Considering the fact that the Episcopal Church in America has lost hundreds of thousands of members during the past two decades, you'd think that these folks would be doing everything possible to protect and preserve this endangered species of Christians.
Thus, specifically, you would think that, maybe, this Church would enthusiastically endorse the right of self-defense, specifically the right of private individuals -- in this case Episcopalians -- to own firearms for self-defense. But, if this is what you think, you would be sadly mistaken.
Meeting recently in their 73rd General Convention in Chicago, Episcopalians passed a resolution that calls upon all members "to work intentionally in their several communities, legislatures and institutions toward the removal of handguns and assault weapons from our homes, other residential communities and vehicles."
But, why? Since there are many law-abiding Americans who use guns in self-defense every year (many, many more than there are Episcopalians), why seek to deny these persons the capability to use guns to defend themselves, their families, friends and/or property?
In an attempt to get an answer to this question and others, we spoke with Helen Moore, Interim Dean of the Cathedral Of St. James, the Episcopal Church in which this anti-gun, anti-self defense resolution originated. We also spoke with Duncan Moore, a member of Interim Dean Moore's church who served on the Peace And Social Justice Commission which drafted this resolution. First, Interim Dean Moore:
Q: About a dozen studies and polls show that as many as three million Americans annually use guns in self-defense, including handguns. So, why do you want this protection removed which is what would happen if your resolution was obeyed?
A: Well, we're asking people to prayerfully consider this.
Q: But, why? Why, since so many Americans use guns for self-defense and to defend others and property?
A: Because of so many statistics -- that I don't have with me -- about how many teen suicides come from homes where guns are available, and much more domestic violence.
Q: But, the studies and polls I just mentioned show that hundreds of thousands more Americans use guns in self-defense in every year than use guns to commit suicide and/or commit domestic violence.
A: I think probably that we don't see it that way.
Q: But, have you looked at the studies/polls on guns and self-defense?
A: Yes, we looked at all of that and we still felt that [our resolution] was very important as an expression of our Christian faith and Christian witness to ask people to think about the presence of firearms.
Q: Well, but your resolution actually calls on people to remove certain guns from their homes and elsewhere.
A: Right. Right.... What we were looking at as far as the data is concerned was how the presence and ready availability of firearms in the home showed a considerable increase in teen suicides and domestic violence. We want people to think about that.
Q: But, again, even if what you say here is true, the data show that there are hundreds of thousands more good uses of guns, in self-defense, annually, than there are bad uses of guns.
A: Well, I think we didn't, necessarily, see that -- that the good uses outweigh the bad.
Q: A lot more kids die in the home by falling, from poisoning, suffocating, and drowning in water buckets, than die from guns every year. So, why single out only guns in your resolution?
A: I think, part of it is -- you know, there's no perfect answer to any of this. And I don't think we were trying to achieve anything like that....
Q: You don't see anything un-Christian about self-defense do you?
A: No, I don't. But as Christians we are supposed to work against violence by any means.
Q: Should all handguns be banned?
A: Not necessarily.
Next we spoke to Duncan Moore, a man Interim Dean Moore said could probably give us "some more helpful information."
Q: Why remove guns from the home when a dozen studies and polls show that as many as three million Americans annually use guns in self-defense, including handguns?
A: Well, I haven't seen those studies. The studies I've seen... show that the presence of a gun in the home vastly increases the likelihood that a member of the household will be injured by that gun.
Q: So, you're unaware of the self-defense data I just mentioned?
A: I know that many people make this argument. But, I don't subscribe....
Q: I'm not talking about arguments. I'm talking about studies and polls. In fact, a Gallup Poll in May of this year showed that 14.3 million adult Americans say they have used a gun in self defense. Are you aware of any of this data?
A: I'm aware that some people allege that such studies exist.
Q: So, have you checked out these allegations to see if they are true?
A: No, I've been reading the medical literature which is fairly straightforward on the risks involved in keeping a gun in the household.
Q: But, I'm talking about self-defense! I'm talking about the risk posed to criminals by armed homeowners who have guns to protect themselves, family and property. Do you care about this?
A: No, I don't believe that's true. It's a bogus argument. I subscribe to the argument that guns are not Christian. That is the crux of my argument.
Q: And where in Scripture do you see support for your view?
A: Jesus doesn't talk about self-defense. Jesus talks about caring for other people. And if we care deeply for other people, we should remove the weapons that cause other people harm.
Q: But, wouldn't caring for other people include protecting yourself, family and friends by, when necessary, using guns against criminals in your home?
At this point, Moore says this conversation is not being conducted "properly" because he is being "proselytized." He hangs up the phone.
Well, now. In a way that Interim Dean Moore certainly did not intend, Duncan Moore has, indeed, given us "some more helpful information." And what he has helped us to see is that he could not care less about "caring for other people" because he does not care about the right of self-defense with firearms.
Moore also helps us to see that he is truly a know-nothing ignoramus by charging, falsely, that it is not true that millions of us, every year, defend ourselves with guns, as a huge body of data proves. And this is why Moore and every Episcopalian who voted for his wretched resolution are our "Anti-Gun-Nuts" this month.