittos to Supertradmum

  42. APX says:

    What? No option for using burning-hot thurible defence tactics? These priests seem to know how it’s done:


    I live in Canada, so when it comes to crazed gun people, you have to get creative with self defense until the police arrive. Though, their guns wouldn’t be sufficient for an AR-15.

    This is where choir lofts come in handy. Bird’s eye view, yet severely restricted view to anyone on the ground. Another good reason to keep the choir in the choir loft. Keep those pesky gunmen from hiding out in it unseen. Maybe throw a timpani on him. Get the organist to throw him off and distract him by pulling out all the stops and playing some sort of loud impending death music while people on the ground disarm him in a moment of distraction, or torture him with something like really bad church music that doesn’t stop. The RCMP ERT once got a gunman locked up in a building to give up by torturing him with loud bagpipe music…

    Though really, if you’re going die, who wouldn’t want to die getting shot by a crazed gun person during Mass? Maybe the guy who has unconfessed mortal sins on his soul when the priest hasn’t had time to give general absolution…

  43. jamie r says:

    I always carry a gun in church. It’s my goal in life to be like all the great saints who shot someone during mass, like, umm . . .

  44. acardnal says:

    “In a study of 41 active shooter events that ended before law enforcement arrived, . . .”

    Unfortunately, this if often the case. Carnage occurs well BEFORE the police arrive. How much death could have been prevented by someone shooting the shooter? These criminals cannot usually be “reasoned with” nor would they necessarily have any grudge with Catholicism. It is more likely they are deranged or high on meth and so forth. Reason is not useful in those cases. Defending oneself and others with the same deadly force is often the best solution to mass murder of innocents. It would be an act of charity for which we have a “grave duty”! (CCC 2265)

  45. APX says:


    There’s a question of gun safety here. If I had a concealed weapon and I went to Mass, do I go unarmed on my way to Mass? If not, what do I do with the weapon while in mass, keep it in my car? That’s irresponsible. I would carry it with me because that’s the safest place for it – I know no kid or bad guy or klutz will stumble upon it and hurt someone. It’s safe on my person.

    Or you could unload it, put a gun lock on it, and then lock it in it’s case, while locking the ammo in a separate box, and locking it in your trunk. That’s what we do in Canada when transporting our firearms.

  46. Supertradmum says:

    John Nolan, men in Europe have lost their protector instincts. I hope you have not. Look to your ancestors. And if what happened in Rome in the Fall of 2011 would happen again with more force and endanger your family and church, what would you do? Europeans are not holier although more sanctimonious because they can’t and won’t learn defense with weapons.

    And, my dad spent his youth in France and Germany fighting to free Europeans from the Nazis. You should remember that many of those guys, like my dad, still living, were crack shots. He got many awards for shooting and the entire family learned to shoot.

  47. Cafea Fruor says:

    Where’s the option for “run up behind him with the ‘we are Jesus’ banners and tying him up with it”?

  48. Cafea Fruor says:

    With them, rather, not it.

  49. Priam1184 says:

    Father, would there be any block to us just refounding the Knights Templar since everyone is so concerned about being blown away at Mass?

  50. EXCHIEF says:

    Any “advice” or suggestions from this administration I find attractive only to those who lack any sense of personal responsibility. Having said that, being a law enforcement officer for decades carrying at all times when away from home (and that includes Church) is simply second nature to me. A fellow LEO and I used to serve together at the then monthly TLM. We served in cassock and surplus and both of us carried in ankle holsters for ease of access. I do make one concession when I carry in a crowded Church and that is I switch to very frangible ammunition which is not likely to over penetrate and cause risk of injury to innocent bystanders.

    As for the shoot to wound (extremities) thought, that’s the stuff motion pictures are made of. As pointed out by another, in the real world with fear, adrenaline, etc you aim for center of mass. The intent is not to wound or kill…it is to incapacitate. That is, neutralize the shooter as quickly as possible in order to stop his/her assault on others. I have shot distinguished expert with a handgun my entire career and have won medals in competition at the World Police and Fire Games. I would NOT attempt an extremity shot under real life shooting conditions. I will shoot for the torso.

    Finally, there have been other church related shootings in the USA. A Sikh temple and a church in Colorado where a former LEO shot the suspect both come to mind. Being a martyr is fine. Given the direction the current regime is taking us that might be a real possibility. I doubt being shot in church would make me a Martyr but even if it would I’d prefer to pass on the opportunity.

  51. Two questions:
    1. Why is the person shooting in the church a “her”? Is there evidence that a substantially higher proportion of people shooting in churches are women? If not, what was the reason for avoiding the use of the gender neutral “they”? (“If someone starts shooting, I would subdue them.”) [You are a sexist.]

    2. Are there no other options than the ones listed in the second poll? E.g. “Run away/hide with my loved ones”.

    For the record: I woted “absolutely not” in the first poll and did not vote in the second. Supertradmum, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I see no danger in the UK from which a man would need to defend me (especially with a gun). The laws protect me. When they don’t (e.g. in the event of a church shooting, of which, to my best knowledge, we still have to have the first one in this country), the worst that can happen to me is dying and frankly, I thought one of the greatest things about Catholicism was not being afraid of death?

  52. Philangelus says:

    Homeland Security has a booklet out (and has since at least the Sandy Hook shooting) about what to do in the case of an “Active Shooter” in any locale. They’re thinking shopping malls, schools, etc.


    From what I remember, the advice they gave was that unless you were trapped, you should run-run-run, or hide-hide-hide. [Right! When possible.]

  53. John Nolan, the European perspective has reduced Europe to prostration and enslavement at the hands of a bureaucratic elite in Brussells. Think about it.

  54. pfreddys says:

    In my years as a boy scout we would use the basement of the local Catholic church/school for our meetings. In two instances in the many years I was there we had “fire extinguisher” fights {for which we were rightly almost booted out}. It was alot of illegitimate fun {I cant forget when I hit Danny with the CO2 extinguisher} but nobody was incapacitated.

  55. Not having ascertained what the policy (if any) is at my parish, and being temporarily between projectile weapons, I answered the first question “I’m really not sure.” Having answered in that way, I should make it clear that I would only use a pistol if: (a) carrying concealed is permitted in the parish, and (b) I were very confident, given the distance to the target and my level of certainty that no one was beyond the target who might be seriously wounded by a near miss or overpenetrating round, that my intervention would be EXTREMELY unlikely to cause injury to someone other than the attacker.

    Subject to those conditions, if I deem it necessary and appropriate to draw and fire the weapon, my intent is to draw the weapon and shoot the attacker so as to terminate the attack as quickly as possible.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  56. Bea says:

    “Calmly reason with HER?”
    Come, come, Father.
    Everyone knows you can’t “calmly” reason with a “Her”
    I got a good laugh with the use of “her”s in the poll.

    I voted “no, that might not be good” with a stress on the MIGHT.
    With the exception of a law-enforcement officer it might not be good for the man/woman on the street to carry a gun into church.
    A regular man/woman carrying a gun into church would be a cause for alarm bells to either disarm or at least keep a close watch on such a man/woman that might be up to no good.
    Even if taken into church for the reason of self-protection, others attending Mass cannot know WHY this person is carrying arms and one cannot worship God as one should with such a distraction.

  57. NBW says:

    It would be nice to see armed Knights of Columbus at the entrances of churches.

  58. AA Cunningham says:

    The irony I find in the Archdiocese of Denver is that many parishes have armed off duty police in uniform on hand to protect the collection from being stolen but many Pastors turn up their noses at members of the laity carrying to protect themselves and others. The Deacon in the liturgy office at the chancery is a retired police officer and he has been known to occasionally carry while vested. I think a diocese should publicly state that their Churches and schools are not gun free zones as well. Give the perps something to think about before they make a foolish decision.

  59. APX says:

    Catholic Coffee,

    The English language does not actually have gender neutral pronouns aside from “it”, which doesn’t really work for gendered nouns. The recent decision by some more liberal institutions/organizations/governments to substitute “they” and “them” are incorrect to do so. Such words are plural. To use them would be grammatically incorrect. We cannot sacrifice grammatical correctness in order to appease the “inclusive language” crowd.

    My university has an inclusiveness policy which requires us to use “gender inclusive language” when speaking in class or writing assignments. To get around being grammatically incorrect when writing (and to reach the minimum word requirement sooner) I use “he or she” and “him or her”, etc. Those who don’t want to do that can get around it by writing in plural when possible or avoiding the use of gendered pronouns altogether by using words like “one” as in “one would do X instead of Y.”

  60. Elizabeth M says:

    Disarm in Holy Places. Those determined to hurt and kill will do so, no matter the law. As a mother I can only say that I would probably shield my children with my body and pray. Of course, if the shooter were in front of me or right next to me I would hope that I could disarm him. Self defense classes, a Marine for a grandfather, and having worked in the banking world for years with the daily thought that I could be shot during a robbery (it was a rough neighborhood) makes me think that maybe I could remain calm enough to be helpful and not panic. There are many stories of people running to the Altar shielding the Eucharist and priest. I would hope someone would do that too.

  61. Supertradmum says:

    CatholicCoffee, I do not think you live in the same country that I do. And, only two news sources carried this story in the past two days. http://www.spenboroughguardian.co.uk/news/regional/man-in-court-over-beheading-murder-1-5778782

    If men had weapons, they could have helped this poor girl, perhaps. And , why do you trust the government so much?

  62. Seamus says:

    In Virginia, where I live, any person who “carr[ies] any gun, pistol, bowie knife, dagger or other dangerous weapon, without good and sufficient reason, to a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held at such place . . . shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. ” Now I may think that “so I can return fire at a perp who tries to shoot up the church” would constitute a “good and sufficient reason” for carrying to Mass, but I’m not sure that the Commonwealth’s Attorney, or the jury, would agree with me, so carrying really isn’t an option for me.

  63. Geoffrey says:

    Americans do have an obsession with guns. And there are many ways a man can protect his family. Self-defense is one thing, vigilantism is another. The “wild west” disappeared around 1912.

  64. thepapalbull says:


    Self-protection is considered a “good and sufficient” clause. See:


  65. Imrahil says:

    Dear @CatholicCoffee, they don’t use “they” because they resent the invention of “they” for a singular. The correct English pronoun, forgive my impudence but I did read some English texts from up to 1950 and they all use it like this, for a human being of unknown gender is “he”. Without “or she”. (I always use “she” if referring to the word “person”. I don’t claim that’s correct; only I cannot bring myself to treat the word “person” as masculine.)

    Dear @APX, for those who do not want to be incorrect and are forced to be “inclusive” as it is called, the grammatically most correct form would probably be “he (m/f)”.

    Dear @Supertradmum, no offense… but did I understand that correctly that you are argumenting for having guns, without (as far as I see) any specific reference to the “in Church” thing?

    Thanks, though, that you wrote “willing to” and not “capable of” in the marrying part.

