Let's Make a Deal

04-08-2018Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The NRA and Planned Parenthood don't really have much in common except one thing. They both operate using the same strategy: never give an inch. No matter how reasonable a restriction may be, the old saying applies: “if you give an inch they’ll take a yard”.  The NRA argues that since gun ownership was written by the Founders in the plain text of the Constitution and Planned Parenthood argues that abortion is a constitutional right as determined by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade and therefore need to be protected against any encroachment. I find it interesting that a lot of the same restrictions we have tried to enact on abortions are the similar to the ones being proposed for firearms.

In the case of abortion, we have argued for the following restrictions: Waiting Periods/Informed Consent, limiting the age for obtaining an abortion, licensing and registration of abortion clinics and abortion providers, banning all partial birth abortions and banning abortions after 20 weeks. Currently proposed gun restrictions include: Waiting Period to Purchase a Firearm, raising the age to purchase a firearm, licensing and registration of firearms, banning all assault weapons and banning any person who is deemed mentally ill from purchasing a firearm.

Every single restriction we have tried to place on abortions has been met with lawsuit after lawsuit. The restrictions are usually blocked by Federal Courts and often by the US Supreme Court. I would imagine any restrictions on firearms will be met with the same unending legal challenges. This is simply because restricting a constitutional right is a very high bar.

But as we in the Pro-Life movement have found out, the law will only do so much. And when it comes to gun restrictions we have already seen that the law means very little. Most of our school shootings have happened in “Gun Free Zones”, criminals who commit crimes with a firearm are obviously not following the law, convicted felons often lose their gun rights but that doesn't prevent them from possessing a firearm.

The law acts as a guide for a culture but it is not the culture itself. That is why we keep striving to build a Culture of Life. The goal of course is that no matter what the law on the books says, abortion will be something that is rejected as a solution to an unplanned, unwanted or difficult pregnancy. Changing a culture requires changing hearts and minds. Restrictions can be helpful in that they serve as walls that we have to climb over to get what we want. Maybe in trying to scale the wall we will come to our senses and make a better choice. But they will only take us so far.

We have to admit as a society that abortion and gun violence are related. Abortion coarsens our culture’s view of human life. The current debate over banning selective abortions based on the potential a child has Down’s Syndrome hardens the belief that some lives are not worth living, some categories of people are disposable. So why not the same for the kids who bullied me in school or the teachers who gave me a hard time? You can see how easily distorted our thinking can become.

But since both Planned Parenthood and the NRA do their best to hold the line on any restrictions maybe a compromise is in order? Abortion control and Gun control? I certainly would support limits on firearms if we can get limits on abortion. But I am sure the arguments would come swift and direct: No, it's a women’s right to have an abortion or No, it’s a citizen’s right to possess a firearm. Bingo we are right back to the status quo.

Maybe we should take another approach such as affirming in our communities, schools, and homes the principle of the sanctity of human life.


Fr. John B.