Brownsville Bishop: ‘Don’t Tell Me that Guns Aren’t the Problem’

Bishop of the Diocese of Brownsville, Daniel E. Flores conducts the funeral mass for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent Jaime Zapata at the Brownsville Special Events Center in Brownsville Texas Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. Zapata, 32, was run off the road and gunned down in San Luis Potosi …
AP Photo/Brad Doherty, Pool

Brownsville Bishop Daniel Flores said this week that the real problem behind mass shootings is the availability of guns, which are “easier to obtain than aspirin.”

“Don’t tell me that guns aren’t the problem, people are. I’m sick of hearing it,” Bishop Flores posted on his Twitter account Wednesday.

“The darkness first takes our children who then kill our children, using the guns that are easier to obtain than aspirin,” added the bishop, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops’ committee on doctrine. “We sacralize death’s instruments and then are surprised that death uses them.”

Asked to explain what he meant by the tweet, Bishop Flores told the Pillar Catholic said that “any attempt to control weapons that can cause grave damage — some of which moves have been enacted into law and others which have been resisted — is countered with a description that [gun ownership] is basically an individual’s sacred right, that no matter what the cost, it must be preserved.”

“To say something is sacralized is to say it’s almost taken out of any possibility for conversation,” he stated.

“It is a strong statement, but we do sometimes speak about things that way, and I must say that in some sense, we have kind of sacralized the whole idea of the individual right, such that it trumps any communal concern,” he declared.

“So when you sacralize it, you kind of make it basically closed for discussion, because we practically treat it as if it were sacred,” he said.

In the interview, the bishop went on to insist that the gun issue is “a topic that should be reasonably discussed as to what the limits are.”

“Access to these weapons should be a discussion that is focused on how we both respect the legitimate concerns of people who want to protect themselves or not be severely limited when they go hunting, but also the fact that some weapons out there pose a grave threat to the good of the whole,” he said.

The Church “doesn’t want to write the laws,” Flores asserted. “The Church wants people of reasonable judgment to discuss this — that’s why we elect officials, so that they can have that conversation and work out a way forward.”

“But it seems like we haven’t been able to move on this. And that’s why people are now very frustrated, and very hurt, by what they continue to see happening. I mean, it’s devastating,” he said.

“It’s a question that we have to discuss, and not just sort of shut off — it needs to happen,” he said.

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