State of the Question

Repeal the Second Amendment,” America’s editorial published on the Web on Feb. 16, just a few days after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, evoked a comment by Theresa Johnson at the next day. She asked God to “bless these Roman Catholics for taking such a bold stand.” She also, described the odds of actually repealing the amendment: “probably as safe a bet as election of a Jesuit pope.” Within a month, to the shock of many, the first Jesuit pope was elected. Is repeal next? Is it an idea whose time has come? Here is a sampling of reader responses to America’s editorial.

Lost Subscriber

Your editorial really disappointed me. It is the type of typical knee-jerk, unthinking reaction to events that one expects from the ignorant people who never look beyond the latest news story.


Repealing the Second Amendment will not stop gun violence; it will just provide another profit base for organized crime. The real solution to gun violence is to re-establish a moral base.

My father, who grew up during the depression, regularly took his rifle to school; he left it in the cloak room. On his way home he would go hunting, to put food on the table. No one thought anything about it because in the 1930s morality and right and wrong were still taught in school, and shooting someone was unthinkable. But when we threw God out, we threw morality out with him, and now we are suffering the consequences.

Please cancel my subscription. Thank you.

Katherine Schmidt

Orono, Me.

Editor’s Note: To cancel your subscription, call 1-800-627-9533.

New Subscriber

Thank you for your well-thought-out, reasonable suggestion to repeal the Second Amendment. I would wholeheartedly back such a change to our Constitution. Good work. I will subscribe to America as a way of supporting this and your many other efforts to make ours a community stumbling forward as best it can toward the reign of God. Thanks.

Joe Frankenfield

Mount Pleasant, Mich.

Editor’s Note: Thank you for subscribing.

Join the Marines

I commend the editors. I am a Jesuit-educated (Fordham University) senior citizen, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, avid and active hunter/sportsman, gun owner and former member of the National Rifle Association. In today’s culture I see no logical or relevant connection between the maintenance of a well-regulated militia and the right of the people to keep and bear arms.

I believe responsible, stable people should have the right to keep guns for legitimate uses like hunting and target shooting, and I strongly support adequate background checks and the removal of all loopholes. Also I don’t approve of any civilian, except law enforcement personnel, being allowed to possess an assault-type weapon. There is no reason for a civilian to have one, and they are inappropriate for hunting. My advice for anyone demanding that privilege is to contact your local Marine recruiter; if they determine you’re fit, they might be able to use you in Afghanistan.

William B. Donnelly

Morrisville, N.Y.

Confront ‘Traitors’

Having just read your editorial, I am reminded why I continue to buy weapons and ammunition. People, traitors, such as yourselves, will need to be confronted one day. Not by my choice, but by yours.

When you call for repealing the backbone of our U.S. Constitution, you are also inviting the repealing of your rights to free speech, assembly, press, religion and so forth.

If and when the Second Amend-ment is repealed, there will be those who will not follow a law that is unconstitutional, I being one of them. I will never register my firearms nor allow them to be confiscated.

Law-abiding citizens with the God-given right to protect themselves and others from those that are evil and/or demented will not tolerate such an act.

Mike Redden

Lawrenceville, Ga.

Editor’s Note: Two hours after sending the e-mail letter above, Mr. Redden wrote again: “By the way, do not construe this e-mail as a threat. I am not one of the gun ‘nuts’ you so fear. My confrontation with people like you will be waged through the courts every step of the way….”

End the Paralysis

I was delighted to see someone, especially America, take a bold and direct stand with regard to the gun control problem. Why should the country be paralyzed by a constitutional provision that does not meet our current needs? It is evident that gun violence throughout the world is proportionate to gun ownership and that we have let extremists on gun ownership use the Constitution to prevent common sense controls. I hope others will follow America’s lead and urge taking the logical means to end the paralysis that has been foisted on us.

Robert F. Weiss, S.J.

St. Louis, Mo.

