"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Intolerance at St. Louis University

April 29th, 2008 by mopns · No Comments

By Phil Hayes

Some of us sat through the whole debate for the so called “gun club” because we wanted to see it passed. Others of us stayed for parts. Those who were there the whole time know the whole story.

First off, let’s go back to the late 1700s. These really brilliant men made a Constitution, and then some fool (Thomas Jefferson, one of my role models) made them tack on ten amendments, henceforth known as the Bill of Rights. Now, this wasn’t just for show. It wasn’t to create a philosophical discussion of these supposed rights. It was to create a set of rights for the people on which the government can not encroach. Now, SLU and the Jesuits aren’t the government, so they can limit whatever they want to. But they should have logic on their side to do so.

To say this group is too convoluted is asinine, and only indicates the hypocrisy of the opposition. Students for Life discusses and educates individuals on Pro-Life activities. They also support Pro-Life causes, such as their crisis pregnancy scholarship. College Republicans likewise educates people on their “conservative” political views, but they do not just educate, they try to get people elected. College Democrats likewise with “liberal” views. I could go on, but hopefully you got the point.

Now, to whether handguns are contrary to the Jesuit mission, I don’t profess to be a theologian. I know Jesuits who support handguns and I know Jesuits who are opposed.

I also know that there’s some people in St. Louis who could testify to the usefulness of handguns in self-defense. Like the 87 year old woman in 2006, who after having her home burglarized once, got a .38 revolver. When her home was burglarized again, and the burglar cut the telephone lines so she could not get police to respond, she shot him. Or in 2005, the convenience store clerk who shot at a robber who was pointing a gun at him. Again, with a handgun. Or in 2004, the Sunset Hills, MO man who answered his door early in the morning to someone wanting gasoline. Fortunately, the man had put a handgun in his belt first, because the person at his door barged in and used a stun gun on the homeowner. The homeowner fired back, killing the intruder. Would these uses of a handgun be against Catholicism? If so, I guess the church has failed to consider the handgun’s place in self defense.

Furthermore, some argued that handguns should only be issued to police and military officials. Aside from the potential police state that would create, there are other issues to consider. Any reasonably well informed individual on the Second Amendment has heard of the case Warren v. District of Columbia. The plaintiffs were suing the District for failure to provide police protection. The court held that the police and government employing them are not liable to victims of criminal acts if there was inadequate provision of police protection.

A comparison with the Rainbow Alliance potentially running contrary to the Jesuit mission was done by Sen. Ben Corrado and not the group, during the senate meeting.

I do know that the Catholic Church is against the following things: 1) Gay Marriage, 2) Abortion, 3) The War in Iraq, and 4) Capital Punishment. Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to walk by the Rainbow Alliance’s festivities at the clocktower. One of their signs read something to the effect of “I can’t get married in 49 states.” Runs contrary to Catholic teaching and the Jesuit Mission, yet they are still here. Let’s look at College Republicans: Support preemptive war and the War in Iraq, along with capital punishment. Both are contrary to Catholic teaching, yet they are still here. College Democrats likewise, support as a party and a group, pro-choice positions and candidates.

While a part of this group’s mission may run contrary to a statement from the USCCB, the whole of it does not.

What it comes down to is whether people believe guns are intrinsically violent, and if so that violence, no matter the justification, is intrinsically evil. If so, we have had at SLU a fencing club and we currently have a karate club. This indicates that we apparently do not find violence intrinsically evil, so even if guns were intrinsically violent, they should be okay by SGA, right?

Having a list of people who disagree with a political position seems like a smart move to me, it indicates who the opposition is. It would be like College Republicans not saying that Democrats were the opposition.

People do have a right to go to a range and fire a gun, that’s not exactly hidden from us, it’s pretty clear in the Second Amendment (and hopefully will be come clear even to those of us whose vision may not be 20/20 when the Supreme Court decides Heller v. District of Columbia, due in June). The question is whether this is safe.

Not only is this group “self regulating” but it will be subject to the restrictions of the multiple range officers on duty at any of the gun ranges it goes to shoot. This may mean that SGA has to trust not only the group’s Range Safety Officer, but also the individuals at the gun ranges who day in and day out have prevented accidental shootings.

To those who say that this group is a way for people to access firearms, realize that at many gun ranges, you can rent pistols, as I have before, and it would have the same effect. You’d also not have to deal with this group in the slightest to do so.

What it came down to was this: SGA senators were warped by the politics of fear, the same politics of fear that both sides in politics have used for years: whether it be the fear of Communism, the fear of Terrorism, or the fear that the government would not take measures to continue anti-poverty programs set up during the Roosevelt Administration and Johnson’s “Great Society,” it’s shameful. We should move away from the politics of fear to the politics of reality, and realize that everything we do involves risk, whether it be the Kayak Club or stepping into our cars and driving to work or school in the morning. The issue seems to be that because some people disagree with this group’s intent, they decided to vote against it.

I am reminded of the words of a liberal senator over two years ago when the College Republicans were coming up for spot funding for a Second Amendment Day (shooting handguns at a local shooting range). She gave a passionate speech about her perceived issues with guns, specifically handguns. Then she told the senate that they were not here to dictate whether they agreed with something politically, they were there to aid student organizations. She said that there were undoubtedly people who disagreed with some of the other groups on campus, but that was not reason to prevent those groups from existing and being active.

Some members of SGA overcame their personal distaste for firearms, and supported the group wholeheartedly, just as they would support any of SLU’s other groups. Those people are the kind of decent individuals we need in power (and who fortunately will be), because they seem to understand that they are not just here to represent some students, or even a majority of students, but to represent all SLU students.

Mr. Hayes, a native of Bloomington MN, is a senior at St. Louis University.

 

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Tags: St. Louis

0 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jim Byrne // Apr 29, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Excellent article!

    “Those people are the kind of decent individuals we need in power (and who fortunately will be), because they seem to understand that they are not just here to represent some students, or even a majority of students, but to represent all SLU students.”

    Hmmm. What a unique idea. Do you think we could get our elected representatives at the state and federal levels to catch on?

    Do you think our elected representatives will ever realize that they were elected to work in unison for the common good of ALL citizens in the state or country?

    Special interest groups get most of their loyalty, and those that voted for them get what is left. If you belong to neither of those groups -you are the enemy.

    I’m sure the founders would be proud.

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