MA bishops support AG's assault weapons ban enforcement

The Episcopal bishops in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have issued a joint statement of support for Attorney General Maura Healey.  In her op-ed published in the Boston Globe, Healey expresses the importance of state law in the effort to end the bloodshed:  “In the face of utter inaction by Congress, states have a duty to enact and enforce laws that protect people from gun violence.  If Washington won’t use its power to get these guns off our streets, we will.  Not only do we have the legal authority to do so, we have a moral obligation to do so.”  Healey’s efforts to enforce existing legislation on the sale of assault weapons brought mixed reaction this week.

The Episcopal Church encourages engagement with this issue as a matter of public health and safety.  With one voice the bishops express gratitude for Healey’s willingness to enforce an existing law, and they reiterate their call for collective action to end the epidemic of gun violence in America.  The full text of the bishops’ statement follows.

MA bishops Bishop Gates, Bishop Harris, Bishop Fisher

We, the Episcopal bishops in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, support Attorney General Maura Healey’s efforts to tighten the loophole in our state’s assault weapons law.

According to recent polls nearly two thirds of Americans support stricter gun laws nationally, and a majority favors a nationwide ban on the sale of semi-automatic assault weapons such as the ones used at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino and the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.  Here in Massachusetts, we have such a ban, and our attorney general is taking reasonable steps to enforce it in order to keep deadly weapons out of our communities—weapons that our military leaders say belong only on battlefields and not on the streets of our country.

We support strict enforcement of the assault weapons ban in Massachusetts because it is good public policy.  And we support it because our faith compels us to work against gun violence and weapons of war in our streets.  We follow the “Prince of Peace.”  We follow Jesus who prays that God’s will be done on earth.  Here, among us.  There is not one plan for heaven and another plan for earth.

We make this public statement of support for Attorney General Healey based on the consistent urging of the Episcopal Church to engage the public health crisis of gun violence.

We call on people of all faiths and none to join us in supporting Attorney General Healey’s enforcement efforts, working to remove weapons of war from our communities and breaking down the barriers of fear and hatred that too often divide us and fuel a deadly culture of violence.

The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
The Rt. Rev. Gayle E. Harris, Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

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