As members of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Viatorians add their voice to a statement calling for immediate legislation on gun violence and a national examination of conscience, in response to the loss of more than 30 lives killed in the shootings in El Paso and Dayton.
“As national Catholic advocacy organizations we call on Senator McConnell to bring the Senate back into session and commit to immediately bring to the floor legislation that includes:
1. Universal background checks;
2. Banning large capacity ammunition magazines;
3. Banning assault weapons;
4. Federal funding for gun violence research by the CDC;
5. Preventing hate crime and domestic violence offenders from having access to guns.
“Further, we recognize that our national political discourse has gotten to the point that as a nation we must examine our conscience. As followers of the Nonviolent Prince of Peace, we know that:
1. Our nation has been continually plagued by racism and bigotry that has given rise to hate speech and the violent actions of white supremacists like the shooter in El Paso.
2. We must call out the racist and hateful rhetoric of our political leaders which has encouraged the resurgence and visibility of white supremacists, has led to a rise in hate crimes, and foments violence.
3. The President’s call for gun violence legislation linked to immigration legislation is a further perpetuation of racism: most mass shooters are white and male and have a history of making threatening comments towards women, or worse. The majority are not immigrants or are Muslim.
4. Many pundits are drawing an unproven connection between “mental health” and violence. We know that domestic violence is a much stronger indicator of gun violence. We do not have a mental health crisis: we have a much deeper crisis of the soul: a soul sickness fueled by violence in the forms of guns, white supremacy, and racism.
5. It is well past time for a serious national conversation about our past and our present: our complicity in racism and bigotry and our current culture of violence that fans the flames of white supremacy and encourages toxic manifestations of violence.
“Until we pass legislation, teach the skills of nonviolence, and come to terms with our current climate and culture, we fear that mass shootings will continue, as will the violence in our neighborhoods every day. We will continue to advocate for comprehensive gun violence legislation and work for a culture of peace that encourages nonviolence as we use the prayer attributed to St. Francis that calls us to ‘Be Instruments of His Peace.’ ”