Catholic Leaders Challenge ‘Pro-Life’ Politicians To Oppose Gun Violence, Not Just Abortion

A group of 60 Catholic clergy, theologians, and social justice leaders are calling on “pro-life” members of Congress — such as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) — to focus on gun violence prevention as part of their moral commitment to sanctity of human life.

Noting that thousands of Catholics will gather in Washington, DC this week for the National March for Life, an annual anti-abortion protest that commemorates the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the group of religious leaders is encouraging lawmakers in Congress to “show greater moral leadership and political courage” in confronting the dangers posed by Americans’ current access to military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The coalition’s statement, via Faith in Public Life, challenges Republican lawmakers to extend their focus on the sanctity of life beyond the womb:

We especially encourage our fellow Catholics in Congress, including prominent leaders such as House Speaker John Boehner, to stand up to the National Rifle Association and other gun lobbyists who choose to obstruct sensible reforms. Catholics who earn an “A” rating from the NRA – including Republicans like Speaker Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan and Democratic lawmakers such as Rep. Joe Donnelly and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp – should not put powerful special interests before the common good. We urge you to reflect on the wisdom in our church’s call for a “consistent ethic of life” as you consider legislation in the coming months that can provide greater protection for our families and communities.

Thousands of Catholics will gather this week for the annual “March for Life” in Washington to speak out against the tragedy of abortion. Our faith and our Church call us to remember, as we reflect on our most recent massacres, that the defense of human dignity extends beyond protecting life in the womb. Gun violence demeans human life and tears communities apart. There have been more than 70 mass shootings since the January 8, 2011, massacre in Tucson, Arizona. More than 900 people have been killed with guns since the Newtown tragedy.

The Catholic leaders are echoing the position of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which has advocated for stronger gun restrictions over the past three decades. The USCCB also renewed its call for increased gun safety measures in the aftermath of last month’s Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Catholics aren’t the only religious group to support policy solutions to address gun violence; 73 percent of Evangelical leaders also support increased gun regulations.

Unlike assault rifles, abortion services are already heavily regulated by state-level restrictions. In fact, in several states across the country, it’s easier to get a gun than it is to get an abortion.