Broad Jewish support for Obama’s gun proposals


President Obama's new gun control proposals drew broad Jewish communal support.

The uniformity of the Jewish response to the proposals unveiled Wednesday stood in contrast to Republican opposition to many of the suggested measures, including a ban on assault weapons and tighter background checks on gun purchasers.

Supportive statements came from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella for public policy groups, as well as Reform, Conservative and Orthodox umbrella groups.

Obama said he plans to issue 23 executive orders while his vice president, Joe Biden, attempts to shepherd parallel legislation through Congress in the wake of the massacre last month of 20 children and seven adults in Newtown, Conn.

A number of the proposals, including hiring security officials for schools, are not controversial. But most fall on the fault line of the gun control debate that has for decades exercised the American public.

“We recognize that this is a complex issue,” Rabbi Steve Gutow, the JCPA's president, said in a statement. “The memory of Newtown is still fresh, and so is Aurora, Tucson, Fort Hood and other massacres that remind us that something must be done — and that there isn’t a single solution to preventing mass violence.  We appreciate the administration’s understanding that there are multiple causes which must be addressed. It is crucial that passions not ebb nor our country return to complacency.”

In its statement, the Orthodox Union said that it understood from conversations with White House officials that the security officials hired for schools would be available to parochial establishments as well.

“The Orthodox Union has been informed by the White House that the funding proposal may be used to place the new officers in Jewish and other nonpublic schools to provide security, counseling, and safety education,” it said in a statement.

Other organizations welcoming the initiative included Jewish Women International, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Reform movement's Religious Action Center, B'nai B'rith International, the National Jewish Democratic Council, the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice as well as leading Jewish lawmakers, including Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

Reform cites Giffords shooting in urging clip ban


The Reform movement cited the attack that seriously wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others in urging Congress to ban high-capacity ammunition clips.

“The clips can hold 30, 50 or even 100 rounds, enabling shooters to cause serious casualties before needing to reload,” read the letter that Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of the movement’s Religious Action Center, sent to all members of Congress.

Saperstein cited the case of Jared Lee Loughner, who allegedly shot Giffords (D-Ariz.), a Jewish lawmaker, in Tucson on Jan. 8.

“The shooter in Tucson was able to fire 32 bullets in only 16 seconds, and was only able to be subdued by bystanders when he was forced to stop and change magazines,” the letter said. “Disasters like this could be greatly mitigated if we remove high capacity ammunition clips from our streets.”

Saperstein was endorsing a bill introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) in the weeks following the Tucson shooting. All of the measure’s 11 sponsors are Democrats and six are Jewish.

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