Wednesday, May 1: A 2-year-old girl in Burkesville, Kentucky was shot and killed by her 5-year-old who was playing with his .22-caliber rifle, and also on Wednesday, a 6-year-old girl in Florida was shot by her 13-year-old brother.
Monday, May 6: A 13-year-old boy in Oakland Park, Florida shot his 6-year-old sister with a handgun.
Tuesday, May 7: A 3-year-old boy in Tampa, Florida fatally shot himself with his uncle's gun. Also, on Tuesday, a 5-year-old in Texas shot his 7-year-old brother.
Wednesday, May 8: 2-year-old boy in Corsicana, Texas fatally shoots himself in the head.
Friday, May 10: A 12-year-old boy in Camden, New Jersey is shot in the face by an 11-year-old friend.
Yesterday, Saturday, May 11, a five-year-old boy in Denton, Texas was shot in the head with a rifle by his eight-year-old friend.
Deaths of children this young are tragic and totally unnecessary. Trigger locks, biometric fingerprint ID safeties or simple gun vaults can and should be used to prevent unauthorized access to firearms.
As Steve Sheffey writes:
The real scandal in Washington is not the four brave Americans killed in Benghazi, but the thousands of Americans killed each year right here at home by handguns. Maybe the Republicans should hold hearings to find out why that is.
Last weekend, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation presented former Representative Gabrielle Giffords with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. In her remarks, Caroline Kennedy, president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, praised Giffords for her acts of courage and commitment to public service:
Today, we honor a woman who inspires the entire world, Gabrielle Giffords has turned a personal nightmare into a movement for political change. After an assassination attempt ended her Congressional career and left her with grave injuries, she fearlessly returned to public life as an advocate for new legislation to prevent gun violence. When others would have withdrawn from public life, she has challenged us all to reengage in the political process. When others would have given up hope, Gabby has been unwavering in her belief that politics can solve problems. When others would have looked for excuses, Gabby has inspired action. She perseveres not just for herself, but for Newtown, and Aurora, for Chicago and Tucson.
(JSPAN) The Jewish Social Policy Action Network strongly supports federal and Pennsylvania state
legislation as well as municipal ordinances designed to reduce the incidence of gun violence in our state and nation.
Each year more than 30,000 Americans die from senseless gun violence. Each day men, women and
children - mothers, brothers, sisters, children, family, neighbors, and friends - are taken from us as a
result of our inability to advance common-sense firearms regulations.
More after the jump including video of the 20/20 Special "If I Only Had A Gun"
Dear Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell:
Nearly four decades ago, in 1975, the Union for Reform Judaism recognized the need for legislation that would limit and control the sale and use of firearms. Since the adoption of that resolution, the URJ's first calling for the regulation of firearms, more than one million Americans have been killed as a result of gun violence. The URJ has spoken out repeatedly and passionately on gun violence and continues to insist that gun regulation is a vital necessity.
I'm putting forward a specific set of proposals based on the work of Joe [Biden]'s task force. And in the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality. Because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there is even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try.
And I'm going to do my part. As soon as I'm finished speaking here, I will sit at that desk and I will sign a directive giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals and the public health community some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence.
We will make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by strengthening the background check system. We will help schools hire more resource officers if they want them and develop emergency preparedness plans. We will make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence — even as we acknowledge that someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator.
As I began to write this week, a wave of emotion hit me. Michael is a survivor of gun violence, and the timing now matched the mass shootings and homicides in Newtown, Connecticut. With profound empathy, concern, and a call to action; I share Michael's story and some thoughts about gun violence. May families and communities from Connecticut, to Columbine, to Virginia Tech, to Arizona, to Louisiana, to Texas, Chicago, Philadelphia, and communities everywhere that are affected by gun violence, receive some sense of comfort and hope for better days.
— by the staff of The Jewish Social Policy Action Network
We are deeply saddened by the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our immediate thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. This horror reinforces the urgent need to ensure that common-sense gun control laws are in place to help reduce these kinds of incidents.
