Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Toting Guns To Presidential Addresses Because We Can

President Obama meets some of Sarah Palin's rich supporters. One who is also toting a gun because he can.

This morning I got up, got some coffee, and start reading the news. I can't say I was the least bit prepared for the site of a man openly carrying an AR15 at a rally at which the President of the United States was scheduled to speak. And it wasn't just one man. According to the AP there were at least a dozen people carrying open weapons, and CNN reports that there were two men carrying AR15s.

I understand that it is legal in Arizona to openly carry weapons. But we're not talking hunting rifles here. We're talking assault rifles and hand guns. The local paper The Arizona Republic reported:

A man, who decided not to give his name, was walking around the pro-health care reform rally at 3rd and Washington streets, with a pistol on his hip, and an AR-15 (a semi-automatic assault rifle) on a strap over his shoulder.
"Because I can do it," he said when asked why he was armed. "In Arizona, I still have some freedoms."
Two police officers were staying very close to the man.
(Just to protect his freedoms one hopes.)

I do not remember ever hearing any report of any person openly carrying a gun around any other president. Arizona represents the third time this week that open guns have been reported at events in which President Obama is scheduled to speak. There was one arrest in New Hampshire, but no arrests in Arizona.

What is happening in this country? Since when have we reached the point that we need to bring guns to town hall meetings and other political events. What message is being sent?-- or maybe more pertinent, what message is being heard that people feel the need to do so?

I'm beginning to really wonder if the message being sent isn't the one that says if we don't have a Republican in the White House the streets aren't safe from our fellow fear filled Americans. We need a Republican president just to keep the paranoid wing nuts in check. And until we do have a Republican in the White House they'll just let Rush and Sarah and company keep the fear level red lined and all those folks all stirred up. They don't want a debate. They want to stop all debate, and threaten everybody that doesn't agree with them until we come to our senses and allow them to save us from them. Great political strategy--- if we let them get away with it.

Then there is Senator Chuck Grassley who is single handedly stopping the senate from coming up with any kind of health reform bill. (Actually, I guess now it's called a health insurance reform bill.) He too is doing this because he can, since Senator Max Baucus is letting him. Max would have us believe it has nothing to do with the millions in pact money both of them have received from the health industry. He wants us to believe it's because of their long friendship and the respect he has for Chuck. Chuck deserves his input even if it consists of one word---NO. Maybe Chuck just wants to save us from his good friend Max. Great friendship this is--if we let them get away with it.

This all reminds me of the strategy of the hierarchy with in Catholicism, especially some of our US bishops. If one really looks at what came out of the USCCB regarding the sexual abuse crisis, we laity are expected to trust our bishops to save our children from them. This is especially cool for them since they exempted themselves from any of their own mandates. What a great system, and we kind of sort of let them get away with it.

Then there are traditional Catholics whose concept of debate is to tell progressives to leave the Church. At least that takes a few more words than Senator Grassley has in his vocabulary. This less than friendly advice is to save us from us, or save Jesus from us, or just plain save something, since Jesus is about saving. I don't think I've ever heard this particular talking point used much in the other direction. Is it because progressives choose not to, or is it their low intensity commitment, as John Allen postulates in his current piece in the NCR.

I think when high tension commitments foster toting guns to presidential addresses, one needs to look at either the tension, the commitment or both. Exactly the way I feel about Senators with one word vocabularies, and senators with way too intense a 'friendship', or bishops whose authority is unchecked, nontransparent, and accountable only to themselves, and Catholics who play the 'leave' card.

All this one sided high tension is leading to undesirable outcomes. It might be time for progressives to raise their own tension, because we can. So let's all have another cup of coffee.


  1. I'm with you on the coffee Colleen.

    I'm not with you on wanting any soul to leave the Church, although your generalization here would, I suspect, include me.

    Leaving the Church, and thus Christ, (with an truth understanding of the mystical reality underlying this Catholic faith)is suicide. Period.

    Likewise, proclaiming a false Christ and building a false Church is equally suicidal, with a difference: such errors lead the unsuspecting away as well.

    I'm not with you on that one my dear.

    As for the gun thing: I don't own a weapon but know plenty of law abiding Americans who do. Some carry their weapons holstered around town here in Southern Oregon. It's not a big issue.

    I suspect the Arizona thing was to make clear the right every American has to bear arms--gun control doesn't work in either the "red" states or the inner city. I've lived in both.

    On a more humorous note: Just two weeks ago on my way down to Santa Cruz for vacation, I saw the Prez in Willits, Ca. packing his own heat at a gun store and captured this pic...


