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Should priests carry guns?

Kerry O.
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The debate about arming teachers in classrooms reminded me of this post from a few years ago, which raised the question about whether priests should be armed.

From Father Z: 

Priests and bishops can carry hand guns, according to the laws of the place where they live. Priests are not second class citizens. They are – right now at least – not prohibited by laws of the state or laws of the Church.

Should bishops carry hand guns?  That is another question.

About carrying a handgun while saying Mass… I am neutral on that point.  Is it wrong for a priest or bishop to say Mass with his wallet in his back pocket?  Money can be misused, after all.  Can he have his smart phone in his pocket?  A pocket knife on his key ring?  You can do bad things with smart phones or knives or keys.

On the other hand, it is a little hard to get at your handgun when you are wearing vestments.  So, what difference does it make?…

Seriously, there are arguments on both sides.

Finally, maybe it would be a good idea for all priest and bishops to obtain concealed carry weapon licenses.  The screwballs who have it in mind to threaten or attack a priest – and who perhaps send priests ugly mail including photos of their houses – can then wonder whether Father is armed today or not.

Read it all, and check out the comments, too, which offer some other ideas.

It should be noted that military chaplains are unarmed, but are accompanied in battle by an assistant who carries a weapon and protects the clergy member.

Finally, there’s this perspective from a Franciscan:

In July, Paul Williams, a Franciscan priest based in Wilmington, Del., was held at gunpoint and carjacked in his church parking lot — an incident preceded by two break-ins within weeks of one another. But administrators are talking about installing more security cameras, not arming themselves.

“Being a member of the clergy, I would think that you would want to set an example and not treat violence with violence,” Williams said. “To be a witness may mean that one would have to put oneself in harm’s way.”

The day he was attacked, Williams admits, his emotions started to get the better of him, but his thoughts quickly turned to the carjacker himself.

“I was angry about where it happened, on the grounds of the church,” said Williams. “And this may sound strange, but then I felt sorry for him. I thought to myself, what’s going on in your life that you feel compelled to do something like this which is extremely violent?”

A few days later at the noon service, Williams and his parishioners offered a special petition.

“We prayed for that man,” Williams said. “We prayed for an end to all of this violence, because I believe that there’s too much of it.”

There’s much more at the link, from a variety of Christian denominations.

UPDATE: Among the many who commented on this story, there were some priests and deacons who told me they carry arms. One was a deacon in the Seattle area, who wrote:

I am a deacon also and I carry concealed most of the time, even at Mass. I take self defense and protection of innocent life very seriously. I am also an NRA pistol instructor and chief range safety officer.

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