    Hon. dear @Miss Anita Moore, there are arguments for having self-defence guns, but there’s one thing I actually cannot understand about the American position. It may well be the case that Europe is reduced to prostration and enslavement at the hands of a bureaucratic elite in Brussells, but I cannot by any means see how this has any connection to private gun-ownership. You cannot scare the State with private guns; and while you may perhaps scare the State with a prospect of an insurgency, you cannot by any realistic means, with however many guns, get an insurgency of citizens together that has any chance of being more than a laughing matter (wherein the insurgents don’t laugh). In addition, if I was speaking with the voice of the State I would say: “that’s kind-of unfair to us States. For only the comparatively good States fear an insurgency of their citizens. The really bad ones accept the offer and trample them down.”

  66. Imrahil says:

    Dear @thepapalbull,

    interesting that such comes from an attorney general… I’d have said, while of course self-protection is morally a sufficient cause to bring a gun to a place of worship – if a law says it is forbidden except in case of a sufficient cause, then mere self-protection obviously cannot be. If it were, then the law would, frankly, be void and nonsense. Now law is interpreted in a way that it is not nonsense. Therefore, etc.

  67. Unwilling says:

    Generally, Jesus speaks unfavourably about having or using swords (To Peter: “who lives by the sword will die by the sword”). At Luke 22:36 Jesus does say “let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one”, but apparently he meant this metaphorically. Nevertheless, when he said this, his disciples answer that they have two swords at hand. And someone has already cited that Peter was wearing (CC permit or no) and used a sword in the Garden.

    Can. 1323 No one is liable to a penalty who, when violating a law or precept: … 5° acted, within the limits of due moderation, in lawful self-defence or defence of another against an unjust aggressor.

    On the other hand, in the case of priests: Canon 1041 /4 [A perpetual impediment (irregularity) to receiving Holy Orders affects] a person who has committed voluntary homicide. [Similarly irregular] 1044 §1… for the exercise of orders already received. [But the impediment can be lifted by due process.]

    The Corpo della Gendarmeria dello Stato della Città del Vaticano carry Glocks and Berettas.

    If you feel the need to have guns to protect yourselves in your churches, those who recommend limitation of arms to designated guards seem reasonable. The “limitation” is the problem, of course. Maybe you could have your airport police (TSA) handle the screening, pat downs, etc. [kidding]

  68. Matt R says:

    I cannot remember what the protocol was for medieval lords and their knights on carrying and using their swords in church. Whatever it is, I would follow it.

  69. acardnal says:

    “It would be nice to see armed Knights of Columbus at the entrances of churches.”

    Not so sure that’s a good idea. Some of the Fourth Degree Knights I know (and I’m a Knight) have a difficult time as it is getting their swords back into their scabbards. ;-)

  70. MouseTemplar says:

    St Bernard of Clairvaux was instrumental in the drafting of the original Rule for the Order of the “Knights Templar”. Perhaps it is time to bring back the Military Orders–Templars, Hospitallers, etc. Supposedly, Hugh de Payens started his group of Templars to protect pilgrims on the road in the Holy Land.

    Such a gentleman could stand in attendance at Mass [updated in Kevlar and Uzzi] and interfere with the doing of violence to those of us who only come to worship…I can think of several young men in our Parish who would love to join such an Order!

  71. Dennis Martin says:

    For Imrahil,

    Actually you can scare the State with private guns. Why do you think the State wishes so utterly doggedly to eliminate all private gun ownership (which is what the gun-control advocates in fact really want and have admitted on occasion; registration is one step toward that etc.).

    Granted, private guns cannot outlast the State if the State is determined to slaughter its own citizens no-holds-barred, as at Waco, Texas, 20 years ago. But the State devoutly prefers to gain total control over its citizenry without having to slaughter some in order to convince the others to hang their heads and enter serfdom.

    An armed citizenry is more difficult to subdue. Which is why every totalitarian system disarms the citizenry sooner or later, mostly sooner.

    A corollary of private, responsible gun-ownership is self-awareness, significant levels of training, forethought, responsibility. The 2nd Amendment to the Constitution was deliberate, not an accident. The last resistance to the Leviathon State here, at least, is found among the same circles who are struggling hardest to preserve the 2nd Amendment. They are exactly the responsible small property owners the Distributist Catholic love to laud.

    Perhaps Europeans just can’t understand us. Many are the faults of the United States of America over the centuries. But you will never understand us if you do not make some effort at understanding the rejection of the “Ruled-Ruler” paradigm. Perhaps our experiment was stupid from the start. But it was what it was and refusing to summon sufficient empathy to understand it before deciding that it’s not comprehensible is called pre-judice.

  72. thepapalbull says:


    I would agree with your logic, however I’m not a lawyer and don’t know the technicalities of such things. Similarly, Maryland was recently mandated by the courts to make wider provision for concealed carry. Previously, MD was a “may issue” state where one must show a just cause for obtaining a permit. The court ruled that the only just cause needed was a desire to do so – carry, that is. So it would seem this interpretation is gaining ground.

  73. APX: The English language does not actually have gender neutral pronouns aside from “it”, which doesn’t really work for gendered nouns. The recent decision by some more liberal institutions/organizations/governments to substitute “they” and “them” are incorrect to do so. Such words are plural. To use them would be grammatically incorrect. So, APX, you are saying that Shakespeare was writing in grammatically incorrect “recently decided” liberal English? Because the use of epicene they appears in the Comedy of Errors (cca 1594) as well as e.g. Thackeray’s Vanity Fair: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they

    Supertradmum the fact that a girl in Sheffield was beheaded by someone with a knife is no argument for people having guns. Crime happens everywhere, shooting happens on fewer occasions in places where guns are outlawed. And it is not the Government I trust but the legal system, which is a bit more complex. However, the bottom line is that whatever happens, nothing other than mortal sin, i.e. my personal decision can separate me from Christ’s love, and if someone beheads me with a knife next time I go to the shop, well, I will still be in God’s love and I will still be with Him. [Go to confession.]

  74. NoTambourines says:

    At a glance, the White House’s advice looks like a less articulate rehashing of the training approach taught to students, faculty, and staff on a number of college campuses known as “Get out, Hide Out, Take Out.” All of it assumes an armed assailant and unarmed targets, of course.

  75. Therese says:

    “I cannot bring myself to treat the word ‘person’ as masculine.”

    A person is a human being of either sex. There is no confusion here. Surely you have met the occasional man who is not an animal. ;-)

    ‘He’ can be used as a singular indefinite pronoun and ought to be more widely employed. ‘Them’ is not an acceptable substitute under any circumstances.

  76. APX says:

    While I know “he” is also correct to use, people no longer know/accept that. Thus, rather than get into a heated discussion about it with Instructors, it’s more prudent to just go around it. I have a hard enough time convincing my instructors that it is improper to refer to St. Thomas Aquinas as “Aquinas” in writing as that is not actually his surname, but rather based off “of Aquino”.

  77. Chuck3030 says:

    As a friend of mine says, “When seconds matter, the police are only minutes away!”
    God defends his people from their enemies (See Old Testament). To do this, God uses actual people sometimes (Gideon, David, Joshua, Moses,et al.) My own life I would be willing to lay down for others (especially at church), but if anyone threatens my family, church, or country, it would greatly lengthen that person’s life expectancy to do so when I am not there. I recall that when vilence was not called for in protecting the Lord, He healed the man who had been injured in the melee. I figure that if God does not want the man to die, he will survive my shots to the torso or head. It is better to die in defense of the innocent than to die as one of them. Ditto those above who mentioned the “ask for forgiveness” bit. I find confession easier to attend while I live than after I die.

  78. av8er says:

    I have concealed carry to Church and haven’t done it in a while. This situation will lead me to do so again. As the saying goes, when seconds count the police are minutes away!

  79. Gretchen says:

    I can see where someone would not feel proper about defending their own person in the circumstances described; however some seem to feel that same way about their neighbors in the pew. Neighbors with tiny children, or an aged parent to care for. Neighbors who have an ailing spouse, or those working on an important law case that may have ramifications for the nation. In short, they are making a decision for their neighbor that may not be the one that neighbor would choose for her or himself. The right to self defense comes from God. If we willingly give it up, that is one thing. To deny others that right because it doesn’t feel proper to have a gun in a church, is problematic to me.

  80. Imrahil, the purpose of the people’s right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is precisely to be a protection against tyranny. Notice that totalitarian regimes always disarm the populace.

    Catholic Coffee, as someone who works in the criminal justice system, I find your naievete touching.

  81. NBW says:

    @acardnal: perhaps the Knights could “modernize” their weaponry to pistols? ;)

  82. pelerin says:

    I find it incredible that anyone should think it ok to carry a gun into Mass. As a non American I cannot understand the American fascination for guns and agree with John Nolan. To think that every American Tom, Dick or Harry could be carrying a gun I find quite frightning and consequently I would never dare visit America. Do American tourists still carry guns when they come to Europe? Surely not and I presume they feel quite safe without them.

  83. JARay says:

    I find this post bizarre. Here, in Australia I do not know anyone who even has a gun. If you were found to be carrying a concealed gun you would be facing imprisonment. It is possible to obtain a licence to own a gun but it has to be kept in a secure safe and the police will come and check that safe from time to time without notice. It is only criminals and the police who carry guns here. Murder does happen but guns are not the usual means of committing murder. Knives seem to be more prevalent though, I must admit. There is no tradition of an armed citizenry here.

  84. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Therese, I’m (sorry!) not quite sure whether you are joking or not. If so, it was a great laugh and please read over the next sentences. So: The reason why I can’t say “he” to a person, even though that’s the normal way to refer to a human being of unknown sex, is that English is not my mother tongue, and the word is “persona” in Latin and its, feminine, gender, has been preserved into all languages that really have a gender; so, in referring to “person”, I use a generically neutral “she”. Probably I’m wrong on that …

    Dear @Dennis Martin, maybe it would indeed be good to make some effort at understanding the rejection of the “Ruled-Ruler” paradigm. For one thing, this rejection makes it understandable how Americans apparently believe in a “ruled citizen = tenant = serf = slave” equation. However, each of these inequalities are strict, to use the mathematical phrase.

    When Europeans say “self-government” or “democracy”, they mean a certain form of government that by convention has this name. Of course they are all for democracy (though in the meantime wishing the royal splendour of lost ages back); but they feel that democratic government, just like any government, is government – is essentially from outside. Hence, we have a ruler, and we have ruled ones. You can have checks and balancies, you can hold personal freedom sacred (or not do so) and you can designate the bearers of the ruling power by popular suffrage.

    So, as a matter of fact, also thought some of the Europeans who occupied the Chair of Peter.

    But self-government in the strict philosophical sense of the word: what should that even be?

