Illinois is no stranger to the growing national crisis of mass shootings. Just in the past few years, mass shootings in Highland Park, Aurora, Chicago, and Northern Illinois University inflicted death, terrible pain and a significant deterioration of our citizens’ sense of safety. On behalf of the Catholic Church in Illinois, and all people of goodwill, we, the Catholic Bishops of Illinois, do not believe we can afford to sit back, waiting in dread for the next tragedy.
There are many factors that lead to mass shootings. Mental illness, familial breakdown, physical and emotional abuse, a culture celebrating violence and devaluating life, feelings of hopelessness and easy access to firearms all play contributing roles, and all of these issues must be considered and addressed. We urge all members of the General Assembly to consider carefully the myriad causes of these horrific events and the policy prescriptions that might be enacted to reduce or prevent their occurrences. We pledge our support in this difficult work.
The longstanding position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which was recently restated on July 3, 2022, has been to support “a total ban on assault weapons and limitations on civilian access to high-capacity weapons and ammunition magazines.” We now call on the members of the Illinois General Assembly to ban these deadly weapons in our state, as a means of protecting the common good and preserving life and peace in our communities.
This effort is a bi-partisan responsibility. All parties are morally obligated to work together on these issues, and we stand ready to help as needed.