Thoughts and prayers on guns


Staff and wire reports

It’s time to talk about Gun Legislation

Rabbi Gregory Marx

February 20, 2018

​My tradition teaches me, If you destroy one life, it I as if you destroyed the whole world, say our sages. If you save one life it is as if you saved the entire world. There are active steps we could take now as a society to reduce gun violence in this country. A good place to start would be banning semi-automatic weapons, which are assault weapons and have no legitimate civilian purpose.

​This past week, seventeen worlds were destroyed, seventeen lives each of which was a world unto itself, worlds of love, worlds of family, worlds of accomplishment, worlds of caring, worlds of great potential, of futures that will never be realized. The shooting at Parkland High School left the families and friends of victims, their entire community and our nation reeling with pain.

​Debbie Derman: “The number 17 is far greater. The number of loses is infinite. The loses are for parents, siblings, friends and community. It’s about losing a future for them and for us. It’s about grandchildren that were and those that will never be.”

​What we need is empathy. Do you know the difference between empathy and sympathy? Imagine seeing someone fall into a deep hole. Sympathy, is when you look down into the hole from above, you wave and say “Hi there, that looks really bad,” and you walk on. But empathy means getting down into that hole. You stand with them, and you say: “Hey, I know what it’s like down here. I’ve been down here. You’re not alone.” Then, together, you seek to find a way out.

​Deborah Tarr, a high school senior at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, says she cannot remember a time when she did not know about school shootings. Think about that. Her sister, she says, has been doing code red drills since she began middle school, in the sixth grade. Think about that. That is not just in Parkland, where now Deborah has lived through a mass shooting. That is in every school across America, including right here in our own community. We now have a whole generation whose lives and times are shaped by living in a world where every day they go to school, and they don’t know if they will come home.

​Maybe you don’t stop to think about it that way; but I guarantee you there has been at least once, if not many times, that your children have. This is the reality that our children face. The children of the “Mass Shooting Generation,” as the NY Times has dubbed them, grew up practicing active shooter drills and huddling through lock-downs. They talk about threats and safety steps with their parents and teachers. With friends, they wonder darkly whether it could happen at their own school, and who might do it. This is what passes for childhood in our day.

​We need to act in a responsible way. How about considering the following:

• We could also ban magazines that fire more than ten rounds.

• We could create a centralized way to keep track of how many guns a person purchases and place a limit on the number of guns we are allowed to own, so that they cannot be stockpiled as they were by the shooter in Las Vegas.

• We could raise the age for buying all guns, in all states, to 21. In Florida, a handgun cannot be purchased until the age of 21, but a semi-automatic assault weapon can be purchased at the age of 18.

• We could require a proper background check for all guns. Not a five-minute background check, which is all that is required for some guns in many states. Not the three-day background check, which is not sufficient time to really investigate a person’s past. Rather, we could require a ten-day background check; and then invest money in the FBI to expand their staff so they can thoroughly check out those who seek to purchase weapons to make sure they don’t pose a danger to society.

• We could tighten the system by prohibiting high risk individuals – such as someone with a restraining order against them due to threat of violence, for example – from getting a gun. Yes, that person can buy a gun today.

• We could also tighten the system to prevent those who are violent or mentally ill from getting a gun.

• We could tighten the loop holes that allow guns to be sold by private individuals both at gun fairs and on the internet in 32 states without any background check whatsoever.

• We could support the use of smart gun technology that allows a gun to only be used by its owner, either through a fingerprint or a fob with a chip in it.

​There are those who oppose any form of gun laws on the grounds that any restriction of access to guns threatens our rights under the second amendment. But restrictions on gun ownership do not necessarily violate the second amendment.

​The first amendment grants me freedom of speech. Nonetheless, I cannot engage freely in slander or libel, or in hate speech, or speech that endangers others, such as yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. I have the freedom to gather, and yet under various circumstances I need a permit to do so, and under some circumstances, that permit can be denied.

​Even the amendments to the Constitution have limits. These limits generally arise out of a conflict with the demands of the main body of the Constitution itself, which grants each citizen the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Right now, our current gun laws as they stand could be said to violate our most basic right: the right to life.

