Domestic Justice and Education Chairmen Urge Concrete Actions to Address Scourge of Gun Violence

March 5, 2018 By Public Affairs Office

WASHINGTON—Inthe aftermath of the tragic attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School inParkland, Florida, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of theUSCCB's Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop GeorgeV. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, Ohio, Chairman of the Committee on CatholicEducation, urged national leaders to finally come together and address thecrisis of gun violence in a comprehensive way.

Thefull statement follows:

"Onceagain, we are confronted with grave evil, the murder of our dear children andthose who teach them. Our prayers continue for those who have died, and thosesuffering with injuries and unimaginable grief. We also continue ourdecades-long advocacy for common-sense gun measures as part of a comprehensiveapproach to the reduction of violence in society and the protection oflife.

Specifically,this moment calls for an honest and practical dialogue around a series ofconcrete proposals—not partisanship and overheated rhetoric. The idea of armingteachers seems to raise more concerns than it addresses. Setting a moreappropriate minimum age for gun ownership, requiring universal backgroundchecks (as the bishops have long advocated), and banning 'bump stocks' areconcepts that appear to offer more promise. We must explore ways to curbviolent images and experiences with which we inundate our youth, and ensurethat law enforcement have the necessary tools and incentives to identifytroubled individuals and get them help.

Most people with mental illness will never commit a violent act, but mentalillness has been a significant factor in some of these horrific attacks. We mustlook to increase resources and seek earlier interventions.

For many years, the USCCB has supported a federal ban on assault weapons, limitations on civilianaccess to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines, further criminalizinggun trafficking, certain limitations on the purchase of handguns, and safetymeasures such as locks that prevent children and anyone other than the ownerfrom using guns without permission.

Theadvocacy by survivors of the Parkland shooting—and young people throughout ournation—is a stark reminder that guns pose an enormous danger to the innocentwhen they fall into the wrong hands. The voices of these advocates should ringin our ears as they describe the peaceful future to which they aspire. We mustalways remember what is at stake as we take actions to safeguard ourcommunities and honor human life. In the words of St. John, 'let us love not inword or speech but in deed and truth' (1 Jn. 3:18)."   

Keywords:United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice andHuman Development, Bishop George V. Murry, Committee on Catholic Education, gunviolence, Parkland, Florida, high-capacity weapons, gun trafficking, SecondAmendment, U.S. Constitution, common good


Judy Keane