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Washington, D.C., June 20, 2016 – In response today’s Senate votes on expanding mandatory background checks and closing the terror gap, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
Today, the Senate again failed to take a necessary step toward addressing the horrifying epidemic of gun violence that grips this nation. The recent massacre in Orlando was only the latest in a ceaseless string of gun deaths that have claimed the lives of Americans young and old, in every state. By failing to vote to close the background check loophole and to make sure that those who are deemed unsafe to fly cannot legally purchase a gun, some Senators have made clear that they are willing to let the country continue down the terrible path we have been on. We are deeply troubled, that in the wake of last week’s immeasurable tragedy, the 60-vote threshold needed to advance these amendments was not met.
The leadership shown by Senator Chris Murphy (CT) through his filibuster, that resulted in today’s votes, is essential if we are to end the exaggerated influence the gun lobby has on the nation’s laws. We pray that other Members of Congress will show similar leadership and passion when it comes to ensuring common sense gun violence prevention.
The Talmud teaches us that "he who takes one 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" (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5). Through years of failure to act in the face of gun violence, we have slowly and persistently allowed our universe to be destroyed. We pray that the House and Senate will show leadership and begin to end such tragedies by passing common sense gun violence prevention legislation.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.