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Saperstein: Common sense gun bans, like the one weakened by today’s ruling, are essential to prevent the unchecked proliferation of firearms and a society in which each citizen is potentially armed to the teeth.
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WASHINGTON, DC June 26, 2008 – In response to today’s Supreme Court ruling in DC v. Heller, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
We are disappointed by today’s Supreme Court ruling in DC v. Heller overturning key elements of the District of Columbia’s handgun ban. The Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis joined an amicus brief in support of the ban, coordinated by The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence. The Second Amendment should not be interpreted in a manner that leads to the preventable loss of life and contributes to the deaths of nearly 30,000 Americans each year. While we are encouraged that the Court did not abandon wholesale limitations on the Second Amendment, it would have been helpful if the Court had provided clearer guidelines to prevent pitched battles over regulations in every state and locality. In this failing, today’s decision ill serves the national interest.
The biblical commandment “Thou shall not murder” is a reminder of the holiness of every life and ingrains within us respect for our fellow human beings. Yet such words are not enough. Common sense gun bans, like the one weakened by today’s ruling, are essential to prevent the unchecked proliferation of firearms and a society in which each citizen is potentially armed to the teeth. As a civilized nation, with unparalleled levels of wealth and education, how can we justify the approximately 80 deaths that occur daily due to gun violence? That culture of violence stemming from our too-lax gun control laws will only be fed by today’s ruling.
The Talmud teaches, “He who takes one life, it is as though he has destroyed the universe, and he who saves one life, it is as though he has saved the universe.” The impact of the Supreme Court’s misguided ruling is not difficult to foresee, and we will continue to work to prevent such destruction, life by life, through the use of handguns.