Life First

‘I get sick to my stomach and then ask God’s forgiveness’

By Father Don Braukmann/Parochial Vicar - St. Philip’s, Bemidji and St. Charles, Pennington

Years ago I wrote I was a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). Needless to say, it created some interesting feedback! This time, there is no need to send letters of support or opposition, but if you are reading this I humbly ask for your consideration.

To be clear, I don’t own a gun ... never have. I don’t hunt ... never have. I believe the right to “bear arms” written into the law of this land continues to serve a vital role in what keeps America, America. In my opinion, it goes a long way to assure the government remains of, by and for the people.

I also must be clear that I do not believe in handing out guns (or any other weapons) like Knights of Columbus members hand out Tootsie Rolls outside Wal-Mart!

In the Bible, Cain killed Abel with a rock. The terrorist in Paris this week tried to kill a police officer with a hammer. I believe we have a heart problem more than a gun problem!

I believe much work must be done in the area of mental health and how to keep guns out of the hands of those suffering from mental illness. I wish I had the perfect answer on how to make that happen. I don’t. But I worry if the definition of “mental health” is left up to those with power it will be used as an excuse to ban gun ownership for most people.

Of course there should be a sensible and calm debate in this country over gun issues but the key words here are “sensible” and “calm.” For the most part, with the NRA on one side and the pro gun control folks on the other, all we have is a yelling contest. There is so little patience to listen, respect or find common ground. With most social conversations today, the group who shouts the loudest wins. So, logically, nothing gets solved, resentment grows and the desire for revenge takes root.

I believe the most fundamental and critical unit of our society is the family. With the pressure mounting on family life and all the social ills the family must struggle through, it is the collapse of the family which has led to the mess in which we find ourselves.

Why do we have gangs? Because our youth want to be somebody to somebody. Don’t we all?

A stable home life demands steady employment, opportunities for quality education and a sense of hope in the future. When a person is living in crushing poverty or in a home where brutality and addiction reign, is it any wonder rage and fear are unleashed through violence? Do you get that democrats and republicans? Family first!

An untended, wounded heart so easily creates more untended, wounded hearts.

One of the hardest things for me to get past when discussing the issue of gun violence and/or gun control policy is when I hear an anti-gun lecture from those who think it is okay to kill the child in the womb. There is no credibility, to me, in such a position. No credibility whatsoever.

When I walk up to the local Planned Parenthood office and see posted on the front door a sign which reads, “No guns allowed on the premises,” it sickens me. Guns are not needed to wipe out 4,000 children in the womb each day in this country. Yet, when there is outrage (as there should be) at the death of a child or children in a shooting rampage, removing guns is the target, the perceived solution to the problem. Guns are not the issue, broken hearts are!

When the Catholic House Minority Leader in Congress says she is “morally horrified” by one issue or another (especially when it comes to those opposing gun control) yet votes every chance she can to let the children die ... I cannot listen. If I do, I get sick to my stomach and then ask God’s forgiveness for the lack of charity in my mind and heart.

It is no surprise to anyone who has been reading my column over the past 25 years when I say there is no issue ... no issue ... more devastating to our world, our nation, our communities, our families, our marriages and, of course our children, than abortion. 4,000 a day in the United States of America. Guns, on their own, have killed no one.