by Sister Bea Hernandez, Wheaton Franciscan JPIC Coordinator
On March 27, 2023, another mass shooting at The Covenant Elementary School at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN, resulted in the deaths of three 9-year-old children, three adults, and the shooter.
Once again, 2 assault rifles and a semi-automatic handgun were carried by the shooter. One of the assault rifles was used. It is far past time for federal legislation to outlaw the sale, manufacture, and distribution of these weapons of war and high-capacity ammunition magazines and to ban them from our streets and homes.
These weapons are used for only one purpose: to kill as many people as possible, as quickly as possible. No sporting or legitimate hunting purpose exists for these weapons, and no need for magazines containing more than 10 bullets. These are simple gun safety measures supported by over 68% of the American public and over 68% of gun owners. Protection of the lives of children and adults needs to be our top priority as a country. We all have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. None of this is possible in the face of the gun violence epidemic that engulfs our country.
The federal assault weapons ban, which prohibited the sale and manufacture of certain military-style semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, was passed in 1994 and expired in 2004. Since then, multiple attempts to reinstate or strengthen the legislation have failed both the house and senate. Even after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., which killed 20 children between 6 and 7 years old and six adults, Congress failed to act. The graph below shows that the production of AR-15s, the assault rifle of choice among mass shooters, has skyrocketed since 2004.
The production and sale of AR-15s threaten our national security and individuals nationwide. We must demand that Congress put an end to this madness. Stop production! Stop sales! Outlaw possession of these weapons of war!
Let us begin to actively rebuild a society that values peace, respect for one another, and dialogue to promote understanding. Let us create a culture of encounter rather than a culture of confrontation and violence.