Gun control has been a hotly debated issue in the United States for many years, with an increase in debate over the past several years.
Many turn to the Catholic Church for guidance on this issue, and in particular to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
What does the Catechism say about gun control?
Unfortunately the Catechism does not say anything about gun control, but it does have many passages on the dignity of all human life and how murder is gravely evil.
2319 Every human life, from the moment of conception until death, is sacred because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God.
2320 The murder of a human being is gravely contrary to the dignity of the person and the holiness of the Creator.
The Catechism also explains what the Church means by “legitimate defense.”
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.
This principle is always in reference to “defense,” defending your own life from an aggressor. The Catechism does not list whether or not this includes guns, but only that each person should be able to exercise legitimate self-defense.
What do the bishops say about gun control?
The local bishops of the United States have repeatedly voiced their concern over gun violence and support gun control measures.
The USCCB has consistently supported the sensible regulation, sale, and use of firearms. On June 3, the USCCB sent a letter to all members of Congress urging lawmakers to “unite in their humanity to stop the massacres of human lives” and to advance life-saving legislation to address gun violence.
Gun control will continue to be a fiercely debated issue, and while the Church offers a few basic principles, it will be up to Catholics to use their consciences and arrive at a reasonable solution that respects all human life, while implementing reforms that keep the greater community safe from gun violence.