federico-lombardiYou don't have to wait very long for reactionists to raise their heads. This article at Crisis Magazine shows how quickly it's happening with respect to Fr. Federico Lombardi's comments last week concerning gun violence and "disarmament," sparked by the Obama administration's recent executive action proposals.

The author, Nicholas G. Hahn III, employs Lombardi's comments as a launchpad for rebutting American bishops who've "been calling for the 'elimination' of handguns as early as 1990."

In his weekly editorial, Fr. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Press Office of the Holy See, endorsed President Barack Obama’s 23 executive orders “limiting and controlling the diffusion and use of arms” as “a step in the right direction.” But does Lombardi know what the executive orders actually say? The President can’t do much without Congressional approval, and so the language of the President’s orders is really non-active: “address,” “propose,” and “review.” No teeth here.

Lombardi effectively becomes a signatory to the ecumenical letter [demanding such types of action], declaring, “I’m with them.”

But is he? Lombardi doesn’t stop at background checks or executive memoranda. He wants to confiscate your guns, too. After mentioning that guns can be “instruments for legitimate defense,” he echoes demands for “disarmament, to oppose the production, trade, and smuggling of arms of all types, fueled by dishonorable interests for power or financial gain.”

In Lombardi’s gun-free paradise, only the criminals would be armed. The criminals will arm themselves in spite of the law. Disarmament leaves the innocent defenseless against gun-toting crazies.

It's obvious that Hahn's concern lies exclusively with leveraging a recent event to advance conservative talking points on gun access. In fact, those points might well be worthwhile. But they aren't defensible—or even advisable—on the tired grounds that Hahn constructs: namely, that gun rights are somehow de facto universal and absolute.

As I mentioned on Saturday, it's only natural that Lombardi's comments should incite reactions by those on either end of the gun spectrum to an opposite extreme—in this case, blowing off a papal spokesman as delusional and anti-American. This sort of thing always happens. But if Lombardi is as dumb as he's portrayed, it's certainly not because he disagrees with American conservatives on a topic of great prudential magnitude.

If Hahn wants to defend his stance on gun access, that's quite fine. But to prop it up with the strawmen of pastoral perspectives gone supposedly mad is a cheap tactic. Not only does it weaken Hahn's own credibility, but it speaks volumes about his, and many others', reduction of all goods—including the common good—to a short-sighted and highly politicized notion of self-preservation. This might not be contrary to the Gospel message, but it's surely not the whole picture.

Hahn signs off with an adolescent injunction: "Know your role, Bishops."

Likely they do, better than you.

Andrew M. Haines is the editor and founder of Ethika Politika, and co-founder and chief operating officer at Fiat Insight.