On behalf of the clergy gathered here, in solidarity with people of faith across the country, I give voice to our collective grief for those killed and wounded in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York–only two of the many mass shootings and countless other incidents of gun violence in our land.
We pray for their families and loved ones–and the communities forever changed by these that keep happening with greater frequency and more lethal consequences in our country, which has by far the highest number of deaths by gun violence in the world.
The production of guns in the United States has increased dramatically in recent years, as has the number of guns purchased without background checks or any other safety measure. The consequences are evident for all to see–more shootings, people dying brutal deaths, more trauma and heartache for those left to grieve.
This is a colossal moral failure on our part, and we call on our elected leaders to protect our children and our elders. We need our loved ones to be safe when they go grocery shopping; we need our children not to fear for their lives when they go to school.
As one of the bishops serving in Washington, I call upon the politicians in Washington to act now, and with legislation that definitively addresses the production, sale, illegal trafficking and proliferation of lethal weapons in the country: universal background checks, straw man purchases, banning of assault weapons and high capacity magazines that have no other purpose than to kill as many human beings as possible in the shortest possible time. This is not a political issue. It never has been. It is a moral issue and our country suffers, our people die, every day we offer thoughts and prayers, but let the violence go unchecked. This is not a political issue. But it has a political solution. And in particular members of the Senate, we are calling on you to act now.
We have countless regulations in place to protect children and adults from harm–from the food we eat, the car seats and furniture we purchase, the cars we drive. Yet we have nothing in place to protect children or adults from the real and growing threat of having their bodies destroyed by a gun.
Gun violence is now the leading cause of death among children and young people. It is the weapon of choice for those committing suicide–and the most lethal. It is the means by which gangs and drug dealers fight and kill one another and others caught in their crossfire.
It is time for courage and conviction among you–our elected officials–to do what is right and urgently needed. We will stand by you; we will support you. And we call on you now to act to bring about the end of this senseless and avoidable epidemic of mass gun violence.