    There is a way, though, when you can say that a people suffers no foreign rule. It is when the ruler gives the greatest amount of personal freedom possible, if it is ordered strictly along the principals of subsidiarity, if there are many and many of little kingdoms (the father is king in the family, etc.), and if all are accepted as fully members of the whole State, and have some say in the matters that still remain for the whole state. That, you can have. But getting rid of the concept of ruling?

    (also @hon. dear @Miss Anita Moore)
    Seen from a subsidiarian point, there certainly is much to say in favor private gun ownership.

    Which may be the explanation why totalitarianism, but also less evil sorts of tendential collectivism, seeks to take them away.

    Yet a state, even if it does take away weapons, would not have needed to fear them in the first place. Would the 17th of June, 1953 have looked any different if the population of East Berlin had had a pistol (or, if you will, a rifle) each?

    And frankly, even with weapons I see no middle path between passive resistence and active resistence. And an actively resistent is a rebel; if he has a cause of a justified revolution, the State should give in and do as he wishes, apart from the fact that the state will never admit that. If, however, a rebel has no cause for a justified revolution, he not only will, but also ought to be captured alive or, if impossible, dead by the State’s forces. I have only slightly glanced even the German Wikipedia article on the Waco siege, but from what I read there, it seems that what happened was no shame but a victory.

  85. Dan says:

    If I were a pastor, I would not permit firearms in the church, concealed or otherwise.

  86. Pelerin, our fascination is not so much with guns as with liberty — something Europeans know less and less about as they cede more and more of their sovereignty to Brussells, and something we have less and less of in this country as our ruling classes imitate the Europeans. I’ll be very honest: I can’t understand European giving themselves virtuous airs over Americans and our guns in light of the fact that it took hundreds of thousands of Americans with guns to save western Europe from tyranny twice during the last century. All these sacrifices are now being squandered all throughout the West as so many of us try to trade in liberty for security, until we are reaching the point where we have neither, and Americans and our guns have to step in all over again, even on our own turf. When that day comes, I’d like to hear Europeans continue to lecture Americans about their fascination with guns.

    And guess what? Self-rule means self-responsibility. Liberty and democratic self-rule are doomed to extinction in a world where no one is prepared to assume that responsibility and fight for them.

  87. Imrahil says:

    Hon. dear @Miss Anita Moore,


    I’m not supposing the German war was a just one, and against Belgium certainly a grave crime had been committed, but: Tyranny? Bl. Charles I? William II, unsympathetic as he was? Tyranny?

  88. Cantor says:

    Sadly, our parish uses the flimsy paper missalettes in the pews. Now if we could replace them with the Graduale Romanum with Kevlar covers, we’d have both defensive AND offensive weaponry without the need for guns. [Would copies of Gather be offense weapons?]

    Reason 68,302 for Summorum Pontificum.

  89. Supertradmum says:

    Imrahil, Blessed Charles I was ousted by his own people, in effect de-throned by several groups in the end. And, although he was a very good man and gave his life for his country as a spiritual sacrifice, one cannot state that all the Habsburgs were as holy. He is an exception in that family. If you know your history, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire subjected non- A and H people to forced drafting into the army, denial of democratic voices, and other things contrary to the wishes of the people. The real battle was between the socialists in Austria and the democrats as to who would take over power from the dying empire-form.

    The First World War did not have to happen at all and was the result of prideful national interests on the part of certain leaders, who allowed an arms build-up. In fact, before the war, several members of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s family, all related to Victoria and including the King of England and others tried to steer him from getting involved not only in the arms race but the Serbian connections. He was a horrible anti-Semite, and did not listen to his own people in his effort to consolidate his own power. To romanticize him is preposterous.

    The democratic movements of those countries in the A-H empire stemmed the tide of both Marxism and socialism by desiring and working towards democracies.

    As to guns, Europeans at this stage are mostly gross materialists who neither understand real freedom and our Constitution, nor desire personal responsibility except for a minority. Too bad the entire continent has been emasculated, but by the choice of the individual nations, sadly, who are and have been committing political suicide. A few guns here and there would not be a bad thing in the coming days of either tyrannical government or complete anarchy. In the most likely showdown between anarchists, Moslems, and the Hague, guns would be a necessity.

    BTW, the modern ideal of supporting the A-H empire by some traditionalists is simply naivete and a lack of knowledge and understanding of history.

  90. Maltese says:

    CCP, Ruger LCP .380, and Uncle George’s Wallet Holsters; and carry them every day to mass.

    I personally have an AR-15 pistol next to my head at night because I’m prior law enforcement and have been threatened. Don’t think a mass-shooting might not happen in mass.–I used to carry my Glock 27 to mass (when I could legally do so), but gave it to a defense-attorney friend, because is hurt my back, whether on the hip or heel. Go for the Ruger.

  91. Geoffrey says:

    The extinction of “democratic self-rule” is fine by me:

    “If therefore, kingship, which is the best form of government, seems to be worthy of avoidance mainly because of the danger of tyranny, and if tyranny tends to arise not less but more often under the government of several, the straightforward conclusion remains that it is more advantageous to live under one king than under the rule of several persons” (St Thomas Aquinas, De Regimine Principum, chapter VI).

  92. av8er says:

    I like simple, because things don’t need to be complicated. The sad fact is that there are sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. I am no wolf or I would not be on this website and I choose not to be a sheep. In the US we can exercise this choice.
    Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot would agree that gun control works.

  93. Maltese says:

    Here’s the Holster you want:


    And, no, I have no affiliation with the company.

  94. RafkasRoad says:

    Reason #25,725 why I thank god I live in Australia. Fr. Zuhlzdorf, Might I suggest you consider moving Down Under?? Three good reasons;

    1. We seem to be a wee bit saner in this area of governance (Sydney’s recent track record notwithstanding)
    2. The climate is fabulous
    3. Australia will be better for your health
    and one bonus extra
    4. We’re a friendly mob who look out for one another and would see you right, mate. Just ask Mr. Voris, who recently graced our shores with his presence, at my parish no less (and I flamin’ missed out on hearing him speak – damn and blast!!) but better luck next time)…

    See if your ecclesial higher-ups can’t post you down here???

    oh, and we celebrate Christmas in Summer and Easter during ‘nearly Summer’!! This simply has to be reason enough in and of itself!!!!!!


    Aussie Maronite.

  95. govmatt says:

    You should not carry a gun into a Church.

    Aside from the swords used by the respective Knight Orders that are ceremonial, you should not carry a knife into Church.

    When inquiring as to why, please ask St. Thomas Becket.

  96. Kathleen10 says:

    I’m going to start carrying a folding chair. [Perhaps we could start a folding-chair holster company. Do you think we should start with inside the waistband or outside?] What an odd statement from a government that is so intent on limiting our Second Amendment rights.
    A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the last pew during Mass. I looked to my right, and saw the little white, wooly head of my dear little friend, whom I affectionately call “my Polish leprechaun”. She was sitting near the door, and the terrible thought of what could happen, well, it just came into my mind.
    I can tell you there is nothing I would not do to protect that dear little person, nor anyone else.
    I respect the rights of others to have a differing opinion, but as for me, I would want something available to do my level best to stop that person, right there, right then. I do not believe in giving evil it’s head, and strongly believe in doing whatever we must to protect all innocent children and yes, our weak elderly, or anyone in between! I’m a woman, but ashamed of any American man who would say they would do anything else but protect children and elderly. Even a woman must do what she can. Run and leave family behind? The very idea is sickening.
    Personally I see nothing noble in consenting in any way to the wholesale slaughter of innocents. Jesus Himself may tell me to my face that I was wrong, but, he also is the One who instilled my instinct to maternally protect the vulnerable around me.

  97. mightyduk says:


    where’s your argument? you’re just posting an unsupported assertion.

    If you have a citation of support from St. Thomas A Becket, why don’t you post it?


    a piece of paper never protected anyone, it’s actual or anticipated use of force against a transgressor, period.

    You Europeans cry about American gun ownership while you cower, in part behind the protection of armed police and your own largely symbolic armies, but mostly behind the might of the US to protect you from whatever the latest existential threat you’re facing (the Nazi’s, the Communists, now the Mohammedans).

    It was attributed to Yamamoto (though probably not accurately), it is impossible to invade the mainland of the America because there would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.

    God Bless.

    ps. there are more licensed hunters in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and West Virginia alone than there are soldiers in the largest army in the world. Civilian gun ownership is at the cornerstone of American liberty, in more ways than one.

  98. av8er says:

    @ govmatt,
    Bad guys do bad things with weapons whether gun, sword, knife, club or rock. Good guys need to be able to protect the defensless from bad guys. Crimnals, by definition, do not follow the law. Gun owners and ccl users are typically the most law abiding.

  99. Andy Lucy says:

    A church is only a “sanctuary” from violence if all concerned parties agree to abide by that rule. Mass murderers, or even the run of the mill murderers, are not going to respect any such convention… they will not behave as the Immortals in the movie Highlander… treating holy ground as a sanctuary. I recognize this harsh truth of life, therefore I have always carried, and I will continue to do so. I train for tactical situations such as an active shooter… as should ALL persons who choose to carry. Telling me that I must disarm before entering will result in me and mine finding a parish with more common sense. I have carried since I turned 18. All the time. Every day. I have never had to draw my weapon and, God willing, I will never have to. But I will never fail in my duty to protect my family, and those who cannot defend themselves. If that offends, please let me know, and I will not interfere on your behalf, however you should be cognizant of the fact that in defending me and mine, I may inadvertantly save your life. Rest assured that I would never intentionally go against your wishes… but sometimes you have to roll the hard six.

    FWIW, were you to meet me on the street, or in the church, you would never know that I am armed. It is called concealed carry for a reason.

  100. Hank Igitur says:

    And the winner is……………

    The munitions industry.

    So perplexing to see a culture where weapons are so deeply ingrained.

  101. Gretchen says:

    CCC, #2265: “Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life, the common good of the family or of the state. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.”

    Also, now may be a good time to ask the intercession of St. Gabriel Possenti, perhaps future Patron Saint of handgunners: http://www.gunsaint.com/. He once saved a village from 20 armed marauders by disarming a couple of them and showing his marksmanship.

    Nice. Very nice. :-)

  102. ByzCath08 says:

    I am a federal agent and carry my weapon everywhere I go, including to the Divine Liturgy. My pastor knows me, and what I do and is an enthusiastic supporter of having an armed agent available for a disturbance.

    My feelings on this regarding concealed weapons in church may be skewed given the nature of my work. If you have the ability to legally carry a weapon, obtain the blessing from your pastor and do so.

  103. EXCHIEF says:

    Like you I am an LEO and can legally carry concealed 24/7/365. As I posted earlier I do carry in Church and have not, nor will I, ask the Pastor’s permission. It happens that we attend Mass some distance from the city where we live and, thus, no one in that small parish knows I am an LEO. The purpose of CCW is precisely so no one knows if one is carrying. I like to keep it that way and while I have all the admiration in the world for our Pastor I really don’t think he needs to know anymore than the person next to me in the pew. Hopefully I will never have to deploy the weapon in Church and no one will ever be the wiser. If I ever do have to deploy it I want it to be a total surprise to all, including the one I might have to deploy it against. Loose lips sink ships and more than one cop has been ambushed off duty and in civilian clothes because someone found out s/he was a cop. Paranoid? Not at all…just cautious on duty and off.

