DO NOT STAND IDLY

Our Torah commands, "Do not stand idly while your neighbor bleeds, I am the Eternal" (Leviticus 19: 16).

Well our neighbors are bleeding and have been for a long time now, and perhaps with greater rapidity than ever before. We and our neighbors have suffered over three hundred mass killings (killings involving the deaths of four or more human beings) since the beginning of the year. And let's not kid ourselves the overwhelming majority of these incidents involve guns. And yes, I know mental illness can be a factor, but the fact remains any one in the USA can get not only a gun, but a semi-automatic military-style weapon with a bump-stock converting it to an automatic weapon without a background check! 

The well-financed gun lobby meets any and all attempts to stem the flow of guns with fierce propaganda and political pressure. They preach the more guns the more safety. But studies and common sense do not bear this out. States with tougher gun laws experience less gun crime which means fewer deaths and injuries. In countries with no-nonsense, strict gun control laws, like Japan and the countries accross Western Europe you can count gun deaths on your fingers. Over 30,000 people perished last year in the USA as a result of gun violence; Japan suffered only one such tragedy.

When I go to the airport, to a ball game, to the Jewish Theological Seminary for classes in Midrash I must pass through a metal detector searching for the presence of weapons. No one argues the more guns the more safety. They even prohibited guns from entering the last Republican National Convention! The truth is, the more guns, the more death!

How many more must suffer for our inaction? How many more of our neighbors must bleed while we stand idly by? Again, the gun lobby protests now is not the time to change our laws; that to address the problem now needlessly politicizes tragedy. But Hillel the Elder in Pirkei Avot asks, "If not now, when?"

The Talmud teaches: To save a life is to save the world. Now is the time to save the world!