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Richard G. Malloy, SJ Answers:
Question: I am a firm believer in the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution which is the right to keep and bear arms. I currently carry a small revolver almost everywhere i go. I pray to God everyday that I never have to use it. I am also very seriously discerning a call to the priesthood. My question is are there any rules about priests being armed is it allowed at all? if it is allowed must it be concealed? etc. Thank You very much and I hope you can clarify this for me. I have also read many scripture verses that would seem to support the idea of good upstanding Christians being armed for the safety of themselves and others. If I am misinterpreting these passages I defer to Holy Mother Church. In Christ, Brian
Holy Mother church and Jesus himself tell us to love one another, even our enemies. No way does Jesus teach, “shoot them before they shoot you.” My advice to you as a future priest? Put away the pistol. Pray more. One way to answer your prayer that you’ll “never have to use your gun” is to get rid of it. Priests depend on God, not bullets. No gun means no one gets shot. You don’t have to be the Pope or Gandhi to figure that one out.
I lived in Camden, NJ, for 15 years. For many of those years it was rated the most dangerous city in the United States. I never got shot. I got shot at a few times because drug dealers didn’t like what I was preaching on the street corners. If I’d had a gun and shot back, I can guarantee you I wouldn’t be here today.
Geez, I really wish all those firm believers in the 2nd amendment were as firm in their belief in Jesus Christ who renounced violent self defense in the Garden of Gethsemane when he certainly could have called his followers to rally against the Roman soldiers who were coming to kill him. Jesus knew that “…all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matt 26:52 NAB). Handguns in the USA are too much Dirty Harry, “Go ahead. Make my day,” and too little Jesus, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt5:44).
Back in 1990, there were 10,567 handgun murders in the USA while there were only 22 in Britain and 10 in Australia (According to Time Magazine). In 2006, handguns murdered 18 people in Austria, 27 in Australia, 59 in England and Wales, 60 in Spain, 190 in Canada, 194 in Germany and 10,177 in the USA. In almost a generation we have not made much progress. In some areas of the USA, young males are in more deadly danger than they are in the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
You don’t need to defer to Holy Mother Church. God wants us to take responsibility for our thinking and choosing. Get informed. Handguns do not make people safer. 75% of Americans do not own guns. Actually, American households with guns decreased from 54% in 1977 to 33% in 2009. Studies have shown that a gun in the home is much more likely to kill a loved one than an unwelcome intruder, and the rate of teen suicide would be greatly reduced if young men did not have easy access to handguns. States with highest gun ownership rates show gun death rates seven times higher than States with lower gun ownership rates (Harvard studies and other studies cited at http://www.bradycampaign.org/facts/gunviolence/gunsinamerica)