In the wake of the Aurora, Colorado, shooting, there has been a fair bit of politicization running amok, as gun critics have used the tragedy to tout stricter regulations. Joining the chorus of opinion on the matter is The Rev. James Martin, S.J., who has some controversial opinions about how religious people should view gun ownership rights.
In an op-ed for America Weekly, the Jesuit priest, author and contributing editor to the Catholic magazine, proclaimed that he believes gun control is an issue that religious people should care about -- and deeply. He opened the piece by explaining that he's "not a political person," though he admitted that his policy views are shaped by his "religious ideals."
Helping the poor, working for a peaceful world and respecting life from birth to death are some of the ideals he mentions as having a root in his Christian faith. However, he takes this argument a bit further, delving into gun control and the necessity to view it through a religious lens:
That is why I believe that gun control is a religious issue. It is as much of a “life issue” or a “pro-life issue,” as some religious people say, as is abortion, euthanasia or the death penalty (all of which I am against), and programs that provide the poor with the same access to basic human needs as the wealthy (which I am for). There is a “consistent ethic of life” that views all these issues as linked, because they are.
All of these issues, at their heart, are about the sanctity of all human life, no matter who that person is, no matter at what stage of life that person is passing through, and no matter whether or not we think that the person is “deserving” of life. The issues just mentioned of course are very different. To take the most obvious example, the agonizing decisions surrounding euthanasia, with which loving families are sometimes confronted, are not to be equated with the twisted decisions of a mass murderer. But they are all, in one way or another, actions that impinge on the sanctity of human life. God gives life to every person, and that life is holy.
Martin goes on to say that the religious have a responsibility to move beyond prayer to action. The faith leader calls for lasting change and likens inaction in rectifying gun laws to passing a poor man whom one had the ability to assist but chose not to. He goes on to proclaim that "these shootings would not have happened if the shooter did not have such easy access to firearms and ammunition." Martin continues:
So religious people need to be invited to meditate on the connection between the more traditional “life issues” and the overdue need for stricter gun control. The oft-cited argument, “Guns don’t kill people, people do,” seems unconvincing. Of course people kill people; as people also procure abortions, decide on euthanasia and administer the death penalty. Human beings are agents in all these matters. The question is not so much how lives are ended, but how to make it more difficult to end lives.
Pro-life religious people need to consider how it might be made more difficult for people to procure weapons that are not designed for sport or hunting or self-defense. Why would anyone be opposed to firmer gun control, or, to put it more plainly, laws that would make it more difficult for mass murders to occur? If one protests against abortions clinics because they facilitate the taking of human life, why not protest against largely unregulated suppliers of firearms because they facilitate the taking of human life as well?
Martin went on to say that he's not looking to score political points and that he expects that the some on the right will respond quite negatively to his views. But, he firmly believes that religious leaders should be more engaged in protecting "the sanctity of life."
Read his entire article here.