Last week, when Speaker of the House Paul Thissen announced that there would not be a vote on gun violence prevention legislation this year at the Minnesota State Legislature, Jewish Community Action and our partners took notice--and we took action. Last Friday, JCA and other members of the Minnesota Gun Violence Prevention Coalition (including Protect Minnesota and the National Council of Jewish Women) held a press conference outside of the House chambers, where we called on our state's leaders to help keep guns out of the wrong hands and save lives in our communities. Rabbi Amy Eilberg, a longtime JCA member and activist, delivered the following testimony, and explained why we must continue to fight for gun violence prevention. To learn more about last Friday's press conference, read this MinnPost article, and to get involed with our campaign for gun violence prevention, contact Melissa.
FACT: The highest of all values in Jewish tradition is the value of life itself. This is a value shared by Christians and Muslims, by Hindus and Buddhists, by people of all faiths and of no religious faith. There is no higher value than the lives of innocent people, especially of children.
FACT: According to federal Bureau of Justice statistics, firearms are associated with 31,000 deaths each year in the United States.
FACT: Those supporting sensible gun violence policy in the State of Minnesota, after offering many compromises, sought a vote on just one small piece of law-–the gun show loophole-–supported by a vast majority of Minnesotans, including gun owners.
So I ask why--WHY-–will the Minnesota House of Representatives not even bring to a vote this extremely modest proposal?
There is a great deal of misinformation circulating about this issue, which understandably arouses such passions among us. But here are four more facts:
Fact #1: According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is a treasured right, but not an unlimited right. So the assertion that closing the gun show loophole would violate Constitutional rights is simply false.
Fact #2: It is eminently possible to enact legislation that honors the 2nd Amendment, respects the culture of law-abiding gun owners, and reduces the unconscionable rate of deaths from gun violence in our state.
Fact #3: Members of the MN legislature who oppose this bill will never know which of the thousands of lives that are likely to be lost in MN in the coming year could have been prevented by this legislation.
If this bill could prevent one parent from losing her child, one child from losing his parent, one student from losing her friend to gun violence–-it would be a moral obligation for our state to enact this law.
And fact #4: Those of us who support life-saving gun violence prevention measures will not be deterred by this colossal failure on the part of the MN legislature. Because the values that have driven us until this day will not change tomorrow or the day after or the day after that. We will work for life-saving gun violence prevention policies until we reach our goal, because our deepest and highest values demand it.