Reform Rabbis Call on Citizens to Push for Stronger Gun Safety Enforcement and Legislation

The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) Also Expresses Sense of Dread at NRA Call for More Guns in Schools

Marketwired

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Dec 24, 2012) - In the wake of the tragic killings in Newtown, Connecticut, the world's largest group of Jewish clergy, the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), calls upon its members in the U.S. and concerned citizens across the country to advocate for better enforcement of existing gun safety laws and tighter restrictions on firearm and ammunition sales and ownership, according to a statement released by the CCAR today. 

The CCAR, which represents nearly 2,000 Reform Rabbis worldwide, also expressed shock and a sense of dread at National Rifle Association's suggestion to place armed guards in schools.

"On one Friday, a young man with guns traumatized a school, a town and a nation; on the next Friday, the NRA brazenly called for the placement of armed guards in every school in the land, this, despite the experience at Columbine when two armed security personnel were unable to protect the school children there from their attackers. The suggestion to expose children to even more weapons at school has been declared simplistic, impractical and ineffective by educators and elected officials from both parties, and rightly so. We believe that the time has come for the National Rifle Association and its members to put our nation's children and their 'right to life and liberty,' ahead of the right they claim to own weapons that serve no purpose other than to maximize human casualties," the CCAR statement says.

"There were many factors contributing to this unspeakable act of violence... It is undeniable that one important factor which enabled these murders -- and so many others across the nation -- was the availability of guns, especially assault rifles and multiple round clips," the statement says. "While automatic and semi-automatic handguns and rifles are legitimate tools in the arsenals of the Armed Forces and law-enforcement officers, they serve no legitimate purpose and have no place in the arsenal of individual civilians."

The CCAR has been consistent in its support of meaningful gun control laws. Beginning in 1975, the CCAR called for the limiting of handgun possession and has continued to speak out against the proliferation of firearms.

"After all these years and after all the countless persons murdered and wounded, we are saddened, frustrated and indignant that we must once again appeal for substantive gun control," the statement notes. "We understand that even the most comprehensive laws will not stop all gun violence incur land. Still, we proceed with the conviction of our tradition: 'One who saves one life saves a whole world.'"

The full statement from the CCAR is appended.

To arrange a conversation with Rabbi Steven A. Fox, Chief Executive of the CCAR, or Rabbi Jonathan Stein, CCAR President, please contact Frank Lentini of Sommerfield Communications, Inc. at 617-939-9094 or lentini@sommerfield.com.

Central Conference of American Rabbis Statement Calling for Stricter Restrictions on Firearm and Ammunition Sales and Ownership

They shall no longer hurt nor destroy... (Isaiah 11:9)

The Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 2000 Reform rabbis worldwide, adds to its sense of horror and outrage at the unfathomable acts perpetrated at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, a deep sense of disbelief and dread as the NRA unrelentingly and unremorsefully declared that the solution to guns in schools is more guns in schools.

On one Friday, a young man with guns traumatized a school, a town and a nation; on the next Friday, the NRA brazenly called for the placement of armed guards in every school in the land, this, despite the experience at Columbine when two armed security personnel were unable to protect the school children there from their attackers. The suggestion to expose children to even more weapons at school has been declared simplistic, impractical and ineffective by educators and elected officials from both parties, and rightly so. We believe that the time has come for the National Rifle Association and its members to put our nation's children and their "right to life and liberty," ahead of the right they claim to own weapons that serve no purpose other than to maximize human casualties.

We extend our profound condolences to those who suffered the death of a loved one. There are no words that can take away the pain of losing a child, a sibling, a grandchild, spouse or teacher. Still we pray that God bring comfort to all those whose lives were shattered on that dark Friday, bind their wounds and heal their broken hearts.

We express our deepest sympathies both to those whose bodies sustained wounds as well as to those who psyches, spirits and souls were wounded by the life altering fear they felt and horror they witnessed. We pray for refuah sh'layma (complete healing) for them all.

