Monday, April 16, 2007

Dark Days, Dark Measures

About two months ago, I signed a contract to work for the Diocese of Arlington. I am happy with this arrangement, to be sure, but when I began reading the list of rules and regulations, I noticed one that caught my eye. Essentially, it reads, "No firearm or weapon of any sort will be allowed on Church property."

This piqued my interest for a variety of reasons. Let me say right off that I can understand not wanting guns or Rambo knives around children. Kids are curious. Accidents happen. Most adults lack an understaning of weapon safety and training. I mean, let's face it--many of us will get uncomfortable when someone is around us and has a gun, especially when that person lacks a badge.

Now, in a parochial setting, a gun is not necessarily a regular tool for completing the day-to-day tasks. But guns and weapons do have a place in our lives and in society.

Today, 33 people were killed in Blacksburg at Virginia Tech. A crazy Asian moe-foe locked himself in a school building and went on a rampage, opening doors and systematically capping people left and right. You can hear the gunshots on recordings of the incident. One thing, however, has not been generally highlighted by the mainstream media: nobody shot back.

Virginia is one of proud states that has legalized the carrying of a concealed firearm with an appropriate permit, but on Blacksburg's Virignia Tech's campus, this liberty is denied. I can see their reasoning, sure, especially when some students are certainly prone to get drunk and violent for example. But what if someone today was in Norris Hall and shot back and killed the crazy LONE gunman? What if someone had stopped him with a gun, shooting him in cold blood. He would be a hero, wouldn't he?

You damn right he would. The irony, however, is that our institutional laws, such as those in schools, prohibit access to this type of heroism. It's in the rules and regulations. No guns.
And so the people who would call the cops for safety in a real emergency like today's end up frustrating their real objective.

This is part of a comfortable mindset that deals in double-realities. It's like playing "let's pretend." Let's pretend the world is sanitized, peachy, and trouble-free. But when an unspeakable tradgedy like this occurs, we mourn over it and shake our heads and wonder why this happened. God forbid, we might even get angry, but we certainly wonder why and how.

Maybe it was the guns? Bad people. With guns. Bad people with guns, but definitely the guns.

No, it was that the psycho who did this was possessed by a demon. We are lucky it wasn't a bomb.

The upshot is even more interesting. As the Catholic Renaissance takes shape, and real men of all types are emerging--you know, the ones who are likely to have a copy of Wild at Heart on their bookshelf--Catholic men are forced to face some serious questions: A.) Do I own a gun? B.) Do I carry it outside my house? C.) Do I carry it inside my Church or School?

These are valid questions, to which every man will have his own unique answer. Today's incident is more than proof.

I will leave you with a brief story which I believe illustrates the right attitude. Fr. Deusterhaus, when he was with St. William of York during the time of the D.C. sniper shootings, gave an insightful answer to this quandry during a Sunday homily. He mentioned that certain parishoners were cautioning him not to stand outside while he was shaking hands, speaking with and blessing people as they exited Church after Sunday mass. His response was the absolute best and totally unforgetable: "Are you kidding? At this parish I am expecting you to actually return fire!"

Now that's what I am talking about. That's one great priest. Notice he didn't say who, but he knew some men should be gettin' it done.

Peace out, yall.



Ben said...

Nice. Good thinking, Nick. Good writing. We have certainly abused and misused our right to bear arms. Both in our rules and laws and in our general assumptions.

Bridget said...

"many of us will get uncomfortable when someone is around us and has a gun, especially when that person lacks a badge."

I dunno, man. My brother's a cop...

Anyway, this was a great piece. And I LOVE what Fr. D said about returning fire. Good grief, that's AWESOME!!!!

And you have given me something to think about. What if VT allowed students to have guns. I dunno, man. You make a good point about drunken, violent (and immature, at times) kids. Good stuff to ponder.

Anonymous said...

Thanks guys. --Nick-Dog