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With the recent tragic events in El Paso and Dayton, our nation is once again confronted with the epidemic of gun violence in our society and the burgeoning public health crisis that it has become. As one of the nation’s leading Catholic healthcare systems, we view gun violence as a public health issue that must be addressed.

Our clinicians treat victims in trauma units every day. Our healthcare associates respond heroically and compassionately to these crises when they occur in their cities and towns. We should all be in solidarity with the victims of violence in El Paso, Dayton, Gilroy, Las Vegas, Parkland and unfortunately so many other places, including the emergency rooms of our healthcare facilities. We are speaking out because our faith makes clear that the “Catholic healthcare ministry is rooted in a commitment to promote and defend human dignity.” Silence in the face of such tragedy and wrongdoing falls short of our mission to advocate for a compassionate and just society.

Ascension stands with its spiritual brothers and sisters in the Catholic community, including the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Catholic Health Association, to ask our elected officials to address the issue of gun violence. Some things to be considered include more research dollars to better understand the root causes of gun violence, mandatory criminal background checks for every purchase of a firearm, and greater investment in mental and behavioral health treatment, among other things.

We urge all Americans to engage in a constructive, even empathetic, dialogue on gun violence. All Americans oppose these senseless killings, and we should unite around an achievable platform that can save some lives even if it cannot eradicate all weapon-based violence. The time has come to address this public health crisis.

Joseph R. Impicciche, JD, MHA
President and Chief Executive Officer, Ascension