Our Hearts are Broken, Our Spirits are Strong

5 Responses to the Tragedy in Newtown

The violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday has left us all reeling in horror, shock and sadness. It seems that the deaths of 20 school children and six of their faculty and teachers have caused a tipping point in the gun control debate. Opinion leaders and policy makers who a week ago would not have been likely to accede to the need for some common sense restrictions on assault weapons, high capacity ammunition and background checks are now willing to have those conversations. On Monday, several members of Congress who were previously among the staunchest advocates of expanding the understanding of the Second Amendment signaled new willingness to consider restrictions.

Of course, we have a long way to go between here and there. And even the strongest voices on Capitol Hill calling for a new assault weapons ban, like Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), are making plans to act in January, when the new Congress convenes. Right now, in the midst of the raw pain, January feels like a long time away. So what can we do to make sure that this issue stays at the top of the national agenda and sensible gun control measures are actually passed and signed into law? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Keep up the pressure. Call and email your Senators and Representative and tell them it’s time for common sense gun control aimed at curbing future violence. Remind them that Congress must act swiftly when it reconvenes in January.
  2. Send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper calling for action on gun control. City councilors, mayors, governors, state legislators, and members of Congress all read the local papers to keep their fingers on the community’s pulse. Letters to the editor and op-eds in the local press are usually much more likely to change minds than something in a national paper.
  3. Reach out to local law enforcement. Invite the local chief of police to speak at a synagogue event. Ask about the ways they are working to keep schools and other community institutions (like houses of worship) safe – and what more they think needs to be done to stop the scourge of gun violence.
  4. Talk to local stores about what they stock on their shelves. Already, there are news reports of sporting good stores that are suspending sales on certain guns that are generally acknowledged not to be of use to recreational hunters but that can do enormous damage in the wrong hands.
  5. Get involved! Groups like the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence are at the forefront of gun control advocacy. Keep up with their work, join their advocacy efforts (and the RAC’s!) and make sure the outrage, momentum, and passion for action we feel right now results in real changes that make our children, friends, and communities safer.

Image courtesy of Fox.

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Barbara Weinstein

About Barbara Weinstein

Barbara Weinstein is the Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism and Associate Director of the Religious Action Center.

2 Responses to “5 Responses to the Tragedy in Newtown”

  1. Hindsight being what it is, I think we can all agree that it’s probably not a good idea to take your emotionally challenged son to target practice with automatic weapons in an attempt to “bond” with him.

  2. Ms. Weinstein,

    I share with you the revulsion for the evil perpetuated by the Monster in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012. The savaging of innocence is an abomination of unfathomable depth. My heart goes out to those shattered families forever altered by the acts of this Monster. However, I believe your call for “common sense restrictions on assault weapons, high capacity ammunition and background checks” are myopic and have proven to be counter-productive.

    Sara Brady’s “Center to Prevent Gun Violence” rates Connecticut 5th in the Country for imposing gun restrictions on it’s Citizens. Not one of these laws stopped this Monster in murdering 26 innocent souls. Reinstating the so-called Assault Weapons Ban would not have stopped this Monster either. Limiting the capacity of the magazines would not have stopped this Monster. No law prevented Nancy Lanza, the mother, from being shot four times in the face as she was sleeping by her Monster/Son. Nancy Lanza followed all the laws in obtaining all of the weapons that the Monster later stole from her home. The Monster then stole her car and transported all of the stolen guns to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where his rampage continued. None of the new gun restrictions you are supporting would have hindered or affected any of these events.

    This crime highlights the myth of creating “gun free zones”. In fact, as has been the case across the nation, these “gun free zones” merely become, ironically and tragically “victim rich zones”. Criminals seek out “Gun Free Zones”, knowing they will be unopposed in their mayhem. The Aurora Theater Murderer had a choice of six separate Theaters. That Monster left his apartment and drove pass two closer Theaters, going to the only Theater were he knew signs were posted stating “No Guns Allowed”. These Murders are not looking for a gunfight, they want easy prey. “Gun Free Zone” provide an environment rich in potential and, sadly, real victims. In nearly every case once these Monsters hear a siren or see someone aiming a gun at them, the next shot they fire invariably is at their own skull. These Monsters are all cowards looking only for the weak to prey upon.

    To think that limiting magazine size will prevent future murders by Monsters is evidence of further faulty thinking. An empty magazine can be changed in seconds by anyone. A skilled and practiced individual can change out an empty magazine and install a fully loaded magazine in less than one second. Yes, less than one second. Limiting Magazine size is a mere exercise in wishful thinking. Clearly, you have never heard of a “New York Reload”? A “New York Reload” is accomplished by dropping your empty handgun and simply pulling out another handgun that is fully. The Sandy Elementary School Monster walked onto that campus with three loaded firearms. Magazine size is clearly irrelevant in preventing crimes.

    Simply recasting old and discredited arguments and platitudes as “real changes that make our children, friends, and communities safer” is disingenuous, misleading and insincere.

    The simple and real solution is to be found in what our co-religionists do everyday in Israel. The Israeli’s allow most any adult and teacher to be armed, often visibly armed. Since the practice of arming adults and teachers was instituted nearly forty years ago not one Pre-School or Elementary School mass shooting has occurred in Israel. As Benjamin Franklin so keenly observed, “common sense is not all that common”. Shalom.

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