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Reform Jewish Movement Applauds Introduction of Bill to Close the Gun Show Loophole

Mandell: "How much longer can Congress ignore the will of the people and continue to be beholden to the gun lobby and its trite, tired rhetoric that does nothing to advance a vision of a safer America?"

Contact: Alexis Rice or Mike Silver (202) 387-2800

WASHINGTON, April 24, 2001 - The Reform Movement today applauded Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) for introducing the Gun Show Background Check Act. At a press conference this morning outside the Capitol, Jeff Mandell, Legislative Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, joined Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Jon Corzine (D-NJ), and representatives from a wide array of public health, consumer rights, religious and gun safety organizations, in endorsing Senator Reed's bill.
The complete text of Mr. Mandell's statement follows:

    Last week, we marked the two-year anniversary of the tragic shootings at Columbine High School. On a personal level, this also marked the two-year anniversary of my arrival in Washington as an advocate. One of my most lasting memories of that first week is the near unanimity with which our nation's leaders were shocked by events and spoke publicly of their determination to find a legislative remedy that would at least help us assure such events would not become commonplace. It was in this atmosphere that then-Senator Frank Lautenberg - a true giant of social justice, someone who never shrank from a fight (even with the NRA) when he knew he had right on his side - proposed to close the "gun show loophole," which allows for thousands of known felons, domestic abusers, mentally ill and minors to purchase guns without a mandated background check. Today, we join with Senator Reed, another fearless and tenacious advocate, to re-introduce Senator Lautenberg's bill.

    The fact that gun control is not the most discussed issue in Washington today in no way indicates that time has mitigated the need for this legislation. Indeed, while we all recognize that there is no legislative panacea for our culture of violence, there can be no doubt that today, having seen an unprecedented rash of school and workplace shootings in the past two years, closing the gun show loophole would make it harder for those who should not have guns to get guns. The Americans for Gun Safety Foundation released a report last week that concludes of the ten states that exported the most guns used in crimes in 1999, only one had mandatory background checks at gun shows. The study also found that, in states with background checks at gun shows, just over half of guns used in crimes were purchased in-state; in states without background checks at gun shows, that number exceeded seventy-five percent.

    There can be no doubt that closing the gun show loophole will make it more difficult for criminals and children to get guns. And the American people know this: the latest available survey data from the University of Chicago shows that nearly 80 percent of Americans, including almost two-thirds of gun owners, favor closing the gun show loophole. How much longer can Congress ignore the will of the people and continue to be beholden to the gun lobby and its trite, tired rhetoric that does nothing to advance a vision of a safer America? I thank those Senators standing here this morning. Together, we will continue to speak out against the easy availability of guns without the most basic safeguards. And together, with all of the other leaders and organizations here this morning, we will pass this bill and close this deadly loophole.

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    The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis(CCAR) whose membership includes over 1700 Reform rabbis.




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