Since last week's massacre in Connecticut, Jewish politicians and organizations have showed their support of reform in gun laws.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the co-chairman of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition. Following the event the coalition has launched the Demand A Plan campaign:
Our efforts cannot bring back the 20 innocent children murdered in Newtown, CT — or the 34 people murdered with guns every day in America. But we can prevent future tragedies by passing common sense legislation that will:
Require a criminal background check for every gun sold in America.
Ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Make gun trafficking a federal crime, including real penalties for "straw purchasers."
Demand that your members of Congress and the president support these legislative priorities.
Conservative pundit Joe Scarborough received the NRA's highest ratings during his four terms in Congress, but now he has changed his mind on gun violence prevention.
It's time for Washington to stop trying to win endless wars overseas while we're losing the war at home... We must give no more ground... I choose life, and I choose change. And for the sake of our children, we must do what's right. And for the sake of this great nation that we love, let's pray to God that we do.
I've been a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights. I've got an A rating from the NRA. But the status quo isn't acceptable. I've got three daughters. They asked me on Friday evening, 'Dad, what are you gonna do about this?' There's got to be a way to put reasonable restrictions, particularly as we look at assault weapons, as we look at these fast clips of ammunition.
Meanwhile, Senator Joe Machin (D-WV), who famously ran a campaign advertisement where he brandishes a rifle and "takes out" anti-gun legislation, has now moderated his views:
I dont know anyone in the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle. I don't know anyone that needs 30 rounds in a clip to go hunting. I mean, these are things that need to be talked about.
There are an estimated 270 million guns in the hands of civilians in the United States, making Americans the most heavily armed people in the world per capita. Yemen, a tribal nation with no history of strong central government or the rule of law, comes in a distant second.
Even while we grieve and try to come to terms with the senseless Dec. 14 assault on an elementary school, we must also look ahead to ensuring such a horrific mass shooting never happens again. In the wake of the gruesome Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., where gunman Adam Lanza murdered 26 people, 20 of them children, it is well past time to demand sensible gun control measures.
Long ago, the great Rabbi Hillel wrote: "If not now, when?"
After Yesterday our answer should be one long, loud, visceral, primal scream: Now.
After yesterday, while still reeling from that unfathomable nightmare scenario, sickened to our stomach by the sheer randomness & brutality of the crime, thinking of the unspeakable anguish & the numbing pain now awaiting each of those young mothers or fathers — all our clocks should collectively read but one hour: Now. To act today, this minute, this instant.
After yesterday, the second Amendment should now read as follows: "We, the Founding Fathers now urgently joined by the Founding Mothers and with all the Wisdom, Responsibility & Sanity vested in us decree Sacrosanct, Undeniable, Non-Negotiable & Inalienable the Right of a Free People to Hold, Retain, Savor, Enjoy, Love, Safeguard, Bear & Keep Life." In a separate clause it should also read: "The War on Mental Illness, severe or otherwise, should be unanimously declared equal to War on Drugs. Congress must therefore spare no effort to help to diagnose, rehabilitate, treat and & whenever possible cure this terrible ailment from our midst."
The only thing more predictable than this wave of gun violence is the response from the GOP and the NRA: "Now is not the time to politicize this tragedy."
When would be a more appropriate time to consider our gun policy? After the Minneapolis bridge collapse in 2007, Americans were rightly concerned about the state of our country's bridges and other infrastructure, and pushed to have their bridges inspected and make long delayed repairs.
If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation's security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.
Similarly, Americans have every right to question now how well we are protecting our children. Should we really make assault weapons available to the general public? Should guns be sold at gun shows without the usual background check? If we require a medical evaluation, written test and practical safety test before giving someone a driving permit, then why not require the same before letting someone own a gun?
As Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) wrote:
This time our response must consist of more than regret, sorrow, and condolence. The children of Sandy Hook Elementary School and all victims of gun violence deserve leaders who have the courage to participate in a meaningful discussion about our gun laws - and how they can be reformed and better enforced to prevent gun violence and death in America. This can no longer wait.
