Skip to comments.Bishops remain focused on 'responsible restrictions' on gun ownership
Posted on 12/20/2012 9:19:36 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As momentum builds to implement new limits on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, the Catholic bishops of the United States remain focused on seeking "reasonable restrictions" on gun ownership without infringing upon Second Amendment rights.
"The bishops continue to support measures that control the sale and use of firearms and continue to call for sensible regulations on handguns," Kathy Saile, the bishops' director of domestic social development, told Catholic News Service.
"In addition to that, we need to make a serious commitment to address the pervasive role that addiction and mental illness have in crime," she said in the wake of the horrendous events of Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children, six educators and the heavily armed gunman who attacked the school dead.
Police identified the shooter as Adam Lanza, 20, who killed himself as first responders arrived on the scene. Before he arrived at the school, he shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza.
If gun control measures are introduced in the new Congress, the bishops will discuss whether a public statement is appropriate and how active to become involved in the legislative process, Saile added.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a Catholic, welcomed the Catholic Church's involvement in the conversation on gun violence and possible restrictions on certain firearms.
The senator, a strong supporter of gun rights, told CNS Dec. 19 that the church could play a significant role in upcoming discussions that he hopes will involve not just Congress and the White House, but also mental health professionals, law enforcement officers and child advocates in determining the best path to protect society.
"These are the conversations I'm now willing to have. It's something we should do now," Manchin said.
"It you're blaming it all on guns, then you're blaming me as someone who's used guns. You're pushing me into a silent mode," Manchin said.
"If it's all about guns, guns and guns, then you're accusing everybody who's a law-abiding citizen, who might belong to the NRA, who has used guns responsibly. You put them in the same box (as someone using guns illegally). It's a brush on all of them."
Manchin's unexpected call on the "Morning Joe" show Dec. 17 for a national conversation on gun violence was uplifting to grass-roots groups that in the days since the Newtown atrocity have renewed their desire to see assault weapons outlawed and stricter limits on all firearms.
The Sandy Hook massacre also prompted at least one retailer, Dick's Sporting Goods, to suspend the sale of certain kinds of semiautomatic weapons nationwide and stop selling guns altogether at its store nearest Newtown. How long the policy would remain in effect was not known.
And President Barack Obama appointed a task force headed by Vice President Joe Biden to draw up proposals to reduce gun violence. The president wants proposals early in the new year.
The call for stricter gun laws comes as Americans now possess nearly 300 million firearms. The number of guns in private hands has climbed exponentially over the years.
A National Institute of Justice survey in 1994 found that civilians owned 192 million guns. Two years later, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reported that about 242 million firearms were owned by civilians or available for sale. That number rose to about 259 million in 2000 and about 294 million in 2007, the latest years statistics are available.
The bishops' stance on gun control has remained in place since 1975 when they called for a national firearms policy. Their concern then was over the proliferation of "Saturday night specials," cheaply made and inexpensive weapons that debuted four decades ago and quickly became the weapon of choice for street criminals.
Their distress over gun violence surfaced again in 1994 in a pastoral message titled "Confronting a Culture of Violence: A Catholic Framework for Action." While they did not call for specific controls on firearms at the time, the bishops cited the proliferation of guns among young people and the rising number of shooting deaths and injuries among children and teenagers as priorities for the country to address.
The bishops since then widened their focus to encompass assault weapons. Prior to the past two presidential elections, the bishops in their quadrennial statement "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" supported "reasonable restrictions on access to assault weapons and handguns."
The bishops are not alone. Other religious leaders, community activists and advocates for families and children have long called for strict regulations and bans on weapons specifically designed to kill, as well as stronger controls on handguns.
Details of a survey released in August by the Public Religion Research Institute show that 62 percent of Catholics favor stricter gun control laws. That compares with 35 percent of white evangelical Protestants and 42 percent of white mainline Protestants.
Overall, according to the survey, 52 percent of people favor stricter regulations on guns with 44 percent opposed.
Conducted in early August, the survey sampled 1,006 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Such calls, however, have largely been ignored in Congress and in state legislatures over the years. Citing the rights established under the Second Amendment, the pro-gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, has deployed dozens of lobbyists and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to overturn existing regulations on guns and defeat new efforts to limit gun rights for decades.
The killings at Sandy Hook may just cause the political landscape to change, however, especially as some key pro-gun legislators have said their desire is the safety of all Americans. The NRA said it planned to hold a Dec. 21 news conference to announce that it is "prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this (Newtown) never happens again."
The church is wrong on this one.
They should sit down and ... um be quiet.
Want to protest something, please do it some other time.
I do not remember a gun doing any harm. There have been a number of mentally ill individuals that should have never been allowed on our streets that murdered people lately, though.
How about regulating the insane?
I hate to be ugly about it, but the Church needs to keep out of the worldly realm of politics and stick to what it claims to know.
I'm not saying don't preach right or wrong from the pulpit, I'm saying, stay the hell out of general public politics. Stay out of the news. Do The work of the Savior, not the state.
w/o the 2nd, they wouldn’t be able to even say as much as they’ve said.
so they couldn’t say anything political before the election, and now this?
I thought they had a Right to Life focus. If you can’t defend it, you have no right to your own Life.
I’m a Catholic, and a member of a significant men’s group devoted to defending the Church. These guys are indefensible, and flat wrong.
The bishops or other Elders, do not necessarily define the Church.
I understand this, and it seems you do as well.
Glory to God. Pray for those delivering false message and for those hearing, that they should be enlightened.
These bishops may well be wrong, but they are not "the church". The bishops' conference does not have the ability to define doctrine. Gun regulation is a temporal matter subject to the prudential judgement of the voters and their representatives. The bishops can express their opinion on matters such as these, but (unlike topics related to faith and morals such as abortion and euthanasia) these opinions are non-binding on the laity.
Catholic Bishops remain focused on ‘responsible restrictions’ on sword ownership ever since the recent massacre of a servant`s ear by an impetuous big fishernan.
My inalienable rights are not subject to the voters or their representatives in any way, shape, or form.
Utterly worthless idiots.
The Catholic Church should be ignored, most of the time, on matters of SELF Defense and guns.
The Catholic Church supports the Doctrine of Subsidiarity, and any Catholic who speaks about welfare spending or taxation should be ignored if they do not follow that Doctrine.
A gun is a tool.
Like any tool - knife, axe, crowbar, etc. - it can be used for good or evil. That use is not anything to do with the tool, but with the intent of the person wielding the tool.
Well if they are ok with “responsible restrictions” on our second amendment rights, I’m sure they are equally on board with similar restrictions on the first, particularly that whole religion thing... Right? Thought so.
I’ll give up my guns when the good bishops give up altar boys
What do the molested kids think?
The only way to “make sure this never happens again” would be to backtrack and dismantle all the liberal inspired moral decay now corrupting our society.
Why do the bishops keep meddling in such issues? They are wasting their time talking about things they know nothing about.
Shame on 0bama.
The Bishops are again getting suckered, this time on Gun Control.
Shame on the Bishops.
The bishops seem to be weighing in on too many controversial subjects. I do not know what purpose they are trying to serve. They will water down support for clearly important policies that counter the culture of death, and same sex marriage.
A high percentage of Catholics voted for Obama in spite of their pronouncements. This is not a good thing.
Don’t emulate the secular left by resorting to low-blow, bigoted stereotypes of Catholic clerics. If you want to rip them on gun control, fine. There’s no need to argue like leftists.