Jewish Umbrella Group Backs New Gun Controls

Divided JCPA Passes Softer Resolution Than Some Wanted

By Nathan Guttman

Published March 13, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The Jewish community’s umbrella group on policy issues has adopted a new resolution regarding mass violence acts, reaffirming the community’s support for gun control but stopping short of calling for a complete ban on the sale of assault rifles.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, in its annual plenum convened in Washington this week, voted on Monday to adopt new language addressing the community’s growing concern over events of mass violence, such as the recent shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

The resolution takes a clear stand supporting legislation aimed at controling the sales of certain firearms and enhancing background checks and gun safety measures. It also expresses opposition to the idea, supported by gun advocates, that in order to prevent gun violence incidents there is a need for more guards armed with guns at schools and public areas.

The resolution was sponsored by all major Jewish organizations, by the large religious denominations and by several federations, including those from communities hit by gun violence: Connecticut, Colorado, and Tucson Arizona. “The Jewish community has a deep and abiding concern for public safety, firmly rooted in Jewish tradition which compels us to uphold the sanctity of life,” the resolution reads in its opening statement, moving on to list measures that would limit access to assault weapons and large ammunition magazines.

But the language adopted at the end of a two-hour discussion on Monday night, was softer than some in the community had hoped. A series of proposed amendments, seeking to inject harsher anti-gun language into the resolution, were eventually voted down in favor of an approach acknowledging gun owner rights and based on the Second Amendment.

“We are not seeking to undermine in any respect the right of law abiding Americans to own handguns and rifles for legitimate purposes such as hunting, self-defense, and sport,” the resolution reads. In another section it states that the Jewish community’s work to address gun violence should be done “in the context of support for a reasonable balance of interests under the Second Amendment.”

Several Jewish federations, including San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Silicon Valley, sought to strike down this language and other references in the resolution addressing rights of gun owners. They also proposed amendments calling for a complete ban on the sale of assault rifles and asked to delete references to violence in media and video games as a source of concern and to limit the weight given to mental health issues when discussing gun violence.

But the JCPA plenum, in which 15 national organizations and more than 100 federations are represented, was not open to adopt a stronger anti-gun approach. “What they basically said was that they wanted a comprehensive approach that also recognizes the Second Amendment,” said Ethan Felson, JCPA’s vice president who presided over the voting process. He noted that in the spirit of the organization’s effort to introduce civility to public discourse, it was important “to acknowledge people that have opposing views” and to “be clear we are not on the way to seek taking guns away from people.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.