The Second Amendment permits the private ownership of guns (though I doubt that the need for a “well-regulated militia” envisioned by the framers of the Constitution translates into easy access to assault weapons.) But there is nothing to say that more stringent gun control laws that could prevent such horrible crimes cannot be judiciously balanced with constitutional rights. The Christian outlook on this of course has less to do with self-defense and more to do with the defense of the other person. Jesus asks us to love our enemies, not to murder them; to pray for them, not to take vengeance; and he commends the peacemakers among us, not those advocating for more and more and more weapons. Was Jesus naïve? I wonder about that. I often marvel how some Christians can say that in one breath, and proclaim him as the Son of God in the next. Apparently, some believe that the Second Person of the Trinity didn’t know what he was talking about. But Jesus lived in a violent time himself, under the heel of Roman rule in an occupied land, when human life was seen as cheap. Jesus witnessed violence and was himself the victim of violence—the most famous person to suffer the death penalty. It was not only divine inspiration but also human experience that led him to say: Blessed are the peacemakers. Why am I saying this now? Not because I want to score political points. But because this week’s shootings horrified me, and reminded me of the need for religious people who stand for life, and for churches who stand for life, to stand for life at all times. Why haven’t I written as much on other life issues? Because the Catholic church’s stance on most of those issues is well known. By contrast, religious leaders have seemed relatively silent on this other life issue. Perhaps it is the kairos, as Jesus said: the right time, in this case for religious people to pray about these issues in a new light.
This stance will most likely be unpopular politically. Some on the political right will object my stance on firmer gun control. Some of the political left will object to my stance on abortion. But that doesn't bother me, because I am not political. I am religious.