Pope Francis on Monday lashed out at the "brazen" freedom with which weapons circulate in the world when compared with numerous obstacles to distributing aid.
According to NBC News, his remarks at a United Nations World Food Program event came one day after the bloodbath in an Orlando nightclub ranked as the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Francis told the audience it was a "strange paradox" that aid and food are obstructed by barriers including political decisions and skewed ideology but "weaponry is not."
"It makes no difference where arms come from — they circulate with brazen and virtually absolute freedom in many parts of the world," the pope said.
The strident critique followed a statement from the Vatican on Sunday expressing "deepest feelings of horror and condemnation" over the Orlando attack.
"We all hope that ways may be found, as soon as possible, to effectively identify and contrast the causes of such terrible and absurd violence which so deeply upsets the desire for peace of the American people and of the whole of humanity," the Vatican said in a statement.
According to The Intercept, Pope Francis said:
“Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade”.
However, his words to Congress were immediately seized by media outlets like the Chicago Sun-Times and anti-Second Amendment groups as an impetus for gun control too. Breitbart News reported that Americans for Responsible Solutions—the gun control group founded by Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly—sent out a donation request after Pope Francis spoke. In the request, they asked for $3 from every gun control supporter and quoted the first part of Pope Francis’s question—”Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?”
Giffords went even further than asking for money by sending a tweet that cast gun control in religious overtones. She tweeted: “Inspired by [Pope Francis], let all Americans engage in a politics that sees the passage of just legislation that may bring us closer to grace