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Deacon Keith Fournier: Gun Rights? Guns Have No Rights, People Do! Self Defense is a Human Right

In an age of sound bites and agen­da dri­ven news reports, the archi­tects of a new cul­tur­al order have slipped one more phrase into the lex­i­con of the cul­tur­al strug­gle. I main­tain that we adopt at our own per­il. The phrase is Gun Rights.  Guns have no rights. Peo­ple do. The real Right at issue is the Right to Self Defense. That includes the right to keep and bear arms. Rights are goods of human per­sons. Human Rights come not from a civ­il gov­ern­ment but from God.

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) — On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen com­mit­ted an evil act of domes­tic ter­ror, slaugh­ter­ing 49 inno­cent peo­ple and injur­ing fifty more in a bar in Orlan­do Flori­da which caters to homo­sex­u­al, les­bian and trans­gen­der peo­ple. He made a 911 call twen­ty min­utes into the attack pledg­ing alle­giance to ISIS.

A sur­viv­ing wit­ness heard him shout “stop killing ISIS”. ISIS claimed him as one of their own, boast­ingover the radio, “God allowed Omar Mateen, one of the sol­diers of the caliphate in Amer­i­ca, to car­ry out an attack enter­ing a cru­sad­er gath­er­ing in a night club…in Orlan­do in Flori­da, killing and wound­ing more than 100 of them.”

That evil act was decried by all decent peo­ple. The out­pour­ing of sym­pa­thy and sol­i­dar­i­ty for the vic­tims was mov­ing and brought peo­ple togeth­er for a short time of nation­al reflec­tion. How­ev­er, as is often the case in the after­math of such hor­rid acts of vio­lence, it also raised a grow­ing cry for what is pop­u­lar­ly referred to as “gun con­trol”.

The Cat­e­chism and Con­science

Part III of the Cat­e­chism of the Catholic Church is enti­tled Life in Christ. There we find the para­graphs which expound upon the Fifth Com­mand­ment, You Shall Not Kill. The entire sec­tion can be read here. Catholics who seek to enter into the debate of the real issues sur­round­ing “gun con­trol” should begin here.

In a West­ern cul­ture which has lost its moral com­pass, we should approach all of the issues which we are fac­ing as Catholic Chris­tians first, last and all in between. How­ev­er, as in oth­er areas of seri­ous cul­tur­al con­cern, some Catholics tend to sim­ply con­sid­er the var­i­ous polit­i­cal argu­ments, choose the posi­tion they most agree with, and then jump in to the debate.

Oth­ers claim to ground their posi­tion based upon a notion of con­science which does not com­port with Catholic Chris­t­ian teach­ing. Arti­cle 6 of Chap­ter One of the Catholic Cat­e­chism presents a through sum­ma­ry of what is prop­er­ly meant by con­science in Chris­t­ian teach­ing.

We are called to form our con­science in accor­dance with the truth. The truth is revealed in the Nat­ur­al Law, expound­ed upon and com­plet­ed in the Sacred Scrip­ture and the Chris­t­ian Tra­di­tion and taught by the Mag­is­teri­um (teach­ing office) of the Catholic Church.

Con­sciences can be unin­formed, poor­ly formed, deformed, or it can become dark­ened and lead us to a con­fused state where we wan­der in our own land of Nod, East of Eden, fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Cain. (See, Gen. 4:16)

We live in a pre­car­i­ous time in the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca. Many cit­i­zens are con­cerned about efforts to infringe upon the rights delin­eat­ed in the Bill of Rights to the Unit­ed States Con­sti­tu­tion. As a con­sti­tu­tion­al lawyer who spent much of my career defend­ing the fun­da­men­tal Rights to Life and Reli­gious Free­dom, I share their con­cern.

How­ev­er, one of those Rights is found in the Sec­ond Amend­ment to the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion which reads “A well-reg­u­lat­ed Mili­tia, being nec­es­sary to the secu­ri­ty of a Free State, the right of the peo­ple to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  How is this Amend­ment to be prop­er­ly under­stood in this dis­cus­sion of “gun con­trol” and “gun rights”?

My pur­pose in writ­ing this arti­cle is NOT to enter into the charged debate referred to in short­hand as “gun con­trol”. Good peo­ple can and do have dif­fer­ing opin­ions on the legit­i­mate con­cerns which this debate can bring up. That is reflect­ed in the dif­fer­ing exer­cis­es of pru­den­tial judge­ment which the Orlan­do mas­sacre has elicit­ed among good and faith­ful Catholics and oth­er Chris­tians.

