Gun Enthusiast Says
Catholic Leaders Aren't Following Bible
By Robert B. Bluey
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
February 28, 2003
(CNSNews.com) - Gun owner and devout Catholic
John Michael Snyder has published a new book, "Gun Saint,"
which he hopes will inspire the Roman Catholic Church to recognize
St. Gabriel Possenti as the patron of handgunners.
Snyder, a gun lobbyist and founder of the
St. Gabriel Possenti Society, has been asking the church to
make the designation for 15 years. He used Possenti's annual
feast, held Thursday, to assail some Catholic bishops for
choosing "political correctness" over their faith.
Instead of following the Bible's teachings
on self-defense, Snyder said, some Catholic leaders would
rather take a pacifist approach.
"A lot of the Catholic bishops in the
United States are out of line on this issue," Snyder
said. "They are pacifists up the wazoo. They don't really
understand their own faith. They don't understand the religion
of which they are officials."
Snyder acknowledged the divisiveness of
the issue. By making Possenti a patron saint, the church would
recognize him as a guardian over an area of life, just like
Thomas More is the patron saint of politicians, Barbara is
the patron saint of artillery gunners and Fiacre is the patron
saint of venereal disease.
Snyder's efforts received international
attention in 1989, but also created a barrage of criticism.
Speaking in Washington, D.C., Thursday, he said he would remain
undaunted by the challenge.
"I'm going to keep plugging,"
he said. "There should be a patron of handgunners and
I think it ought to be St. Gabriel Possenti."
In his book, Snyder recounts the story of
Possenti, a young Italian seminarian, who came to the rescue
of a woman who was about to be raped by two men belonging
to a band of terrorists. It was 1860 in Italy and the country
was faced with strife resulting from fighting over the Papal
Possenti, a known outdoorsman, approached
the troopers pillaging his village and seized their guns,
Snyder said. Possenti fired a shot from the .36 caliber cap-and-ball
revolver that hit a lizard crossing the street, scaring away
the renegades, Snyder added.
At the time, Possenti was studying to become
a Roman Catholic priest. The church later recognized him as
a saint. But since Snyder took up the cause to make Possenti
the patron saint of handgunners, there has been stiff resistance.
Some church leaders have outright denied
that the shooting incident involving Possenti ever occurred,
while others have dismissed Snyder's idea. A spokeswoman for
the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops did not return a request
Erich Pratt, spokesman for Gun Owners of
America, called Snyder's idea "refreshing."
"Ironically, if St. Gabriel had done
this today in Brooklyn, he would have been arrested,"
Pratt said. "People who have defended themselves and
family members with a firearm are being prosecuted, not for
unlawful use of force, but for simply owning an unregistered
Even if the designation does not come during
Snyder's lifetime, he said he was encouraged by some young
priests who agreed with him on the church's teachings of self-defense.
"Jesus said at the Last Supper, 'The
one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one,' "
Snyder said. "You always have the right to defend yourself,
and if you are protecting someone else, you have an obligation
to defend them."