The bishops have been vocal in their support of the legislation, which will implement new gun regulations and fund mental health programs.
The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has commended the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The bill, which was passed by Congress Friday afternoon, addresses gun violence concerns in the nation, while funding mental health, school safety, and crisis intervention programs. The bill comes exactly one month after the Uvalde massacre.
CNN reports the measure was approved with a tally of 234 to 193. The legislation had already passed through the Senate in a late-night vote on Thursday. President Joe Biden signed the bill into law today, at the White House.
The USCCB, which has been vocal in its support of the bill, applauded its passage. In a statement, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, wrote:
“I welcome the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which will take meaningful action to prevent gun violence and protect lives. The investments in mental health services and reasonable measures to regulate guns included in this bill are positive initial steps towards confronting a culture of violence.”
“This agreement, born of dialogue and compromise to advance the safety and well-being of all, embodies the work Pope Francis calls us to in his encyclical, Fratelli tutti, ‘Good politics combines love with hope and with confidence in the reserves of goodness present in human hearts.’ I commend members of Congress for their work thus far and encourage them to continue working to confront the plague of gun violence in our nation.”
The comments reiterate the support the USCCB has consistently expressed for “sensible regulation, sale, and use of firearms.” On June 3, after the school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, the bishops released an open letter calling for lawmakers to take action. They wrote:
“We urge all members of Congress to reflect on the compassion all of you undoubtedly feel in light of these tragic events and be moved to action because of it. There is something deeply wrong with a culture where these acts of violence are increasingly common. There must be dialogue followed by concrete action to bring about a broader social renewal that addresses all aspects of the crisis …”
After the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was introduced, the USCCB endorsed the measure. On June 23, they wrote that they were “particularly heartened” by measures which included: the strengthening of crisis intervention programs, enhanced reviews of gun purchasers under the age of 21, as well as mental health initiatives which will help prevent violence in schools.
Another clause that the bishops applauded was one that will close the “boyfriend loophole.”
Closing the “boyfriend loophole” would mean those in a serious relationship and convicted of domestic violence will also be barred from purchasing a gun. Until now, federal law had only barred if they were married, living with their partner, or had a child with their partner when convicted of domestic violence.