    Enjoy the humor Colleen and know I'm with you all the way to the fount: The pierced side of Christ.

    james mary evans

  2. fratres, Jesus Christ, did not tote a gun. Christians don't need to tote guns around. Christians need to tote the love of Jesus Christ into the world. What kind of example is this to children to see grown-ups toting guns? Building a world for a peaceful world, takes peaceful people. Love and peace comes from Jesus Christ to you. Do not throw his love and peace into the garbage.

    Toting guns does not come from Jesus Christ's teachings. He set no such example. To be a true Christian is to be His disciple. He leads us to greener pastures.

    Toting guns comes from arrogance, in believing you can save yourself with a gun. You can't save yourself with a gun, and neither are you free with a gun. You have made yourself a slave to the gun.

    You can't save souls with a gun either. And if you think so, you are gravely mistaken.

    Bless you fratres. I pray that you will be praying for peace and people to act in peace and to set an example to children who are watching and listening. While we are trying to teach children not to bring guns to school, their parents are out in the streets with their guns!!! Simply madness and hypocrisy seem to rule the hearts of these people. I pray that they will find the light of Jesus Christ.

  3. .... and I'll have my coffee with a double shot of Irish Creme Liquor in it...... ;-)

  4. Respectfully, Butterfly, (By the way, nice name), as I said, I don’t own a weapon. I was commenting on reasons why men showed up carrying their weapons. Which, is legal and a right, in Arizona. It’s not known if the man was a Christian or not.

    As for believing you can save yourself with a gun:

    I attended mass last week and the priest spoke of the Holy Eucharist in terms of how the mass was celebrated in Dachau Prison Camp during WWII. I looked into it further and discovered that the German captors (aggressors) would use Catholic priests as beasts of burden on pull carts and would run them into the local towns nearby for supplies. Wherein, despite the risk of immediate and horrifying death, the beast of burdens (the priests of God) would use Latin to communicate with sympathetic free clergy their need for bread and wine. Many times 1 grape was brought back and shared, as the article stated, between starving and dying men wearing filthy shabby rags gathered in dark corners late at night—always under the state of fear from animals (men) larger than themselves who would think nothing about placing these priests of God, as happened, upon crosses and having the Jews worship them on their knees as kings…

    These were mercifully liberated finally; saved with guns. And those who used guns as tools (which is what they are) to free them will not fear their salvation either, as their actions were justified for the common good; a term bantered about so easily these days to justify ignoring our own holocaust of abortion: Yes, there are many ‘types of tools’ Butterfly, even within abortion clinics; and these death-dealing numbers, I submit, far exceed anything experienced in all major wars combined.

    The point here, my friend and sister, is that you’re confused about the right and wrong use of a gun, and on Catholic teaching concerning the morality of self-preservation and self-defense beginning with Thomas Aquinas…

    Here’s the teaching (his own I believe) from the Catechism:

    2263 The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. . . . The one is intended, the other is not.”

    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:

    If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. . . . Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.

    And see: 2265

    I’ll pass on commenting on the emotionalism,

    “Toting guns comes from arrogance, in believing you can save yourself with a gun. You can't save yourself with a gun, and neither are you free with a gun. You have made yourself a slave to the gun. You can't save souls with a gun either. And if you think so, you are gravely mistaken.”

    because I am fully aware that your emotionalism is born of, and grounded within the same sincere hope we both share in, and will truly come about at the appointed time: a new heaven and new earth. The old will have passed away, and we shall be like Him… It is written, and Oracles of God are always faithful and true: “They will turn their swords into plowshares.” And again, “All flesh will know I am God.” I think its safe to say we agree here…

    Yes, madness (in all its forms) does seem to rule, but we win in the end…

    Grace. Blessings. Peace—in that order for you.

    james mary evans

  5. In the interests of self disclosure, I do own a rifle, and do know how to hit the broad side of a barn.

    It is not however, an AR15. That's what got to me. That and the fact I had visions of someone, who had nasty intentions, disarming his man of his weapon which he was not exactly carrying in a secured way.

    Fratres, I was not advocating people leave the Church. I was merely wondering why that seems to be the answer for too many people on the right when it comes to the left. I'd like to think I'm beginning to get the truth of the mystical rality underlying this Catholic faith.

    I don't really care how the Mass is said-in Latin or not, I don't care who says the Mass-celibate or not, male or female, but I do care that the Mass is said.