My pur­pose is to attempt to clar­i­fy the lan­guage of the broad­er debate and then to set the issue in a con­text for my read­ers, most of whom are Catholic Chris­tians or Chris­tians of anoth­er com­mu­ni­ty. That requires a pre­ci­sion of lan­guage which is too often not present in our dia­logue and dis­cus­sion con­cern­ing guns and the right to self-defense.

Only Human Per­sons Have Human Rights

In an age of sound bites and agen­da dri­ven news reports, the archi­tects of a new cul­tur­al order have slipped one more phrase into the lex­i­con of the cul­tur­al strug­gle. I main­tain that we adopt at our own per­il. The phrase is “Gun Rights”.  Guns have no rights. Peo­ple do. The real Right at issue is the Right to Self Defense. That includes the right to keep and bear arms.

Rights are goods of human per­sons. Human Rights come not from a civ­il gov­ern­ment but from God. Civ­il Rights are those rights rec­og­nized by the Civ­il Gov­ern­ment and prop­er­ly pro­tect­ed. Again, Human Rights do not come from the gov­ern­ment. They come from God. Let me give two recent exam­ples.

Abor­tion Rights?

Over the course of our human and civ­il rights strug­gle to pro­tect our youngest neigh­bors in the womb from being inten­tion­al­ly killed through pro­cured abor­tion, we have expe­ri­enced the lethal pow­er of mis­us­ing words. The Right to Life is con­firmed by the Nat­ur­al Law and med­ical sci­ence. The child in the womb is our first neigh­bor. It is always and every­where wrong to kill our inno­cent neighbors.The child in the womb has a Right to Life, even if the cur­rent civ­il and crim­i­nal law of the Unit­ed States fails to rec­og­nize that Right.

The phrase “Abor­tion Rights” was man­u­fac­tured by cul­tur­al rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies who oppose the true Right, the fun­da­men­tal Human Right to Life. They insert­ed it into the lex­i­con of the cul­tur­al strug­gle inten­tion­al­ly. A com­plic­it pro­pa­gan­da Media quick­ly adopt­ed the short­hand lan­guage of these archi­tects of the cul­ture of death and use. Pro­cured Abor­tions are always dead­ly acts. Abor­tions have no rights. Only human per­sons do. The first of which, the Right to Life, is always vio­lat­ed in every pro­cured abor­tion because a child is always killed.

Sad­ly, even some Catholic and oth­er Chris­t­ian media sources adopt­ed the lan­guage of the cul­tur­al rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies who fail to rec­og­nize the Right to Life of the chil­dren in the womb. They have begun using the hor­ri­ble phrase “Abor­tion Rights”. In so doing, I am afraid they are pro­pound­ing the evil by adding to the inten­tion­al con­fu­sion that phrase unleash­es.

Mar­riage Rights?

The same sort of ver­bal sleight of hand is now being used by those who oppose authen­tic mar­riage and want to destroy it by redefin­ing the word. Mem­bers of a fringe ele­ment of peo­ple who self-iden­ti­fy as homo­sex­u­al or les­bian or trans­gen­der or inter­sexed or .. (the acronym only grows), are now pro­mot­ing what I have referred to in the past as a homo­sex­u­al equiv­a­len­cy move­ment. Some of the pro­po­nents of this move­ment now walk under a pro­pa­gan­da ban­ner, using the phrase “mar­riage equal­i­ty” to hide their real inten­tion, to rede­fine the very word mar­riage in order to actu­al­ly destroy mar­riage and under­mine the fam­i­ly and soci­ety found­ed upon it.

They want to build a new soci­ety where homo­sex­u­al and les­bian sex­u­al prac­tices are con­sid­ered some­how moral­ly equiv­a­lent to the sex­u­al expres­sion of faith­ful monog­a­mous mar­i­tal love between a man and a woman. This rev­o­lu­tion­ary agen­da is now ram­pant in every form of the media. It invades near­ly every tele­vi­sion series, pop­u­lar film and is being forced upon us all by a pro­pa­gan­da press which has bought into the new cul­tur­al rev­o­lu­tion behind it.

The sup­port­ers of this new cul­tur­al rev­o­lu­tion fur­ther demand that homo­sex­u­al and les­bian rela­tion­ships, which are inca­pable of achiev­ing the ends of mar­riage, be giv­en the same legal sta­tus as a mar­riage. And, they want the police pow­er of the State to be used to enforce this new order.

