Nation's leaders urged to 'engage in real debate' on curbing gun violence



nation’s leaders “must engage in a real debate about needed measures to save
lives and make our communities safer,” said the chairman of the U.S. bishops’
domestic policy committee.

Such debate is essential because
“violence in our society will not be solved by a single piece of legislation,
and many factors contribute to what we see going on all around us,” said Bishop
Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.

His Nov. 7 statement was
issued in response to “recent and horrific attacks” in the country, referring to the mass
shooting Nov. 5 at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, that
left 26 people dead and 20 others wounded, and the Oct. 1 the mass shooting in
Las Vegas during an outdoor concert that left 58 people dead and hundreds of
others injured.

“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,” Bishop Dewane said.

The Las Vegas and Sutherland
Springs gun massacres “remind us of how much damage can be caused when weapons
— particularly weapons designed to inflict extreme levels of bloodshed — too
easily find their way into the hands of those who would wish to use them to
harm others,” he said.

Bishop Dewane said the
USCCB continues to urge a total ban on assault weapons, “which we supported
when the ban passed in 1994 and when Congress failed to renew it in 2004.”

Other efforts the bishops
support include 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; and a federal law to
criminalize gun trafficking.

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