The beginning of the school year for me has always been filled with the comfort of the early September winds and the coming High Holy Days. With the first day of classes brings with it new teachers, classrooms, and friends. Dipping apples in honey, smelling the musty reticence of the shofar, and walking along the beach throwing breadcrumbs give me the sense of clean slate, a new start and a new year.
Right before my daughter was born, my husband and I took a childcare class. We were the typical expectant parents, eagerly awaiting the birth of our child, and petrified that we wouldn’t know what to do once she arrived. I expected to learn how to put on a diaper and what to do for an earache. What I didn’t expect was for the instructor to say that before I let my child go on a play date, I should ask the host family if they had a gun in the house and how they stored it. Before that, I had never actually thought about my quiet suburban neighbors touting firearms that could endanger my child.
Fast forward a couple of years to our joining Temple Israel in Boston. TI was a pioneer in using faith-based community organizing methods, and was engaging in house meetings. One emerging theme was huge concerns about teenagers experiencing stress and issues regarding their safety. And then, there was Newtown, CT. The tragedy of kindergarten children and their teachers being tragically murdered brought all of our attention to the threat of gun violence, and the threats that guns pose when used in crimes, suicides, and accidents.
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.
This morning the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing called VAWA Next Steps: Protecting Women from Gun Violence. Greater attention paid to the intersection between gun violence and domestic violence will hopefully lead to better protections for women from domestic violence, and help end the scourge of gun violence in our country. Read more…
On Friday, the RAC hosted “What Next?”, a meeting of faith leaders, experts, survivors and advocates exploring next steps for the faith community to reduce gun violence. Professor Daniel Webster, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research was the keynote speaker. He discussed the efficacy of fingerprint licensing laws. You can read some of Professor Webster’s work here. Read more…
By Jane Wiesenberg
There are quintessential images the word “college” tends to evoke: classic literature, complicated equations, and state-of-the-art labs – to name a few. Yet, in recent years, months, and weeks, another – less fitting and certainly more lethal – term has been added to the list: gun violence.
The history of gun violence on college campuses is both extensive and alarming. The 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre, in which a student killed 32 people and then turned the gun on himself, remains the most deadly shooting in U.S. history. In 2013, there were 27 shootings on or close to college campuses, and just last month, a shooter in Isla Vista, California killed six students and then himself at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Two weeks ago, after just a two-day call-in blitz from the gun violence prevention community, the House of Representatives passed the Thompson-King Amendment (260 to 145) as part of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill to improve our national background check system for gun purchases. The amendment provides an additional $19.5 million dollars to states to input their criminal and mental health records into the national system to avoid a dangerous individual purchasing a firearm, as happened in the Virginia Tech Shooting. Read more…