Last year Father James Martin, SJ put forward the argument that gun control is a religious issue and “as much of a ‘life issue’ or a ‘pro-life issue,’ as some religious people say, as is abortion, euthanasia or the death penalty (all of which I am against), and programs that provide the poor with the same access to basic human needs as the wealthy (which I am for).” He noted, “There is a ‘consistent ethic of life’ that views all these issues as linked, because they are.”
The US Bishops have now affirmed this view. In the Washington Post, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, Director of Media Relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, identified the issue of gun control as a pro-life issue, relating it to abortion and the death penalty.
Walsh indicated that the massacre in Newtown was decisive, saying, “And surely, after the gunning down of primary grade children in Newtown, Connecticut, it is clear assault weapons stand out dramatically as a threat to innocent life.”
The Bishops are now supporting numerous gun control measures:
The U.S. bishops now call on people to support federal legislation to require background checks for all gun purchases, to limit civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines and to make gun trafficking a federal crime. The bishops also want a ban on assault weapons.
For those of us who identify as pro-life and support gun control, this is a key moment. Being pro-life is about a consistent commitment to life, just as Fr. Jim said, and this recognition of gun control as a pro-life issue shows the Bishops’ ‘whole life’ commitment. Bravo!