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PORTLAND, Oregon – After a gunman killed at least six people and injured dozens more at a July 4th parade in Highland Park, Illinois, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago reiterated the need for elected officials to address gun violence in the United States.
“Whatever one makes of the right to bear arms, there is plenty of room for prudential judgment in interpreting the Second Amendment so as to enact serious, broadly popular gun-safety measures,” Cupich said in a statement. “The senate finally passed a significant, yet modest, gun-safety bill last month, but clearly more must be done.”
“The right to bear arms does not eclipse the right to life, or the right of all Americans to go about their lives free of the fear that they might be shredded by bullets at any moment,” he continued. “We must continue to pray that all our officials, elected and unelected alike, will redouble their commitment to keeping safe the people who they have sworn to serve.”
On Monday evening, police arrested 21-year-old Robert E. Crimo III as a person of interest in the shooting. Five of the people killed at the parade were adults. Information on the sixth victim wasn’t made public by the end of the day. Those injured range from ages 8-85.
The gunman opened fire around 10:15 a.m. – well into the latter half of the parade – with a high-powered rifle. They allegedly fired the weapon from the roof of a commercial building.
Highland Park is a community of about 30,000 people north of Chicago.
“Please join me in praying for the victims and their loved ones, who never imagined a July 4 celebration could become a killing ground,” Cupich said. “Pray too for the safety of first responders as they pursue the person responsible for this tragedy.”
The shooting is the latest in a wave of mass shootings in recent months. Cupich also lamented that police reported that at least 55 people were shot and seven killed in Chicago since July 1, noting that “weapons designed to rapidly destroy human bodies have no place in civil society.”
In response to the wave of violence, Congress passed bipartisan gun legislation near the end of June. The bill’s provisions include enhanced background checks for potential gun buyers under the age of 21, provides millions of dollars for states to implement what are known as “red flag” laws that are designed to keep guns out of the hands of people deemed to be dangerous by the courts, and strengthens laws against straw purchasing and trafficking of guns.
President Joe Biden, though, acknowledged after the Highland Park shooting that “there is much more work to do.”
Illinois governor JB Pritzker asked all Illinoisans to pray for all those affected by the shooting. He also spoke about the need for more comprehensive gun legislation.
“Grief will not bring the victims back, and prayers alone will not put a stop to the terror of rampant gun violence in our country,” Pritzker said in a statement. “I will stand firm with Illinoisans and Americans: We must – and we will – end this plague of gun violence.”
Assessing ways to stop a culture of violence, Cupich invoked a piece of a letter Pope Francis wrote to the people of Chicago in 2016, that reads “As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, humanity ‘must evolve for all human conflict, a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.’”
“I urge all people, especially young men and women, to respond to Dr. King’s prophetic words and know that a culture of nonviolence is not an unattainable dream, but a path that has produced decisive results,” Cupich said.
Follow John Lavenburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg