SF Archbishop one of four bishop chairmen calling for Congressional action to address gun violence

‘We must unite in our humanity to stop the massacres of innocent lives.’

WASHINGTON — After multiple mass shootings in recent weeks, four bishop chairmen joined in a letter to Congress expressing their grief over these incomprehensible tragedies and calling for specific legislation to control the sale of fire arms. Their letter calls on members of Congress to, “unite in our humanity to stop the massacres of innocent lives.”   

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop Thomas A. Daly of Spokane, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, wrote: 

“Last week, an eighteen-year-old carrying an AR-15 entered an elementary school and murdered nineteen children and two teachers. Fourth graders looking forward to their final week of classes, some of whom celebrated their place on the honor roll mere hours before, were brutally and senselessly massacred. This incomprehensible tragedy at Uvalde, Texas, comes as we are still grieving the loss of innocent lives in Buffalo, Dallas, Laguna Woods, and now Tulsa. These tragedies can only bring us to one conclusion: we must unite in our humanity to stop the massacres of innocent lives.”

The bishops specifically encouraged Congress “to make two incremental, but meaningful, improvements in the firearm background check process by voting in favor of the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 (H.R. 8) and the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021 (H.R. 1446).” They also advocated for extreme risk protection orders and said they support the passage of the Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2021 (H.R. 2377).

The bishops also support a total ban on assault weapons and limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines, measures that control the sale and use of firearms, such as universal background checks for all gun purchases. They asked Congress to pass a federal law to criminalize gun trafficking and support recent proposals to set a more appropriate minimum age for
gun ownership, and to ban ’bump stocks.’ Bump stocks convert a regular rifle to a fully automatic firearm.

“We urge all members of Congress to reflect on the compassion all of you undoubtedly feel in light of these tragic events and be moved to action because of it. There is something deeply wrong with a culture where these acts of violence are increasingly common. There must be dialogue followed by concrete action to bring about a broader social renewal that addresses all aspects of the crisis, including mental health, the state of families, the valuation of life, the influence of entertainment and gaming industries, bullying, and the availability of firearms. Among the many steps toward addressing this endemic of violence is the passage of reasonable gun control measures. In this, we implore you to join the Holy Father who, in his continued expression of grief over the tragedy in Texas, declared, ‘It is time to say ‘no more’ to the indiscriminate trafficking of weapons.’” 

A copy of the bishops’ letter to Congress can be found here.

From the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops public affairs office.

(Photo of Sacred Heart Church pastor  Rev. Eduardo Morales in front of memorials of those who died in Uvalde, Texas school massacre from church Facebook page.)