​There are also many Jews who feel strongly the need to protect the right to buy arms because we as Jews know what it means to be powerless. We must have the ability to defend ourselves if the government should turn against us. I share some of that concern. I empathize with that idea. I understand it. But I also know that our current gun laws as they stand on the book not only give us the right to have a weapon to defend ourselves. They also allow hate groups – white supremacist groups, anti-Semitic groups – to stockpile weapons and hold paramilitary training camps that are designed for the purpose of starting a race war and murdering Jews, blacks, homosexuals and others. Our current gun laws permit that.

​For years now, we have been locked in a conflict between those who would ban all guns and those who would allow all guns; those who “defend the second amendment” and those who “oppose the second amendment.” While these extreme theoretical positions are argued in the public arena, our public policy remains deadlocked and our children are dying.

​Just since the shooting at Sandy Hook in 2012, there have been 239 school shootings. 438 people were shot, 138 of whom were killed, almost all children. The World Health Organization reports that among high-income nations, 91% of children under age 15 who were killed by bullets lived in the Unite States. On average, two dozen children are shot every day in the United States. Two dozen. The medical journal Pediatrics reports that 1297 children die annually from gun injuries – some of them accidental, some of them intentional — making guns the third leading cause of death for children in America.

​What we need now is the ability to come together and to compromise, to find a middle ground that allows some change, any change that can stop what – if it was an illness – would be called an epidemic.

​When the Israelites stood at the shore of the Sea of Reeds, trapped between the waters and the Egyptian army moving in, Moses stood upon a rock above the waters and called out to God in prayer. He sought God’s intervention to save the people. God responds to Moses by saying, Mah titzak elai? Sa! “Why are you crying out to me? Go!” The lesson is that there is a time for prayer and there is a time for action. This is a time for action.

​If you destroy one life, it I as if you destroyed the whole world, say our sages. If you save one life it is as if you saved the entire world.

​Let’s find a way to save the world.

A List of the Companies Cutting Ties With the N.R.A.

The New York Times

Eight days after a gunman with an AR-15 rifle killed 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Fla., a major bank cut ties with the National Rifle Association.

The bank, the First National Bank of Omaha, was among the first businesses of at least a dozen to scrap special rates or discounts to the five million people the N.R.A. says it has as members.

Supporters and detractors of the N.R.A. have butted heads over the issue on social media, calling on partner companies to either stay put or step away, essentially leaving them with no neutral ground.

Of those companies that did cut ties, many said they did it in response to consumer complaints.

In a statement on Saturday, the N.R.A. said the companies, “in a shameful display of political and civic cowardice,” were trying to punish its law-abiding members who had nothing to do with the Parkland shooting.

The statement added: “In time, these brands will be replaced by others who recognize that patriotism and determined commitment to Constitutional freedoms are characteristics of a marketplace they very much want to serve.”


Kevin C. Langin, a spokesman for the First National Bank of Omaha, said in a statement on Thursday that customer feedback had prompted a review of its contract with the N.R.A. “As a result, First National Bank of Omaha will not renew its contract with the National Rifle Association to issue the N.R.A. Visa Card,” the statement said.

Travel and Transport

On Saturday, Delta Air Lines said on Twitter that it was ending its contract with the association for discounted rates through the airline’s group travel program. “We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from their website,” the company said.

United Airlines tweeted a similar message two hours later.

Two moving van companies wrote on Twitter on Friday they were severing ties with the N.R.A. Allied Van Lines and North American Van Lines, which share a parent company, Sirva, each said it “no longer has an affiliate relationship with the NRA effective immediately,” and had asked to be removed from its website.

Rental Cars

A spokesman for Avis Budget Group, which owns the car-rental companies Avis and Budget, said on Friday a discount partnership with the N.R.A. would end by March 26.

Hertz said Friday that it was ending its rental car discount program for N.R.A. members.

On Thursday, the car rental companies Alamo, Enterprise and National, which share the parent company Enterprise Holdings, tweeted they would end their discount for N.R.A. members beginning March 26.