Regulate, Not Eliminate

It’s paranoia to think that the government will start coming after us if we don’t have weapons, and it is only slightly less ludicrous to think we’ll have an uptick in home invasions. By the text of America’s editorial, the government would only have the power to pass laws to regulate weapons, not eliminate them.

William Burrows.

Online comment

Pre-Existing Right

Should the Second Amendment be repealed, the right to bear arms does not go away. After all, the Second Amendment doesn’t give us the right to bear arms. Rather, it recognizes a right that pre-exists our government and all governments. The right to bear arms is a “natural right.”

Tomas Nally

Online comment

More Education

If the United States currently possesses enough civilian-owned guns to give one to every man, woman and child, then perhaps we should take the more prudent approach of education about guns. There would be no harm in allowing local police departments or the N.R.A. to come to schools and teach and demonstrate gun safety.

Joseph Gregrich

Online comment

Blog Talk

The editors at America aim high in their quest to combat gun violence. Any chance? If not, still worth saying? A prophetic moment?

David Gibson

Religion News Service

America hates the Second Amendment. No, not that America. America the heterodox Jesuit rag. It is good to see the Jesuits at America suddenly in favor of a “culture of life.” Considering their editorials in support of the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history, I will take their “conversion” with a boulder of salt.

Donald R. McClarey

The American Catholic

The editors observe, “The human cost is intolerable.” I concur. Repeal of the Second Amendment must become part of the national conversation on guns. I congratulate the editors of America for their courage in talking about the elephant in the room.

Michael Meyer

Daily Kos

Yes, I know it would be easy to scoff, “Oh, isn’t it ironic that a Catholic writer wants secular dogma to yield to critical inquiry?” The larger point is that the editorial questions the premise of treating the Constitution in the same way that Christians look to Scripture. This article stands out as one of the few voices willing to undermine that basic mistake. I’ve said this many times before: the Jesuits have guts.

Alan Montecillo

God Is Sometimes Great

Status Update

Bob Hudak. I’ve listened to what often is the prophetic voice of the Jesuits for more than 40 years—and I’ve rarely been disappointed. Thank you for your prophetic essay. It makes the teachings of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount more relevant and challenging than ever.

Kim Engel. Where’s the dislike button?

David Ozab. I don’t think we need to repeal it, but maybe we need to ask ourselves what the words “well regulated” mean.

Monica Quigley Doyle. I gave up posting and sharing articles on Facebook for Lent. I just broke my Lenten sacrifice and shared this. (Which means $$$ in the rice bowl for Catholic Relief Services.) I’ll be shocked if I get any “Likes”—although my Facebook pals are too polite to argue with me. I was astounded at how forceful the editors’ argument is.

Neil DeMoney. I don’t buy in at all! Like the mainstream media, this article misses the mark. The guns are not leading to violence; if repealed, the modus operandi for carrying out the violence will change. The church should be concerned with changing hearts, behaviors and attitudes.

Rachel Jennings. This proposal is bold and necessary. Thank you. I do believe that tyranny is a very real threat. The fact is, however, that owning guns will not protect us from police brutality or from government surveillance or domestic drones, nor will guns protect us from violent spouses or neighbors or complete strangers. Guns will not serve that function. As Christians, in these circumstances, we must choose nonviolence. Give up the guns!

Tim Farber. Why do we think it is O.K. for law enforcement officers and the military and those who require firearms for morally reasonable purposes to possess firearms, and it is not O.K. for me or you? Both you and I are moral agents who have proven to use our moral freedom in life-affirming ways. I say let’s make sure the police and the military are the first to be disarmed.

Dan Smith. When it comes to self-defense, how about we try to introduce nonlethal weapons, like Tasers, bean bag ammunition, etc.? Why do we feel we have to totally annihilate our assailant as a means of defense? That’s God’s right to take a person’s life, isn’t it? Shouldn’t we do everything we can to limit the possibility of a lethal outcome? We need more choices and more dimensions, and we need to figure out what we are really afraid of here: the loss of a controversial right, or our God-like pretensions to power over our neighbors?

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