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Nation's Largest Jewish Organization Calls on NRA to Stop Offensive Rhetoric, to Join Effort for Common-Sense Measures

Contact: Jeff Mandell, (202) 387-2800

Yoffie: "I write in outrage: to declare that the President has "blood on his hands" when the NRA has served as the single most obstructionist force in this nation to any progress on gun control and public safety is more than irresponsible. It is beyond the pale of legitimate criticism. . . . Can we agree that the violence destroying our communities and disfiguring our culture, are so great that we must explore all avenues toward solutions? No religion countenances killing; no moral teaching extols violence; no common-sense look at our society denies the need for us to move forward on gun control."

NEW YORKMarch 16, 2000 — In response to false and offensive rhetoric emanating from the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the past week, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, wrote to Charleton Heston, President of the NRA, and Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President.

The full text of Rabbi Yoffie's letter follows:

Dear Mr. Heston and Mr. LaPierre,

I write in outrage: to declare that the President has "blood on his hands" when the NRA has served as the single most obstructionist force in this nation to any progress on gun control and public safety is more than irresponsible. It is beyond the pale of legitimate criticism. Our neighborhoods and communities are dangerous places, shredded by gun violence, and you attempt to blame the President?

President Clinton is working diligently toward enacting common-sense gun control; the NRA is making every inch of progress a struggle. But there is no reason for it to be so. Neither we, nor a majority in Congress, nor a majority of the American people are talking about banning guns. We support basic, common-sense measures that will save lives and mitigate our culture of violence. On our side we have more than common-sense: we have the support of the vast majority of Americans, and the weight of centuries' worth of moral teachings. The recent announcements by Governor George Pataki and Governor Parris Glendenning that they will aggressively support common-sense gun safety measures illustrate the broad-base on which we stand.

Yesterday, the Reform Movement's Religious Action Center joined with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo, and other national religious leaders — including two Catholic Bishops from Colorado who have been active in counseling families directly affected by the Columbine tragedy — in releasing a letter to the American people promising that in the pursuit of our common religious traditions' ends, we will work with Congress, the President, and others with national leadership roles for common-sense gun control measures. I have enclosed a copy of that letter.

Let me urge you to discontinue your disruptive rhetoric of blame and join our campaign to find proactive solutions that will enable all Americans to live in a society where our liberties are protected without our safety being sacrificed. Join us in calling for decency, safety, and a better America. Can we agree that the violence destroying our communities and disfiguring our culture, are so great that we must explore all avenues toward solutions? No religion countenances killing; no moral teaching extols violence; no common-sense look at our society denies the need for us to move forward on gun control.

I hope that the NRA, whose membership includes people of many faiths and indubitable sense, will join with us and all other major American religious denominations pursuing a safer nation.

L'Shalom,
/s/
Rabbi Eric Yoffie
President
Union of American Hebrew Congregations

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, representing its 895 congregations across North America, whose membership includes 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the 1700 rabbis of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.



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