Starkey Hearing Technologies, which focuses on hearing health care, education and support, said on Twitter on Saturday it would not renew its discount program with the N.R.A. The foundation said it would ask the N.R.A. to remove its information from the association’s website.


MetLife said in a tweet on Friday it was ending a discount program for N.R.A. members.

Also on Friday, a spokesman for the insurance company Chubb told Reuters it would no longer have a partnership with the N.R.A. on an insurance program called the “NRA Carry Guard.” The spokesman said Chubb had given notice of this change three months ago.

Technology, Information and Security

TrueCar, an automobile pricing and information website, said on Friday it was “ending its car buying service relationship” with the N.R.A. at the end of this month.

The home security company SimpliSafe once offered two months of free monitoring for N.R.A. members but the company said in an email on Saturday that it had “discontinued our existing relationship with the NRA.”

The cybersecurity company Symantec announced on Twitter on Friday that it had ended a discount program with the N.R.A.

Correction: February 24, 2018

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misidentified an organization that said it would not renew its discount with the N.R.A. It is Starkey Hearing Technologies, not Starkey Hearing Foundation.

From Facebook

Conservative Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger, on the true meaning of the Second Amendment. Quoted from a PBS News Hour interview in 1991:

“The Gun Lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American People by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime. The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies – the militia – would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.”

The Second Amendment it isn’t exactly what everybody thinks even Supreme Court Justice Scalia said that automatic weapons are only for military use. But it seems that very few people have read the Constitution, including our Leaders.

The biggest misunderstanding out there is people who say the right to own guns is guaranteed to assure that people can defend their “freedom” against a “tyrannical government.” Nope — it was to DEFEND the government. Armed insurrection is expressly forbidden in the Constitution.

The NYPD only has an 18% accuracy rate in gun fights. The FBI calls active shooter response training Run Hide Fight, there is something similar, A.L.I.C.E. The meme’s claim of 18% was about the same stat as was provided by the law enforcement leading the trainings. The reason is simple. It’s very difficult to hit moving targets.

A mass shooter sprays bullets trying to maim and kill as many people as they can in the 5-15 minutes it takes for an armed response. Usually they go in knowing they won’t survive. They don’t care about collateral damage. Teachers would be trying to hit a single target, presumably by shooting through students in an already overcrowded classroom.

“Good guy with a gun” is a myth. In 2014, the FBI released a report that found that more active shooting incidents are stopped by unarmed citizens than armed citizen. {…/fbi-releases-study-on-active…} But most are incidents that end on the shooters own initiative. Either they commit suicide, or flee. Meanwhile, even when police got involved, there is a good chance that the well trained officers are killed or injured. (The FBI reported that “In 21 of the 45 incidents where law enforcement had to engage the shooter to end the threat, nine officers were killed and 28 were wounded.”)

Instead, teachers need to focus on saving the kids, not killing the shooter. There is a much better chance of survival if the teacher can barricade the room long enough to get the kids out another exit. (Usually a window). If this is possible, we also need to teach our kids to scatter and run, in a zig-zag pattern if possible. Locking down in a barricaded room is the next option, if there is no opportunity to get out. Remember, shooters have a short window to do as much damage as possible. If they can’t get in the room, they’ll try another. Other techniques or countering and charging the gunman are also taught, but only as a last resort.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI Homepage with links to news, services, stories and information of interest to the public:

Ohio mayor proposes school levy to pay for armed guards

Source: AP

STREETSBORO, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio city mayor outside of Cleveland wants his school district to consider placing a “security” levy on the ballot to pay for armed guards at all of its buildings.

WOIO-TV reports Streetsboro Mayor Glenn Broska in a Facebook post reacting to last week’s Parkland, Florida, school shooting says the Streetsboro schools should either “find” money to pay for armed security guards or put a small levy on the ballot.

Broska says at least $500,000 a year is needed to pay for two armed guards at each of the district’s four schools. Broska wrote: “We have to defend our children and it starts with us.”

The Streetsboro school board says it will consider Broska’s idea and suggested he might consider a city levy to finance increased school security.

Staff and wire reports