Washington D.C., Nov 7, 2017 / 04:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In response to mass shootings in Las Vegas, Nevada and the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Spring, Texas, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has encouraged public debate on gun control, suggesting specific policies that might quell gun violence.
“For many years, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been urging our leaders to explore and adopt reasonable policies to help curb gun violence,” said Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the USCCB’s committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in a Nov. 7 statement.
“The recent and shocking events in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs remind us of how much damage can be caused when weapons … too easily find their way into the hands of those who would wish to use them to harm others.”
On Oct. 1, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock unleashed hundreds of bullets on a crowd of 22,000 people gathered for a country music festival in Las Vegas. Paddock had 23 guns stockpiled in his room at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. He killed 59 people, including himself, and injured 546 others.
Devin Kelley, 26, opened fire Sunday, Nov. 5, at a church outside of San Antonio, Texas, killing 26 people and wounding 20 more. He was armed with a rifle and handgun.
Although violence won’t be solved by legislation alone, Bishop Dewane said, the recent events should instigate public debates to “explore and adopt reasonable policies to help curb gun violence.”
The bishop emphasized the USCCB’s previous support for gun control, mentioning their support for a 1994 federal ban on assault weapons, which expired without being renewed in 2004.
Additionally, Dewane mentioned that the USCCB has suggested policies for better background checks, limitations to high-powered weapons, more laws criminalizing gun traffic, improved access to mental health care, and increased safety measures on guns.
While recognizing the right of U.S. citizens to own firearms, Bishop Dewane said that the U.S. should consider greater limitations on “weapons capable of easily causing mass murder when used with an evil purpose.”
“Society must recognize that the common good requires reasonable steps to limit access to such firearms by those who would intend to use them [for evil purposes].”