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Guns in the US: bishops, do not arm teachers. Need for “proposals not partisanship and rhetoric”

(From New York) “An honest and practical dialogue around a series of concrete proposals—not partisanship and overheated rhetoric” – this is what the US bishops called for in a statement to Congress members, in which they urged them to address the issue of guns in a comprehensive way. In the aftermath of the tragic attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Bishop Frank J. Dewane, Chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop George V. Murry, Chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, released a document with the priority measures that should be taken to address this extremely sensitive issue. First of all, the bishops are opposed to the idea of arming teachers, an idea that raises “more concerns than it addresses”, and ask that a more appropriate minimum age for gun ownership be set, and strict universal background checks for all gun purchases be introduced. The bishops’ stance is not new. Indeed, since 1994, they have been advocating the introduction of a ban on the sale of assault weapons to civilians and measures to limit access to those high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines which have caused great loss of lives in recent mass shootings. “Guns pose an enormous danger to the innocent when they fall into the wrong hands”, the bishops continued, adding that “most people with mental illness will never commit a violent act, but mental illness has been a significant factor in some of these horrific attacks. We must” ensure that “law enforcement have the necessary tools and incentives to identify troubled individuals and get them help”. Monsignor Dewane and Monsignor Murray also insisted on the importance of prevention; new ways must be explored “to curb violent images and experiences with which we inundate our youth”: this sense of urgency clearly emerged in meetings with the survivors of these massacres, to which the Church has devoted particular attention. The bishops did not specifically mention the lobby of weapons, but urged its supporters to consider people’s aspirations for a peaceful future and will “to safeguard our communities and honor human life”.

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