One common objection to this, the “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” meme, is overly simplistic. (And I loathe overly simplistic memes with a fiery passion.) People do kill one another with a variety of weapons, but guns make killing people a lot easier. It is a lot easier to pull a gun on oneself or another than to stick a knife in someone’s back.
Catholics are called to be pro-life in all aspects of their lives. Since guns are often used to take lives, the question arises: Should Catholics support responsible gun control in order save lives, protecting the common good?
There are two must better reasons to oppose gun control. The first is the deterrent effect of guns. Criminals deliberately seek to get around laws, while ordinary citizens obey them. Thus, a society which embraces gun control will, in the long run, have widespread gun ownership only in the hands of those willing to break the law.
Further, a disarmed populace is unable to defend itself effectively against shooters. A criminal is far less likely to attack a person who has the possibility of being armed than otherwise. The example of Switzerland is often cited as proof that widespread gun ownership of guns acts as a deterrent – gun crimes are comparatively rare in Switzerland, yet gun ownership is widespread in that country.
The second argument against gun control is more compelling. Guns allow individuals to protect themselves against tyrannical states.
A state in which gun ownership is outlawed is a state where government can oppress its citizens without any effective check on its power. Without gun ownership, citizens cannot effectively band together to defend themselves against the police power of the state.
Thus, widespread, responsible gun ownership acts as a check against tyranny.
The common good is therefore best served by widespread, responsible gun ownership, as both a deterrent against criminals and a check on governmental overreach.
In an ideal world, guns would be completely unnecessary. People would not need to live in fear of one another and of the government. But the world is not ideal, and people are imperfect, so widespread gun ownership, paradoxically, serves as a guarantor of peace and order.