Bad Sports A church turns down $10,000 from sportsmen.
By John R. Lott Jr.
When should a modest local church turn down $10,000 a year for sports
activities that help keep children off the streets and out of gangs?
Apparently, that will happen this coming Saturday when the money is
raised by the Catholic Sportsmen's Organization by raffling off a
John Aquilino wanted to do something to replace the tattered uniforms
of the Hyattsville, Maryland Catholic Youth Organization sports teams.
New basketball uniforms hadn't been purchased for nine years. The
blue-collar area also had numerous other pressing problems: The convent
roof was leaking, the parochial school was recently fined $4,000 for
faulty fire doors, and the school's carpet was decrepit. Unfortunately,
ordinary raffles for things like the sports teams were only raising
about a couple hundred dollars.
Yet, with St. Jerome's Catholic Church located only a ten-minute or so
trip from the Prince George's County Trap and Skeet Center, Aquilino
hit upon the idea of shooting contests and a gun raffle each year on
the Saturday before Father's Day. It has been a roaring success,
raising thousands of dollars just its first year. New uniforms were
purchased and money was provided for new carpeting at the school.
Opponents of the raffle and skeet shoot sprang up as soon as the idea
was discussed. Aquilino offered opponents a challenge to see whether
their approaches would raise as much money. One woman answered the
challenge and set up bingo contests (and in the spirit of friendly
competition, the "gun nuts" helped her out a lot a long the way).
Starting three years ago, right when the Catholic Sportsmen's
Organization started, she has raised about a quarter of the money
raised by the sportsmen. But this was a contest where everyone won. As
Aquilino said, "I think that it is great, that is $8,000 [raised by the
bingo games] the kids didn't have."
To Peggy Alexander, a former member of the church, "it's a moral issue.
It's about putting more guns out on the street. It's against the
life-affirming doctrine of that the Catholic Church preaches." So far
the winners of the raffle during the first three years hardly fit that
dangerous image: a choir master at a neighboring parish, a 70-year-old
mother of one of the people who helps out at the church, and the
general counsel for NASA.
Surely no one wants criminals to get guns. But few criminals
participate in church fundraisers or pass background checks and the
evidence is that with over two million defensive guns uses each year,
guns are used at least four times more frequently to stop crime than
they are used to commit crime. The most vulnerable in our society,
those are weaker physically such as women and the elderly as well as
poor people (particularly blacks) who are most likely the victims of
violent crime, benefit the most from owning guns. Police are extremely
important in stopping (my own research indicates that they are the
single most important factor), but they understand that they can't be
everywhere all the time and that they almost always arrive on the scene
after the crime has been committed. The Catholic Church clearly
recognizes the right of self defense, and telling people to behave
passively also turns out not to be very safe advice.
Unfortunately, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, the archbishop of
Washington, has tried to stop the raffles and skeet shoots. The
cardinal decided that the sportsmen's group could only raise money for
the church as long as it was not "related in any way to the use or sale
This hasn't satisfied opponents, who worry that some of the "tainted
money" could still find its way into church coffers. They also complain
that the "Sportsmen's group members wear t-shirts with gun images to
The media hasn't missed the chance to paint gun owners as uncaring
cavemen. The Washington Post paints the disagreement as being between
"some people [who] cannot get beyond their fascination with guns and
some people [who] actually believe the words of their faith's
commandments." That good intentions might be on both sides never seems
to have crossed liberal minds.
John Lott, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute ,
is the author of the newly released book, The Bias Against Guns .
Updated Media Analysis of Appalachian Law School Attack
Since the first news search was done additional news stories have been
added to Nexis:
There are thus now 218 unique stories, and a total of 294 stories counting
duplicates (the stories in yellow were duplicates): Excel file for
general overview and specific stories. Explicit mentions of defensive gun use
increase from 2 to 3 now.