Sunday, on Twitter, Pope Francis called for a ban on all weapons around the world. His premise was simple: the mere presence of weapons makes us constantly live in fear of war. So banning all weapons will lead to the peace the world has rarely known. In his own words: “Do we really want peace? Then let’s ban all weapons so we don’t have to live in fear of war.”
This sounds good. In a perfect world, it would work. But in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need to ban weapons. So while his words are surely well-intended, the Pope’s call for a universal weapons ban won’t work. His plan has several obvious flaws.
1. A weapons ban is a naive assertion.
Timothy Meads, writing for Townhall, says, “Other popes have acknowledged that weapons do indeed create a certain environment of fear. Church leaders have called for bans on certain types of weapons. But this suggestion is naive for several reasons.” Indeed, a call for disarmament assumes the most ruthless among society will simply comply and lay down their weapons. It will never happen. And even if the idea worked for 99 percent of the weaponized world, it would prove disastrous, as the other one percent would literally take over the planet.
2. A weapons ban contradicts Catholic tradition.
Pope John Paul II wrote that while a weapons ban would be good in theory, it neglects the condition of the human heart. He spoke of the “struggle at the level of the consciences of peoples to take their responsibility, in regard to the ethical cause of the insecurity that breeds violence.” The Church’s Catechism recognizes that self-defense is sometimes needed. It speaks of “the strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force.” So the pope’s plan stands in contradiction to his own Church.
3. A weapons ban is unenforceable.
On a micro level, we see this all the time. Time after time, thugs ignore gun laws while killing dozens of innocent lives. Weapons bans are simply unenforceable. How exactly would an international weapons ban be enforced? Would the United Nations oversee the destruction of all weapons with weapons of their own? And if so, who destroys their weapons? And who goes first? Can you imagine a scenario in which the Russians, for example, would agree to the removal of all of their nuclear warheads before the U.S. did the same – or vice versa?
Pope Francis is to be commended for his idealism. And a world-wide weapons ban would be a really good idea – except for one thing. It would never work.