March 26, 2019

Letters: Mass Shootings Can Be Stopped, Distinguish Between Legal and Illegal Immigration

Mass Shootings Can Be Stopped
My heart goes out to the families of the Borderline Bar & Grill victims, who joined a club no one wants to belong to. That this sort of scene is the new “normal” is horrifying. Ben Shapiro writes, “Mass shootings, unfortunately, are unstoppable” (“We All Care About Gun Violence, but There’s No Easy Solution,” Nov. 16).

Really? These do not happen to the extent they do in the U.S. (more than 200 occasions where more than three people died) in countries where getting a gun is more difficult. Canada and Israel have very strict gun control policies; people have to be evaluated before a permit is issued and the permits are re-evaluated regularly. Forty percent of gun owners in this country bought their weapons without even a minimal background check.

Shapiro says we should start with enforcing existing laws. The Gun Violence Restraining Order could have prevented the Thousand Oaks massacre if only police were aware of it. Shapiro writes that the only thing we can do is attempt to build a social fabric together, to pull together to grieve, to look at fatherless young men, but this ignores the obvious common denominator to mass shootings: the ease with which almost anyone can purchase a high-powered lethal weapon.

There might be instances of a drive-by knifing or an event where someone killed 12 people with a baseball bat, but not more than 300 of those events in less than a year.

Those of us who advocate for gun violence prevention don’t talk about banning or confiscating weapons. We talk about preventing these shootings. Brady Act background checks have prevented thousands of people from purchasing guns — but it’s so easy in so many states to get a gun with not even a hint of a background check.

There are more guns than people in the U.S. If guns make us safer, this would be the safest place on earth. And the price of freedom? How free are we when we need a bulletproof vest to go to the movies, a bar, a mall, a house of worship, a school, a yoga studio, a restaurant?

A large percentage of these shootings are preventable — there is no perfect solution. If history is any indicator, this will fade out of the news until another shooting occurs. And nothing will change because there are flaws in every solution. But why would we do nothing? If we could prevent even one mass shooting, isn’t it worth the effort?
Rhonda Mayer, via email

I saw a newspaper article that said semiautomatic guns make shootings deadlier. We all know this, yet nothing has changed.

One: We all have access to guns. Two: We can’t collect them all. Three: It’s obvious there will never be sufficient resources to identify, keep an eye on and prevent all potential mass murderers from killing people. Four: The gratuitous shootings portrayed on TV, in movies and video games, and even sung about — and their impact — could be lessened through censorship, but few want this.

However, because these perpetrators all seem to want their 15 minutes of “fame,” this could be denied them and copycats by the media not reporting these horrific events, or at least making them minor stories.

No question that their broadcast ratings and print media circulation would suffer. But if just one major media outlet took this bold step, others might follow — or perhaps be reported on as perverse — and these obscenities replaced by more important stories. It’s worth the gamble, no?

Otherwise, all things considered, we have to be ever vigilant, suspect everyone, and keep our heads down. Is this the way we want to live?
Hal Rothberg, via email

Distinguish Between Legal and Illegal Immigration
In Rabbi Ken Chasen’s story “Germany’s Lesson for America,” (Nov. 23), he wonders if “our treatment of endangered immigrant populations” might change if we reminded ourselves of the degradation of Japanese Americans who were interned during the Second World War. I’m an immigrant myself, and I know innumerable immigrants (friends, co-workers, neighbors, relatives).

I’ve asked many of them if they feel endangered or threatened in any way by the Trump administration’s stepped-up efforts to deport people who entered the U.S. illegally. I get blank stares and laughs in response, which I suspect is because these people immigrated legally. When Chasen writes about “endangered immigrant populations,” he obviously means people who entered the country illegally, and his attempt to avoid mentioning this fact is a typical attempt by the left to avoid the legal-illegal distinction.
Chaim Sisman, Los Angeles

NCJW Should Rethink Priorities
Teresa Shook, co-founder of the Women’s March, called on the movement’s leadership to step down, because they “have allowed anti-Semitism, anti-LBGTQ sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs.”

But Nancy K. Kaufman, chief executive of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), continues to support the Women’s March, while reserving the right to change the group’s stance. Apparently the Women’s March leaders’ refusal to condemn the anti-Semitic remarks of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan are not a game-changer for Kaufman and the NCJW.

She outlined her group’s priorities this way: “What does it mean to be clear in our fight against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and women’s rights while also fighting division in the (Women’s March) movement?”

Actually, a firm, clear rejection by the NCJW of any association with Farrakhan would go a long way toward resolving division in the movement.

Is preservation of the movement the most important consideration for the NCJW?
Julia Lutch, Davis, Calif.

Stars of Hope After Tragedies
I had already seen the photo of the stars in the Jewish Journal story “Pittsburgh Tragedy: Azerbaijan Extends Solidarity and Hope” (Nov. 9). That photo was taken after my 15-year-old grandson had hung those Stars of Hope on the barricade in front of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue.

I wrote to Gabriel afterward and asked him why he had traveled from Armonk, N.Y., to Pittsburgh that day with his mom, my daughter. This is part of how he responded: “Saba, this was overwhelming to me. You know I love Pittsburgh. We had my bar mitzvah there. I know exactly what the Stars are and what they mean. They are Stars of HOPE, a project that Mom has been involved with for a long time. Stars of Hope pop up wherever sudden pain and grief occur. So we have sent Stars of Hope to California after the wildfires, and after the mass shooting in San Bernardino and then to Thousand Oaks. Saba, I JUST HAVE TO believe that love is stronger than hate. It means so much that this piece of tikkun olam that I am involved with is bringing hope to Pittsburgh and California.”

Thanks, Gabriel.
Rabbi Stanley M. Davids, Santa Monica

CORRECTION
The last name of actress Rachel Brosnahan was misspelled in the Fall Arts and Entertainment Guide (Nov. 23).


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