Thursday, February 07, 2013

Canonist examines concealed carry weapon policies for churches

Canonist Ed Peters has come out with an interesting look at pending Arkansas' legislation for churches to determine concealed carry policies. Fr. Z. carries a post on Peters, offering his own feedback, which is also interesting. As the latter says, summing up: "The key concept in the issue seems to be subsidiarity – letting the decisions be made at the most local level feasible." A brief excerpt from Peters:
Assuming this bill becomes law—and setting aside some questions I can’t answer about how Arkansas defines a “church”, etc.—canonically, it seems to me that, as parishes are “juridic persons” under canon law (c. 515 § 3) and pastors represent parishes in juridic affairs (c. 532), local pastors get to make this call. For several reasons (cit. om.), I think a prohibition against carrying would have to be announced if that were desired as policy in a given parish.

That said, I think a bishop would have the authority (c. 381) to prohibit Catholics (as subjects of canon law) along with others (by dint of civil law) from carrying weapons in any Catholic sacred place (c. 1205). Of course, enacting such a policy would require of ecclesiastical leadership a conscientious weighing of its pros-s and con-s (including an assessment of the trend in recent years whereby lunatics target schools and churches as places packed with defenseless victims), of the enforceability of any policy as might be enacted, and of the consequences envisioned for violation of such a policy (which consequences might run up against certain canonical rights, say, to receive sacraments). In short, I don’t think there’s an obviously right, or wrong, answer to this one. [Fr. Z. adds: "Right or wrong? Not sure. Easy or hard? Definitely HARD! So, maybe it is one which bishops would do well to stay away from?"]


Dan Clark said...

To be, or not to be a Gun-Free Zone: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outraged gun lovers,
Or to take arms like everybody else,
And by conforming bless them?

Pertinacious Papist said...

Ha-ha! Always knew you were a polymath, but now a poet too! This is ingenious!

Yet (pace Shakespeare), I think the question is not whether it's nobler to suffer the outrage of gun lovers, but nobler to not resist evil (Mennonite-like) at the risk of endangering helpless people, or to allow arms to serve as a deterrent, as amply supported by statistics.

When we lived in Japan, we never felt endangered. Not only did nobody have guns, but nobody would have thought of bringing dishonour to their family name because of the Confucian social ethic that infuses the culture.

When we lived in Switzerland, we never felt endangered. Every family had guns and was required to fire a prescribed number of rounds every month. Once I remember coming around a bend in the Alps and being startled by a volley of automatic weapons fire. A farmer just practicing. But we never felt in danger, because it wasn't a pugnacious culture like the USA, where guys are raised to enjoy talking about punching out other guys.

In the US, we live in a rather insane culture. While as a matter of abstract and ideal principle, I would feel safer in a gun free country-wide zone, since a lot of insane individuals reside in this fair land, I would much prefer hanging around areas with armed security guards, like the school Obama sends his children to (which has 11 men with firearms), not a "gun free zone" where some yahoo may be tempted to come in and unload on innocent citizens.

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

Considering the number of tragedies in the last few years involving psychos who have come into churches intending to inflict grave harm upon the pastors or his parishioners, any bishop or priest who's thinking of a gun-free zone policy have better think twice before putting such a policy in place!

Dark Horse said...

Hear hear! "Gun-free" = insanity when murderous idiots all have guns.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dan Clark,
Thanks for the laugh.

Dear Dr. Blosser,
Is that still true about Switzerland? If so I wonder what their violent crime rate is.


Pertinacious Papist said...

Last time I checked, all citizens in the Confederation of Switzerland (between the ages of something like 18 and 57) were required to have gov't issue firearms and spend time at least once a month working on their marksmanship and shooting a certain number of rounds. They were also required once a year to go on maneuvers -- essentially like our National Reserves.

The crime rate in Switzerland was traditionally very low, but has increased over the last 30 years with the influx of immigrants and growth of minority sub-cultures in urban areas. In most remote mountain villages, crime is still almost unheard of.