- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 11, 2013

Banning guns builds a “culture of life” and lawmakers must consider more clampdowns, not less, said one Catholic Church bishop in California in a written petition to U.S. senators.

“Sadly, gun violence is too common a reality,” said Bishop Stephen Blair, chairman on the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in a letter to the U.S. Senate that was quoted by Catholic News Agency.

The “violence that occurs daily in our homes and communities should lead us to answer the call of Pope Francis to ‘change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace.’”

The bishop referenced in his letter S. 649, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013, and called it a “positive step in the right direction” that he hoped would give Congress a “foundation to continue to address the issue of gun violence in society.”

The restrictions and regulations contained in that bill would foster a culture of life, he said, in the letter, “by promoting policies that reduce gun violence and save people’s lives in homes and communities throughout our nation.”

The bishop took at aim at specific gun control measures and asked for Congress to act: The federal government should restrict “civilian access to high-capacity ammunition magazines,” he wrote, and should also outright ban all assault-type weapons, the Catholic news outlet reported.

SEE ALSO: Senators avert gun filibuster, setting up hard fight; 16 Republicans among ‘no’ votes

Catholics View reported in January that while some members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have come out in favor of stronger gun controls, the Catholic Church has not adopted a political policy on the issue.

Pope John Paul II wrote in his Evangelium Vitae in 1995 that guns can be used in self-defense, in line with church teachings.

“Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another’s life, the common good of the family or of the state,” he wrote, as reported by Catholics View.

The bishop’s call for tighter gun restrictions come as President Obama presses his case for stricter gun control.

The Senate is expected to take up gun control issues Thursday, after Sens. Pat Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican, and Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, brokered a deal on background checks.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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