Rabbi Levine on Gun Violence
Aug 05 , 2019/Category
Schools. Churches. Synagogues. Mosques. Stores.

These are just some of the locations where white supremacist violence has shattered lives as well as our image of America as a beacon of hope for desperate people all over the world.

Whatever your political affiliation, you must no longer shake your head or excuse in any way the shameful, bigoted rhetoric spewing forth from the Oval Office. Never could I imagine that a President of the United States could listen to a man at his rally suggest that immigrants should be shot and respond with a crowd-pleasing quip. Shocking and inexcusable.

Nor can we excuse members of Congress who wring their hands but do nothing to actually pass legislation which might meaningfully address this epidemic of violence. These bloody massacres are made possible by the easy availability of AR15s and AK47s plus 100-round magazines. Do you remember when we actually had a ban on assault weapons in this country? Who among our politicians is fighting to get such weapons off our streets?

By the way, when is the last time you heard anyone bring up the Second Amendment to the Constitution: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

I do not see an individual right to bear arms in these words.The NRA has made sure that no one across the political spectrum ever expresses this viewpoint in the public sphere.

Our Torah commands us, “Thou shall not stand idle while thy neighbor bleeds.”

Our neighbors are bleeding all across the country, and we cannot just stand by.

As we enter the highly-charged political season ahead, may I suggest that before you advocate and write a check for any candidate, find out how hard he or she will fight for laws to reduce gun violence, a problem no other country faces in anywhere close to this magnitude.

The rabbis in Pirke Avot teach that we are not expected to finish the work, to entirely solve the problem, but we are not free to desist from it.

We must not stand by while our neighbor bleeds.