In June of 2015, the Unit­ed States Supreme Court issued an egre­gious opin­ion in a case calledOberge­fell v Hodges.  Five lawyers man­u­fac­tured out of whole cloth a new faux “right” for two men or two women to do what they are always inca­pable of doing, mar­ry. They claimed to have found such a “right” in the 14th amend­ment to the Unit­ed States Con­sti­tu­tion, appar­ent­ly next to the “right” to take the life of chil­dren in the womb through pro­cured abor­tion.

In the wake of that hor­rid act of judi­cial alche­my by those five, unelect­ed, black robed lawyers, activists at the fringes of the homo­sex­u­al equiv­a­len­cy com­mu­ni­ty have hard been at work, enforc­ing this edict across the Nation and using it to sup­press free speech, free asso­ci­a­tion and the free exer­cise of reli­gion. Now, they want to use the police pow­er of the State to accom­plish their cul­tur­al rev­o­lu­tion by insist­ing that homo­sex­u­al per­sons have a “right to mar­ry” and any­one who ques­tions their posi­tion con­cern­ing the nature of mar­riage is an “extrem­ist”.

There is a tsuna­mi of activism which is lit­er­al­ly hell-bent on com­pelling faith­ful Chris­tians to deny their deeply held reli­gious, moral and nat­ur­al law based con­vic­tion that mar­riage is sole­ly pos­si­ble between one and one woman — because only a man and a woman can achieve the uni­tive and pro­cre­ative ends of mar­riage. In fact, puni­tive mea­sures are not being tak­en against faith­ful Chris­tians, across the con­fes­sion­al spec­trum.

Mar­riage is not sim­ply a reli­gious con­struct. The Nat­ur­al Law reveals — and the cross cul­tur­al his­to­ry of civ­i­liza­tion affirms — that mar­riage is between a man and a woman, open to chil­dren and intend­ed for life. In fact, such mar­riages form the foun­da­tion of the first cell of civ­il soci­ety and the first church, the fam­i­ly. Under­min­ing mar­riage will nev­er serve the real com­mon good.

A seg­ment of a now increas­ing­ly com­plic­it media, includ­ing some with­in the Catholic and oth­er Chris­t­ian media, have advanced the goals of these activists by inten­tion­al­ly using phras­es such as “gay mar­riage” and “mar­riage equal­i­ty” in their cov­er­age.  Those who defend mar­riage as what it is onto­log­i­cal­ly, are rou­tine­ly accused of being against a “right to mar­ry” or deny­ing what is now called “mar­riage equal­i­ty”. Any­one who insists that mar­riage is sole­ly pos­si­ble between one man and one woman who freely con­sent, are open to new life and intend to stay togeth­er for life, are paint­ed as big­ots and ostra­cized.

So, what does all of this have to do with a dis­cus­sion of “gun con­trol” and “gun rights”?

Guns have No Rights, Peo­ple Do

A sim­i­lar ver­bal pat­tern is now emerg­ing in the debate sur­round­ing the Sec­ond Amend­ment and efforts to fur­ther reg­u­late the pur­chase and use of guns for self-defense. In many instances, it is lead­ing to efforts to cur­tail the cur­rent inter­pre­ta­tion of the Sec­ond Amend­ment to the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. In some cir­cles there is even a call for doing away with the Sec­ond Amend­ment.

I do not own a gun. How­ev­er, I ful­ly sup­port gun own­er­ship. I also believe it is prop­er­ly pro­tect­ed by the Sec­ond Amend­ment to the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. I may choose to own a gun in the future if the trends which have been unleashed in the nation con­tin­ue. Trends which I fear increas­ing­ly also threat­en ordered lib­er­ty and lim­it­ed gov­ern­ment. I stud­ied for and passed the exam nec­es­sary to obtain a conceal/carry per­mit. I hold such a per­mit. I know how to safe­ly and effi­cient­ly use a firearm.

I know, some of my read­ers may dis­agree with my shar­ing such per­son­al infor­ma­tion. But, I think it sup­ports the over­all point which I am try­ing to make. The real issue here is self-defense and the defense of oth­ers and not guns. I also stud­ied Mar­tial Arts for many years. Not because I want to use my Mar­tial Arts Skills on anoth­er per­son, but because I may need to so if I, or the peo­ple whom I love, are ever placed in harms way.

