Have we reached a turning point in the gun control debate?

Young demonstrators hold a rally in front of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)Young demonstrators hold a rally in front of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

As I write this, thousands of students across the country are walking out of their high schools to protest gun violence. April 20 marks the 19th anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colo., which left 13 dead. At the time, it was the deadliest school shooting in modern U.S. history. Tragically, that grisly record had been overtaken several times in the last two decades, most recently at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.


After the Parkland shooting on Feb. 14, which left 17 students and employees dead, listeners asked that we dive deeper into the topic of gun violence. So this week, we are talking with Patrick Blanchfield, a writer who has covered the topic for n + 1 among other publications. We ask him why advocacy for gun control has been so ineffective; why religion and theology play such an important role in these debates; and whether the student activism following the Parkland shooting represents a new and promising front for those seeking to pass more restrictive gun laws.

In Signs of the Times, Pope Francis admits that he has made serious mistakes in his handling of the sex abuse crisis in Chile; Blessed Oscar Romero finally has an official canonization date; and Catholic agencies are alarmed by the severe drop in the number of Syrian refugees admitted to the United States.

Next, we discuss the state of Catholic activism: Is it a problem that the most visible Catholic protesters in peace and justice movements are often baby boomers? Where are all the millennial Catholics?

Finally, need a good pump up video? Check out these boxing nuns in Poland. Need a good cry? Watch this video of Pope Francis responding to a young boy who asks: is my atheist father in heaven?

Follow us Twitter @jesuiticalshow, send us an email at jesuitical@americamedia.org and support our work by becoming a part of our Patreon community. You subscribe to us wherever you get your favorite podcast and leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts.

Links from the show

Pope Francis admits ‘serious errors’ in handling of Chilean sex abuse cases
Oscar Romero canonization probably in Rome in October
Catholic agencies concerned by drastic drop in Syrian refugees admitted to US
Bond Denied for 7 Catholic Protesters Who Prayed on Nuclear Submarine Base in Georgia
VIDEO: Boxing nuns take Poland by storm
‘Is my dad in heaven,’ little boy asks pope

What’s on tap?

Keller Dry-Hopped Lager from Zero Gravity Craft Brewing

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JR Cosgrove
1 year 10 months ago

Donations to the NRA is at record levels, gun sales continue to climb and lightning kills more students each year than guns.

Whoever organized the group in the photo should be ashamed. They are exploiting young people who don't have a firm understanding of the issues for the organizers own political purposes.

Christopher Lochner
1 year 10 months ago

If you can get past the first unending minutes of giggles from the hosts, you hear a rather strange mix of supposed Catholic teaching along with the millennial love for social media protest because, well, *looks good* everybody else does it*bragging rights*yay, another day off from school*!! Then Mr. Blanchfield ops in with contempt for the stupidity of those who disagree with his stance (including some of the Florida students) while calling the religious views of those on the right, "bull**** theology". Jesuit training is not here I think. I see that the group he is on staff of, the Brooklyn Institute, has an upcoming talk "Marx Now". The radical left is gaining far too much input and not as a theological viewpoint but strictly as a political point. Again, they co-opt Christ for their own ego and glory. FYI: The Brooklyn Institute is not an education facility as there are no diplomas etc. It's more like ThinkProgress with various seminars. But they are adept at marketing themselves.

Chuck Kotlarz
1 year 10 months ago

Students perhaps would paraphrase FDR, “The aristocracy has no vision and when there is no vision, the people perish.”

Tim Donovan
1 year 10 months ago

As a long-time Democrat of more than 30 years (I'm now 56) who reluctantly became a moderate pro-life/anti-abortion Republican several years ago, I admire my niece Virginia (a United Presbyterian, by the way) who along with numerous other young people participated in the March 24, 2018 "March For Our Lives" gun control rally in Washington , D C. As a retired Special Education teacher, I certainly believe that students should as a matter of course attend school. However, I support the walk out of students on April 20 to commemorate the deaths by gun violence at Columbine High School in 1999. I don't believe the students should be disciplined by school principals, as I believe their action warrants making an exception. In past years I fairly frequently peacefully protested the violence of abortion at abortion centers. Once I also took part in a "rescue" ( sit in) outside a Paoli, Pennsylvania abortion center. According to a recent Washington Post --ABC poll reported in the Post on April 21, 2018, 85% of adults polled favored police (with judicial permission) having the right to take a gun from someone deemed dangerous to other people or to him or herself. Also, 72% of adults polled favored raising the age limit to 21_years to purchase a gun. Finally, 62% of all adults support an assault weapons ban. The poll found that even many gun owners supported such proposed laws. Another recent Washington Post report noted that the majority of gun deaths in our nation are from suicide. I believe that there should be expanded mental health services for the needs of troubled individuals. Also, I believe it would be wise and compassionate for those who live with someone who expresses a desire to commit suicide to place guns in a safe, secure location. A good friend of mine committed suicide in 1999, so this is a personal matter to me. When my Dad died in 1999, I discovered in his bank safety deposit box a handgun. I immediately turned the gun into my local police department. I also think gun "buy back" programs may be worthwhile. No law, no matter the subject matter, will ever be entirely effective. However, I believe that stringent gun control laws will save some innocent human beings from gun deaths. The Washington Post (April 21, 2018) in an investigative report found that since 1999, more than 206,000 children at 211 schools have in some way experienced gun violence. This excluded students effected by shooting attacks at colleges/,universities. At this point in 2018, there have been 12_school shootings --,the highest number since 1999. Also since 1999, it was found that at least 131 students, educators and others were killed by gun violence, and 271 such school people were injured. The median age, incredibly, of school shooters is only 16! Finally, it's very unfortunate, and I think it shows negligence on the part of parents and other caregivers, that in more than 85% of school shooter cases, that the source of guns used came from the shooter'# home or from family or friends. Is this any surprise, since there are an estimated 250 million (or more) guns in the United States, and about 250 million adults in our nation. While I firmly support more stringent gun control laws, but favor the right to own a gun for legitimate self-defense, is it really necessary to have such an enormous number of guns?

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