Responding to the Catholic News Service’s Call for Comment Post-Orlando

Among the responsibilities of the communications and external relations department of my university is to connect faculty experts with media working in their areas of expertise. So, after major events like the mass murders in San Bernardino and Orlando, my contact in that office usually asks me if I want to comment.
For example, after the San Bernardino event last November, they arranged for me to speak with our local NBC affiliate.  I also spoke with a reporter whose story was syndicated on Newsmax and a columnist from US News and World Report.
 In the wake of the Orlando massacre, I did not think I could really add anything to the already established media narratives so declined to comment. But I was sent a follow-up request that caught my attention because it was from the Catholic News Service. Prior to studying guns, I specialized in the sociology of religion and wrote three books on Catholicism specifically.
The request for comments read as follows:
2. ISSUES/TODAY: What Is the Country’s Moral Response to Mass Shootings? — Catholic News Service
Submitted by Dennis Sadowski Organization Catholic News Service
Deadline Jun 21, 2016 11:00 PM AFT(Asia/Kabul) Organization URL
With the U.S. Senate defeat of four gun control measures, the faith community remains committed to seeking measures to limit access to guns, especially high-capacity, semi-automatic and automatic firearms. Is there a moral imperative to respond to the mass shootings to protect life? What must gun control advocates do to motivate voters/constituents? What is the moral argument from the side of gun rights advocates in the face of death of innocent people?

I sent some talking points to my contact. My responses to the reporter’s query:

1. It is factually incorrect to state that “the faith community remains committed to seeking measures….” There is no “faith community” in America. There are faith communities. Some of which seek greater gun control and others do not. My forthcoming research on religion and gun ownership doesn’t directly address the issue of gun rights/control, but it can speak to this issue since gun owners tend to favor gun rights more than non-owners, and vice versa.

2. There is a moral imperative to respond to mass shootings, but the question is what the best way to do that is in the context of our current legal system recognizing the individual right to keep and bear arms.

3. Gun rights advocates do not favor the death of innocent people, but they look at the causes of the death of innocent people differently. As they say, “Evil resides in the hearts of men not in the holster.” The death of innocent people are symptoms of greater evils in the world and the gun is simply a mechanism. Without guns, evil people will find (and have in the past found) other ways of taking innocent lives, except that the innocent will have no effective means of self-defense.

4. The Catechism of the Catholic Church also recognizes the morality of the use of lethal force in self-defense.

Although not part of my initial talking points, to this last point I would also add The Catholic Gentleman’s excellent Catholic Guide to Self-Defense.

I never heard from the Catholic News Service writer, so I assume he was not interested in my POV.


  1. “I never heard from the Catholic News Service writer, so I assume he was not interested in my POV.”

    Not surprising, given it didn’t match the underlying premises in their request for comments.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shocker!

    When the pope was talking about gun control last fall, I decided then and there I had no future use for Catholicism. I’ve visited the Vatican. It’s one of the most secure, well-guarded places in the world. Another case of the pot and the kettle, not unlike the sit-in at the House of Representatives, which took place in a building guarded by men and women with assault rifles!


    • And the only people those doing the sit in want to have automatic weapons are those in government service all the way from the local to national level and the military. The one’s they want to disarm are those who pay taxes, follow the laws and regulations, acquire, store and use firearms legally like me.


  3. Since American Catholicism has evolved into an ala carte menu or a buffet where you pick what you like and ignore the rest, I’ll just ignore the Argentian pope’s comments on firearms and gun control.

    Thanks for posting the link to the The Catholic Gentleman’s Catholic Guide to Self-Defense. I had not seen that blog before.


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