Time for the American Faith Community to Acknowledge Gun Violence as Religious and Moral Issue and Demand Action
— by Bryan Miller
According to press reports, as many as 27 people, including 18 elementary school children, were shot and killed by a lone gunman who attacked a school for 1st to 4th graders in Western Connecticut this morning.
Rabbi Linda Holtzman, Vice Chair of Heeding God's Call and Senior Rabbi of Mishkan Shalom Synagogue in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia said:
In this time of year sacred for so many Americans it is beyond rational comprehension how such a massacre of innocents could occur, but it did. How much more obvious can it be that such senseless loss of life — loss of God's Children, as we all are — demands that the American faith community call on all people and communities of faith to address gun violence as the religious and moral issue it is.
Last week, Governor Corbett signed a bill that will enforce tough minimum penalties for straw purchasers found guilty of buying more than one gun for people who can't legally buy guns themselves. Groups like Ceasefire PA have lobbied for such a law to keep handguns out of the hands of convicted felons. This issue was addressed in the very first issue of the Phialdelphia Jewish Voice. For over a decade, the NRA's allies in Harrisburg used obstructionist tactics to prevent this bill from coming up for a vote. However, after a series of massacres this position became politically untenable and the bill was able to move forward.
CeasefirePA continues to lobby for lost or stolen handgun reporting requirements. A reporting requirement would enforce responsibility for gun ownership before the guns can be used in a crime.
Faith-based Gun Violence Prevention Organization Calls on Religious Institutions to Act to Halt the American Epidemic of Gun Violence
— by Bryan Miller
The most recent reports of another gun massacre, this time at a Sikh house of worship near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, speak of 7 dead and several wounded. This predictable event, follows close on the heels of the killing and wounding of dozens at a movie premier in Aurora, Colorado.
The Reverend Belita Mitchell, Coordinator of Heeding God's Call's active chapter in Harrisburg, PA said:
We at Heeding God's Call grieve for those killed and injured and their families, friends, neighbors and co-religionists. Americans believe that houses of worship should be places of safety and refuge, not places of carnage and terror. But, as long as we allow people intent on mayhem to gain guns with ease, often illegally, houses of worship will be as dangerous as so many neighborhoods and communities are now in our country.
The Reverend James McIntire, Board Chair of Heeding God's Call, said:
These predictable mass shootings keep coming and will continue to do so. We've barely begun grieving for those lost and wounded in Aurora and now more of the same. The response of our country's leaders has, once again, been weak and limited to platitudes, while gun advocates tell us to be silent in the aftermath of such grievous acts. The faith community has, largely, eschewed moral leadership, speaking only of prayer, grief and solidarity with the damaged community. This is far from enough. In addition to our grieving and our prayers, this country needs the faith community to be prophetic in its call for justice and to act for change in American attitudes and measures.
Bob Fles, Co-Coordinator of Neighborhood Partners to End Gun Violence, a chapter of Heeding God's Call, in Philadelphia, said:
We at Heeding God's Call and NPEG say unequivocally that enough is enough. When the easy availability of guns results in places of worship and those within them being shot up, it is time for all faithful to get off their couches and get active in seeking an end to the violence. We call on all faith traditions in this country to show courageous religious leadership and work unrelentingly to end the bloodletting.
Heeding God's Call, the faith-based and grassroots movement to prevent gun violence headquartered in Philadelphia expressed deep remorse about the 'too predictable' massacre of innocents early this morning in Aurora, Colorado.
The Reverend James F. McIntire, Board Chair of Heeding God's Call, said: "As people of faith, all of Heeding God's Call grieve the loss of life that occurred this morning in Colorado. We pray for those who mourn the lost, for the wounded, their friends and families and a community that will never be the same. But, prayer and grief are not enough. It is time for the faith community to stop ignoring the deep malaise that besets our nation. It is time for the faith community to lead this country out of the hell of gun violence."
The Reverend James Atwood, Coordinator of Heeding God's Call of Greater Washington, DC said: "There is something frighteningly wrong in this country when these massacres keep happening. We, as a nation, cannot simply blame disturbed individuals and ignore the fact that our unique gun culture and the ease of availability of guns, especially those made to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible, is also to blame for the incredible loss of life and community."
