Green Room

Should pro-life Catholics back the Feinstein bill?

posted at 7:45 pm on January 24, 2013 by

As one myself, I think that’s left to prudential judgment, but some are trying to push that notion:

Pro-life citizens and elected officials have a responsibility to show greater moral leadership and political courage when it comes to confronting threats to the sanctity of life posed by easy access to military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Members of Congress who take pride in their pro-life stance and appeal to family values have no excuse for inaction, and neither do any of us who share a firm commitment to these values.

We especially encourage our fellow Catholics in Congress, including prominent leaders such as House Speaker John Boehner, to stand up to the National Rifle Association and other gun lobbyists who choose to obstruct sensible reforms.

Catholics who earn an “A” rating from the NRA – including Republicans like Speaker Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic lawmakers such as Sen. Joe Donnelly and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp – should not put powerful special interests before the common good.

While there is certainly room for a pro-life Catholic to be pro-gun control, one does not follow from the other.  I was going to write a lengthy pushback on that topic, but I’m not surprised that NRO’s Ramesh Ponnuru beat me to it:

What constitutes “the common good” and “sensible reform” is of course the substance of the controversy over proposed regulations; the letter-writers are just question-begging. I’ve said my piece recently on some changes I think we should make to the gun laws. I think those changes deserve serious consideration. If someone has a good argument against those changes, they’re not failing to uphold the sanctity of life. For that matter, if someone has a bad argument against them, they’re probably also not failing to uphold the sanctity of life: They’re just making a mistaken judgment.

I think the judgment that a ban on “assault weapons” will accomplish nothing is the correct one, and it is certainly one that pro-lifers can reasonably make (and one that the letter provides no reason to doubt). The view that the slaying of an unborn child in abortion should be legal is in no way parallel to the view that a class of weapons should be legal. It is parallel to the view that killing people with one of those weapons should be legal. And nobody is for that.

The assumption that the letter-writers do not understand these distinctions taxes my capacity for charity. I will await a statement by these liberal Catholics regarding what should be done about those Catholic politicians who earn the equivalent of an A rating from NARAL and Planned Parenthood. (I will not burden readers with that shamefully lengthy list.)

Owning a gun is simply not equivalent to taking a life.  It’s absurd to equate the two, but that’s been the character of this debate for the last few weeks anyway. As Ramesh says, it’s very difficult to believe that this is simply an honest error, and sounds a lot like demagoguery.  There may be other reasons to back gun control from the perspective of Catholic doctrine (although I have yet to hear a coherent one), but this ain’t it — and it cheapens the effort to oppose abortion, which actually is explicitly opposed by Catholic doctrine, and has been for nearly 2,000 years.

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