Last Tuesday, Bishop Mark Brennen of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston issued a statement calling for more action on gun violence. (The Wheeling Intelligencer carried it here.) From that statement:
“We have put our heads in the sand so that we don’t have to face the truth: the proliferation of guns is a strong contributing factor to the surge of violence in our communities,” he said. “We can speak all day about the right to own a gun, but rights must be balanced with responsibilities. We have a duty not only to defend individual rights but also to promote the common good. The pendulum has swung too far to the side of individual rights. It is time to take effective steps to curb the plague of gun violence.”
Republican Delegate Pat McGeehan from Hancock County was quick to respond. McGeehan called Bishop Brennen a “cafeteria Catholic” on Twitter and made additional comments to WV Metro News:
Delegate Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock, and a member of the diocese, did not agree with the bishop’s statement. He told MetroNews the letter looks like it was ‘written for children’ with ‘simpleton language.’
“His letter is radical, left-wing political ideology, sprinkled with religious language,” McGeehan said.
In the process, McGeehan misquoted the bishop:
“The bishop openly writes in his letter that pious words have lost all credibility. Please tell me he didn’t really mean that. Does the bishop no longer believe in the sacred value of prayer,” McGeehan asked.
No, the bishop did not say that. What Brennen wrote was clearly tied to mass shootings:
Pious words lamenting mass shootings have lost all credibility. Action is needed.
(My hunch is that the bishop was referencing the now-cliched “thoughts and prayers” response that we frequently hear after mass shootings.)
Patrick McGeehan has picked a fight with Bishop Mark Brennen. Is McGeehan running for something? He certainly looks like it.
Pat McGeehan’s copy of the Constitution is apparently missing some amendments
McGeehan has long called himself a constitutional conservative: a person who strictly adheres to the letter of the country’s founding document. In practice, however, it would appear that his self-designation is applied quite selectively. For instance, here is constitutional conservative McGeehan on the Second Amendment:
I will never vote for any legislation that infringes on an individual's right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment must be kept sacred and protected at all levels.
On the other hand, McGeehan has no problem with a law that would criminalize the speech of someone exercising their First Amendment rights to speak or write about abortion rights. Two months ago, the West Virginia legislature passed abortion legislation. As Mountain State Spotlight wrote at the time:
After the abortion ban passed the House, a resolution — effectively, a statement without the power of law — was introduced by Del. Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock:
The resolution said that the abortion ban was just the beginning, even saying that the law should “designate as criminal” pro-abortion “propagandists.”
McGeehan wants to criminalize speech: so much for defending the First Amendment and the Constitution. He fits right in, however, in West Virginia's Trump Party.