Despite all the uncertainty that surrounds Washington politics, two things never seem to change: Memory is woefully short-lived and the National Rifle Association wields an outrageous amount of power.
Both these certainties help explain the fact that less than five months after the horrific murder of 20 kindergartners and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., gun control legislation that had gained some momentum appears likely to hit a brick wall.
Although the threatened Republican filibuster went bust — in part thanks to Sen. Pat Toomey's embrace of background checks — comprehensive gun legislation still has an uphill battle to gain the necessary votes to pass the Senate.
But this time, the public is not taking it lightly. Law enforcement officials, mayors, clergy and victims’ families are fighting back. And so should you.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group convened by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, launched a scoring system to grade lawmakers on their gun control positions. This is similar to what the NRA does from the opposite perspective.
“For too long, the only voice that has been loud enough to influence Congress has been the Washington gun lobby’s — that’s how we’ve ended up with ineffective gun laws that have fueled our country’s gun violence epidemic,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “Now we’re working to make sure that the voices of the more than 900 bipartisan mayors in our coalition — and the 90 percent of Americans who support common-sense reforms like background checks for all gun sales — are heard loud and clear.”
More than 20 Jewish groups have banded together to express their support for common sense measures that begin to reduce senseless gun violence. On Tuesday, clergy of all religions exhorted their followers to contact their senators to demand comprehensive gun legislation. Faiths Calling, the interfaith coalition mobilizing on the issue, includes Jewish groups across the religious and political spectrum, confirming that this is one issue upon which most Jews agree.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Juda-ism, one of the groups leading that coalition, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, expressing the view of many in our community:
“Just as the prophet Isaiah exhorts the people of the earth to ‘beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks,’ so, too, do I urge you to vote for comprehensive and enforceable background checks and to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
“This is holy work and we are counting on you to do it, helping to shape a better and more hopeful world for us all.”
To that, we say, “Amen.” And it’s not too late to contact your senator if you haven’t already done so.