Let’s Make Background Checks on Guns Universal
With seemingly near constant news headlines of mass shootings and other acts of gun violence, debate on prevention measures for public safety is critical. The issue of whether universal background checks should be required for all firearm purchases is a possible solution to decrease some of these disturbing statistics:
- One in three people in the U.S. know someone who has been shot;
- On average, 32 Americans are murdered with guns every day and 140 are treated in an emergency room for gun-related injuries;
- Every day, about 51 people take their own life with a gun and 45 people are shot or killed in a gun accident.
Gun violence among children and teens is also an increasingly alarmingly issue. On average, at least one in five U.S. teenagers (ages 14 to 17) report having witnessed a shooting and guns are responsible for the deaths of eight children and teens every day.
While universal background checks are not the only solution to ending gun violence, instituting them will make the accessibility of guns more difficult—keeping some people with serious mental illness or criminal histories from obtaining these deadly weapons. Many Americans support this solution: nine out of 10 Americans agree that we should have universal background checks.
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was passed by Congress in 1993. It instituted federal background checks on firearm purchasers in the U.S. and since its enactment, nearly 2 million attempts to purchase firearms have been blocked due to a background check. About half of these blocked attempts were by convicted felons and domestic abusers.
Unfortunately, the current background check system only covers 60% of all gun sales—the 40% of guns purchased through online sales, at gun shows and through straw men buyers are done with no background check.
Gun violence is a particular concern in Judaism—our tradition teaches us the value of human life and the importance of preserving it. Judaism instructs us to use our technological advances for the greater good, not for violence and destruction. Our tradition idealizes a world free of weapons and violence.
The Reform Movement supports strong legislation to prevent gun violence including limiting manufacture, sale and possession of firearms. Tell your members of Congress prevent more gun violence by signing the petition to expand Brady Background Checks to all gun purchases.
Nicole Dimond is a rising junior at The George Washington University. She is an International Affairs major with a Conflict Resolution concentration and a French minor. Originally from Miami, Florida, Nicole grew up attending Temple Judea.