  104. Jean Marie says:

    Fr. Z – I also experienced this type of horror. I was at the Mass when this occurred.
    I’m a firm believer in the second amendment, but how did this mentally disturbed man buy a gun, especially when his own mother had an order of protection against him. Now every year on the anniversary, we have parishioners, who are retired police officers, attend Mass to protect us and discourage any copycats. How sad that society has come to this – nowhere is safe.

  105. Maltese says:

    Christ’s Disciples carried daggers.

  106. Maltese says:

    Also, the Swiss Guards are pretty-well equipped with automatic weapons…

  107. Maltese says:

    And, just a bit of history, though a neutral Country, every Swiss man was required to serve in the Swiss Army (Switzerland is a majority Catholic Country); and was REQUIRED to keep his rifle!

  108. Nan says:

    @CatholicCoffee, the above post listed only a portion of the licensed hunters in the US. There are many other hunter-intensive states; there are over 40 million in the US who consider themselves hunters or who have hunted in the past, which is about 3x those over 16 who hunt in any given year. It doesn’t consider those under 16 who hunt, nor does it include gun owners who aren’t hunters. While some people no doubt hunt with borrowed guns, that number is statistically irrelevant as many people own multiple guns.

    Hymnals could act as weapons, especially if bunches of them were thrown. I’ve seen police and firefighters at Mass as well as former senators although senators might not be very good protection. I have no problem with people carrying at Mass.

  109. JabbaPapa says:

    ByzCath08 :

    I am a federal agent and carry my weapon everywhere I go, including to the Divine Liturgy.

    This, I can most certainly accept ; the notion however that any non-military/police/service ordinary lay persons should carry loaded weaponry into a place of worship is something that I find to be fairly repellent, and something from the Americanist heresy [?!?] that would be ENTIRELY foreign to the nature of the Church elsewhere.

    I mean — REALLY !!! Do you think that allowing just anyone to carry concealed weaponry into churches in Nigeria might be even REMOTELY acceptable ??? [How often have you been attacked in your church by gangs of terrorists intent on harming or killing you for religious reasons?]

  110. pmullane says:

    Hmmm, disabling a gunman with a fold up chair.This administration does know that WWF wrestling isnt real, right?

    As a European, my right to defend my family is infringed unjustifiably by my government who have decided that only criminals should be allowed firearms. If others dream about being shot up in Church then good for you, but I’m a husband and a Father and I’d like the tools to do my job at protecting them. I’d have no problem taking a gun to Church to defend myself, and I’ve lived in areas of the UK where doing so would be advisable.

    Can I also say, as a ‘European’, that I admire American courage and determination to defend themselves, and their willingness to be knowledgable and proficient in handling firearms. I do roll my eyes at effeminate sophisticates in Europe who judge American ‘obsession’ with Guns (which I’ve never found in any living, breathing American) and wet their trousers at the very thought of a firearm, even when their soldiers are having their heads chopped off in the street.

  111. Kerry says:

    Does anyone call the police for help, but ask them to bring folding chairs instead of Glocks?

  112. Kerry says:

    And, who thought it was a good idea to leave small children defenseless, and at the mercy of madmen?

  113. jflare says:

    Hmmm…nothing like a commentary on guns and violence to spark quite a bit of discussion it seems. Guess I shouldn’t be surprised. A few thoughts come to mind:

    1. Though I currently have no gun or concealed carry permit, I intend to buy a semi-auto pistol and acquire the appropriate permit (and the training that you must have beforehand) within several months.
    2. I thought it quite absurd what happened with this state’s concealed carry law: They forbade carrying in churches, schools, government buildings (I think), and other public places. Naturally, these are all the places where shootings have occurred most in the last 20 years. *shakes head with disgust*
    3. I’m amused, but mildly alarmed, by the idea of shooting someone from the choir loft. In all seriousness, a carry permit would be best suited to a pistol (a rifle being rather difficult to conceal), but a pistol isn’t a smart move for anything beyond 50 yards. ..And I’d prefer closer to 50 feet, based on my shooting quals in the Air Force. Honestly, since we’d most likely be dealing with an incident during Mass and the average nave likely could be as long as 75 to 100 yards long, shooting from the loft would be almost as dangerous for fellow parishioners as for the shooter.
    4. I’d say the best option would be for one parishioner to distract the shooter, while another would move close enough to be in effective range.
    5. However it might be done, I would hope that someone involved would provide some kind of warning for fellow parishioners to duck below the pews. Otherwise, the shooter may not need to fire any shot whatsoever, but still have casualties from the incident.

    6. I doubt if anyone really WANTS to see a shooting situation in a church, but I’d rather have the gun and be able to handle the situation if needed. I’d feel pretty bad if I knew that 5 people died because the police took 20 minutes to arrive and my gun was sitting happily at home.

  114. jflare says:

    “I mean — REALLY !!! Do you think that allowing just anyone to carry concealed weaponry into churches in Nigeria might be even REMOTELY acceptable ???”

    Weeelll….within the last 3 years or so, a certain George Tiller (abortionist) wound up being shot to death in the lobby of the church he attended..in Kansas.

    For that matter, somebody bombed a church somewhere in the Mid-East on Christmas Day a few years ago.

    Granted that bombing deaths could not have been prevented by concealed carry, various other atrocities that’ve come about COULD.

    So yes, I think it fair that carrying a concealed weapon in any house of worship might actually be wise.

  115. Gail F says:

    Actual research from actual experts shows that mass shooters are likely to keep shooting until they are confronted, at which time they tend to give up or shoot themselves. This is NOT the same thing as a revenger shooter, though, or a murder-suicide shooter, etc. So you wouldn’t know which one was in the church if someone just started shooting, or what the best action would be.

  116. Maltese says:

    The problem is, EXCHIEF, most Departments are dried-up on arms.

  117. Gail F says:

    I find the hand-wringing over weapons rather funny, especially the Thomas a Becket comment. There have been plenty of times in the history of the Christian West when most people carried weapons most of the time. For some of the middle ages, people used to carry knives and spoons with them all the time — did you know that? They were not provided with dinner, you had your own, and the knives were sharp. Men wore swords. Not all men; not all of the time. But they wore SWORDS. And they did not kill each other indiscriminately because of it. In some areas and some times in the US, people frequently carried guns everywhere. It is a fallacy to suppose that one’s particular cultural habit about carrying deadly weapons is the only “natural” response to life in all places and at all times. The problem with gun violence in the US is not guns — there are MILLIONS of guns in the US, and the problem is almost entirely among criminals of a certain type (mostly drug crime) and people who associate with or live near them, and is almost entirely limited to hand guns. The hysteria among some people about with the very idea of guns puzzles me. And the lack of a historical sense, even among Catholics (who have a 2000 year history and whose faith is based on historical events) never ceases to amaze me.

  118. Maltese says:

    All, wear a Blessed Scapular–that is all!

  119. pelerin says:

    The link given by Jean Marie is horrific. How did someone who was mentally ill like that obtain a gun? Many shootings seem to be carried out by those who are mentally ill and by the comments above it seems that Americans would be quite happy to shoot back regardless. The expression ‘violence begets violence’ comes to mind.

    It would appear that American justice does not have compassion for those who are mentally ill as the man was sentenced to life imprisonment. Yes he committed horrific murder but as a schizophrenic how could he be responsible and thus guilty? The brother in law of one of my sons suffered from schizophrenia and tragically killed himself some years ago. Because of his condition we did not believe he was ‘guilty’ in any way.

    [Happy to shoot back? Are you joking? Just how offensive did you hope to be with that? Your solution, if I read you correctly, would be to let the mentally ill person continue to fire at the innocent and reload until she was out of mags.]

  120. JARay says:

    Taking up Pelerin’s point. No American (excluding people like security personnel accompanying Heads of State) would ever get into Europe carrying a gun. Nor would they ever get into Australia or New Zealand either. They visit those countries knowing full well that the ordinary citizen is unarmed. Those citizens are happy to be unarmed. I am one of them. I do not want anyone around me to be able to carry a gun. That is what I expect. It was only with extreme reluctance that the Police Force in Britain had to accept that they should have easy access to guns and the ordinary policeman there does not carry a gun now, although I must admit that the police in Australia do carry guns. There was a time when the police came regularly into my house on business, (I am a JP), and I really did consider telling them to leave their guns outside my house before they came in. Had I really insisted I feel sure that they would have respected my wishes. The thought came to me when I saw them in Court and there they are required to leave their guns outside. My thought was that if the Court insisted that they leave them outside then I was equally entitled to demand that they leave them outside when they came into my house on business.

  121. MacBride says:

    Just a few thoughts…

    I was told that once a Priest starts Mass he cannot stop for any reason. So this means that if a person was pointing a gun at him…he cannot defend himself. [I assure you that a priest, seeing an attack coming, can and ought to get out of the way if possible.]

    I have had a conceal permit since 1991. At this time I do not choose to carry in church, but that is my choice.

    While I respect LEOs, they should not be the only person’s allowed to carry concealed in churches(in the United States..I cannot speak for other countries). I would hate to have to gamble on whether there is a LEO in the vicinity when trouble hits…Murphy’s Law dictates otherwise.

  122. The Masked Chicken says:

    “How sad that society has come to this – nowhere is safe.”

    Rather than stick their heads in the sand and outlaw guns, the government should have the courage to figure out what has caused the proliferation of violence. Is it cartoons? Ha!! Is it tv? (Getting warmer). Is it the disdain for life that comes from decades of contraception, abortion, and, “soft,” ideas of what love is? Ding, ding ding.

    Johnny, for two extra points, can you explain how one is supposed to believe the commandment, “Thou shalt not murder,” when the Commander (no, not Obama), who has the power of life-and-death, just loves everybody, “unconditionally,” according to modern psychologists, who double on weekends as theologians? Why should we fear to kill when we do not fear the Author of life and death?

    Oh, throw in a dash of edu-think and you’ve got yourself a wicked little concoction for the raising up of a culture of death.

    Really, what does the administration expect. What about, “You reap what you sow,” do they not understand?

    The politicians who support abortion should offer themselves up as free human shields against modern wickedness. After all, that’s what they make aborted babies in the womb become.

    The Chicken

  123. The Masked Chicken says:

    “I was told that once a Priest starts Mass he cannot stop for any reason.”

