Anti-gun cardinal renews calls to "set aside our rights"

(Aristide Economopoulos/NJ Advance Media via AP, Pool, File)

Cardinal Joseph Tobin caught a bit of flak earlier this month. After all, when you tell people to “set aside our rights,” particularly with regard to gun rights, it’s going to irk some folks.

But Tobin isn’t backing down from that position. It’s not overly shocking. I wouldn’t imagine someone would become a cardinal in the Catholic Church if they were all that docile about their opinions.

It seems the cardinal doesn’t see his call as a bad thing at all.

He acknowledges that the U.S. Catholic bishops have taken strong stands on gun control and the abolition of AR-15 weapons, and he is in line with them. But that has not worked so far. In fact, there are now over 400 million guns in the U.S., more than people.

“I would not characterize my proposal as sacrificing the Second Amendment,” Tobin told me. “Rather, it is a call to not exercise a Constitutional right in favor of the common good.”

He elaborated: “I hope that people who want to exercise the right by promoting unrestricted access to guns of every type will also think honestly and broadly how such exercise contributes to the common good of all, especially the young, poor and vulnerable.”

In his newsletter, he admitted: “This is perhaps the most challenging and controversial proposal, but I honestly believe it is the best thing we can do to change the culture of violence that threatens us today.”

I fail to see, though, how Tobin’s comments aren’t “sacrificing the Second Amendment.” Especially considering that the Catholic Church is unable to protect the people from violent crime, so Smith & Wesson has to fill the gap, among other names.

Prayer, while powerful, can only go so far. As the old saying goes, the Lord helps those who help themselves.

Now, in fairness, it seems that Tobin is really just asking people to not own guns, which is fine. He’s free to do so and I honestly don’t think I’m going to lose a moment’s sleep over that approach. Those who are inclined to listen aren’t that inclined to buy a gun in the first place. After all, the Church has long advocated for avoiding premarital sex, drug use, and other such things and those have kept going right along just the same, so I’m not that worried.

But Tobin would also do well to recognize that the problem here isn’t the lawful gun owners. It never was, so there’s no reason for anyone to set their rights aside.

The problem is that there are people who seem to think violent crime is a viable way of life and we need to shift them from that path onto the straight and narrow. Ironically, the Catholic Church has the resources to make at least part of that happen.

Somehow, I don’t see Tobin calling on the Church to step up and help so that people won’t be asked to set aside any such rights.

But the deeper problem, at least for me, is that Tobin thinks people should set aside any right, even if he simply means they should do it voluntarily.

He’s a Catholic cardinal. The Catholic Church isn’t exactly the least discriminated denomination of Christianity in the country. A lot of people might ask Tobin to set aside his right to freedom of religion to put aside some underlying religious strife.

Would that be fair or right?

Absolutely not. It’s ridiculous, to be frank, so Tobin would do well to think of that the next time he decides Americans don’t need all of their rights. They most certainly do, or else they will eventually find out they have none of those rights.