    For years when my family first moved to Montana, our little parish was served by a polish priest who survived three years in Dachau. He was very good friends with Cardinal Wotyla and the future Pope spent a weekend in our Parish a couple of years before he was elected to the papacy. He was fascinated with modern agriculture and the size of independent family operations. I guess he gave quite the talk on how so few could feed so many. Anyway, our priest would occasionally talk about his experiences in Dachau. His stories corroborate what you wrote.

    When he gave sermons on the need to forgive your enemies, it made a lot of us tear up. He knew of what he spoke.

    At Thanksgiving dinner at our house, he and I had some spirited debates about the merits of Vatican II. He thought there were virtually none, and I had the opposite opinion. I have subsequently found out he had 'insider' information and I had a lot of wishful thinking.

    He used to tell me if I kept thinking the way I was I would need daily confession, not daily Mass---and from a real priest, not one of those Vatican II types. I would retort that the magic was the same. He would laugh.

    In spite of all our disagreements and different life experiences, not once did he suggest I leave the Church. He would tell me Jesus would let us know who was right and in the meantime we should just pray about it. We did agree on that.

  6. Fratres, the funny and ironic thing about your photograph, is that it's true. PO is the biggest shot in the arm weapons dealers have ever had. Well, maybe that's just sad, and not particularly funny. I did laugh though.

  7. fratres, thank you for your comment. My words were meant for the enemy, of which you speak of in the prison, who have guns, who used those guns to get them into prison, guns that are intended to kill innocent people, or hold people hostage and make others servants for them and who do seem to believe that their gun is more powerful than God Himself and that it represents "freedom." I apologize for my lack of writing clearly.

    I don't own a gun. I am probably more like a Quaker than a Catholic when it comes to certain subjects. I really can't help that. As you can't help that you are the way that you are. It really doesn't have to do with emotionalism. Maybe it has to do with truly believing that Jesus saves and if and when I need Him I may call upon Him for help and that I will be assisted, as Peter was assisted out of jail by Angels.

    I thank you for recognizing that you understand where I am coming from spiritually. The old world has passed away, but too many linger in the past and in their fears. If one has been touched by the light of Christ and His redemption, it does have a peaceful affect. In stark contrast are the mad and the self-righteous who too willingly condemn others and belittle them, such as in your account at the prison in WWII. It is against those things which I speak, and I still have a way to go to be able to communicate this to people so as they can take from what I have said the truth.

    The truth is that guns did not save anyone and they do not save souls. They may get us out of danger and physical harm from abusers, but they do not save souls. That is the context in which I was speaking.

    Arizona sounds like the wild west and I believe there should be a law against toting guns such as AR15s near where the President is or where there is a town hall meeting. Perhaps I hold this view because as a child I witnessed President Kennedy being assassinated and his brother Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, all killed with guns. I also witnessed Jack Ruby killing the accused. I witnessed peaceful people marching with MLK for civil rights and the authorities using force against them. Yet now a man with an AR15 is allowed to roam freely wielding such a lethal weapon.

    I am not confused about self defense. In this particular case of the man with the AR15, there was no need to defend himself with a gun at a town hall meeting, in a town which has its own police force to protect and serve the people, and it is just a matter of time before we see some of these gun toters unleash a bloody battle on those they don't agree with politically. This is what I foresee. We can question his freedom to tote his gun wherever he wants to go with it, even if the current law says that he can. Such a law should be changed. But he will fight for his right to bear his arms, even an AR15, even when he is not in a situation in which he needs to defend himself. This seems an abuse of his "freedom" to bear arms in self-defense, as he was not in a situation in which he needed such defense.

    I am not against people bearing arms and having a gun if they feel the need for it. I am against their having an AR15 in the streets where there is a town hall meeting where the President is speaking, and whose life has been threatened, and in a country in which there is still racism and forces that would destroy democracy and bring us fascism, like the type that created Dachau prison.

    As you live in the wild west, fratres, and are accustomed to seeing people carry their weapons holstered around town in Southern Oregon, and you say it is not a big issue, it would be a culture shock for me to see that happening in New Jersey, and a definite sign that things have gone really wild in the world.

    Grace, blessings and Peace to you, in that order as well. I thank you for taking the time to respond.

  8. I think that most men who carry around big old guns in public "because they can" then to have a different (maybe little) gun problem, i.e, "because they can't".

    Jim McCrea

  9. jim, this reminds me of a quote from my dad, who was a physically big man for his time and a hero type protector in my mind.

    He once said the only thing he was very afraid of, "was a little man with a big gun." It took me awhile to figure out what he meant. Like ten years.