U.S. bishops call for change after Highland Park shooting

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Following the July 4 shooting near Chicago, the U.S. bishops’ conference called for a continued push for change and noted its support for strengthened gun laws.

“Over the holiday, yet another community experienced the devastation of a mass shooting, a situation that has become shockingly commonplace in our country,” began a July 6 statement from Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, chair of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chair of the pro-life committee; and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chair of the laity and family life committee.

A man opened fire on a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Illinois, killing seven and injuring dozens.

“One of the many horrors that emerged from this shooting was the orphaning of a two-year-old boy. He was found underneath his father, who died shielding him from gunfire. Our prayers are with this child, and all those who grieve in the face of this tragedy,” the bishops reflected.

Their statement says, “It seems there are no days of the year when our nation is not grieving the latest mass shooting.”

The statement called on Catholics, lawmakers, community leaders, healthcare and social service providers, law enforcement, and families “to keep pushing for change and offer prayers, support, and generous assistance to victims.”

“For years, the Catholic bishops of the United States have supported policies to strengthen gun laws, as well as emphasized mental health, family, and cultural factors, aimed at curbing gun violence. We support a total ban on assault weapons and limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines.”

The bishops added that “It is sobering to think that as horrible as mass shootings are, they are but a sliver of total annual homicides committed with guns; and gun homicides, in turn, are far outnumbered by gun suicides.”

“That the Highland Park shooting took place on a day when we celebrate all that is good about America and America’s freedoms is a devastating reminder that mass shootings do not happen with the same relentless and brutal frequency in other places in the world,” said the statement.

It concluded with a prayer for peace, liberty, and the pursuit of life, saying, “May the Light of God’s compassion shine on us and guide our feet out of darkness and the shadow of death, and into the way of peace.”

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