Jewish tradition teaches: "Lo ta’amod al dam re’eikha" – "Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor" (Leviticus 19);
that every human life is unique and precious, created in the divine image; (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5)
and that it prohibits us from selling weapons to those who would threaten public safety; (Talmud Bavli Avodah Zarah 15b, Maimonides Mishneh Torah, Laws of Murder and Preserving Life 12:12)
Whereas in light of the mass shootings of innocent civilians in the United States in 2012, including the mass shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut; attention is once again focused on weapons that have the potential to do great harm in just seconds, in particular, semi-automatic weapons with high capacity ammunition magazines;
Whereas these mass shootings and others have shown the devastating effects of accessibility to high capacity ammunition magazines that can discharge as many as thirty rounds of ammunition;
Whereas gun violence in our inner cities and poorer urban areas has devastated families and communities, with a disproportionate impact on people of color, for too many years;
Whereas a majority of Americans now support enhanced gun legislation, including 90% of Americans who support expanded and universal background checks*;
Whereas multiple factors contribute to the plague of gun violence in America including a diminished mental health care system; and
Whereas the Rabbinical Assembly, based on its resolutions issued in 2011, 1995 and 1990, issued a statement immediately following the defeat of the Manchin-Toomey gun amendment in the U.S. Senate strongly condemning its failure to pass an amendment supporting a compromise on stricter background checks on firearms for private-party gun sales at gun shows and online.
Therefore be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly strongly urge U.S. elected officials to pass legislation that promotes universal background checks for all gun sales; a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines; greater investments in mental and public health; and targeted investments and approaches from Federal and State Government in urban areas most impacted by gun violence.
Passed by the Rabbinical Assembly Plenum, June, 2013