Tag Archives: Gun Violence Prevention

New Survey Highlights Challenges and Opportunities for Gun Violence Prevention Legislation

Earlier in December, the Pew Research Center came out with a new poll on Americans’ attitudes on guns. The survey, Pew’s first on the issue since January 2013, showed an overall gain in support for “gun rights” over “gun control” over the past two years. Some of the main takeaways are below:

  • 52% say it’s more important to “protect the right of Americans to own guns,” whereas 46% say it’s more important to “control gun ownership;”
  • 57% say guns do more to “protect people from becoming victims of crime,” while only 38% say guns “put people’s safety at risk;”
  • Men favor “protecting gun rights” by a 61% to 43% margin, while women favor “controlling gun ownership” by a 54% to 43% margin;
  • Whites favor “protecting gun rights” by a 61% to 37% margin, while blacks and Hispanics favor “controlling gun ownership” by a 60% to 34% and 71% to 25% margin, respectively.

Across most demographic groups, we saw an uptick in support for “protecting gun rights” and a decrease in support for “controlling gun ownership.” At first blush, this sounds like unwelcome news for those of us in the gun violence prevention community: even with no change in laws on the federal level and a mixed bag of laws on the state level, Americans seem to be less amenable to passing laws to prevent gun violence.

Yet, it’s important to put this survey in perspective. First, we should remember that the previous survey was conducted in January 2013, just a month after the national tragedy of the shooting in Newtown. It’s only natural that attitudes supporting “controlling gun ownership” would erode as time passes. And second, though general attitudes may be shifting slightly, the changes we’ve been fighting for still find overwhelming public support.

Universal background checks for gun purchases still are supported by 92% of Americans. This statistic shows us the opportunity gun violence prevention advocates have to make our voices heard in Congress, to speak up and ensure that the views of the many are not drowned out by voices of the few. To get more involved in our campaign to prevent gun violence, Take action and urge your Members of Congress to co-sponsor Sen. Klobuchar’s Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act (S.1290), tell your mayor to stand up to gun manufacturers and demand safer gun technology, or join our NFTY campaign against gun violence

RAC LA Jonathan Edelman holds a candle at the faiths vigil

Remembering Newtown, Two Years and Too Many More Losses Due to Gun Violence

When I think back to December 14, 2012, I remember that it should have been a celebratory day for me. I had my two last final exams for the semester—logic and operations management—and quickly said goodbye to my friends as I drove from college back home. It had been a busy semester, and an even busier final exam season, but I had found the self-discipline to devote a lot of time to study for these finals. When I turned in my exams, I felt both proud of my work in preparing myself and excited to take a break from studying for a while. Packing my dorm room, I felt ecstatic—I felt that I could finally put a tough semester behind me and spend some much-needed time with my parents. Read more…

1 in 4 are affected by mental illness

Mental Health Continues to be a Priority Two Years After Sandy Hook

Sunday  marked the two-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, where a gunman murdered twenty children and six educators at Sandy Hook elementary school. Leading up to the two-year anniversary, agencies were working to set up a support system for the next 12 to 15 years for people impacted by the shooting, with mental health officials reporting many people reporting “substance abuse, relationship troubles, disorganization, depression, overthinking or inability to sleep” following the shooting. Thankfully, tragedies like the Sandy Hook shooting don’t happen very often; unfortunately, however, mental illness is experienced by millions every year.

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JWI Gun Violence

What Do Jacob the Patriarch and Senator Klobuchar Have in Common?

This week, we read my favorite portion in Genesis, Parashat Vayishlach (“he sent”). Among the other stories in Vayishlach, we read about the brothers Jacob and Esau’s first meeting since Jacob stole his brother’s birthright and fled in Parashat Toldot. Jacob sends messengers to Esau and discovers that Esau is coming, along with four hundred men, to meet him. Jacob is scared that Esau will come to kill him and prepares gifts to dull his anger. Yet when Esau sees Jacob, he runs to embrace him, and they are overcome with emotion (Genesis 32:3-33:12).

Jacob’s fear of his brother always stuck with me, as we see Jacob, who is often so creative and cunning, in a situation where he is helpless. Esau, always the stronger of the two, knows where Jacob is, and Esau has a much bigger contingent traveling with him. Jacob cannot prevent his brother from doing what he wants, so Jacob can only hope that Esau’s anger has subsided since his birthright was stolen. Read more…

There’s More to Gun Violence than Mental Illness

Newtown. Aurora. Tucson. These three shootings, at an elementary school in Connecticut, at a movie theater in Colorado and at a constituent meeting in Arizona, are just a few examples of the mass shootings that have captured the media’s attention in the past few years. While the shootings have sparked discussions on gun violence in this country, they have also led to conversations about the intersection of gun violence prevention and mental illness. In each of these cases, mental illness was at one point or another discussed as a potential cause of the violent crimes committed in these three towns. Whether the shooters in these attacks were mentally ill or not does not impact the importance of keeping guns out of the hands of people with mental illness. Moreover, the focus on gun violence and mental health can be limiting.

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Shining a Light Through Our Sorrow: Two Years After Newtown

December 14, 2014 marks the second anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In 2012, 20 school children and 6 teachers were shot in the single deadliest shooting since Virginia Tech in 2007.  After the Newtown shooting, the Reform Movement once again joined with the interfaith community and renewed our long-standing efforts to support gun violence prevention legislation, and provide resources and prayer services for our communities for healing. We worked tirelessly on the Manchin-Toomey bipartisan bill that proposed universal background checks for gun purchasing we were deeply saddened when Congress failed to pass that important legislation.

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A Win for Gun Violence Prevention in Washington State!

Yesterday, along with the US Senate and House of Representative elections and numerous elections on the state level, voters in Washington state chose not to stand silently by any longer in the face of gun violence. Ballot Initiative I-594 to institute universal background checks including for private sales in Washington passed by an overwhelming majority of 59.7% while the counter-initiative that would have prevented background checks in Washington State failed resoundingly. Laws similar to this one have been passed by other states, including last year in Maryland where the new law has already led to a significant drop in gun deaths state-wide.

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Reform Movement Responds to Election Results

In response to the 2014 midterm election results, Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued a statement:

In the wake of yesterday’s election results, we welcome the resounding success of three key state ballot initiatives that will enhance America’s safety and well-being. In Washington State, all gun purchases will now require a common-sense background check. Thanks to Nebraska voters, the state’s minimum wage will increase to $9 by 2016. In fact, voters approved minimum wage increases in four states nationwide, all by wide margins. And in Massachusetts, voters said “yes” to Question 4, allowing workers at companies with 11 or more employees to earn paid sick leave. In each of these states, Reform rabbis and congregants working with the Religious Action Center’s staff were key to the initiatives’ passage – offering sermons, publishing op-eds, speaking with colleagues and friends, and voting.

Read the entirety of the statement here.

To learn more about our work on economic justice issues (including paid sick days and minimum wage) and the Jewish values that underpin our advocacy and programming, be sure to visit our issue page.

The Reform Movement has a long and storied history of advocating for civil rights, from our engagement in the Civil Rights Movement, to the fact that we are intimately acquainted with the effects of bigotry. Our ancestors knew both the continuing indignities of second-class citizenship and the constant fear of xenophobic violence. Our history teaches us that discrimination against any members of a community threatens the security of the entire community. Learn more about our work on civil rights, including election reform and voting rights.

Also, don’t forget to join our post-election briefing today, November 6, at 1:30 p.m. as our panel will discuss different perspectives on the prospects for critical human and civil rights issues in the upcoming Congress. Join in live here.