Truth

"In Jesus Christ, the whole of God's truth
 has been made manifest." CCC2466.
Truth

What does the Catholic Church teach about armed self-defense?

Summary of the 3 Sources of Catholic Truth:
  • Armed Self-Defense is a Human Right
    Catholics and all humans have a right to protection. This right is based on the inherent dignity of each person, that each human is a gift from God, and the protection that each human life deserves. If done by a prudent person for protection, defensive actions are acceptable.

  • Morality of Gun-Ownership
    It is not a sin to own a gun. A gun is a tool; a mechanical device. Firearms have a plethora of legitimate uses, from hunting, to recreation, to self-defense, to protection from wild animals and predators, to overcoming tyranny. As a physical object, a firearm has no negative moral value. Firearms must be kept secure from unauthorized users.

  • Duty to Defend
    Those responsible for the common good have a right to own and use weapons in defense of the innocent. That category includes soldiers and police and must also include 'security guards'. In cases where public authorities cannot be expected to provide adequate protection to preserve each and every human life, the individual right to armed self-defense must be respected by law and society. For example, if a person might become a victim of murder, and the police cannot be expected to protect the victim, the victim must be allowed to provide her/his own defense. This includes those responsible for minors, like parents. Otherwise, rights exist that individuals cannot exercise and duties exist which cannot be carried out effectively. This is especially true in locations where violent criminal misuse of guns is wide-spread.

  • Morality of Armed Self-Defense
    There is nothing inherently wrong with using a weapon for protection. This right is in no way dependent on the type of weapon used. The factors determining whether the use of a weapon is proper are based on the intent of the person who uses the weapon and whether the force used was necessary. The form of the weapon is incidental.

  • Catechetics of Armed Self-Defense
    The Church's position affirming the right of self-defense has been promulgated in every catechism she has produced. The justified use of deadly force has been affirmed in every Catechism that has taken up the issue. She has said nothing directly about specific guns because the specific means used are not relevant. What is relevant is that the force used was appropriate to the situation.

  • Gun control
    Government regulations of firearms which restrict access to firearms for individuals that have already committed violence against the innocent, is allowed and encouraged. For example, laws stating that convicted violent felons are not allowed to own firearms. Also, no guns for the criminally insane, and minors being barred from unrestricted access to guns, etc. Any laws that inhibit an innocent individual's right to effectively defend oneself is suspect, and should be carefully considered in the light of the natural right of self-preservation.

  • Decisions on Individual Gun Ownership
    As to whether an individual Christian should arm themselves or their loved ones, this is a prudential judgment of each individual. Prudential judgment is the application of the virtue of Prudence to some given situation in making a judgment as to the virtuous course of action.

  • Government-Mandated Possession of Guns
    The Catholic Church does not require that everyone be armed. Some countries require military service and weapons training for many or all capable adult citizens. Switzerland is one such country. Some countries have laws like this, and the Church has not taught against governments that implement such requirements.

For Details and Quotes on the Church's teaching about armed self-defense, explore the parts of the Deposit of Faith that relate to armed self-defense using the links below.