    If he can stop to blow his nose, he can stop to shoot a shooter. At most, the Mass would be illicit. No one said he had to stop the Mass…

    The Chicken

  124. pmullane says:

    Hello Pelerin. You say:

    “How did someone who was mentally ill like that obtain a gun? Many shootings seem to be carried out by those who are mentally ill and by the comments above it seems that Americans would be quite happy to shoot back regardless. The expression ‘violence begets violence’ comes to mind.”

    Its incredibly easy to get a gun. I live in a an island nation thats had a total ban on handguns for 20 years, and I’ve lived in places where children walk around armed with guns. What is not possible is for a law abiding person to own a handgun. So the people who dont care about the law can very easily and relatively cheaply get them, and the law abiding responsible people cant. Add to the mix the fact that even if the Police get to the scene before you get shot, they wont intervine to save you. In terms of shooting by the mentally ill, in fairness we dont stop defending ourselves because the aggressor is mentally ill. If I had to shoot a schizophrenic to protect my family, I would do that. The Schizophrenic may not have the capacity to be whiolly reponsible for his actions (although Mental Illness does not necesserily equate to lack of capacity), but im not going to sacrifice my loved ones because their murderer was mentally ill. Yes, violence does beget violence, but the violence of the aggressor begets the violence to stop the aggresor, and the alternative is thpeace of the dead.

  125. JabbaPapa says:

    jflare :

    So yes, I think it fair that carrying a concealed weapon in any house of worship might actually be wise.

    I’m sure that principle will be helpful for anyone deciding to shoot an abortionist, or carry out a massacre of “Infidels”, or shoot their father-in-law in the back of the head, or commit suicide at the main altar of Notre-Dame de Paris …

    [I have to assume that you are being obtuse on purpose.]

  126. tjg says:

    The Executive Branch of our government has completely lost it. They cannot help themselves anymore…..now that the State is in control, they can and must comment on everything. Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that the Socialists are now in charge (at least in their minds)?

    I am all for concealed carry and while I do not have a permit today, I must admit that the crime in Utah has against given me pause to reflect / consider getting a permit and small handgun. (I have other weapons at home but a .44 Super Blackhawk might be a little obvious under the shirt.)

    As many others have stated very well, it is our right and duty to protect our families and others.

  127. The Masked Chicken says:

    ” Such a desecration would automatically render the liturgical celebration null and void sacramentally.”

    Since I don’t know, I will ask: can a sacrament be rendered invalid by external cause?

    The Chicken

  128. thepapalbull says:

    JabbaPapa says:

    “This, I can most certainly accept ; the notion however that any non-military/police/service ordinary lay persons should carry loaded weaponry into a place of worship is something that I find to be fairly repellent, and something from the Americanist heresy that would be ENTIRELY foreign to the nature of the Church elsewhere.”

    It is a great fallacy that military/police/etc are more skilled at shooting than regular citizens. Occupation really isn’t a great indicator when it comes to proficiency with a pistol. To begin, military gun use is overwhelmingly with a rifle. Yes, police and federal agents have to qualify on the range every so often, but it isn’t uncommon at all for that to be the only shooting a cop does all year long. I don’t deny that cops have undergone more training in situational, shoot-don’t shoot scenarios and the like during their academy years. But if someone needed to take a shot to defend themselves or others, I’d prefer to have the person who routinely practices, trains, or competes whether they be a police officer, military, or regular citizen.

  129. Ed the Roman says:

    All, wear a Blessed Scapular–that is all!

    I think it highly advisable to wear more than a Blessed Scapular, at least when outside.

    If guns were the cause of crime, the United States, which has a wildly disproportionate share of the world’s private held guns, would have a similar share of crime. It does not.

  130. Matt R says:

    Chicken, I am not sure who you are replying to, but of course the priest can stop the celebration of Mass. De Defectibus envisions this, for serious causes such as illness, and I would find it wholly appropriate to stop if an ambulance was called for someone in the congregation, or some other reason that takes everyone completely away from the celebration. Certainly a shooting or other attempt at mass violence qualifies!
    JARay, of course Australia’s history doesn’t involved an armed citizenry. It was a penal colony, primarily for Irishmen…who also were largely unarmed (and might I add, not often committing crimes requiring deportation to the Southwest Pacific Ocean).
    Pelerin, privacy laws prevent a federal background check when purchasing a firearm from accessing any information regarding mental illness. And, it’s on the defense to prove that they were not guilty by reason of insanity. The crux of it though lies in the inability of parents to properly treat, and if necessary institutionalize, their teenaged or twenty-something children with mental illness before they commit a violent crime.

  131. Dennis Martin says:


  132. The Masked Chicken says:

    “All, wear a Blessed Scapular–that is all!”

    In addition, perhaps a blessed bullet-proof vest :)

    As for the Mass, I was asking if the desecration due to shooting would invalidate an already on-going Mass.

    The Chicken

    [No, it wouldn’t. However, if the priest stopped saying Mass, then it wouldn’t be Mass. The consecration would have been valid.]

  133. Andy Lucy says:

    I train more than 95% of the LEOs with whom I work. Regular weekly range work is a staple (and is fun), while force-on-force scenarios, IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) drills and IADs (Immediate Action Drills) comprise a large part of my tactical training, for while a LEO may respond to a situation as he PERCEIVES it, a non-LEO must respond to a situation AS IT ACTUALLY IS. I don’t have the luxury of being able to say in court what the situation “appeared” to be… I am held to a much higher level of scrutiny and responsibility.

    I worked for many, many years as a police dispatcher. I have had the unfortunate experience of being on the phone with victims who were unable to protect themselves, who were waiting for the police to arrive, and who were assaulted or even murdered by an intruder. This is not something abstract to me; their screams inhabit my dreams to this day. This is a no bull, real life scenario in which I will NEVER willingly place myself, nor my family. We will always retain the means to defend ourselves, and will fight to our last breaths any attempts to alter that right by pie-in-the-sky Pollyanna types who believe that the police are actually there to protect them (there are numerous SCOTUS cases that have ruled on this precise point, that the police have no duty to protect individuals from harm by other individuals: cf. DeShaney v. Winnebago County, Castle Rock v. Gonzales, and Warren v. District of Columbia from the DC Court of Appeals). The police are there to clean up the mess afterwards and assign responsibility. When seconds count, the police are just minutes away. This is not a slight to peace officers. It is simple logic… they cannot be everywhere, all the time. Response times to my section of the county are on the order of 20 minutes. Most armed encounters are over in less than 10 seconds from the initiation of violence. You do the math.

    CCC 2258: “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.”

    Innocent. Innocent is not a word that applies to someone who intends to kill or grievously harm someone who has given them no cause to do so, such as an immediate threat.

    CCC 2263: 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.”

    Do I EVER want to have to drop the hammer on another human being? No. It is an act that will haunt me the rest of my life, no matter how long or short it might be. However, that being said…..

    CCC 2264: Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow: If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.

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

    No one is responsible for my defense, except myself. And as a father and husband, I am also responsible for the protection and safety of my wife and children. That is a duty that I will not shirk. Duty is a word that often gets bandied about, but many never ponder the true meaning of that word. A duty is an obligation, either imposed or accepted freely, which binds one to follow a certain course of action. I accepted the duty of protecting my family when I married my wife and we had our children. We prepare for death, which awaits all of us at some point, but we also prepare to live. Will I lay down my life for my family? Yes… but only if there is no other way to defend them. To do otherwise is to hold God in contempt. He gave me life, He gave me a brain, He gave me my intellect and the ability to reason. I intend to use those gifts for the protection of my family and other innocent souls who may be put in harm’s way by a someone bent upon doing violence to others.

  134. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: carrying swords in church — Of course a lot of knights, soldiers, etc.had their swords blessed to defend innocents and the Church (particularly as part of their knightings), and thus they would have been carrying sacramentals to church. I would like to know what the rules historically were in various times and places. I am feeling a bit dubious about deacons carrying while vested, and servers too, because they’re in the sanctuary. I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t be right for priests to shoot from the sanctuary, either.

    Martyrdom is being killed “out of hatred for the Faith.” There are saints who were martyrs, and there are saints who became saints for defending God’s people with the sword and gun. (Some of whom became martyrs.) I suppose it is time to compile a list of saintly kings and the like, so that people will remember which ones were Defenders of the Faith in a physical way.

  135. Weetabix says:

    I carry concealed in church every time I’m there. Not because I’m in church, but because I do that everywhere but the shower.

    If people choose to do this, they absolutely must remember to be sure of their target and what’s behind it. This obviously includes other people, but for me, it would include the tabernacle as well.

    Guns are a useful tool, but not every problem is a nail (to mix my metaphors), and guns aren’t any more magical for us than they are for the gun grabbers.

  136. techno_aesthete says:

    ” The expression ‘violence begets violence’ comes to mind.”

    I suggest you read “More Guns, Less Crime” by John R. Lott, Jr. From the book’s description:

    Directly challenging common perceptions about gun control, legal scholar John Lott presents the most rigorously comprehensive data analysis ever done on crime statistics and right-to-carry laws. This timely and provocative work comes to the startling conclusion: more guns mean less crime. In this paperback edition, Lott has expanded the research through 1996, incorporating new data available from states that passed right-to-carry and other gun laws since the book’s publication as well as new city-level statistics.

    Mr. Lott went into this research thinking much like you – that more guns would lead to more crimes. However, after analyzing the data he came to the opposite conclusion.

    Criminals prefer their victims to not be armed. Have you noticed that most if not all of the mass shootings in the U.S. have happened in so called gun free zones? The perpetrators are attracted to those places like moths to a flame. Instead of deterring crime, gun free zones are a magnet for gun-related crimes. The perpetrators know that they will have a longer period of time to do damage before someone can stop them. Add in mind altering drugs which have side effects that include a propensity to rage, not to mention a culture of death as a previous commenter wrote, and one has a recipe for disaster. Little attempt, if any, has been made to address the mental health aspect of these recent mass shootings or the relation of the widespread prescription of mind/mood altering drugs.

  137. tjg says:

    Andy Lucy – GREAT POST

  138. Nan says:

    The thing about conceal carry is that there’s less gun crime when the criminals can’t be sure who’s armed. Which is why gun-free zones are shooter magnets.

  139. Titus says:

    Regarding St. Thomas á Becket:

    St. Thomas was not actually killed in violation of the law of sanctuary. He was killed within the curtilage (that is, inside the complex) of Canterbury Cathedral, but was not within the portion of the cathedral itself that qualified the occupant for sanctuary. It’s been many years since I have read it, so I am afraid I forget the more precise details, but the scenario is laid out in Thomas Costain’s The Conquering Family.

    That said, his four assassins were rapidly excommunicated and died, apparently, in the Holy Land after being exiled.

    Regardless, the episode sheds little light on the question at hand.

    The more interesting question is that I posed at the very beginning of the thread and that the Chicken picked back up: what are the implications, moral, canonical, and for the sacral character of the building, of the various acts of criminals and in response to criminals inside a church?