Rather, I write to sug­gest to my read­ers that many who are attempt­ing to weigh in on this  issue are falling prey to anoth­er ver­bal engi­neer­ing tac­tic when they use the phrase “Gun Rights” in their dis­cus­sions or writ­ing. Guns have no rights, only peo­ple do. I repeat, Guns have no rights, only peo­ple do. And yes, one of them is the Right to defend your­self, your fam­i­ly, your prop­er­ty and your neigh­bor. That may require gun own­er­ship.

You may be ask­ing, “Is this all sim­ply a mat­ter of seman­tics?”  I insist it is not! The pat­tern I am see­ing is the same one which was used to under­mine the defense of the Right to Life and the Defense of True Mar­riage. It begins with incor­rect­ly fram­ing the debate by chang­ing the lan­guage, in order to under­mine the true right through ver­bal engi­neer­ing. This is a tac­tic of cul­tur­al and social engi­neers and their pro­pa­gan­da enablers.

Change the lan­guage, Change the Cul­ture

Catholics, oth­er Chris­tians, and oth­er peo­ple of good will, should watch our words. What we should pro­tect and dis­cuss is the Right to Self Defense and the Defense of oth­ers. One of the means we may choose to use in doing this involves the own­er­ship of a gun. The Right to Self Defense is vest­ed in us — not in those objects or instru­ments we use. That right can be exer­cised, and those objects and instru­ments may be used, only if and when it may be prop­er and nec­es­sary.

There is no ques­tion that the Sec­ond Amend­ment to the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion pro­tects the Right to keep and bear arms. The text, and the inter­pre­ta­tion of it in the judi­cial prece­dent, is clear. How­ev­er, I sin­cere­ly hope that the larg­er issue remains the focus of our con­tri­bu­tion to the debate cur­rent­ly under­way as Catholics and oth­er Chris­tians.

I know there is a wide vari­ance of opin­ion in the Catholic and broad­er Chris­t­ian com­mu­ni­ty con­cern­ing what is pop­u­lar­ly being referred to as “gun con­trol”. I have tried to place this dis­cus­sion in a broad­er con­text by clar­i­fy­ing the real right, the right to legit­i­mate self-defense. I have also tried to encour­age my read­ers to reject the use of a new term which I believe mud­dies the dis­cus­sion and is being used to under­mine the Right to Self Defense. That term is “Gun Rights.”

The fol­low­ing sec­tions of the Cat­e­chism of the Catholic Church should be read and stud­ied by Catholics and oth­er Chris­tians who want to inform their deci­sions and enter into a mature dis­cus­sion of this vital issue. It should also be read by any­one else con­cerned with the real threat we face in this area. The text con­tains foot­notes to Scrip­tur­al texts and the insights offered by the great St Thomas Aquinas which should be read care­ful­ly for fur­ther assis­tance in inform­ing our under­stand­ing of the real right at stake, the right to self defense.

Guns have no rights, peo­ple do. And legit­i­mate self-defense is one of them.

Legit­i­mate Defense

2263 The legit­i­mate defense of per­sons and soci­eties is not an excep­tion to the pro­hi­bi­tion against the mur­der of the inno­cent that con­sti­tutes inten­tion­al killing. “The act of self-defense can have a dou­ble effect: the preser­va­tion of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggres­sor.… The one is intend­ed, the oth­er is not.”

2264 Love toward one­self remains a fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple of moral­i­ty. There­fore it is legit­i­mate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Some­one who defends his life is not guilty of mur­der even if he is forced to deal his aggres­sor a lethal blow:

If a man in self-defense uses more than nec­es­sary vio­lence, it will be unlaw­ful: where­as if he repels force with mod­er­a­tion, his defense will be law­ful.… Nor is it nec­es­sary for sal­va­tion that a man omit the act of mod­er­ate self-defense to avoid killing the oth­er man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.

2265 Legit­i­mate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is respon­si­ble for the lives of oth­ers. The defense of the com­mon good requires that an unjust aggres­sor be ren­dered unable to cause harm. For this rea­son, those who legit­i­mate­ly hold author­i­ty also have the right to use arms to repel aggres­sors against the civ­il com­mu­ni­ty entrust­ed to their respon­si­bil­i­ty.

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ER1C ☠

Dedicated Second Amendment Advocate, At-Home Gunsmith, Designer, Blogger, Video Guy, Author, Business Owner & ReloadOne Member.

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