Bryan Miller, Executive Director of Heeding God's Call said: "Despite the claims of the gun industry and lobby, these massacres and the daily toll of gun violence in this country are absolutely about guns. It would be irresponsible and unconscionable for people of faith to just point to a disturbed individual and seek no change in American attitudes, policies and laws regarding guns. If Americans, and especially people of faith, don't seek real and meaningful change about guns it's easy to predict more such massacres. And, who knows who will die or be wounded in the next one, and the one after that and the one after that..."
Transcript of President's remarks on the shootings follows the jump.
Samuel "Joe the Plumber" Wurzelbacher (R-OH) campaign video offensively blames Holocaust on gun control.
— by David A. Harris
Using the memories of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust to make a political point is never appropriate, under any circumstances. For Ohio Republican House candidate Samuel Wurzelbacher to imply that these innocent lives were taken because of gun control laws is simply beyond the pale. Wurzelbacher — who is just the latest in a long line of Republicans who seem to think it is acceptable to use the Holocaust for political gain-must apologize and remove this offensive video immediately."
Samuel 'Joe The Plumber' Wurzelbacher, the 2008 campaign microcelebrity and Ohio congressional candidate, has an interesting theory about the Holocaust. Yesterday, Mr. Wurzelbacher released a campaign web video in which he blamed the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide on gun control laws.
'In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917 one-point-five million Armenians, unable to defend themselves were exterminated,' Mr. Wurzelbacher says in the clip. 'In 1939, Germany established gun control. From 1939 to 1945, six million Jews and seven million others unable to defend themselves were exterminated.'
Mr. Wurzelbacher's video features footage of him on a shooting rage blasting fruits and vegetables with a shotgun. As the clip draws to a close, Mr. Wurzelbacher, gun in hand, proclaims, 'I love America.'
The description of the video describes gun ownership as 'our last line of defense' from tyranny and poses a rather existential question about Mr. Wurzelbacher's produce shooting hobby.
'If you hunt or just like shooting guns, the 2nd Amendment will always be a good thing. History also tells us it's our last line of defense in the face of an out-of-control government,' the description says. 'And killing fruits and vegetables is... what?'
-- by Pennsylvania State Rep. Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia)
While we cannot tell other states how to issue firearm licenses or to whom, we must do so in Pennsylvania for our own residents. This would serve to protect Commonwealth residents from violent individuals who abuse the current loophole in state law to legally carry guns with an out-of-state permit after being denied one in Pennsylvania.
Case after case has been documented in which a violent person is denied a permit in Pennsylvania and then successfully applies for a permit in another state, such as Florida. Law-abiding citizens don't seek to circumvent the law like that.
My proposal would not affect gun ownership rights, nor prevent residents of other states with permits from those states from legally carrying a concealed weapon in Pennsylvania. It simply would ensure that the Pennsylvania residents who are granted a license to carry have met the standards of our state and not the standards of another state that potentially could be less stringent.
In the wake of the devastating shooting rampage of Saturday in Tucson, Arizona, Heeding God's Call, the faith-based movement to prevent gun violence, expressed sadness at the predictable loss of life and damage to society, and called for citizens and the faith community to 'step up' and take the country from those who would use the deadly mix of guns and political extremism to endanger democracy and sell guns.
Rabbi Linda Holzman of Mishkan Shalom Synagogue in Philadelphia said: "I call on all of my sisters and brothers of all faiths to take courage, get off your couches and out of your homes to bring this country to a place of safety and sanity where persons like the Tucson shooter cannot easily acquire guns and where there is no tolerance for those who would use the deadly mix of guns and extremism to seek power or disrupt our democracy. It is high time the faithful in this country said no to extremists and the gun industry and lobby. We can no longer allow their narrow single-mindedness and selfishness to dictate policies and laws."
See statement by State Rep. Babette Josephs (D-Philadelphia) after the jump.
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