Shooting rampage in Isla Vista, CaliforniaI’m sitting in the Louisville airport with not much time before catching my flight to write a full post on the subject of the mass murder in Santa Barbara this weekend. I have been at the Abbey of Gethsemani with a group of Merton scholars on retreat and without regular internet access, so my ability to follow the news was incredibly limited. I have spent some time now trying to piece together what happened and, like The New Yorker‘s Adam Gopnik, I have been moved and haunted by Richard Martinez’s brief press conference following the murder of his son, Chris.

Martinez is 100% correct. In addition to the particular circumstances that led that individual to kill six people, his misogyny has been identified among other factors, there are general circumstances and responsible parties that make possible the condition for the possibility of mass murder. The LA Times reported that the shooter purchased his semi-automatic handguns legally.

Personally, I am against all firearms. As a Franciscan friar and a Catholic Priest, I cannot maintain (nor would I) any other position. As someone who believes in the truth of the Gospel, I likewise find it impossible to hold an alternative view. Yet, I am also not entirely without a pragmatic side, recognizing the legitimacy of hunting rifles for food and safety in remote parts of this country and the world.

However, there is no legitimate alternative purpose for handguns other than to kill other human beings. Therefore, there is no legitimate right that anyone has to own them. Period.

Martinez’s comment about the responsibility of “craven politicians” and the “NRA” is absolutely correct. I have written elsewhere about the insane tragedy that played out in the wake of the Newtown shootings when the congress could not muster the fortitude to pass overwhelmingly popular legislation on firearm background checks — legislation that did not go far enough, but was something that any rational person could support.

I encourage everybody to read Gopnik’s reflections here: “Christopher Michael-Martinez’s Father Gets It Right About Guns.” He includes links to stories and data about how other, respectable, nations have responded to mass murder tragedies such as what we experience regularly in the US. Stricter laws have made for safer communities.

To handgun and semi-automatic weapon advocating Catholics: take note of Gopnik’s correct statement about the incompatibility of being “pro-life” and “pro-gun.” These days I can conceive of no greater hypocrisy on this subject and in the wake of these tragedies than women and men marching in Washington on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, or other comparable “pro-life” events, with an NRA membership card in their wallets and purses.

Photo: European Press Agency


  1. I have been troubled by the progression of the pro-gun argument within my lifetime. Now the main argument I hear in favor of guns is “I might need it to kill someone”, which is terrifying.

  2. Thank you for these words of wisdom. Finally, you have voiced what I have felt is true for so long. I will definitely spread your website to all my friends….

  3. I have only begun to follow your blog. I like what you right. I am particularly encouraged by your response to the Martinez tragedy. As someone living in Ireland we have had our history, some of it very recent, of extreme violence. We still have gangland killings. Thankfully, we have resisted the calls to arm the police, let alone the citizens. To live non-violently is a Gospel call, one that endures and cannot be ignored by any society that presumes itself to espouse Christian values.

  4. I truly sympathize with this family and others who have lost children as I have my only son.. Again guns,knives,poisons etc.etc. is the cause but we must start now before all society because so callous and life becomes expendable . We murder children in the womb , get rid of the elderly because of their uselessness. Yet we are fined for killing a crab who holds an egg sack. What about HUMANS?
    We all must wake up for we are a society of death ,we must just LOVE one another then all these deaths will stop.
    We must put GOD back into our schools, government, and embrace understanding helping each other for nothing is truly ours to keep, not even our own children. They are a gift .
    Pray pray pray!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s