Almost a year after 20 children were killed in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Washington’s Catholic bishops and a coalition of faith groups have called for tighter gun control legislation, which is to be debated shortly in the US Senate.
Faith groups across the country have urged their members to lobby Senators to back new legislation that was drafted in the wake of the shooting. that seeks to expand background checks on gun sales.
The organisation Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence has sent a letter, signed by 54 national religious leaders, to members of the Republican-led Congress, urging them to take immediate legislative action and pass a bill which would expand gun control measures to gun shows and internet sales.
Catholic signatories to the letter included the Archbishop of Miami, Thomas Wenski; Sr Patricia Chappell, Executive Director of Pax Christi USA; and Fr Larry Snyder, the CEO of Catholic Charities USA.
“Congress must act to ensure that background checks are required to protect innocent lives nationwide,” they said.
Bishops in the State of Washington have backed the new initiative, saying that they support the “reasonable inclusion” of background checks as part of the new legislation.
Washington DC and 16 states already require background checks for private sales.
Another group, Faiths Calling, plans to hold an “interfaith call-in day” on Friday to encourage people to call their Senators and ask them to vote for the measure. Among Catholic groups sponsoring the event are Network, a social justice lobby; the Leadership Conference of Women Religious; the Conference of Major Superiors of Men; the Catholic Health Association; and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.
On 14 December 2012, 20 children and six of their teachers were shot dead at Sandy Hook Elementary school by Adam Lanza, who subsequently committed suicide. A service of mourning and remembrance for gun violence victims will be held on Thursday afternoon at the Washington National Cathedral.