Peace & Justice

This is the blog of the Commission on Peace and Justice for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Bishops and guns

As a consistent voice for the promotion of peace at home and around the world, the Catholic Church has been a strong advocate for the reasonable regulation of firearms. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has stated, “Christ's love and mercy must guide us. The Church recognizes that recourse to self-defense is legitimate for one's own safety.  In today's world, however, weapons that are increasingly capable of inflicting great suffering in a short period of time are simply too accessible.”

In 1994, the U.S. bishops issued their pastoral message, Confronting a Culture of Violence: A Catholic Framework for Action. Recalling the words of Pope Paul VI, "if you want peace, work for justice," the bishops stated, "We have an obligation to respond. Violence -- in our homes, our schools and streets, our nation and world -- is destroying the lives, dignity and hopes of millions of our sisters and brothers."

Regarding gun violence prevention the bishops have written, "We support measures that control the sale and use of firearms and make them safer (especially efforts that prevent their unsupervised use by children or anyone other than the owner), and we reiterate our call for sensible regulation of handguns."

The bishops have consistently urged policy changes in the wake of violent tragedies which have become far too frequent in our cities and towns.

Among the many reasonable measures the bishops have supported to stem gun violence are the following: 

-       A total ban on assault weapons, which the USCCB supported when the ban passed in 1994 and when Congress failed to renew it in 2004.

-       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 and increased resources for mental health care and earlier interventions;

-       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; and  

-       An honest assessment of the toll of violent images and experiences which inundate people, particularly our youth.

You can learn more here.