In the aftermath of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. that killed 17 people, two US bishops have issued a joint statement calling for “common-sense gun measures” and dialogue about specific proposals that will reduce gun violence and ensure school safety.
"Once again, we are confronted with grave evil, the murder of our dear children and those who teach them. Our prayers continue for those who have died, and those suffering with injuries and unimaginable grief. We also continue our decades-long advocacy for common-sense gun measures as part of a comprehensive approach to the reduction of violence in society and the protection of life,” the statement said.
The statement was issued by Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla., chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice, and Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education.
The bishops said the idea of arming teachers “seems to raise more concerns than it addresses.” Rather, the bishops said “concepts that appear to offer more promise” would include “an appropriate minimum age for gun ownership,” universal background checks, and the banning of certain gun accessories, such bump stocks.
Previously, the USCCB has voiced support for several gun control measures, among them a ban on assault weapons, limits to high-capacity magazines, additional penalties for gun trafficking, as well as restrictions on who can purchase handguns. The USCCB is also in favor of child safety locks that prevent children from using guns.
The bishops also noted that violent images “inundate our youth.”
“We must explore ways to curb” these images, they said.
The bishops also pointed out that while the vast majority of people with mental health conditions are not violent, mental illness has played a role in many mass shootings. “We must look to increase resources and seek earlier interventions,” they said.
The Parkland shooter’s lawyers say that he has mental illness and “brain development issues.”
Since the shooting in Parkland, some Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students have become public advocates for increased gun control measures. The USCCB praised these students, saying that “the voices of these advocates should ring in our ears as they describe the peaceful future to which they aspire.”