THE Presiding Bishop of
the Episcopal Church in the United States, Dr Katharine Jefferts
Schori, has urged a Senate committee on gun control to ban assault
rifles, and to impose comprehensive background checks on gun
Dr Jefferts Schori said
that, while the Church "supports the constitutional right of
law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms", it was clear that gun
laws in the US had to be tightened to keep guns out of the hands of
children, and those who would use them for crime.
Calling for "tighter
curbs" on weapons designed to kill human beings more effectively,
she said: "The Episcopal Church also supports the highest level of
accountability for violation of all existing laws pertaining to
violence in our midst."
Her testimony was
submitted to the US Senate Judiciary Sub-committee on the
Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, which held a hearing
on "Proposals to Reduce Gun Violence: Protecting our communities
while respecting the Second Amendment".
chaired by Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, was established by
President Obama after the massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school,
in Newtown, Connecticut, before Christmas, which claimed the lives
of 20 children and six teachers (
News, 21/28 December). The recommendations by Dr Jefferts
Schori echoed President Obama's own proposals to crack down on gun
violence, which included universal background checks, a ban on
assault weapons, and a ban on high-capacity magazines.
Dr Jefferts Schori said
that more than 3000 children in the US were killed every year by
guns. "The easy accessibility of guns to those prone to commit
crimes, and the danger posed by the increasingly lethal character
of both the weaponry and the ammunition available, are constants
running through much of the recent violence in our culture."
But she also called for a
"more serious approach to mental-health care", noting that the
gunman in the Sandy Hook massacre was reportedly suffering from
Gun control took centre
stage in the President's State of the Union address earlier this
month, when he told members of Congress that the victims of the
Newtown school massacre and other killings "deserved a vote" on his
legislative proposals to curb gun violence.
But some observers said that his words were carefully chosen and
effectively admitted that he knew that the votes to pass laws such
as the reinstatement of a national ban on assault weapons would not
be available in the Republican-controlled House of Congress.