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David Gaul
Shelby County Democratic Party Co-Chair

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David Gaul
Donna Clothier
Kathleen Cue


Well, another gun show has come and gone.  The fourth annual Westphalia, Iowa, gun show was held recently, and I managed to miss it for the fourth year in a row.  Our county has two gun shows a year, but this one in Westphalia--a small town near where I live--is particularly troubling because of where it was held.  Once again, this gun show in Westphalia was held in the St. Boniface Parish Center.

St. Boniface in Westphalia is the oldest Catholic parish in Shelby County.  It's a parish filled with good and decent people.  Now, to be fair, the gun show wasn't sponsored by the parish.  It was held as a fundraiser for the local, volunteer fire department.  The parish center is the largest venue in town, and so the fire department rented it for the gun show.  It has done so each of the four years the show has been held.

Still, there's something unseemly about a Catholic facility, just a stone's throw from the actual church building, being used for a gun show.  It seems to go against virtually every tenet espoused by the Gospels.  Is not Jesus the ultimate figure of non-violence in human history?  When Jesus drove the merchants from the temple, do you suppose he would have passed by the sword merchants if they had had a stall in the temple? 

The timing of this show was also wildly inappropriate, coming in the same week when the country had to experience yet another mass shooting event at the Navy Yards in Washington DC.  It also was the week when Pope Francis astounded the world with his call for more tolerance in the world, telling conservative Catholics everywhere that they should spend less time hammering people with conservative social doctrine and more time adapting to a changing social culture.

But the show must go on, right?  People have to have their guns, right?  What's strange, however, is that the town of Westphalia, established in 1872, never had a need for a gun show until 2010.  What happened in 2010?  Oh yeah.  Obamacare.  Tyranny.  Tea party.  And all that nonsense.  Another parish facility in Westphalia also has on proud display a poster of President Obama with a gun target over him.  Such class.

I wonder what would happen if, as co-chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party, I would attempt to rent the St. Boniface Parish Center for a political, Democratic Party fundraiser.  I suspect there would be a hue and a cry from many of the parish's dedicated pro-life advocates.  They would be outraged.  There would be phone calls.  There would be intense protestations, and I would probably have to cancel my plans and find another place. 

But guns?  That's different.  No problem.  Not a peep.  Have at it.  It's a fundraiser for the fire department, after all.  Good cause.  You never know when you may need the fire department.  Still, whatever happened to pancake breakfasts and chicken suppers?  Most volunteer fire departments seem to make do with these more traditional fundraisers.  Why does Westphalia need a gun show?

You can say what you want about guns, but they have only one purpose.  They're meant to inflict damage on something.  When a chemical explosion sends a bullet flying through the air, it will damage anything it hits, be it a paper gun target, a bottle on a fence post, a bird flying through the air or a person standing at street corner or a kid reading at his desk.   Guns are violent.  They cause damage, and damage equates to violence.

The Catholic Church is not supposed to be about violence.   The days of the Crusades are long behind us.  No facility within its vast environs should ever be used as a venue for a gun show.  Why does something that seems so obvious prove not to be the case in tiny, Westphalia, Iowa?  Could it be that what President Obama said back on the campaign trail back in April of 2008 was right and spot on?  Cling to that as you...

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