[    Login  |   Register    ]

Rabbinical Assembly Reacts to Santa Barbara Shooting

Posted on May 25, 2014

In the aftermath of the most recent gun violence tragedy, that took place on Friday night at University of California, Santa Barbara, the Rabbinical Assembly issued the following statement:

Rabbi Bill Gershon, President stated:

As we mourn the deaths of six young adults and pray for the recovery of 13 other victims, we call upon gun advocates to look upon the scourge and the sorrow of a nation awash in lethal weapons. In our sorrow and our outrage we hold up the words of Richard Martinez, father of victim Chris Martinez whose plaintive query haunts us: “When will this insanity stop?”

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President, added:

It is no longer possible for the gun lobby to merely point to the individual shooters and distance themselves from the moral responsibility of a pandemic of gun violence. The suffering of individuals with personal demons is repeatedly escalated to a national tragedy due to the ready availability of lethal weapons. The Bible enjoins us not to “place stumbling blocks before the blind” and yet this injunction is abrogated every day as our country is so inundated with weapons meant for war and violence that our nation no longer enjoys a day of peace. The Rabbinical Assembly stands with people of faith and conscience and demands that attention be paid to the rights of Americans to walk the street without the fear that a nation awash in guns might turn any troubled individual into a domestic terrorist whom our nation has set loose upon itself.

response to Hillel from Julie and Bill

Dear Hillel,


We appreciate your thoughtful comments and that you hold differing points of view. The need to curb gun violence in the US is of tantamount importance. We would welcome your views of other methodologies you don’t see described in RA positions, and would be interested to read the statistics that bring you to other conclusions and to share them with the RA.


Julie and Bill

Gun Control

Julie and Bill - 

I will be glad to speak directly with you and share what I know about guns, criminal violence, and statistics. I prefer to do it directly and not through moderated comments on the RA site. I will write a separate e-mail with some information. While I welcome your openness, the main point of my original comment was the language that you use to describe people who hold another point of view, and the fact that these statistics and methodologies are widely available and understood, but that the RA did not present anything that resembled a balanced approach. 

Here are a few examples: From the CDC study - 1. Armed citizens are less likely to be injured by an attacker:

“Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was ‘used’ by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”

2. Defensive uses of guns are common:

“Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals.”

"In 2004, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences released its evaluation from a review of 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, and some original empirical research. It failed to identify any gun control that had reduced violent crime, sui‐ cide, or gun accidents.The same conclusion was reached in 2003 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s review of then‐ extant studies."

The need to curb violence is paramount, but it cannot trump the need to speak the truth. Otherwise it is destined to fail.


Hyperbole and mis-statements about guns and gun owners.

Julie and Bill - do you think people who own guns and support the right to self defense and gun rights in general lack "faith and conscience"? Do you think we are "insane"? Do you think you care more about innocent victims, or tragedies, or are smarter than those who own firearms? Do you think you know more about guns, gun statistics and gun legislation than I do? The answer to those questions is obvious, and your inflammatory assumptions are insulting. I care just as much as you do, I am a person of faith and conscience, I live by the words of Torah and I am not insane or insensitive. However, I do have a different perspective and I have come to different conclusions than you have about what might help and what will not help, and what will cause unnecessary and unanticipated harm. I am a serious student of gun rights, statistics, and am a certified range safety officer, and a certified pistol instructor. I know about guns and how guns are used and misused in society. I can tell from your statements, and from previous resolutions and statements that you have bought into the language, and conclusions of several of the most active gun control groups. But many good people disagree with that approach, and it is not because they are in the pocket of some "craven" lobby, nor are they insensitive to the loss of the parents, nor are they without conscience. It seems from your statements that you believe that unless a person agrees with your assessment of legislation, rights, and how to best respond to violence, they are dumb and crazy. How about a little less arrogance and a little more openness to the possibility that there might be other conclusions and approaches? I welcome the opportunity to have an open dialogue with you about this, and hope that you will think more carefully about how you say things in the future

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.