NEW YORK — Following the latest episode of gun violence in the United States, Bishop Frank Dewane, Chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued a statement on Tuesday urging for a national debate on America’s gun policies.

“For many years, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been urging our leaders to explore and adopt reasonable policies to help curb gun violence,” said Dewane.

“The recent and shocking events in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs remind us of how much damage can be caused when weapons — particularly weapons designed to inflict extreme levels of bloodshed — too easily find their way into the hands of those who would wish to use them to harm others.”

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Last month a gunman opened fire on a concert in Las Vegas, Nevada, killing 58 people and injuring nearly 500 more. On Sunday, a 26-year-old gunman entered into First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas and killed 26 congregants during service. In 2017 alone, there have been over 13,000 gun related deaths in the United States.

“Violence in our society will not be solved by a single piece of legislation, and many factors contribute to what we see going on all around us,” said Dewane. “Even so, our leaders must engage in a real debate about needed measures to save lives and make our communities safer.”

Among the initiatives urged by the bishops is a total ban on assault weapons. Dewane noted in his statement that the bishops supported the 1994 ban, which congress failed to renew in 2004.

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“While acknowledging the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and related jurisprudence, we live in a fallen world with daily advances in modern technology,” he said.

“Some weapons are increasingly capable of easily causing mass murder when used with an evil purpose. Society must recognize that the common good requires reasonable steps to limit access to such firearms by those who would intend to use them in that way.”