Reform Movement Troubled by Failure of Senate to Expand Background Checks

Laser: "The Senate's inability to pass sensible gun violence prevention legislation is both a political and a moral failure."


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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 18, 2013 - Yesterday, the Senate failed to reach cloture on a bipartisan gun violence prevention amendment that would vastly expand background checks. In response to the Senate votes, Rachel Laser, deputy director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:


"We are deeply troubled that the Senate failed to advance the bipartisan Toomey-Manchin amendment to expand background checks. Although this amendment had a bipartisan majority in the Senate, it did not receive the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Despite overwhelming public support for the expansion of background checks, the Senate failed to stand up even for a bipartisan compromise that could have meaningfully reduced the problem of gun violence across America.


Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, we have called on Congress to expand background checks, to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, to make gun trafficking a federal crime, to enhance school and campus safety without putting guns in schools and to improve access to mental health services. Yesterday, the Senate failed to make progress on any of these important issues. The Senate's inability to pass sensible gun violence prevention legislation is both a political and a moral failure.


We continue to support the base bill, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 (S.649), and also call on Senate Majority Leader Reid to return important amendments such as Toomey-Manchin to the floor for another vote. We are encouraged by numerous Senators who took brave votes today and hope that more Senators might find the strength to support sensible gun violence prevention measures in the future.


The Talmud emphasizes the importance of saving human life, "One who takes a life it is as though they have destroyed the universe and one who saves a life it is as though they have saved the universe" (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5)." We will not rest until Congress heeds the calling of the American public and advances common sense gun violence prevention laws. We pledge to continue to sound the moral drumbeat for change."