The chair of the US Bishops’ Conference on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, has called for national leaders “to engage in a true debate about solutions to gun violence.”
His call comes in the wake of the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, that left 26 people dead, including an unborn child. The shooter himself was shot by local residents, and died from self-inflicted gunshot.
In his statement, Bishop Dewane notes that the US Bishops have “for many years . . . been urging our leaders to explore and adopt reasonable policies to help curb gun violence.” He pointed not only to the shooting in Texas, but also to an attack in October in Las Vegas, where a lone gunman killed 58 people and wounded almost 600 more.
“Violence in our society will not be solved by a single piece of legislation, and many factors contribute to what we see going on all around us,” Bishop Dewane said. “Even so, our leaders must engage in a real debate about needed measures to save lives and make our communities safer.”
Specifically, he said the US Bishops support a total ban on assault weapons, referencing a ban that had been in effect in the United States from 1994 to 2004. In addition, he said, the Bishops also supported:
* Measures that control the sale and use of firearms, such as universal background checks for all gun purchases;
* Limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines;
* A federal law to criminalize gun trafficking;
* Improved access to mental health care for those who may be prone to violence;
* Regulations and limitations on the purchasing of handguns;
* Measures that make guns safer, such as locks that prevent children and anyone other than the owner from using the gun without permission and supervision.
In his statement, Bishop Dewane acknowledged the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, which guarantees “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms.” However, he said, in the modern world “some weapons are increasingly capable of easily causing mass murder when used with an evil purpose.” Society, he said, “must recognize that the common good requires reasonable steps to limit access to such firearms by those who would intend to use them in that way.”
You can read the full text of Bishop Frank Dewane’s statement at the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).