Fear of Guns

Parish Diary

Fr. Peter Daly

October 8, 2002


††††††††††† We are seized by fear in the Washington area. Last night we cancelled religious education in our parish because we were afraid.

For the last week a madman sniper has been going around suburbia, killing and wounding the innocent with a high-powered rifle.So far six people are dead and two are wounded. Yesterday a 13-year old boy was gravely wounded on his way to school.All of the innocent victims were unsuspectingly going about the ordinary duties of life.

So, we cancelled our evening religious education because we were afraid.We donít know where he might be lurking.The last killing was just 20 miles up the road.

There are a lot of lessons that we can learn from this madness. But one lesson seems obvious to me.There is a need for more and better gun control.

I can almost hear the angry gun enthusiasts parroting back to me the mantra of the gun lobby, ďGuns donít kill people, people kill people.ĒI heard it all before.I donít buy it because it is simply not true.

Guns are the danger.The prevalence of guns, especially such high-powered weapons is the problem.

Guns are the reason why the United States has the highest murder rate in the industrialized world.Guns are the reason why every few years we read about crazies shooting up schools, post offices, cafeterias or factories. Guns are what make it possible for people to climb towers and kill the innocent. Guns are what make random killings on the expressway possible, as was happening here in Washington a few years ago.

It is guns, not butcher knives, slingshots, or baseball bats that make it possible to kill from such a distance with anonymous impunity.

We would not be so seized with fear if a mad man were running around the countryside with a knife. He would not have been able to lurk hundreds of yards away in parked trucks or in woods and pick off defenseless people in broad daylight. The tool makes the crime possible.

If we are worried about madmen with weapons of mass destruction overseas, why arenít we worried about madmen with weapons of mass destruction here?

I have been all over the world and Iíve seen that you can have a free society without easy access to guns.†† I have seen that nowhere in the world are people so afraid to walk the streets of major cities at night because of the possibility of getting shot as they are in the United States.

I know that as a priest in the inner city I buried nearly 20 people who were victims of gun violence. I know that in no other developed country is it so easy for a mad man to go into a store and buy guns or ammunition.

The solution is moderate, prudent, sensible gun control.That is the true pro-life position.That is the position that respects the common good of the society as Catholic social teaching demands.

Why would it be so unthinkable to require that every such lethal weapon be registered?Why would it be so unthinkable that people have to register to buy ammunition?

Why canít we do as in England where they keep hunting guns in a locker at the police station?When people want to use them the go to the police and sign them out so that the police know who has them, for how long and for what purpose?

Why do we put up with thousands of gun murders every year?Why do we accept a society so full of violence?Why canít hunters and sport shooters be willing to submit to a little bit of reasonable regulation for the common good, like they do in every other civilized country in the world?

The NRA will start screaming about 2nd Amendment rights.The NRA is just as off the ďreasonableĒ chart on gun control as NOW is on abortion.

There is no need for this.Children should be able to go to school without fear of a madman sniper with a high-powered rifle.

We should not be so seized with fear.