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Reform Jewish Leaders Urge House Leaders to Oppose Legal Immunity for the Gun Industry
In anticipation of the upcoming vote in the House of Representatives on The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (HR 800), Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Director of the Commission of Social Action of Reform Judaism, and Jane Wishner, Chairperson, Commission of Social Action of Reform Judaism, issued the following letter urging House leaders to oppose the bill.

Feldman and Wishner:  In a nation where nearly 30,000 people die from gun violence each year, this legislation would remove a major incentive for gun manufacturers and dealers to make their products safer, improve their distribution practices, and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and children.

Contact: Alexis Rice or Jason Kleinman
202.387.2800

Washington, October 17, 2005 – In anticipation of the upcoming vote in the House of Representatives on The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (HR 800), Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Director of the Commission of Social Action of Reform Judaism, and Jane Wishner, Chairperson, Commission of Social Action of Reform Judaism, issued the following letter urging House leaders to oppose the bill. The complete letters follows:

Dear House Leadership,

We are writing on behalf of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, which represents more than 900 congregations, 1,800 rabbis and encompasses 1.5 million Reform Jews throughout North America, to strongly urge you to oppose The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (HR 800),  sponsored by Cliff Stearns (R-FL). 

HR 800 would grant sweeping legal immunity to the gun industry, preventing victims of gun violence from seeking justice in our nation’s courts.  The Senate has already passed its version of this bill (S. 397), making it increasingly important that you oppose this bill when it comes to vote this week.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act would provide the gun industry with unprecedented immunity from lawsuits brought by victims of gun violence, governments, and civic organizations for civil damages based on the misuse of a firearm.  The bill immunizes all arms of the gun industry – manufacturers, dealers, distributors, and importers – from lawsuits, including dealers who negligently sell guns to traffickers.  This bill would also require an immediate dismissal of pending lawsuits, which would strip victims of the D.C. area sniper attack, along with many others, of their rights.  If H.R. 800 passes, the gun industry will be the only industry in the United States with such broad protection from legal responsibility for its actions.  In a nation where nearly 30,000 people die from gun violence each year, this legislation would remove a major incentive for gun manufacturers and dealers to make their products safer, improve their distribution practices, and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and children.

The Talmud teaches that “he who takes one life it is as though he has destroyed the universe and he who saves one life it is as though he has saved the universe.”  The carelessness and ease by which guns take human life directly violate these affirmations of Jewish principle.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (H.R. 800) is a reckless attempt to provide unique legal protection to the gun industry at the expense of innocent Americans.  We urge you to oppose this bill and protect the legal rights of victims of gun violence.

Sincerely,
/s/
Rabbi Marla J. Feldman
Director, Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism

/s/
Jane Wishner
Chairperson, Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism , whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews , and the Central Conference of American Rabbis , whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.



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