Ask a Franciscan

Are Catholics Allowed to Own Guns? 

In light of the chaos in the United States and around the world, are Catholics allowed to own guns or support the National Rifle Association? 

Jesus taught us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek (Mt 5:39b; Lk 6:29a). If, however, we must protect ourselves without the help of the police and military, are we allowed to do so by purchasing guns or rifles? Or instead, must we lay down our lives and surrender to terrorists without trying to defend ourselves and our property?

Catholics have as much right to defend themselves within legal limits as anyone else while also telling themselves the truth about why they are purchasing and using firearms—as though they were explaining these reasons to God. 

Unfortunately, Catholics are as susceptible to misinterpreting the Constitution’s Second Amendment as anyone else. In context, it certainly does not give everyone an absolute right to own any kind of firearm or to carry it wherever and whenever they want. 

Like other Christians, some Catholics give the impression that they are much more committed to their misreading of the Second Amendment than they are to the belief that Jesus Christ was truly divine and human! 

Gun ownership has increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Suicides by gun also increased in the same time period. Are guns the only—or the best—means of ensuring personal safety?  

For decades, the National Rifle Association (NRA) worked very hard to promote responsible ownership of guns and their use. Supporting a mistakenly absolutist reading of the Second Amendment began among its members as a nonnegotiable position only after the NRA’s 1977 annual convention in Cincinnati. All people, including NRA members and their critics, must tell themselves the truth and act accordingly.

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