Jewish Groups Urge Passage of Gun Control Legislation

Major Jewish organizations are lining up behind President Barack Obama’s call on Congress to pass effective gun control legislation in wake of the horrific shooting and the killing of at least nine students at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, on Thursday.

The Rabbinical Assembly, representing Conservative/Masorti congregations across the U.S., reiterated its call for sensible gun control in the United States in a statement released Friday.

“It is time for our leaders to enact sensible gun control, to support required background checks on all public and private gun sales, bans on military style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and legislation making gun trafficking a federal crime with severe penalties,” Rabbis William Gershon and Julie Schonfeld, president and executive vice president, said in a statement. “We cannot sit idly by while we have the means to prevent future tragedy.”

“Jewish tradition teaches that ‘for every stumbling block that threatens lives, one must remove it, protect oneself from it, and be exceedingly careful in its regard; as it says: ‘You shall guard and protect your lives,’ (Deuteronomy 4:9). Gun violence has reached a point in our country where it affects communities of all size, race and creed, rendering even our safest spaces – schools, houses of worship – as targets,” they explained.

President Obama expressed anger and frustration as he responded to the shooting on Thursday. “Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response here at this podium ends up being routine, the conversation in the aftermath of it … We have become numb to this,” the president complained. “This is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also urged the passage of “tough, effective gun control legislation.”

“Our country should not have to wake up to another mass shooting such as those we have repeatedly witnessed in the past few years – in Aurora, Colorado, in Chattanooga, Tennessee and elsewhere. We join with President Obama to echo the call for strong, effective and sensible gun control legislation,” said Hilary Bernstein, ADL Pacific Northwest Regional Director.

“We firmly believe that one way to limit the power of extremists and others who pose a violent threat to society is to enact tough, effective gun control legislation,” Bernstein added.

Since 1967, ADL has favored expanded federal and state regulation of the sale and transfer of firearms and other dangerous weapons, according to the news release.

CBS2 in Los Angeles aired on Thursday comments made by a local mom whose son is a survivor of a similar incident 16 years ago. “You think your kids are going to school, and they’re going to come home, and they don’t,” Loren Lieb, whose son Josh was shot during a mass shooting at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in 1999 when he was 6, told the local CBS affiliate. “We need to focus our attention on how did he do it, not why did he do it. If he didn’t get his hands on a gun, he couldn’t have done it.”

Lieb hosts monthly meetings at her home as part of the Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence.

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