Aug. 1, 2000
Considering the fact that the Episcopal Church in America has lost hundreds
of thousands of members during the past two decades, you'd think that these
folks would be doing everything possible to protect and preserve this endangered
species of Christians.
Thus, specifically, you would think that, maybe, this Church would
enthusiastically endorse the right of self-defense, specifically the right of
private individuals -- in this case Episcopalians -- to own firearms for
self-defense. But, if this is what you think, you would be sadly mistaken.
Meeting recently in their 73rd General Convention in Chicago, Episcopalians
passed a resolution that calls upon all members "to work intentionally in
their several communities, legislatures and institutions toward the removal of
handguns and assault weapons from our homes, other residential communities and
But, why? Since there are many law-abiding Americans who use guns in
self-defense every year (many, many more than there are Episcopalians), why seek
to deny these persons the capability to use guns to defend themselves, their
families, friends and/or property?
In an attempt to get an answer to this question and others, we spoke with
Helen Moore, Interim Dean of the Cathedral Of St. James, the Episcopal Church in
which this anti-gun, anti-self defense resolution originated. We also spoke with
Duncan Moore, a member of Interim Dean Moore's church who served on the Peace
And Social Justice Commission which drafted this resolution. First, Interim Dean
Q: About a dozen studies and polls show that as many as three million
Americans annually use guns in self-defense, including handguns. So, why do you
want this protection removed which is what would happen if your resolution was
A: Well, we're asking people to prayerfully consider this.
Q: But, why? Why, since so many Americans use guns for self-defense and to
defend others and property?
A: Because of so many statistics -- that I don't have with me -- about how
many teen suicides come from homes where guns are available, and much more
Q: But, the studies and polls I just mentioned show that hundreds of
thousands more Americans use guns in self-defense in every year than use guns to
commit suicide and/or commit domestic violence.
A: I think probably that we don't see it that way.
Q: But, have you looked at the studies/polls on guns and self-defense?
A: Yes, we looked at all of that and we still felt that [our resolution] was
very important as an expression of our Christian faith and Christian witness to
ask people to think about the presence of firearms.
Q: Well, but your resolution actually calls on people to remove certain guns
from their homes and elsewhere.
A: Right. Right.... What we were looking at as far as the data is concerned
was how the presence and ready availability of firearms in the home showed a
considerable increase in teen suicides and domestic violence. We want people to
think about that.
Q: But, again, even if what you say here is true, the data show that there
are hundreds of thousands more good uses of guns, in self-defense, annually,
than there are bad uses of guns.
A: Well, I think we didn't, necessarily, see that -- that the good uses
outweigh the bad.
Q: A lot more kids die in the home by falling, from poisoning, suffocating,
and drowning in water buckets, than die from guns every year. So, why single out
only guns in your resolution?
A: I think, part of it is -- you know, there's no perfect answer to any of
this. And I don't think we were trying to achieve anything like that....
Q: You don't see anything un-Christian about self-defense do you?
A: No, I don't. But as Christians we are supposed to work against violence by
Q: Should all handguns be banned?
A: Not necessarily.
Next we spoke to Duncan Moore, a man Interim Dean Moore said could probably
give us "some more helpful information."
Q: Why remove guns from the home when a dozen studies and polls show that as
many as three million Americans annually use guns in self-defense, including
A: Well, I haven't seen those studies. The studies I've seen... show that the
presence of a gun in the home vastly increases the likelihood that a member of
the household will be injured by that gun.
Q: So, you're unaware of the self-defense data I just mentioned?
A: I know that many people make this argument. But, I don't subscribe....
Q: I'm not talking about arguments. I'm talking about studies and polls. In
fact, a Gallup Poll in May of this year showed that 14.3 million adult Americans
say they have used a gun in self defense. Are you aware of any of this data?
A: I'm aware that some people allege that such studies exist.
Q: So, have you checked out these allegations to see if they are true?
A: No, I've been reading the medical literature which is fairly
straightforward on the risks involved in keeping a gun in the household.
Q: But, I'm talking about self-defense! I'm talking about the risk posed to
criminals by armed homeowners who have guns to protect themselves, family and
property. Do you care about this?
A: No, I don't believe that's true. It's a bogus argument. I subscribe to the
argument that guns are not Christian. That is the crux of my argument.
Q: And where in Scripture do you see support for your view?
A: Jesus doesn't talk about self-defense. Jesus talks about caring for other
people. And if we care deeply for other people, we should remove the weapons
that cause other people harm.
Q: But, wouldn't caring for other people include protecting yourself, family
and friends by, when necessary, using guns against criminals in your home?
At this point, Moore says this conversation is not being conducted
"properly" because he is being "proselytized." He hangs up
Well, now. In a way that Interim Dean Moore certainly did not intend, Duncan
Moore has, indeed, given us "some more helpful information." And what
he has helped us to see is that he could not care less about "caring for
other people" because he does not care about the right of self-defense with
Moore also helps us to see that he is truly a know-nothing ignoramus by
charging, falsely, that it is not true that millions of us, every year, defend
ourselves with guns, as a huge body of data proves. And this is why Moore and
every Episcopalian who voted for his wretched resolution are our
"Anti-Gun-Nuts" this month.
Larry Pratt is Executive Director of Gun Owners of America located at 8001
Forbes Place, Springfield, VA 22151 and at