Washington bishops endorse initiative to prevent gun violence

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SEATTLE – The Catholic bishops of Washington state have endorsed Initiative 1639 on gun violence prevention. “Violent tragedies have become far too frequent in our communities and very powerful weapons are often too accessible,” the bishops of Seattle, Yakima and Spokane said in a joint statement released October 18.

The bishops acknowledged the importance of individual liberties including gun ownership while noting that the U.S. Catholic Church has long supported reasonable measures to ensure public safety. Initiative 1639 would strengthen background checks, require safety training, extend waiting periods for semi-automatic weapons, and establish safe-storage requirements for gun owners. The initiative would also prohibit the sale of assault rifles to people under the age of 21.

“We offer our support for I-1639 given our view that it will help to ensure a higher level of public safety while balancing Constitutional rights around gun ownership,” the bishops concluded.

The bishops also stressed the need “to confront the root causes that can accompany gun-related violence,” including addiction, mental illness, poverty and graphic violence in entertainment and video games.

The bishops of Washington state are Archbishop J. Peter Sartain and Auxiliary Bishops Eusebio Elizondo and Daniel Mueggenborg of Seattle, Bishop Thomas Daly of Spokane and Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima.