Following last week’s attack at Sandy Hook Elementary, where a gunman murdered 26 children and adults, over 10,000 Americans have signed a Jewish Council for Public Affairs petition to make access to guns and mental health care a national priority.
“There has been an immediate emotional reaction across the entire country of shock, horror, and deep sadness. But this was not an isolated event. In the past few months, we have seen shootings at malls, theaters, and places of workshop; each one followed by a return to complacency and status quo,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “The grotesque shooting at Newtown and the massive outpouring of support for this petition mark a tonal shift in our country where the need for a comprehensive approach to guns and mental health care are urgent priorities we can no continue to ignore. The thousands of signers are the beginning of a national and sustained effort to make sure future tragedies like this are unimaginable.”
The online petition at http://www.EndGunViolenceNow.org, which was coordinated with and disseminated by a group of leading rabbis from the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, and Renewal movements and circulated through social media and the JCPA’s network of 125 Jewish Community Relations Councils across the country, has also been shared with the White House, Members of Congress, and federal agency officials. It acknowledges the country’s shared grief and offers signers an opportunity to share moving reflections of their own grief. While recognizing “the right of Americans to own guns” the petition, inspired by the Jewish teaching that each and every person is created in the divine image, says “We will not allow the intense emotion we feel now to return to a place of complacency where we become desensitized to the atrocities that unfold around us daily.”
“There was no one cause or one policy to blame for the shooting at Newtown,” said JCPA Chair Larry Gold. “Violence in our country is a multidimensional problem requiring a multidimensional response. That is why our petition calls not for one policy or another, but for a comprehensive approach. From access to guns to quality of mental health care to violence in the media, we need to be open to any constitutional and rational policy that can save even one life. The object of our petition is to stop the pandemic of violence in our country. And in just a few days, thousands have mobilized to demonstrate that such violence is not acceptable in America.”
In March, when JCPA’s local and national member agencies gather at the 2013 Plenum, delegates will likely debate a resolution calling for a comprehensive approach to gun control, mental health, and violence in society.
JCPA, the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community, serves as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 14 national and 125 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations.