In an essay in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago's Archbishop Blase Cupich strongly advocates for immediate action on gun-control legislation.
Cupich knows the "ingredients of a tragedy: untreated mental illness, a society where life is cheap and crime is glamorized, and a ready supply of firearms."
In Chicago, "nearly a dozen human beings in the Archdiocese of Chicago fell victim to gun violence during the past two weeks. And those injured, maimed and traumatized were simply too many to count. Among the wounded were 10- and 11-month-old infants. Princeton Chew, the 11-month-old, will not remember his grandmother or his mother, who both died in the Back of the Yards shooting. He will never know the brother or sister his mother carried."
Nationally, Cupich points out that after the slaughter of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Conn., the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops thought Congress would finally act on gun-safety legislation.
He writes, "After the 2012 murders of 20 first-graders and six staff members at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, the USCCB sent testimony to Congress the following year. 'This is the moment,' said the USCCB spokesperson who testified before Congress, 'to push for better gun controls. We want to build a culture of life and confront the culture of violence.' That moment came and went without meaningful action."
To the Second Amendment absolutists, Cupich points out:
The Second Amendment was passed in an era when organized police forces were few and citizen militias were useful in maintaining the peace. Its original authors could not have anticipated a time when the weapons we have a right to bear now include military-grade assault weapons that have turned our streets into battlefields. The Second Amendment's original intent has been perverted by those who, as Pope Francis recently commented, have profited mightily. Surely there is a middle ground between the original intent of the amendment and the carnage we see today.
Chicago finally took action to regulate gun stores, but the state of Illinois needs to pass a similar regulation in order to regulate gun stores outside the City of Chicago.
Cupich points out that Congress applauded Pope Francis:
Members of Congress stood late last month to applaud Pope Francis' call for an end to the weapons industry that is motivated by "money that is drenched in blood," and to endorse his call "to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade." Surely America's political leaders did not think the pope's comments were limited to arms trade outside of America's borders.
Cupich concludes his commentary with a call to action:
It is no longer enough for those of us involved in civic leadership and pastoral care to comfort the bereaved and bewildered families of victims of gun violence. It is time to heed the words of Pope Francis and take meaningful and swift action to address violence in our society. We must band together to call for gun-control legislation. We must act in ways that promote the dignity and value of human life. And we must do it now.
[Tom Gallagher is a regular contributor to NCR and writer of the Mission Management column.]