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Catholic bishops oppose Texas gun bill that ‘advances a culture of violence’

Texas handgun Alexander Oganezov/Shutterstock

Catholic bishops in Texas have voiced opposition to a bill allowing certain adults to carry handguns without permits, which they say “advances a culture of violence.” 

House Bill 1927 would allow residents of the Lone Star State to carry handguns without permits if they are at least 21 years old and if they are not “otherwise prohibited by state or federal law from possessing the firearm.” Texas law currently requires a license to carry handguns.

The bill has passed the state House and could be voted on by the state Senate next week, according to the Texas Tribune.

In an open letter to Texas lawmakers and Catholics, the state’s Catholic bishops said they are “alarmed at the aggressive calls for the unfettered presence of weapons carried into public places."

“Too often we have seen how guns are used in the public forum by someone acting in anger,” they stated. “Instead of relying on law enforcement and our justice system, people with guns in public areas can become the aggrieved, the jury and the judge, in swift and violent sequence.”

The bill, they said, “fails to reflect a commitment to life or a vision of hope and instead accomplishes nothing more than to make it easier for potentially violent persons to act in anger or delusion. This will cause people to feel more threatened and more afraid.”

The letter was signed by the ordinaries of the state’s 15 Catholic dioceses, as well as Bishop Stephen Lopes of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter; the ordinariate has jurisdiction over a Houston Catholic parish of the Anglican Use.

Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) signaled his support for the bill during a recent radio interview on WBAP.

“I believe it should reach my desk and we should have constitutional carry in Texas,” Abbott said. “This is something that 20 other states already have adopted, and it’s time for Texas to adopt it too.”

The bishops said they have seen communities “shattered” following mass shootings.

“We have all seen the loss of lives, the suffering of victims, the inconsolable sorrow at the funerals,” the bishops wrote. 

They argued that law enforcement officials also “do not support HB 1927, as it makes their oath to protect the public much more difficult.” 

“Nor do we, since it advances a culture of violence that puts everyone at further risk,” the bishops concluded. 

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An April “Action Alert” from the Diocese of Corpus Christi stated that the Church recognizes both the legitimate use of self-defense in proportion to a threat, and the lawful authority of the state to regulate the sale and possession of weapons.

“While the Church recognizes that recourse to self-defense is legitimate when necessary to protect one’s safety and that many of our fellow Texans are lawfully-exercising their Second Amendment constitutional rights, this does not mean that the state cannot promote reasonable regulation of firearms to uphold the safety and wellbeing of all persons in our community,” the diocese stated.

“The increased prevalence of weapons in society does not promote a culture of life. In fact, recent mass shootings in Georgia, Colorado, and, tragically, in our own state bear out this reality,” the diocese added.

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