  140. Philemon says:

    2 thoughts:

    My parish has a school on the grounds. Even if it was legal to carry concealed in the church, maybe it would still be illegal because of proximity to the school. Even if that isn’t true on Sundays because school is not in session, it would be an issue during the school year during weekday Mass. I don’t think schools should be zones where responsible citizens cannot carry but I’d want to be sure of what the law is before carrying a gun into someplace like a school.

    If someone did pull out a gun at Mass and I shot and killed them, would that mean I’ve desecrated the church? Would my parish, which I assume to led by sane and fair minded people, re-consecrate out of an abundance of caution? Would services be suspended for a time while the diocese thinks it over, even if reconsecrstion is found unnecessary? I couldn’t bear to be the loss of spiritual consolation to so many people. That’s the main reason I won’t bring a gun to Mass.

  141. Gail F says:

    Okay, I have read the document. Does anyone else find it creepy that the government has published a book recommending that “houses of worship” TRAIN their “congregants” in what to do during an active shooting incident? Not just the leaders or certain staff members… but EVERYONE? What does the US government think is going to go on regularly at churches? Church shootings are so rare that I would think they are statistically non-existent. I can see that if this happened in your town or something you might be interested in looking into what to do, but to tell everyone to do this? People get bitten by rabid dogs every year too, we don’t have the entire country do rabid dog drills.

    [Perhaps that is because they are trying to condition everyone into accepting that agents of the IRS, TSA, DHS and FEMA should have guns and you… well… you get a chair.]

  142. Elizabeth D says:

    A few years back at St Paul University Catholic Center in Madison, there was a Xaverian Missionary priest “in residence” named Fr Victor Mosele. He had been a missionary for 40 years in Sierra Leone and TWICE held hostage for months by horrific guerrilla rebels there. Yes, he didn’t leave the country after the first time, he stayed and was kidnapped again. He and another priest, fearful they were going to be traded to some militants in another country where the locals did not know them and their lives would be in even greater peril, finally escaped about 40 miles through the forest on foot, in great danger. Anyway, toward the end of this bondage, which was at the mission station being occupied by the rebels, the two priests successfully lobbied to be allowed to celebrate Mass in the mission chapel, and they even invited the locals. Incredibly, some of the rebels attended Mass, even those who were not Christian. Fr Victor TOLD THEM to leave all weaponry at the door… and THEY DID. His homilies included exhortation against violence and the things the rebels were doing. The rebels listened to these homilies in silence. Fr Victor passed away a year or two ago. He was many times in danger of death and his homilies at St Paul’s often turned to the theme of martyrdom, which he prayed to be ready for, and had a certain regret that he did not have that grace, though he spoke also of “the white martyrdom” of celibate chastity lived to the full and to the end.

    Father Victor was very much the inspiration for my comments upthread. It does seem to me that reverence dictates not bringing weapons in the church; and on what basis could Fr Victor have advocated that to the rebels, who accepted the principle, if being armed was fully accepted or advocated at more ordinary Catholic Masses?

  143. JabbaPapa says:

    thepapalbull :

    It is a great fallacy that military/police/etc are more skilled at shooting than regular citizens.

    Do you confuse skill with the specific training of professionals to handle violent conflict situatoions ?

  144. JabbaPapa says:

    Father Z :

    [How often have you been attacked in your church by gangs of terrorists intent on harming or killing you for religious reasons?]


    Sorry, but this is an uncharacteristic category error — the answer to the above question (ie never) precisely motivates me against this strange notion of carrying concealed weaponry to church.

    But OTOH, I do NOT live in Nigeria, where allowing people to do so would simply facilitate such ghastly attacks — which exist in reality, not as some kind of abstract talking point.

    [Gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.]

  145. Andy Lucy says:

    JabbaPapa: Do you confuse skill with the specific training of professionals to handle violent conflict situatoions ?


  146. Imrahil says:


    Dear @Supertradmum, I did not say that the First World War was right on the Central Power side. I said that, however bad they were sometimes undoubtedly reaching actual crime, they were not tyrannies.

    In my view – being an OT within the OT -, the Austrian war against Serbia was justified (being the exact same situation which the United States faced in 2001). The basical problem was 1. that monarchs gave in to their own officials, 2. that it was never questioned especially on the German side to make strategy decide politics, instead of otherwise. The war against France never should have been. And if the Germans should have been right thinking their cause just against the French (fearing an imminent attack), they should have trusted in that God helps the just and not in the machinations of men, and simply have invaded France from the Alsatian border. End OT within OT.

    I’m not so sure, either, that the Habsburgs were a gang of ruthless oppressors. One of the major parties of the 1st Austrian republic – the CS – were monarchist in all but admitting it. If the Allied powers had permitted it, he’d have had a good chance of winning the throne back in Austria. He’d 100% have got it back in Hungary. If the Allied powers had allowed monarchs to sign the armistice instead of saying in ideological anti-monarchism “unconditional surrender or republic”, the revolutions would never have happened. Austria-Hungary had conscription, as did other countries. France always conscripted Alsatians. Whenever there was a conscription in the United Kingdom, were the Irish left out? Austria always respected their peoples’ own nationalities (which cannot be said about Hungary, though, once she had got the possibilities to act for her own). The Poles were shared by Prussians, Russians and Austrians. They complained about the Prussians and they complained about the Russians, both very justly, but I never came across a complaint about the Austrians.

    I don’t, though, claim to have enough understanding and knowledge of history.

    Such knowledge as I do have is to a great deal due to literature: “The Man without Qualities” (Musil), “Radetzky March” (Roth), “the Demons” (Doderer), which show at least that there must be something good to an empire that was treated with so much love by its former subjects; in addition, I admit to be influenced by reading something from that very outspoken reader on this topic, E. M. v. Kuehnelt-Leddihn.

    End OT.

  147. Imrahil says:

    [When I said “France always conscripted Alsatians”, I meant: when she had the Alsace. Not at the time of the First World War of course. And in the last paragraph, it should have been “that writer (not reader) who is indeed very outspoken on this topic”.]

  148. Imrahil says:

    [Hm, interestingly Britain did exempt the Irish from conscription. Interesting. Never had thought that possible. Still: conscription is based on a authority, which may or may not be legitimate, and not on conationality.]

  149. Kerry says:

    Andy Lucy, megadittos!

  150. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    After dinner, recently, dicussing, over the cigars, the idea of ‘domestic practice’, à la Sherlock Holmes, but, à la Gandalf, using smoke rings, someone said (just to be sure,) “But do wait till they’ve cleared the line of the head…” (“Joke”, said Eeyore, to reassure the NSA).

  151. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Imrahil, Supertradmum, (or anyone else),

    Continuing (somewhat O.T.?) re. literature, how accurate (under any satiric exaggeration) is the depiction of the first volume of Hasek’s Good Soldier Schweik about pre-Great War Austro-Hungarian conditions? And what of Karl Kraus’s depiction of a society progressively so losing touch with reality, that satire becomes difficult?

    Generally, re. post -war Europe, it is somehow astonishing that countries occupied by the Nazis, where all sorts of everyday folk developed all sorts of successful ‘resistance’ movements, should so readily produce generations so characterized by squeamishness about the law-abiding (as opposed to those blithely engaged in ‘settling scores by “liquidations” in the criminal milieu’) possessing weapons.

  152. Supertradmum says:

    Venerator Sti Lot, read The Great War and Modern Memory and The Guns of August to start with and then watch the six or seven disc set of The Great War by the BBC, which is superb. In addition, read Warren Carroll’s The Rise and Fall of the Russian Revolution. Good starts. Also, read David Jones, the poet’s In Parenthesis and his essays on the war.

  153. jhayes says:

    Philemon wrote “If someone did pull out a gun at Mass and I shot and killed them, would that mean I’ve desecrated the church? Would my parish, which I assume to led by sane and fair minded people, re-consecrate out of an abundance of caution? Would services be suspended for a time while the diocese thinks it over, even if reconsecrstion is found unnecessary? ”

    Last month, a man committed suicide within the sanctuary of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. An auxiliary bishop celebrated the required Mass of Reparation and they were able to hold a previously scheduled service in the cathedral a few hours after the suicide.

  154. thepapalbull says: It is a great fallacy that military/police/etc are more skilled at shooting than regular citizens. Occupation really isn’t a great indicator when it comes to proficiency with a pistol.

    Yes. And puts me in mind of the fact that if you read the Federalist Papers, it is clear that what the Framers meant by a “well-regulated militia” was all able-bodied men capable of bearing arms.

    By the way, I can’t get over the absurdity of the argument that exercising one’s right to defend self and others constitutes “violence begetting violence.” Violence is righteous when it is proportionate to the threat and done for the purpose of stopping an unjust aggressor. If you, without justification, attack me with deadly force, and I repel you with deadly force, my intention is not to kill you but to put an end to your attack. And if I kill you in the course of defending myself against your unjust deadly attack, then your death is on your own head, not mine.

  155. OrthodoxChick says:

    Speaking of guns in church, is it just me, or is anyone else developing a feeling of foreboding regarding Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to Brazil? I feel like we should all be joining together to pray for his safety on this trip. For some reason, I’ve been thinking lately about what Our Lady of Fatima told the visionaries and if the Holy Father were to be killed in Brazil while we have two popes, one who prefers to use his title of the “Bishop of Rome”; he will be in a land where cork trees grow. The other pope (emeritus) made mention of going up the mountain in his final days…that seems to fit what the Blessed Mother spoke of. Maybe she guided the bullet to spare Pope John Paul II because he was not the pope she was referring to?

    In any event, I’m sure there will be plenty of official security and police carrying weapons at the WYD Masses but it remains to be seen if they will need to use them in defense of self, others, or God-forbid, the Holy Father himself.

  156. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Venerator Sti Lot,

    shame over me, I have not read the Good Soldier Schwejk nor any work by Karl Kraus. Hence it’s rather impossible to comment on that.

    If you want an accurate depiction of Northern German society before and during the war, Days of greatness by Walter Kempowski would be what you seek. He was a real genius in bringing epochs to life. Though, if you want to have presented a picture with presented with less sympathy, but equal accurateness (though I go by stereotypes in saying so), Michael Haneke’s movie The White Ribbon is equally worth seeing.

    Pity that Kempowski did not write about Austria.

    I can personally assure you that if in a student’s party you have an Austrian bar, like as not they’ll have some Habsburg stuff as marks of recognition. You can bet a fortune on that they’ll rather have Emperor Francis Joseph than the present Austrian president. I was myselftold by an Austrian friend (not a traditionalist btw) that she was, after all, better off, because she could celebrate her history (meaning the Habsburg empire) which we Germans cannot. (And really cannot. Hitler went into exile from Austria and foundered in Bavaria; he conquered the Reich by elections from the north.)

    About “losing touch with reality”, I must admit that I get some alarm-bells ringing whenever I hear the world reality. Reality is written by the winners, and the winners, especially the apparent winners, need not necessarily be right. The Catholic Church herself never receives which would not be flavored by an “the Church must finally come to terms with reality”.

