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Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
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Key USCCB bishop calls for criminal background check on every gun purchaser

January 22, 2013

Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has signed a letter calling for “immediate legislative action to accomplish the following: every person who buys a gun should pass a criminal background check.”

“Preventing dangerous people from getting firearms has to be a top priority. Universal background checks via the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) should be utilized in every gun sale, including guns sold online, at gun shows, and through private sales,” the letter continued.

The letter, dated January 15, was sent by Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, a new interfaith organization based at the United Methodist Church’s headquarters. Other signatories included the leaders of Catholic Charities USA, the Catholic Health Association, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

“High-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines should not be available to civilians,” the letter added. “Gun trafficking should be made a federal crime. Currently, prosecutions only happen through a law that prohibits selling guns without a federal license, which carries the same punishment as trafficking chicken or livestock. We must empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute straw purchasers, gun traffickers, and their entire criminal networks.”

Three days later, Bishop Blaire issued a brief statement on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in response to President Barack Obama’s executive actions on gun violence.

“The bishops hope that the steps taken by the administration will help to build a culture of life,” the prelate said in his January 18 statement. “The frequent mass shootings over the course of 2012 reflected a tragic devaluing of human life, but also pointed to the moral duty of all people to take steps to defend it.”

The USCCB’s Department of Communications of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America also issued a statement welcoming the White House’s proposal to fund a study on the link between violence and video games.

“We know that media influences young people and their behavior," said Helen Osman, USCCB secretary of communications, in the January 18 statement. “So it is crucial to deepen our understanding of how violent media images and video games influence them and whether there is a link to violent behavior.”


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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: normnuke - Jan. 22, 2013 9:00 PM ET USA

    None of the three recent mass shooting rampages were perpetrated by men with criminal backgrounds. All three were done by men with serious mental disease. In the case of the most recent, the guns used were purchased by the perp's mother for her own reasons. To the not-so-short list of reasons not to give too much weight to the pronouncements of the USCCB we should certainly add their credulous acceptance of Obama's recommendations.

  • Posted by: Defender - Jan. 22, 2013 3:30 PM ET USA

    We might not need to have done all this if, back when, they had made people with swords and/or bows and arrows register their weapons. Before that, slingshots and sharp objects?