Vatican The AP Interview Pope Francis Takeaways

Pope Francis speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at The Vatican, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. According to the pope, the arms industry has brought untold death and destruction to the world. “The world is obsessed with weapons,” he said.

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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis lamented that the use of guns by civilians to defend themselves is becoming a “habit.”

In an exclusive interview on Tuesday with The Associated Press, the pontiff, who has frequently criticized the arms industry, was asked about the large number of guns in civilian hands and frequent massacres in the United States. Francis expressed concern about how recourse to guns has become “habit.”

“I say when you have to defend yourself, all that’s left is to have the elements to defend yourself. Another thing is how that need to defend oneself lengthens, lengthens, and becomes a habit,’’ Francis said. “Instead of making the effort to help us live, we make the effort to help us kill.”

Francis has denounced the arms industry as trafficking in death. Francis said he wants to draw attention to the problem by saying: “Please, let’s say something that will stop this.”

The AP asked the question about the proliferation of guns among civilians after recent days saw several shootings, including in California.