    Nevertheless, let us put that in some more sympathetic form. The whole topic of The Man without Qualities (that’s a bold statement, I grant) is a search of a theme – whatever theme – which Austria, or the world (seen by Austrians), could possibly be about. They do not find one (because they dismiss from the outset the idea that religion, which being conservative they include, could be anything more than decent citizens must of course also do, and which strengthens the state). The present philosophy of 1913 Austria is described in a very enthousiastic dialogue as: “You keep saying nothing else but – muddle on!” – “Yes, muddle on, and maybe the official philosophy of the State of Austria, muddling-on, is better than many other things.” (Forgive me. Musil writes this way better.)

    Maybe that’s “losing touch with reality”. Austria then already suffered from the conservative problem. Conservatives, in the 20th century (and to this day) apparently got their own awareness any further than “let’s defend the status quo from all deterioration; and all these modern changes that are proposed are, sorry, deteriorations”. They had ceased to seek, let alone find, an actual good in the status quo which is worth fighting for (semi-quoting, unconsciously first and now consciously, Samwise Gamgee). But however much you detest what you fight against, you won’t achieve much if you do not know what you fight for.

    About resistance and weapons, the connection is simply not drawn. People do not think of being able to overthrow a tyranny with their little self-defence rifle. Maybe that’s because they, er, aren’t. Also, the sad thing about the resistance movements is that they were rather unsuccessful. They succeeded in saving people from the gas chambers (where a gun won’t help, if it is not the service gun a soldier carries anyway). They got a big chance in the 7/20 plot which was organized as a military coup. There were some rather unsuccessful assassination attempts, where getting the weapons was never a problem. I’m told that neither is it today.

    The French resistance was a great help when D-day did come; but it had to organize sabotage for this. Even if a state does not forbid private weapons, he will forbid that one does against it what the French resistance did. (Only, that they were right.) A fortiori that is true for the, very effective, Yugoslaw resistance.

    But this explains why the Nazis did not make people crave for private weapons. It does not explain why they ever ceased to wish for them in the first place. Going very far back, I see the reason where it was first “decided” that religions was more about feelings than about intellect. Then, a lack of dogmatic education also was apparently present, and people sentimentally felt that weapons were a bad thing, etc. The presence of Tolstoyism etc., the war which, for Middle Europe, was lost (lost wars make pacifists, ’tis said), the Protestant inability, spread under Catholics too, to distinguish between the less good and the bad, the modern mind, the false idea of progress which saw morality a fight not against sin, but against animal nature and barbarity and thus naturally favored the artificial (which, however respectable non-violence is) against the traditional (which self-defense is)… all these did their work.

  157. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Supertradmum and Imrahil,

    Thank you for your answers (which are also of general interest, and not, to my way of thinking, so far ‘off topic’ – with thanks to Fr Z for allowing them the space)!

    I love In Parenthesis (and was struck by how Paul Fussell seemed to have difficulty properly appreciating it in his very interesting Great War and Modern Memory). If the BBC series is the one I am thinking of, I agree (and want to see it again).

    I will look out for the Carroll book.

    I have Kempowski’s Aus grosser Zeit [Days of greatness] on the shelf – and will now try to read it all the sooner!

    “Reality is written by the winners, and the winners, especially the apparent winners, need not necessarily be right” is not the sense in which I understand or meant it, while “they dismiss from the outset the idea that religion, which being conservative they include, could be anything more than decent citizens must of course also do, and which strengthens the state” does seem to exemplify “losing touch with reality” as I meant it.

    I have not yet read much Kraus, have only dipped into Doderer’s The Demons (if that is imaginable!), but found both, and Musil, also highly recommended by the Austrian-German-American political philosopher, Eric Voegelin, who is very much and interestingly concerned with ‘reality’ (and rebellious human manipulative construction of ‘second realities’).

  158. Supertradmum says:

    Venerator, all good ideas, and you do not seem to need my little input. Have fun reading. If I had discovered Voegelin as a youth, I would not have gone off on Heidegger….or slightly later, von Balthasar.

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  160. sciencemom says:

    I wonder why the White House is defended by armed men instead of folks with chairs.

  161. Supertradmum says:

    sciencemom, is there not at least one empty chair those men could use?

  162. jflare says:

    I’ve been writing and re-writing this a few times now, precisely because I’m pretty disgusted with your remarks to Ms. Moore; I’m having trouble with reminding you of history without being.. cruel. So I guess I’ll say this:
    Whether you wish to admit to the fact or not, Americans with guns DID play a pretty distinct role in keeping recognized tyranny out of Europe. As can be seen by cemeteries in Normandy, many thousands died removing the Nazi scourge. After that, don’t forget that hundreds of thousands of Americans–Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy–played a distinct role as a deterrent threat against possible Soviet aggression.

    We still maintain many installations in that theater, though rather fewer now than during the Cold War.

    I’m trying not to be crude and snappish here, but honestly, the typical European disgust with guns seems immensely hypocritical and insulting to me.
    It’s quite plausible that many of you CAN have an attitude about it because a few hundred thousand people with guns, planes, bullets, and bombs have been sitting in your back yard for 60 years.

    Since I don’t see a Polish cultural revolution a la John Paul II going on to sustain each nation even in the face of open tyranny, I should think Europe would be a little less obnoxious about opposing guns.

    BTW, how the dickens did a debate about World Wars come up in a discussion about a mass murder possibly happening during Mass? We aren’t expecting a shoot-out at the OK Corral..are we??

  163. Imrahil says:

    Dear @jflare,

    thank you very much for your restraint, then. As it were, I consider your comment pretty much offensive, as well, given that the first time I was called to be disgusting, nevertheless I don’t claim that you should fake an attitude for mere courtesy’s sake.

    As it were, and as having read my comments you will certainly know, I do not share the typical European disgust with guns. I did say that no substantial amount of Europeans shares the typical (conservative) American trust in private gun-ownership as a means to prevent tyranny from arising (save perhaps via correlations and much indirectness, such as the focus on subsidiarity which the possibility of real self-defense may bring; and interesting topic but hitherto not directly touched here).

    What made the debate about World Wars come up was the following. Others, not me, pronouned a “typical European disgust with guns”. Then the hon. dear @Miss Anita Moore said in just outrage, “after all, American guns were needed twice to protect you against tyranny”. I took her she was referring to the two World Wars, and I still think she was; only now it occurred to me that, by the literal content of the words, she could have been referring to the Cold War as well. I can plead that the dear @Supertradmum, though disagreeing with me, took her in just the same sense.

    I corrected her, then, and said that I did not think the word “tyranny” a deserving characterization of pre-WW1 Prussia, much less the rest of Germany, or Austria. I meant this knowing (in part) and acknowledging (in all there is) the deficiencies of these governments and their recklessnesses and crimes in beginning the First World War; and I said so.

    For this reason I regret to say that your excursion about the American valour that saved us from National Socialism, which was all quite true, are beside the point. I never dreamt of denying that.

    Does this mean that when I, without denying that the Central Powers fought a rather unjust war, without denying that they did occasionally commit atrocities, that especially Prussia was a rather unsympathetic society, etc. etc., must never mention they nevertheless were not tyrannies?

    Of course, where Austria is concerned, there is a quite traditionalist support of her as well, which the dear @Supertradmum mentioned without approving of it. After all, Austria is among all existing things in 1913 the most similar to the traditional order, brought about by a millenium of political Catholicism (of the old sort). Belonging to the German Catholics who, judged by the general attitudes in 1913, had their most important and most powerful representative in the Austrian souvereign (Bavaria, btw, was incorporated to “Greater Prussia”, a.k.a. the German Empire, with silent threats of force), I can at the very least claim patriotism as an excuse.

    And now for something completely different.

    The typical European disgust with guns is not hypocritical; hypocrisy needs reflection. It is worse than hypocritical; it is sentimentalist.

    Hon. dear @Miss Anita Moore,
    while I cannot claim that I’d have thought or, if I said anything, said something differently, maybe I should have pronounced it more along the lines of “I would like to bring to your attention” or “I disagree” etc. Should my blunt rhetorical questions, or of course anything else including speaking out at all, have offended you, I beg your forgiveness.

  164. Former Altar Boy says:

    I have never been to Mass in my parish without a conceealed firearm for over 20 years. If some maniac attacked our church I would, assuming I could get off a safe shot (Rule 3: Know your target and what’s beyond), would have no problem engaing the attacker in the defense of others. In the hope that never happens but that I would shoot straight if it did, I pray to St. Gabriel Possenti every day.

  165. jflare says:

    You wrote:
    “As it were, and as having read my comments you will certainly know, I do not share the typical European disgust with guns.”

    I would contend that your comments DO reflect a fair degree of disgust. I decided to look back over some of your comments to see what else you’d had to say. I found some rather thought provoking comments.

    “It may well be the case that Europe is reduced to prostration and enslavement at the hands of a bureaucratic elite in Brussells, but I cannot by any means see how this has any connection to private gun-ownership. ”

    In fact, the right to bear private arms bears a fundamental, even critical, bearing on the matter.
    “You cannot scare the State with private guns; and while you may perhaps scare the State with a prospect of an insurgency, you cannot by any realistic means, with however many guns, get an insurgency of citizens together that has any chance of being more than a laughing matter (wherein the insurgents don’t laugh).”

    Um, perhaps a difference in learned history might be a problem here? If I consider the matter, I find that insurgency or private use of weapons–guns or otherwise–has had a DRAMATIC impact on the world’s history.
    One of the first battles of the American Revolution came about because of concerns about private firearms being used in rebellion. Decades later, troops of the Confederacy may often have begun their efforts with their own firearms. Decades after THAT, war planners during World War II worried about casualties with invading Japan because of fears that a civilian populace armed with sharp sticks might rise up and take part in the fight.
    Or, in Europe, the IRA certainly didn’t seem concerned about being outnumbered, outgunned, and outmaneuvered.
    The Nazis, when they took power in Germany, certainly had particular aims in mind when they set about to disarm the populace.

    Various examples like these abound if one will look for them.
    Ultimately, in spite of contentions otherwise, private ownership of firearms IS a key concern because..citizens CAN band together and fight against a regime they consider oppressive.
    Even if they don’t win exactly what they want, they CAN force a nation-state to reconsider the approach it takes to something. Such reasoning was part and parcel to why the 2nd Amendment came to BE, as Mr. Martin pointed out.
    And..sometimes they DO win.

    BTW, I don’t have any particular confidence in declarations about one war or another being “Just’ or not. I tend to consider such declarations to be essentially political barbs that can be easily dismissed. That doesn’t mean that I consider Just War Theory useless per se, but I see very, very little practical use.
    It’s simply too easy for a particular “authority” to declare a war unjust for whatever reason, but for the opposing side to disagree and fight passionately anyway. ..And win.

