Cardinal Cupich calls for restrictions on guns

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Civic and community leaders join Cardinal Cupich on the April 14, 2017, Good Friday Walk for Peace. (Tom Maday/Chicago Catholic)

Cardinal Cupich called on Illinois legislators to work together to enact restrictions that could help curtail gun violence in a Feb. 28 press conference in Springfield.

Speaking two weeks after 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Cardinal Cupich said, “I have come to Springfield, our state’s capital, this morning to join my voice to those of countless young people. They along with families suffering grievous loss cry out to us with the demand for action. Our young people are shaming the adult world to recall that the principal rights among all those that we hold at any level are the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These rights have been denied.”

Cardinal Cupich said he also spoke in solidarity with law enforcement officers, who risk their lives to protect the public.

The cardinal spoke the same day that the Illinois General Assembly was expected to vote on a series of gun restrictions. The bill named for Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer, shot and killed in the line of duty on Feb. 13, would ban the possession of body armor and armor piercing bullets by private citizens. 

Other proposals would ban high-capacity magazines, which allow people to fire more ammunition without reloading; bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic rifles to function more like automatic weapons and fire multiple rounds more quickly; and restricting the sale of certain kinds of weapons to people 21 and older.

The proposals advanced out of committee on Feb. 27 on a party-line vote, with Democrats supporting them and Republicans against. Cardinal Cupich, who said he had the opportunity to meet with legislative leaders from both parties, urged bipartisan cooperation.

“The time for words is over,” he said. “What is required now is action. Our elected officials may not be able to do everything all at once, and they may not be able to save everyone. But in the name of those murdered children, they must act in a bipartisan way to begin the process of walking away from the moral compromises that doom our society to inaction.” 

The cardinal said he has seen the result of inaction, praying with families who lost children to gun violence, meeting with Bauer’s widow and daughter earlier in the week and riding with Chicago police on their patrols and seeing the dangers they confront.

He spoke in favor of measures that would limit the kinds of guns people can buy, and to ensure that people who buy guns will handle them responsibly.

“Our elected officials have the power to enact common-sense laws that limit gun ownership to those who have proven they can handle the responsibility that comes with it, just as we do with automobiles,” Cardinal Cupich said. “They have the power to make incremental changes in the kinds of weapons that are for sale.”

In addition to those measures, Cardinal Cupich said lawmakers can address root causes of violence by making mental health care more accessible, ensuring that all students can receive a solid education and making sure that workers receive a wage that lifts them out of poverty. 
One thing adults must not do, he said, is offer empty platitudes with no action.

“They can stop saying that they will pray for victims and uphold family values if that is the only response they can give to these tragedies,” Cardinal Cupich said. “The time for words is over. Our children are telling us what is required now is action.”

The cardinal said the leadership of the church is aware of the role money plays when it comes to the epidemic of violence.

“Arms dealers are driven by profits,” Cardinal Cupich said. “Pope Francis has called them ‘merchants of death.’ But profits are never more important than people. We must never allow the desire for money to eclipse our most sacred duty to keep our children safe. When even small measures to limit access to such items as armor-piercing bullets, high-volume magazines and bump stocks are opposed, we must ask those opposing them, ‘Whom are you protecting?’”

None of those measures, Cardinal Cupich said, would violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms, or pose a threat to those who want to keep guns for hunting. 

The cardinal also decried the response of some people to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who have publicly pushed for gun restrictions, smearing their reputations and threatening them with violence and death.

“At the least, we should defend their rights and the rights of others to speak out, and we also should be willing to condemn any attempts to silence them with defamation and threats,” he said. “Their voices — the young voices — are a wake-up call that we should have heard years ago. The carnage that we saw in Florida happens nearly every day throughout our state and our nation.”


  • cardinal cupich
  • gun violence
  • gun control

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