Over the last weeks, I’ve mentioned abortion more than I have in the decade prior. It’s not a topic I generally feel equipped to discuss, so I don’t. I can recognize bad arguments when I see them, and have routinely called them out, but I don’t really get into the topic itself.
And I’d rather keep it that way.
However, the Vatican–which opposes abortion–also decided it needed to speak out about guns, which means they’ve stepped into my wheelhouse.
You see, according to them, pro-life really should mean you oppose the Second Amendment.
The Vatican hailed the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, but said it is imperative that people who identify as “pro-life” also fight for critical life-protecting issues like gun control.
“Being for life always means defending it against the threat of firearms, which unfortunately have become a leading cause of death of children and adolescents in the U.S.,” the Vatican’s editorial director, Andrea Tornielli, chided Saturday in an essay.
“Pro-life” is not just about opposing abortion, he pointed out. Anti-abortion activists must be concerned with all issues that threaten life, such as easy access to guns, poverty and rising maternity mortality rates, which are alarmingly high in the U.S., Tornielli emphasized.
First, we should understand that there are plenty of pro-life people who aren’t Catholic and who don’t care what the Church says about much of anything.
However, beyond that, I find the argument regarding guns seriously flawed.
There’s no doubt that firearms used by criminals against law-abiding citizens are incredibly problematic. That’s not a matter really up for debate. Where we have a problem, though, is in how to address it.
The Vatican’s argument is, apparently, is that all gun use is somehow equal or that the evil committed with guns is somehow outweighed by any good.
That’s simply not born out when you look at the numbers.
If you include suicide–something the Catholic Church is also against, so it’s relevant–you’re still looking at about 45,000 people who died because of injuries sustained from being shot. Now, so many of those are absolute tragedies, to say the least, and I won’t pretend otherwise.
However, we need to look at how often they’re used to protect lives as well.
The CDC found they were used in as many as 2 million times per year. That same link provides a low end of 100,000 defensive gun uses annually. All of those are far more than the total number of deaths laid at the feet of firearms.
Hell, even the anti-gun “journalism” site The Trace argues there are “only” 70,000 defensive gun uses per year. Even if you were to take that number at face value–and you really shouldn’t because it ignores those who end the threat and don’t bother to notify police or who use a firearm defensively in an animal attack–then you’re still looking at more defensive gun uses than homicides.
Of course, the Vatican’s take is also predicated on the idea that somehow, criminals are obtaining their guns through lawful means, which is clearly not the case.
Look, if I were a Catholic, I’d look to the Vatican for spiritual guidance. I damn sure wouldn’t look their way for an understanding of what our basic civil rights are, though. Not after this.