  166. cl00bie says:

    When you are in the midst of a shooting, time compresses. The flood of adrenaline affect your small motor movements first (that’s your aim). If you think you are going to shoot someone in the arm or leg to incapacitate them, you have another think coming.

    I have no problem with the concept of laying down my life for my friends. But my life will not be laid down passively waiting to die, or covering my loved ones with my body hoping the nut case’s bullet stops in me. I am going to be pulling my pistol, yelling loudly for everyone to get down, and moving to a sparsely populated section of the church, moving the whole time and drawing the nut case’s fire in my direction (away from the rest of the unarmed people). I will be trying to plant two or three bullets into his center of mass (between his belt and throat). And I will keep shooting at him until:

    1. He stops firing.
    2. I am hit and down.
    3. I run out of bullets.

    If I don’t drop him, part of my job will be to distract him for a couple of minutes to allow the police (or the pizza guy) to arrive. This will keep him busy while other people escape. If I drop the perp, I will make sure he’s rendered harmless, and if everyone else is okay, I will begin first aid on him. I will also say a prayer for his immortal soul and I have the hope that the priest is able to give him last rites.

    This is stopping a danger with malice toward none, and love for all, including the shooter. It is just a situation that needs to be dealt with in an efficient and regrettably violent manner. Should this happen to me, I would hope that St. Michael would enfold me in his wings and put his hands over mine as I shoot.

  167. Imrahil says:

    Dear @jflare,

    thank you for your kind reply.

    But no, my comments are not disgusted with guns – by which, may I say it, I am kind-of an exception here, where the 2nd amendment is met by the general populace with just as much “these Americans are crazy” (as Asterix would have said) as is the 18th amendment (to those who know it existed once). What I showed was not disgust with private guns, but (yes) an altogether lack of understanding that private gun-ownership may prevent a tyranny.

    I never denied that insurgencies played a major role in world history. It was precisely my point that what can really abolish a tyranny, an insurgency, will be forbidden anyway. If you want to have an insurgency, you have to conspire outside the law – and it does not seem to me that insurgents ever had problems to get weapons, though, if they had ones, they’d take their private ones. (Of course also, the chances were better in the 18th century where tanks, machine guns, howitzers etc. did not yet, I guess, exist).

    As for the justness of wars, that was an OT and even an OT within an OT. I do not, though, consider such an important piece of public morality to be practically dismissible. What I, rightly or wrongly, rejected was the term “tyranny”, and I only said that they led unjust wars etc. to make that not sound as if they had been perfect.

    Thanks, again, for the reply. I appreciate the discussion.

  168. jflare says:

    Unfortunately Imrahil, I’ve heard very similar remarks from people here in the ‘States who can’t even begin to understand why we would want to own a gun personally. ..In the next breath, you frequently hear some excuse for why we should limit or control gun ownership. Often enough, some notion about “we should be more like Europe” or “we Americans are nuts” comes into play. Often enough, the concern comes down to whether or not we wish to have law that allows the populace to own or be responsible for itself, or whether we wish to place government agencies in charge of something.
    For some reason, people seem determined to believe that placing more responsibility–and authority–in the hands of another human being will help anything. I’ve never felt that such an approach constituted anything short of madness.

    I suppose I consider most assertions related to Just War theory in a similar fashion. I think it virtuous for a person and a society to carefully consider the reasons for why they feel that armed conflict has become necessary. I do not believe that a declaration by one party or another about the justice of a war has any particular use. Declarations of this ilk almost always fail to fully address the real reasons why any side might take up arms against another; they tend toward being “nuanced” and equivocal to the point that nobody would bother giving them heed.
    ..And, in the end, whether an armed conflict–a war–might be just or not, people still die. I’ve never felt such Theory to be effectively some half-baked means of attempting justify the unjustifiable.
    Such efforts almost always strike me as being almost exclusively excuses, not functional means of making decisions. ..We quite literally do not have anywhere near enough of a Catholic mind as a society for such declarations to have any worthwhile impact. In any nation.

  169. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    To join the jflare-Imrahil discussion (a bit),

    Fabrian von Schlabrendorff’s Offiziere gegen Hitler [of which there sem to be different English translations from Revolt Against Hitler (1948) on] is very interesting about the care taken by the German ‘plotters’, civilian and military, from a wide range of religious and political backgrounds, not to create a chaos, or a power vacuum, should they succeed – in what eventually became the Stauffenberg ‘Valkyrie’ 20 July 1944 attempt – with extensive quotations from Dr. Goerdeler’s plans and goals for the succcessor-government, for example.

    And I think of R.H. Benson’s futuristic novel Lord of the World (1907) where a compulsory false worship is introduced and Percy thinks, “The advice he had given to the Holy Father just now was a counsel of despair, or of hope; he really did not know which. He had urged that a stringent decree should be issued, forbidding any acts of violence on the part of Catholics. The faithful were to be encouraged to be patient, to hold utterly aloof from the worship, to say nothing unless they were questioned, to suffer bonds gladly.” And, “As in the Roman and African persecutions of the first three centuries, so now, the greatest danger to the Catholic community lay not in the unjust measures of the Government but in the indiscreet zeal of the faithful themselves. The world desired nothing better than a handle to its blade. The scabbard was already cast away.”

    What (if any) sorts of ‘responsible calculations’ does a just armed resistance to tyranny morally require?

  170. jflare says:

    Just War theory has seven primary points:
    1. Only waged as last resort; diplomatic efforts thoroughly exhausted.
    2. Waged by legitimate authority.
    3. Only fought to correct a wrong.
    4. Only fought if reasonable chance of success exists.
    5. Ultimate goal to re-establish peace.
    6. Violence inflicted proportional to injury suffered.
    7. Weapons used discriminate between combatant and non-combatant.

    Essentially, these requirements spell out a fairly common sense method of determining whether a war’s justice, so long as one approaches such a decision from a Catholic frame of mind. Unfortunately, examining the intent of these stipulations also provide the reason for why declarations of just war have almost no value in practice.

    Remember that warfare occurs because a minimum of two parties have a dispute about something, a dispute that they ultimately settle by force of arms. Even if a third party might declare the reasons Just, a fourth party might declare the reasons Not Just. In short, two contrary decisions about the justice of a war could, in theory, spawn another war. Perhaps it’s not that likely, but I find that that such a possibility tends to thoroughly undermine the impact of making a declaration.

    Even if a third or fourth party might agree about the just character of a war–they rarely do so in the real world–their decision would have little effect if one of the first two parties doesn’t agree and decides to continue to fight regardless.

  171. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Thank you for the clear setting-out of things about about Just War Theory – and your observations.

    My reading about justified armed opposition to tyrants has not (yet?) been systematic or thorough. My sense is not exactly that it is always simply an application of Just War Theory, but I suppose it parallels it in many ways (please feel free, but not obliged, to correct me or explain more!).

    With respect to “Only fought if reasonable chance of success exists”, my memory of the Vendée, for example, is that while at times they had greater or less hope of foreign military intervention to aid them, they fought in any case because they thought it right to do so (and, I think, supposed themselves likely to be simply slaughtered if they did not).

    One of the things I had in mind in my previous comment, was at least partly distinct from considerations of “reasonable chance”. Benson imagines a future in which ‘weapons of mass destruction’ are likely to be readily used with little thought to ‘proportionality’ or ‘non-combatant status’.

    And the killing of Reinhard Heydrich was also in my mind. The current Wikipedia article says, “Infuriated by Heydrich’s death, Hitler ordered the arrest and execution of 10,000 randomly selected Czechs” – from which he was dissuaded, though it also says, “At least 1,300 people were massacred after Heydrich’s death” (and I think I recall the figure of 5,000 from the Hitler’s Bodyguard series). Should those killing Heydrich reasonably think something like this – some sort of mass ‘reprisals’ – would be likely? Should the possibility have dissuaded them?

  172. Catholic_Convert2 says:

    I carry concealed everywhere I go as well – including Mass. My thoughts are these:

    1) I have the duty to be a martyr for my faith, but I do not have the option of allowing those in my charge – my wife, and my children – to be martyrs. That is their decision to make, and I will fight, fight, fight to keep them free and safe to make it.

    2) If I ever have the opportunity to be a martyr, I will take it. However: I will NOT sell my life cheap to some deranged maniac who doesn’t even know what religion’s church he’s in, OR that he’s even attacking a church, or what “church” means. The bottom line is that most active shooters are out only for large groups of unarmed victims, and I think the pacifist Christians who allow themselves to be slaughtered by these types of people are sorely mistaken if they think that makes them a martyr.

    If a comet zips through the roof of a church killing you, are you a martyr? Of course not. Random violence is the exact same thing. You must be PERSECUTED to be a martyr.

  173. jflare says:

    I think the questions you raise actually do a marvelous job of highlighting why I’m usually wary of any declaration about the justice of a war. If we’re concerned about needing for fight back against a tyrant, well, we must define what a tyrant IS. If we wish to ensure that a reasonable chance of victory exists, then we must define what we mean by “reasonable”. Or, if we would insist that a reasonable chance of victory exists, then we must define both what “reasonable” and “unreasonable” chances ARE. If we want to insist that warfare should only be engaged as a last resort, we must agree upon what will be construed as a legitimate “last”.

    All of these concerns can be addressed objectively according to various criteria, but the decision regarding which criteria shall be used is a very subjective, a very human, choice. Regrettably, this inherently means that controversy can erupt over even the most basic or most obvious-seeming decisions as differing groups of people consider the actions of others from varying points of view.

    One of the cases you mention, the “Heydrich affair” (a term I’m coining for simplicity’s sake), highlights the problem. While our intelligence apparatus can probably tell us what sentiment tents to dominate amongst a group of people, no person truly knows what may happen over the coming days, weeks, or months. If we assassinate one leader, three more may spring up to replace him. Such has allegedly occurred with Al Quaeda.

    Another case you mention deals with the lethality of WMDs. Ultimately, the question that I wind up asking is this: Is it a graver atrocity to kill 300,000 people in 6 minutes with a nuclear bomb, or to kill 300,000 people in 6 months with bullets? For that matter, do we truly believe that it’s more virtuous to kill a recognized soldier–who may have been conscripted against his will into the Army–or to kill an obvious civilian?

    I have to contend that both events strike me as being hideous choices, yet I can’t think of any other effective means to address the merits of our choices near the end of World War II. If we hadn’t bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, arguably we would’ve been forced into a land invasion, one that might well have cost the lives of half a million American men, rather than the half million or so Japanese who died instead.

    I’m well aware that there’s at least a chance in the case of the 6 months that many of those might not be killed because negotiations might manage to end the war first. Unfortunately, that’s extremely small consolation to the families of those who die anyway as those hoped-for negotiations fall flat.

    Ultimately, I think that no person and no group of people REALLY has any good way to adjudicate these matters until well after any armed conflict (war) has ended. ..And that doesn’t help anyone.

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