The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Friday reiterated that the "culture of life" often cited by Republican politicians included gun control.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Bishop Stephen E. Blaire expressed his disappointment that legislation to expand criminal background checks on gun purchases was killed by a filibuster.

"The USCCB has been working with other faith leaders and organizations urging Congress to support legislation that builds a culture of life by promoting policies that reduce gun violence and save people's lives in homes and communities throughout our nation," he said. "In the wake of tragic events such as the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, the failure to support even modest regulations on firearms is a failure in moral leadership to promote policies which protect and defend the common good."

Last week, the Senate voted 54-46 in favor of a bipartisan amendment to a larger gun bill that would require background checks on firearm sales at gun shows and on the Internet. The Senate failed to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a Republican-led filibuster.

Blaire praised the senators who "demonstrated the virtues of courage and leadership" by voting for the amendment and said the Church would continue to "support legislation that promotes a culture of life by reducing gun violence."

Though the "culture of life" is a term often used by opponents of abortion, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has frequently used the phrase when calling for stricter gun laws. The Conference, which represents all Catholic bishops in the United States, has been calling for stricter gun laws since 2000, including a complete ban on handguns.