Yesterday I traveled to Washington DC with my friend and colleague, Rabbi Joel Mosbacher, a national leader of Metro IAF’s DNSIB campaign. The purpose: a Press Conference to let the President know that it’s time to stop just talking about it and start acting! The Wall Street Journal, Bergen Record, Washington Post and other press were there.
How many deaths will it take? How many more senseless victims of gun violence until our nation takes meaningful action to address this plague. For the past couple of years I have been involved with Metro Industrial Area Foundations, a multi-faith network, Do Not Stand Idly By campaign against gun violence www.donotstandidlyby.org as have members of TBA. Over 70 municipalities across the country have signed on to the campaign, including the Township of Livingston and the Essex County Executive.
There is no singular solution for this problem but the DNSIB strategy is certainly a strong plan. Focus on the individuals with the purchasing power and hold gun manufacturers accountable for gun distribution and manufacturing.
Think about it. When a dishwasher malfunctions, there’s a recall. When cars have safety problems, there’s a recall. When guns kill people, again and again and again, Congress wrings its hands and does nothing and we continue to feel helpless and powerless to address this issue.
As taxpayers, we pay for 40% of guns purchased in America. The President is the largest purchaser of guns.
Sandyhook. Almost three years ago. Innocent schoolchildren’s murders did not shock our Nation into action.
Charleston, South Carolina. People of faith in a House of Worship gunned down.
Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon.
And the list grows every single day.
The Press Conference was held across from The White House. The request was clear. Mr. President, hold gun manufacturers accountable. Ask about their distribution policies. 1% of the gun shops in America sell over 60% of the guns used in crimes. Gun companies are selling the same guns legally and illegally. Photos of the gun company owners were held up along with a photo of the President. Take responsibility for the products sold and purchased.
Put money into research for smart guns. Existing guns can be retrofitted and these guns can only be used by owners or an authorized user. This won’t solve the whole problem but it’s a start. More than half of the guns used for suicides do not belong to the person using it. That’s a lot of lives to save. Guns picked up by children wouldn’t let them accidentally kill their friends, siblings or parents.
I was invited to open the morning’s meeting with a prayer.
God, Holy One of Blessing, we Your children cry out. But our prayers are not enough. Our words can not eradicate the plague of gun violence. We, created in Your image, have the spark of the Divine within each of us. With this holiness we must choose life. When Joshua succeeded Moses, he was told, “Be strong and courageous; for you shall cause the people to inherit the land.” [Joshua 1:6] We stand in this land-our home-America- urging our leaders and imploring our President to use his power to protect what is holy–babies, school children, college students, men, women, grandparents, parents, siblings, spouses-individual loved ones
May this prayer lead to action. Rak chazak v’amatz m’od–“Only be strong and very courageous.” [Joshua 1:5]