The Story of that Moral
Some arm of the Presbyterian Church has issued a statement saying that its clergy believes that gun owners should turn in their arms. The predictable result is that gun owners are up in arms over the situation. Predictable, that is, except for their argument. Many of them assert that gun ownership is not a moral issue, and therefore the church has no business having an opinion on the matter.

That's clearly hogwash; there are few decisions that have more moral implications than the decision to own a weapon. To purchase a weapon impels the buyer to take a stand on its use. Purchasing a gun raises the issue of using it on a person; however you answer the question "under what conditions, if any, will I use this on a fellow human being?" you have made a moral decision.

If that weren't enough to consider, the prospective gun owner must address the issues of simply possessing the firearm. The purchase raises the responsibilities of becoming competent with the gun. Even the storage of the gun has moral repercussions. Storing it in a gun safe asserts the owner's control over the weapon even when not in use. Leaving it loaded on the coffee table may be a challenge to one's peers to accept responsibility for their actions. Or an act of ignorance.

That last possibility is the disturbing one. Those who act without considering the consequences imperil us all. The service that the Presbyterian Church has done is to remind everyone that the right of gun ownership carries moral responsibilities that must be met. Ignorance is an unacceptable option.

There is ample room to disagree with the Presbyterian position on gun ownership. Human beings can assess the same facts and make different moral choices. America guarantees that right. Refusing to admit that gun ownership carries moral weight shirks the responsibility that possessing firearms entails.

Having the courage to make a moral stand should be a pre-requisite for gun ownership.

This page written and maintained by Ted Faber (
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