from Gabino Zavala, Justice and Peace Director
This week we entered Holy Week, the days leading to the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus. As we reflect on the Paschal Mystery, especially the Cross of Jesus, we should recognize that in our midst there are many of our sisters and brothers who live their own stories of the passion. The immigrant mother who was inconsolable at the death of her 9-year-old daughter who drowned on March 20th while they were attempting to cross the Rio Grande into the United States. The Asian woman in New York, who was beaten, kicked and stomped while onlookers watched and did nothing and eventually closed their doors while she lay on the sidewalk. Families who have lost their loved ones to COVID-19. And in recent weeks, families who have lost loved ones to gun violence.
Without a doubt we know that there is a proliferation of guns in the United States. We have more guns in the hands of private citizens in this country and we have more violence due to guns as well. Anxiety and anger enflamed because of the pandemic, reactions to last summer’s racial justice protests, and the recent presidential election are suggested as reasons why 8.5 million previously unarmed people purchased a weapon in 2020.
The statistics show that 393 million guns are in the hands of private citizens in our country. As has been said, it is easier to buy a gun than to vote! And if you don’t know anyone personally who owns a gun, the average gun owner owns five weapons. Fourteen percent of gun owners have an arsenal of eight or more guns.
Many proponents of unfettered gun ownership don’t see this as problem. The Second Amendment, they say, gives them the right to own guns. It is also their right to protect themselves and defend their families. The reality is that the use of weapons for self-defense is exceedingly rare while, unfortunately, it is much more common that these weapons be used for homicide and suicide.
I believe it is time to look at common sense gun law reform, which does not mean doing away with the Second Amendment. The Boulder shooter used an AR-15, semi-automatic military style rifle that he was able to purchase legally. Why can anyone purchase such a weapon? Anger, bigotry, hate, mental illness, and depression, plus guns are not a good combination.
In their latest newsletter, the Franciscan Action Network provided links to the Newtown Action Alliance petition to President Bident and Congress saying, “We know a federal ban on assault weapons is possible because we’ve done it before, in 1994. However, political pressure and hefty campaign contributions from the NRA caused the ban to expire in 2004 at which point mass shooting deaths increased by 347%. We must renew the national ban on weapons of war.
Thoughts and prayers are useless without good works and we must urge President Biden and the 117th Congress to ban weapons of war. With a President and a Congress that support gun reform, now is the time to build bipartisan support for legislation to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Take action today and urge your member of Congress to pass legislation banning assault weapons.”
As Members of the Precious Blood family let us continue to advocate for the dignity of each human being. Let us continue to promote life in every way including the promotion of common-sense reform of our gun laws.