This week, President Obama raised the need for this nation to address gun violence. The manner in which this Administration and Congress have confronted this issue in the past has proven to be ineffective. What is needed is a constructive dialogue about the violence that is taking so many innocent lives and crippling our society.
It is past time for this nation and this Congress to come to grips with the violence that is growing in our nation. With regard to gun control, we must as a nation find the right balance between the common good and individual rights. This balance is also needed in resolving many other cultural issues today. It is time for Congress to take up this important dialogue.
I strongly support the Second Amendment which guarantees the right for individuals to “keep and bear arms.” At the same time, the common good of society, namely the safety of all people to conduct day-to-day lives in peaceful tranquility must also be equally protected. Putting the emphasis on the safety of our citizenry in no way diminishes the right of individuals to possess firearms. We all grieve at the news and loss of life experienced at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, the mass shooting in San Bernardino, and the regular street violence in Chicago and other major cities. We all wish to see an appropriate solution to ending all forms of violence, especially gun violence.
Respect for the dignity of every human person and the sanctity of human life is at the heart of this challenge. I recall the recent challenge of Pope Francis in his encyclical, Laudato Si, challenging us to put the human person at the center of the economy, rather than financial gain. If Congress can do that, we will find the solutions we need to reduce gun violence in this country.
I fully endorse yesterday’s statement issued by Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Violence in our society is a complex issue with many facets, taking many forms. While no measure can eliminate all acts of violence which involve firearms, we welcome reasonable efforts aimed at saving lives and making communities safer. We hope Congress will take up this issue in a more robust way, considering all of the varied aspects involved. In addition to reasonable regulation, conversations must include strengthening social services for persons with mental illness, while being mindful that the vast majority of those suffering with mental illness are not likely to commit violent criminal acts.