Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich on Monday called for a ban on assault rifles in the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting at a church in Texas.
“It is important to do mourning, and support, and expressions of outrage, but then we also need to tell ourselves that that’s not enough,” he said. “We need to take action. We need to make sure our legislator knows that we need to enact laws that ban these high-power weapons.”
Noting that guns are banned in hospitals, schools, airplanes, “as far as I know we don’t allow them on the floor of the Senate,” Cupich said the country needed “reasonable gun restrictions.”
He also spoke about his personal experience of hunting, and that he had no problems with sport hunters.
“When the hunting sport has human prey, we have to take action,” he said.
Cupich was speaking at an event at the University of Chicago with Washington Post journalist E.J. Dionne one day after 26-year-old gunman Devin Patrick Kelley used an AR-15 to kill 26 people at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs on Sunday.
“We all feel a sense of outrage and sadness together as we confront another tragedy. This seems to be a weekly occurrence, if not a daily occurrence in our nation,” he said.
The cardinal also spoke with reporters after the event.
“The time however for expressing sorrow, and leaving it at that is over. It’s time now to act,” he said.
“Let’s start with these high-powered weapons. Both state and federal law need to change to make these guns not available,” the cardinal said. “We don’t need military weapons in our society. We’re not supposed to be at war with one another.”
It’s not the first time Cupich has spoken out on the issue. His city has been plagued by gun violence over the past few years: In 2016, the city had a record 681 homicides, and according to the Chicago Tribune, it’s on track to break 600 murders again this year.
In 2015 the cardinal took to the newspaper’s editorial pages to call for gun control legislation and questioned whether the authors of the Second Amendment could have anticipated “a time when the weapons we have a right to bear now include military-grade assault weapons that have turned our streets into battlefields.”
On Monday, Cupich told reporters many of the mass killings which have plagued the United States would not happen if the shooters did not have access to assault weapons.
“Let’s be honest about that. Let’s get these weapons out of the hands of people. We don’t need to be selling them,” Cupich said.
He also said he would not reverse the policy of the Archdiocese of Chicago, which does not allow people to carry guns on church property, explaining he didn’t “see any reason” to do anything different than what the archdiocese is doing.
“Once we begin to make our churches safety zones in a military-style approach, we’re going to lose something of the character of our places of worship,” he said.
Cupich said greed was behind the campaign to keep the weapons often used by mass shooters legal.
“Quite frankly it’s because there’s too much money, this is very lucrative business,” he said.
“And let’s not be naive about it, this is a money issue. And it’s nothing about the Second Amendment. It is about people who want to make money on these weapons, and really don’t care about the human cost.”