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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

The Ethics of Guns

The U.S. Flag and Constitution, semi-automatic guns, a shooter with AR-15, and a human hand held in the air to block or stop the action.

The U.S. Flag and Constitution, semi-automatic guns, a shooter with AR-15, and a human hand held in the air to block or stop the action.

The U.S. Flag and Constitution, semi-automatic guns, a shooter with AR-15, and a human hand held in the air to block or stop the action.

The gun debate has again reached a fever pitch in the shadow of several horrific mass shootings. Ethics Center staff and faculty interrogate the moral and ethical issues associated with gun use and regulation.

(The U.S. Senate may be on the brink of a bipartisan agreement on new laws and federal funding to address gun safety, school facilities, and mental health issues. This Spotlight will be updated as details of the proposed legislation becomes more clear.)

 

Perspectives 

A Moral Duty to Act on Gun Safety by John Pelissero (@1pel), political scientist and senior scholar for government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

Adoption of public policy on responsible, common sense gun safety is not only overdue, its absence from bipartisan agreements has become morally untenable. 

Is There an Ethical Gun? by Don Heider (@donheider), executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

There is no ethical justification for owning automatic or semi-automatic guns by normal citizens.

The Ethical Crisis of our Gun Violence Crisis by Thomas Plante PhD, ABPP (@ThomasPlante) Augustin Cardinal Bea, SJ professor of psychology at Santa Clara University, faculty scholar with the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and adjunct clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Our current political system is hopelessly corrupt in that basic ethical principles, such as working for the common good rather than one’s own self-interests of power and money while ignoring conflicts of interest, prevent elected leaders from supporting and incorporating policies and laws to minimize gun violence.

Don’t Just “Do Something.” Don’t Make Things Worse. by Irina Raicu (@iEthics), director of internet ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

While some tech tools might indeed be helpful, they should be considered in conjunction with, not as replacement for, regulations that address the role of guns.

Ameriguns by Pratheepan GulasekaramSanta Clara University Law Professor, and Ethics Center faculty scholar who has written scholarly papers on various aspects of the subject on why the gun regulation is such a contentious topic for Americans.

Mass shootings underscore gun rights dilemma: whose personal safety is more important?

Time to Re-Think a Bad Slogan by David E. DeCosse (@DavidDeCosse), director of religious & catholic ethics and campus ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

Guns don't kill people; people kill people; but guns can habituate people to killing, and that is clearly what is happening in our culture now. 

Please Don’t Send Teddy Bears to Uvalde by Joan Harrington (@SocSectorEthics), director of social sector ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

People who can afford to make a donation in response to a crisis such as the slaughter of children and teachers in Uvalde, should think about which organizations are best situated to make change and then give as generously as possible—they need to practice ethical giving.

Thoughts and Prayers by William O'Neill, S.J., Ph.D., professor emeritus of social ethics at the Jesuit School of Theology and a faculty scholar with the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

What exactly does it mean to offer “thoughts and prayers” to those affected by mass shootings?

The Right of State Governments to Defy the Supreme Court by David L Sloss (@DavidSloss6), the John A. and Elizabeth H. Sutro Professor of Law at the Santa Clara University School of Law and a faculty scholar with the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen interferes with the states’ right to create new constitutional limits to enforce sensible gun control regulations.

 

Additional Resources

Ethics Spotlight: The Ethical Implications of Mass Shootings

2019 collection of essays by Ethics Center staff and scholars analyzing some of the many related ethical dilemmas of mass shootings.

Reflections on School Shootings

Power of our Voices: Guns, Parkland High School, and the Challenge of Civil Discourse

Student essays about the Parkland shooting and student protests.

Protest, Money, Change

Parkland Students Are Showing the Way

Showing Up: Why our Bodies Matter in Protest

 
Jun 14, 2022

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