Does Religious Calling Mean you Should not Carry a Firearm?
Recently, in the city of Phoenix, Arizona, two priests were attacked in their church rectory near the downtown portion of the city. The court records show that the suspect, who has since been apprehended, entered the church and began assaulting one of the priests who came to investigate a noise. The suspect beat the priest with an angle iron until the priest was unconsciousness. Upon seeing what was happening the second priest retrieved his handgun from his room but was not able to shoot the suspect due to an injury. The suspect fought with the priest for his gun, managed to get control of the firearm, and then fatally shot the priest and left in the priest’s vehicle. The suspect had only recently been released from prison and had missed his meeting with his parole officer that day which lead to his arrest.
The church commented on the matter saying that it was a tragic event that occurred and they were glad that the suspect had been apprehended. Additionally, they commented that there was no rule within the church preventing their priests from having a firearm on the premises and that they had exercised their legal right to own and carry in the State of Arizona. Surprisingly, though this statement by the church sparked off a local debate of whether or not priests should be allowed to have a firearm. Priests are a shepherd to their flock doesn’t that also mean protecting them?
In a recent interview with an army chaplain who served overseas during times of military activity he was asked if he was ever able concerned for his safety and if he was armed while he served. The chaplain responded that he was armed and displayed a rosary that he carried with him. While this may be one clergy’s choice it was obviously not the choice of the priests involved in the attack who choose to arm themselves since they worked in a dangerous part of the city. Joining the priesthood or other religious callings does not remove a person’s rights to own or bear arms and just like every other person they have the choice whether or not to carry a firearm.
It’s unfortunate that this tragedy occurred but even more tragic that the focus was on whether a priest should have a firearm rather than how a recently released convict immediately returned to a life of crime. With the number of attacks that occur in both schools and religious institutions it would seem more religious figureheads would choose to arm themselves in the event of an attack. Hopefully, this debate will not deter other priests from choosing to legally carry and be able to defend themselves from attack.