This past Mother’s Day, I marched with my family in the Moms Demand Action's 4th Annual Brooklyn Bridge March and Rally to End Gun Violence (#BridgetoGunSense). Once again, we listened to heartbreaking and senseless stories by family members who had experienced gun violence and the loss of a loved one.
The other day, I was asked why I got involved in the gun violence prevention movement. It’s because of my intolerance—I have no tolerance for injustice and non-sense.
I first became actively aware of gun violence as a human health crisis in our nation sixteen years ago through my involvement as a coordinator of the Million Mom March. Since then, like so many of us, I have been amazed by the forces in America who can’t seem to agree on the definition of commonsense when it comes to gun safety and gun legislation.
In 2007, Congress designated September 25 as the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. While on average, more than 89 people die from gun violence every day, a day of remembrance is the only recent action by Congress to acknowledge this loss. In this critical presidential election year, it is vital to put the issue in front of Congress and the American people before we go to the polls to vote in November.
As a way to create a positive national moment of collective remembrance supported by action, there is an effort under way to encourage communities across America to create musical events on September 25, 2016. Throughout our history, the power of song has brought us together. The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence events can come in any shape or form in your community. For example, a cantor concert, a concert involving your synagogue choir, a NFTY gathering, or a performance by a local musician. Congregations may also want to join together with other organizations in their community or with other faith-based institutions. Because it’s all about awareness, invite your local congressperson and let your local press know about the event.
#ConcertAcrossAmerica to #EndGunViolence will connect through social media across the country. #RememberSept25 will be a day to honor victims #ForgottenByCongress, including but not limited to: Virginia Tech in 2007, Tucson, AZ in 2011, Aurora, CO in 2012, Oak Creek, WI in 2012, Newtown, CT in 2012, Umpqua Community College, OR in 2015, and San Bernardino, CA in 2015, just to name a few.
The Religious Action Center (RAC) has a variety of ways for you to learn more about this issue. You can take specific action on legislation to take action to close loopholes in the background check system for people purchasing guns. According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, “90 percent of Americans support the expansion of Brady background checks on all gun sales. However, only 60 percent of gun sales occur with a background check; the other 40 percent happen no questions asked. Furthermore, about 90 percent of crime guns are traced to only five percent of dealers. Additionally, 1.7 million children live in a home with an unlocked or loaded gun.”
And yet, our elected representatives in Congress fail to act. Urge your Member of Congress to support measures to prevent gun violence in America by improving our background check system through the Fix Gun Checks Act (H.R. 3411), or the Background Check Completion Act (S.2213). Both bills would bring us closer to using background checks to their fullest potential. Urge your Member of Congress to support President Obama’s recent executive order to address gun violence. By doing so, you can help prevent further devastating tragedies of gun violence. If you, too, are intolerant of this injustice and the lack of commonsense in our nation when it comes to gun safety, let your legislators know that we stand united to say #NotOneMore, and join together in song by participating in The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence. Learn more at remembersept25.org.
Barbara Lerman-Golomb is an author, experiential educator and educational materials designer. As an environmental activist for over 20 years, she has been working to create healthy, sustainable communities. She is a member of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism and the Friends of the Board of the URJ Northeast Camp Commission. In 2000, she was a coordinator for the Million Mom March and she continues to be involved with the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, Moms Demand Action, and Everytown for Gun Safety. You can read more on her blog, A Life in Many Small Parts