AUZENNE: Gun violence is a pro-life issue

May 9, 2023

People gather around a cross during a prayer vigil in Nashville, Tenn., March 29, 2023, for the victims of a deadly shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville. Three adults and three children, all 9 years old, were fatally shot at the school March 27. (OSV News photo/Kevin Wurm, Reuters)

On April 28, there was another mass shooting in America. This one was in the small town of Cleveland, Texas, just north of Houston. Four adults and one child were murdered by their neighbor, who was apparently provoked by their request to stop firing his gun outside their home.

Since May of last year, there have been mass shootings at a private Christian school in Nashville, a bank in Louisville, a dance studio in California, a Wal-Mart in Virginia, a nightclub in Colorado Springs, a Fourth of July Parade in Illinois, a Church potluck in Birmingham, and an elementary school in Uvalde. Dear Lord, Uvalde.

Also, since May of last year, there were mass shootings at a supermarket in Buffalo, a church in Sacramento, a high school in Michigan, a FedEx warehouse in Indianapolis, an office building in Boulder, and two massage parlors in Atlanta. This is a partial list; there are too many to name here. It is likely there will be another even before this column is published on May 9. (For a complete list, you can visit

A recent report by the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that nearly one in five Americans (19%) have lost a loved one due to gun violence, most due to suicide. When added to the number of people who have seen someone shot (17%), those who have been threatened with a gun (21%), those who have shot a gun in self-defense (4%), and those who have been shot (4%), the number of Americans affected by gun violence rises to nearly three out of five people.

These statistics tell us what doctors, nurses, law enforcement, mental health professionals, EMTs, and common sense have long told us: gun violence is a public health crisis that impacts every part of our society. Moreover, it is a scandal against the dignity of the human person and a grievous failure on all our parts to uphold the common good. In short, gun violence is a respect life issue, every bit as critical as abortion, the death penalty and euthanasia.

Unfortunately, those who advocate for permissive gun legislation have been effective in discouraging respect life advocates from speaking about gun violence.

We have been told that such discussions are “too political” and warned that respect life advocates who engage in them will alienate themselves from social and financial supporters.

Friends, the Gospel is political. The pages of Scripture clearly reveal that God takes sides, especially in issues of life and death: “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live.” (Deut. 30:19) 

It is worth noting that God does not say that He has set before us Democrats and Republicans; conservatives and liberals; or Fox News and MSNBC. Clearly, the call to respect life is bigger than any of our partisan divisions. As a starting point, the U.S. Conference of Catholic

Bishops has listed a number of common-sense reforms such as increasing access to mental health and placing limits on civilian ownership of military weapons in their 2020 document, “Backgrounder on Gun Violence: A Mercy and Peacebuilding Approach to Gun Violence.”

There are many advocates for the lives of the unborn, the condemned, and the terminally ill who boldly share the Gospel of life in a world that is beset by a culture of death. But our silence on the issue of gun violence makes us worse than hypocrites — it make us complicit. The Gospel contains the salt and light that is so desperately needed here — will we have the courage to proclaim it? 

Amy Auzenne, MSW, MACE, is the director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.