The following comes from a December 26 release from the San Jose diocese.
The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, has reminded our nation and our world once more that the proliferation of handguns, semi-automatic and other assault weapons is a threat to the life, health and safety of our nation. But Newtown was not the beginning and it will not be the end. The recent statement by the National Rifle Association calling for armed guards in every school is an invitation to a domestic form of “mutual assured destruction.”
Just as the arm’s race of the last 60 years has not resulted in a safer world, so the proliferation of handguns, semi-automatic and assault weapons cannot keep our families and our children safe. As the world’s “super powers” continued to arm themselves, eventually to the point of “mutual assured destruction,” the threat of nuclear cataclysm or the possibility that some rogue nation or individuals might obtain and deploy nuclear weapons increased. Even now, reports of nuclear ambitions of nations such as Iran and North Korea continue. Disarmament has been preached as the new gospel, proclaimed by presidents of both major political parties. It is time now for radical change toward strict gun control, for another form of disarmament.
When the framers of the Constitution included the “right to bear arms” among the freedoms enjoyed by the citizens of the United States, this nation was rural. It was truly a different time. Twenty-First Century American society does not resemble 1789. Perhaps it is time to consider curtailing this right. Individual freedom should be subject to the common good. If this were not the case, there would be no speed limits on our roads and highways, no crosswalks.
It is time to admit that the free availability of guns and ammunition poses a threat to the welfare of our people and that a “culture of violence” has eclipsed “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as enduring values of this nation.
I join my fellow bishops in calling on film producers and video game creators to recognize the extent of violence in movies, television programs and video games, which have desensitized all of us. We must also address the pervasive role of addiction and mental illness in crime.
It is time to change, to increase regulation, even to ban the possession of certain weapons. I echo the words of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Peace and Justice, that it is necessary “to impose a strict control on the sale of handguns and small arms. Limiting the purchase of such arms would certainly not infringe on the rights of anyone” (The International Arms Trade, 2006).
In the end, violence itself is a form of domestic terrorism. Now is the time to hear the call to a new sanity. Now is the time to commit ourselves to following the Prince of Peace, who leads us along the path of life and hope.
To read original statement, click here.