Saving Lives from Gun Violence: WA Ballot Initiative I-594

October 6, 2014
This month, Washington State will be receiving their ballots to vote on two contradictory ballot initiatives related to gun violence, which they will send in by mail by November 4. Ballot initiative I-594 would require universal background checks for all gun purchases, including private sales. Laws similar to this have been passed elsewhere, including last year in Maryland where the new law has already led to a significant drop in gun deaths state-wide. Confusingly, an alternative ballot initiative I-591 would act to prevent state background checks unless a federal law was established. I-591 relies on the fact that a bipartisan federal background check law failed last year. We are taught in the Talmud that “He who takes a 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.” We know that more than 30 people are shot and killed in the United States each day. The Reform Movement has a long history of working on gun violence prevention advocacy, dating back to our Union for Reform Judaism 1968 resolution on crime and guns and the Movement’s involvement in the 2000 Million Mom March. We believe that gun violence prevention is a Jewish issue, a faith issue and an American issue. Right now in Washington , Reform congregations are joining together with other Jewish organizations and faith communities across the state to express their support for Ballot Initiative I-594 and the importance of background check laws in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. The Union for Reform Judaism endorsed ballot initiative I-594 and the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle also issued a statement in support of I-594. If you are a registered voter in Washington State, we urge you to mail in your ballot and make sure it is postmarked by November 4! You can also join faith communities in the Seattle area will march together at 2PM on Sunday, October 19 in a Faith March to the Ballot Box from Temple de Hirsch Sinai (1511 E Pike St, Seattle) to the King County Administration Building to cast their ballots. The March will be making stops along the way at the First AME Church, St. James Cathedral, and Plymouth Congregational Church. You can RSVP your community here. Also check out the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility who are coordinating the Faith March and still looking for phone bank and other volunteers. If you are not in Washington State, check out the Religious Action Center’s Gun Violence Prevention Guide for sermon starters and programming ideas for your community.

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