Enough is Enough!

         Every weekday morning I listen to The New York Times podcast The Daily. On Wednesday June 1, I heard from Kimberly and Felix Rubio whose 4th grade daughter Alexandria Ania (Lexi) Rubio was murdered at Uvalde, Texas. I was shaken to the core, not only by hearing Lexi’s parents speak but by learning that the funerals would begin that day with caskets decorated with their favorite sports and cartoon characters. I immediately thought of my daughters, not much younger, and tears came to my eyes. How many more precious souls have to be butchered before our legislature will act? We thought the teens in Parkland would lead to action yet our legislature has remained silent. To rub salt in the wound, the NRA met a mere 3 days later in Houston, a mere 4 hour drive from where this massacre occurred-just like they had met in Denver right after the mass shooting in Columbine occurred.

Within 10 days we had 3 shootings at places that are supposed to be safe: a grocery store, a house of worship and a school. Since then we’ve already seen shootings at St Francis Hospital in Tulsa, a park in Fresno, a church parking lot in Aimes and in downtown Charleston-one of 14 mass shootings over Memorial Day Weekendd. As the news appears to go, one shooting makes way for the next. Each one outrageous us but then too often leaves us numb as we move on to the next, an endless cycle of violence.

What is wrong with Congress that it cannot pass laws as simple as banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines, increased background checks, creating more red flag laws and raising the age of gun ownership from 18 to 21? Why can’t politicians who see the toll of this epidemic come together in the true spirit of bipartisanship and pass legislation across the aisle? These should not be partisan issues. As Hector Gonzalez, President of Southwest Texas Junior College says “I am a hunter and I own guns. I have several pistols and rifles, but there is no hunting purpose for a high capacity magazine. Bullets projectiles that tumble when they impact tissue those are made to kill and destroy.”[1]

In Parshat Nitzavim towards the end of Deuteronomy, we read הַנִּ֨סְתָּרֹ֔ת לַיהֹוָ֖ה אֱלֹהֵ֑ינוּ וְהַנִּגְלֹ֞ת לָ֤ׄנׄוּׄ וּׄלְׄבָׄנֵ֙ׄיׄנׄוּ֙ׄ עַׄד־עוֹלָ֔ם לַעֲשׂ֕וֹת אֶת־כׇּל־דִּבְרֵ֖י הַתּוֹרָ֥ה הַזֹּֽאת׃[2] Why are their dots above the words לָ֤ׄנׄוּׄ וּׄלְׄבָׄנֵ֙ׄיׄנׄוּ֙ׄ עַׄד? It’s simple. Those violations which are secret (נִּ֨סְתָּרֹ֔ת) unknown to us, we leave in God’s hands. However, those violations which we know about (הַנִּגְלֹ֞ת) it is up to us and our children and our children’s children to handle them (לָ֤ׄנׄוּׄ וּׄלְׄבָׄנֵ֙ׄיׄנׄוּ֙ׄ עַׄד־עוֹלָ֔ם). We know that gun violence has greatly increased year over year. In 2020, the most recent year for which we have records, there were 45,222 total gun deaths in 2020, by far the most on record, representing a 14% increase from the year before.  That year, California, a state with strict gun laws, recorded 8.5-gun deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 13.7 percent nationally.[3] In California, assault weapons have been banned since 1989. Purchasers of any firearm must do so through a registered dealer and submit to a background check. Ammunition sales are regulated, handguns can’t be sold to anyone under 21 and there is at least a 10 day waiting period.[4]

         Enough is enough! It is time for us to act and restrict gun laws, especially for those in their late teens. Of course nothing is limited to one issue-we should also increase mental health services and work to curb violent video games. Nevertheless, the more restrictions one needs to go through to obtain a firearm, especially an assault rifle, the less likely we are to have a Lexi Rubio, buried in a small casket draped with a cartoon character. It is up to us to act. We know gun control saves lives, and it is up to us to act. As it says in We Wait Too Long, “God, too, is waiting-waiting for us to stop waiting, and to begin to do now, all the things for which today was made.”[5]

[1] NPR’s Up First podcast June 3, 2022.

[2] Deuteronomy 29:28

[3] NY Times’ The Daily Podcast June 2, 2002.

[4] https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2022-06-02/california-gun-laws-work

[5] “We Wait Too Long” in Siddur Hadash, Page 805.

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