Nothing to Celebrate

Guns & the Culture of Death

At the end of a busy week—one that included both Ash Wednesday and the pope’s surprise resignation—New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan took the time to write a blog post about gun control. Yes, he’s for it: “I found myself nodding in agreement” with President Barack Obama’s push for gun restrictions, Dolan wrote, quoting from that Tuesday’s State of the Union address. He added that he also supported the gun-control measures signed into law in January by New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo. But what I liked best was his reason why.

“For me,” Dolan wrote, “regulating and controlling guns is part of building a culture of life, of doing what we can to protect and defend human life. The easy access to guns, including assault weapons, that exists in our nation has contributed towards a culture of death, where human life and dignity are cheapened by the threat of violence.” 

Until I read that, I hadn’t seen the phrases “culture of life” and “culture of death” enter the debate over gun control, not even in those venues where they tend to pop up often in other contexts. Why should it have taken so long? Why the reluctance among conservative opponents of gun control to criticize America’s gun culture, with its vocal enthusiasm for weapons designed specifically to kill people as efficiently as possible? Anyone...

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About the Author

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is Commonweal's associate editor at large. She blogs at dotCommonweal.