President Barack Obama’s new gun control proposals drew broad Jewish communal support.
Supportive statements to the proposals unveiled Jan. 16 came from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella for public policy groups, as well as Reform, Conservative and Orthodox umbrella groups. The measures include a ban on assault weapons and tighter background checks on gun purchasers.
Obama said he plans to issue 23 executive orders while his vice president, Joe Biden, attempts to shepherd parallel legislation through Congress in the wake of the massacre last month of 20 children and seven adults in Newtown, Conn. Republicans opposed many of the suggested measures.
A number of the proposals, including hiring security officials for schools, are not controversial. But most fall on the fault line of the gun control debate that has for decades divided the American public.
“We recognize that this is a complex issue,” Rabbi Steve Gutow, the JCPA’s president, said in a statement. “The memory of Newtown is still fresh, and so is Aurora, Tucson, Fort Hood and other massacres that remind us that something must be done — and that there isn’t a single solution to preventing mass violence. We appreciate the administration’s understanding that there are multiple causes which must be addressed. It is crucial that passions not ebb nor our country return to complacency.”
In its statement, the Orthodox Union said that it understood from conversations with White House officials that the security officials hired for schools would be available to parochial establishments as well.
“The Orthodox Union has been informed by the White House that the funding proposal may be used to place the new officers in Jewish and other nonpublic schools to provide security, counseling, and safety education,” it said.
Similarly, in its statement commending the proposals, Agudath Israel of America, a fervently Orthodox group, said it was “pleased” that the administration had sent “encouraging signals” on such funding.
Other organizations welcoming the initiative included Jewish Women International, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, B’nai B’rith International, the National Jewish Democratic Council, the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly and Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, as well as leading Jewish lawmakers such as Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.).