And we express our heartfelt admiration for the teachers, administrators and first responders whose courageous acts and even self-sacrifice saved countless more lives.

There were many factors contributing to this unspeakable act of violence, some of which may become known and some forever unknowable. It is undeniable that one important factor that enabled these murders -- and so many others across the nation -- was the availability of guns, especially assault rifles and multiple round clips. In the hands of criminals, the mentally ill and the angry impulsive, such weapons effectively facilitate multiple murders such as those witnessed last week. While automatic and semi-automatic handguns and rifles are legitimate tools in the arsenals of the Armed Forces and law-enforcement officers, they serve no legitimate purpose and have no place in the arsenal of individual civilians.

The CCAR has been consistent in its support of meaningful gun control laws. In 1975, the CCAR called for the limiting of handgun possession to "the military, duly authorized police officers, qualified and competent security personnel who will have possession of such handguns only in direct performance of their duties, and sports target shooters duly licensed by local authorities."

In 1987, the CCAR has called upon "members of the U.S. Congress to eschew the support of the NRA and to vote their support of stringent gun-control legislation."

In 1989, the CCAR declared its unequivocal opposition to "the proliferation of firearms and automatic weapons which continues unabated," noting even then that "the loss of life and personal injury from the use of such weapons grows astronomically." It challenged "local, state, and national officials to restrict the sale of all handguns and to ban the sale of automatic weapons to the general public."

In 2000, the CCAR renewed its support of gun restrictions and called upon its members "not to stand idly by the blood of your neighbor" and give active support to pending federal gun control legislation.

After all these years and after all the countless persons murdered and wounded, we are saddened, frustrated and indignant that we must once again appeal for substantive gun control. But we remain resolute and again call upon our elected officials, from President Obama to local municipal office holders to give strong and consistent support to the enactment and enforcement of legislation which would restrict the types of weapons and ammunition which may be possessed by civilians, which would create more stringent requirements for gun ownership, and which would eliminate the ability of individuals to circumvent existing gun laws though firearm purchases at gun shows.

We call upon members of the CCAR serving in the U.S. to advocate in their respective communities for better enforcement of existing gun safety laws and the tighter restrictions on firearm and ammunition sales and ownership.

We implore all the citizens of this land to raise their voices in support of making our schools and our streets safer for our children. If the murder in a few minutes of 20 first-graders does not turn our nation around regarding sensible gun laws, nothing ever will.

Once again, we call upon all members of congress to put aside their political concerns and immediately approve legislations implementing reasonable gun regulation.

We understand that even the most comprehensive laws will not stop all gun violence incur land. Still, we proceed with the conviction of our tradition: "One who saves one life saves a whole world."

Twenty-six worlds were destroyed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and the world they left behind is forever diminished. Let their memories spur us to action and their young lives cut short inspire us to make the world a better and safer place, as the prophet wrote, "and a little child will lead them." (Isaiah 11:6)

Rabbi Steven A. Fox, Chief Executive of the CCAR

ABOUT THE CCAR

The Central Conference of American Rabbis, founded in 1889, is the oldest and largest rabbinic organization in North America. As the professional organization of Reform Rabbis of North America, the CCAR provides religious leadership for North American Jewish Community and projects a powerful voice in the religious life of the American and international Jewish communities. Since its establishment, the CCAR has a rich history of providing religious leadership to the Reform Movement, providing professional and personal support to Reform rabbis and the communities they serve, serving as the center of lifelong learning, study, professional development and spiritual growth for Rabbis beginning while they are still in seminary, through mid-careers, and into retirement. The CCAR is uniquely positioned to meet the on-going needs of its nearly 2,000 member rabbis (virtually the entire Reform rabbinate) and the entire Reform Jewish community. For more information, please visit the CCAR's website at http://ccarnet.org.

Contact:
Press
Frank Lentini
Sommerfield Communications
617-939-9094
Lentini@sommerfield.com

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