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Catholic bishops say gun control agreement is pro-life

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CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP/East News

Zelda Caldwell - published on 06/15/22

Gun safety measures would “help build a culture of life,” the bishops said.

A bipartisan proposal addressing gun violence won the approval of the U.S. Catholic bishops who released a statement saying it would “help build a culture of life.”

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development endorsed the proposal, saying its gun safety measures are “reasonable.”

“I am deeply grateful that members of Congress have undertaken bipartisan negotiations to address the plague of gun violence in our nation. I commend their recent announcement of a framework to help prevent senseless violence, which includes reasonable gun safety measures,” Coakley said in a statement.

A bipartisan gun control plan

Last Sunday, a bipartisan coalition of senators, including 10 Republicans announced that they had come to an agreement on a framework for gun safety legislation. The support from Republicans suggests that the legislation could manage to get the 60 votes needed to survive a filibuster.

Momentum for gun legislation accelerated after the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Ulvade, Texas. Twenty-one people were killed when an 18-year-old man shot 19 students and two teachers. 

The proposed legislation would include enhanced background checks for people under age 21, and funding for “red flag” laws that would allow law enforcement to confiscate guns from people who represent a danger to themselves and others. 

The framework also includes the closing of a “boyfriend loophole,” which would prohibit those with past convictions for domestic violence from purchasing firearms.

Building a “culture of life”

The statement linked the bishops’ support for gun control legislation with the Catholic Church’s teaching on “the culture of life.” St. John Paul II in 1995 published the encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) which called for a “culture of life,” that values the “incomparable value of every human person.”

St. John Paul II wrote: “When the Church declares that unconditional respect for the right to life of every innocent person-from conception to natural death-is one of the pillars on which every civil society stands, she ‘wants simply to promote a human State. A State which recognizes the defense of the fundamental rights of the human person, especially of the weakest, as its primary duty.'”

Bishop Coakley’s statement placed the support of control legislation under the pro-life umbrella that also includes opposition to abortion and euthanasia.

“I encourage Congress to continue these important efforts which will help build a culture of life. It is imperative this Congress passes into law new protections for the American people,” the statement from Bishop Coakley concluded.

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