A Note on Pro-Life Principle and Civil Conversation in Light of the "March for Our Lives"

My friend Christopher Altieri has written a characteristically thoughtful piece on Saturday's demonstrations. It is fundamentally a plea for the patient and humbling and forbearing work of democratic deliberation.

Yes, to be "pro-life" means feeling within oneself the general Christian tendency to withdraw from killing. The regulation of gun ownership ought to reflect that. Absolutely. But the demonization of those who disagree with certain policy options is never right or good. It is the case that being pro-life means feeling the urgency of the restoration of the right to life of each innocent human being in law. If one does not recognize that principle, the most rudimentary of the principles of liberal republicanism (the equality of each human life), it makes no sense to pursue, as we ought to pursue, the pro-life logic into the muddier waters of how exactly to regulate guns under the Second Amendment. Prudence can only ever start from principle. If those who seek tighter regulation, as I certainly do, do not get the logic straight (including the distinction between principle and prudential option), given that this is a democracy in which the way to change things is precisely through the force of argument (and, indeed, not through brute force), then all the demonstrations in the world will be ineffective in achieving the important goal of stricter gun control.

And the pragmatics of success aside, everyone of us should seek to win our cause in a way most congruent with fostering social harmony no matter the outcome of the contest over the question (think of this as analogous to ius in bello). We must find a way to live together in any case. And the Christian always strains towards something more: universal reconciliation. Always. No exceptions.