Friday, August 3, 2012

They're At It Again

One of the frequent criticisms faced as a Catholic gun owner is the misconception that there is something contradictory about being a faithful Catholic who also owns, and carries, a gun. This idea is promulgated by the mainstream press, who are unfortunately often aided by misguided forces within our own Church. We saw this with the widely misreported statement from the Bishops claiming the Church opposes gun ownership. This story was fully covered here previously.

Now our own diocesan newspaper, the Arlington Herald picks up this theme once again in a recent article under the inflammatory title "America’s deadly obsession with violence and guns." The author, Tony Magliano, is described as "an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist."

I can’t think of a better way to describe this latest article than “rubbish.”  Mr. Magliano has so many of his facts wrong that his writing is irresponsible. For the Herald to publish this borders on being scandalous as it could cause less-informed Catholics to think that this is actual Church teaching.

Magliano quotes extensively from the leading anti-gun groups when presenting his "facts."
According to Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (csgv.org), James Holmes, the suspected perpetrator of the Aurora killings, had a questionable mental health history that should have prevented him from purchasing any weapons. But instead, “Holmes was able to outfit himself for war. 
“When he walked into the Century Aurora 16 theater, he wore full body armor and carried four guns: two semiautomatic Glock handguns, a 12-gauge shotgun, and an AR-15 style assault rifle with a 100-round drum magazine. … The AR-15 was one of the assault rifles banned under a federal law that Congress allowed to expire in 2004. It is now clear they made a tragic mistake.”

The writer misrepresents the basic details of the Aurora shooting. The Aurora shooter did not wear full body armor. He had on a tactical vest, with NO body armor attached. Nor did the so-called "assault weapon" ban take these weapons out of existence as implied.

He goes on:
Guns can be sold in the U.S. without a background check to screen out criminals or the mentally ill.
According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (bradycampaign.org), “Sales between individuals, under federal law, do not require a background check. This means that felons can “lie and buy” at gun shows and other places where guns are readily available.”

Mr. Magliano continues to employ misdirection by stating that the shooter had a mental illness which should have prevented him from getting a gun, while at the same time mentioning that guns can be sold in the US without a background check. He makes these claims to “prove” that we need stricter laws. In fact, any information on the shooter’s mental capacity is only conjecture at this time, and there was nothing in any law enforcement database on him prior to the shooting. The guns used were legally purchased in gun stores, not private sales, and the shooter passed the required background checks. Magliano’s statements have zero applicability to this horrific crime.

Mr. Magliano stresses the need for more laws. It is already illegal to have a gun in a theatre in Colorado. That didn’t stop the shooter. It’s illegal to murder someone. That didn’t stop the shooter.

As any good anti-gun writer will do, Magliano trots out the "risk of suicide" line. By quoting only “facts” from these groups, Magliano presents an unbalanced and biased article. The numbers from the Brady group are willfully twisted to fit their agenda. Like the “facts” on guns going into Mexico from the US, they have been proven false, but are repeated nonetheless.
According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a gun in the home is far more likely to be used in a completed or attempted suicide, a criminal assault or homicide, or an accidental shooting death, than in a self-defense shooting.

I urge the reader to visit http://www.gunfacts.info/pdfs/gun-facts/6.1/gun_facts_6_1_screen.pdf for information based on actual crime statistics rather than conjecture from the anti-gun Brady group. I've excerpted a few germane points here.

Myth: Japan has strict gun control and a less violent society
Fact: In Japan, the total murder rate is almost 1 per 100,000. In the U.S., there are about 3.2 murders per 100,000 people each year by weapons other than firearms. This means that even if firearms in the U.S. could be eliminated, the U.S. would still have three times the murder rate of the Japanese. Whereas Japan’s murder rate may be low, its suicide rate is over 20 per 100,000 people. Combined, Japanese are being murdered and committing suicide at a rate of about 21 per 100,000. In the U.S., our combined murder and suicide rate is also about 21. (page 7)

Myth: The availability of guns causes crime
Fact: Though the number of firearms owned by private citizens has been increasing steadily since 1970, the overall rate of homicides and suicides has not risen. As the chart [at link above] shows, there is no correlation between the availability of firearms and the rates of homicide and suicide in America. (page 27)

Myth: Access to guns increases the risk of suicide
Fact: The rate of suicide is not affected by the presence of a firearm. This is true in either a time-series analysis chart (like the chart at right [at link above] showing the change in handgun supply in the U.S. over time), or through cross-national analysis. For example, Japan has no private handgun ownership (aside from an extremely limited number of licensed Olympic sport shooters), and yet had a suicide rate more than twice that of the United States in 2002. (page 70)


As a “social justice and peace columnist,” Mr. Magliano urges us to rely on “gentle love” to resist "evil and bullets." Try telling this woman who was going to be robbed (or possibly gang raped or murdered) that she doesn't need a gun.

Responsible gun ownership is a right, and a duty. Why do some people want to use criminal behavior as an excuse to limit law-abiding citizens' rights? Arlington Catholics would be better served if the diocesan paper stuck to the Magisterium of the Church rather than publishing biased diatribes that both misrepresent the teachings of the Church and inaccurately report recent news events.

David

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