Junk guns -- despite a name which conjures images of a child's toy -- are weapons that create sorrow, not joy. Children and adults, alike, use these "toys" not for playing, but for killing. Today, we commit ourselves and our communities to removing this blight on our society.
As Jews, we are taught that "one who destroys one soul has destroyed the whole world." Our tradition speaks clearly of our responsibilities to care for one another. Securing the public safety by banning Junk guns, otherwise known as Saturday Night Specials, is an extension of this basic tenet. The crucial objective of the Junk Gun Violence Protection Act is to ensure that the same regulations and limitations which we already impose on imported weapons will be applicable to domestically manufactured weapons.
These guns that go unchecked are over three times as likely to be used in the perpetration of a crime, and are central to arsenals maintained by organized crime rings, gangs, and drug traffickers. Furthermore, their low cost places them within the reach of our youth, and their shoddy construction makes them unreliable, and a threat to lawful handgun users.
Today the blood of innocent victims marks our streets and sidewalks just as mourners' faces are marked by tears. Yet, today our inaction allows incessant spread of violence and hatred as these deadly weapons invade our neighborhoods. Junk guns have already claimed innumerable lives, but our efforts to ban these dangerous devices will ensure that the victims memories are not forgotten, and the lessons of their senseless deaths are heeded. If we are devoted to keeping streets safe for our families, schools safe for our children, and our actions linked to our values then we have no choice but to act immediately.
Our sages taught, "if one sees that one's neighbor is in trouble, one shall do whatever one can, or hire others to come to one's rescue if one cannot do it oneself."
The Jewish community celebrates the sanctity of each life, and mourns each victim of handgun violence. We commend Senator Boxer and Representative Reed for their leadership on this vital issue, and urge Congress to move expeditiously to adopt this legislation. Truly, lives truly hang in the balance.
--Statement of Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
June 13, 1996
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 .