Two Rabbis Fight For Gun Control From Pulpit — and the Heart

Joel Mosbacher and Shaul Praver Were Touched by Violence

After Sandy Hook: Rabbi Shaul Praver stood by the family of Noah Pozner following the boy’s murder in Newtown.
Forward Staff
After Sandy Hook: Rabbi Shaul Praver stood by the family of Noah Pozner following the boy’s murder in Newtown.

By Nathan Guttman

Published January 20, 2014, issue of January 24, 2014.
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His group has already registered its first success with Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who issued an order that requires gun makers bidding for city contracts to fill out a questionnaire about gun safety. The group is in the process of enlisting smaller municipalities to use their purchasing power to apply pressure on the gun makers. A January 16 meeting at a Montclair, N.J. synagogue will try to do just that. “Shouldn’t the gun manufacturers that make their living off U.S. taxpayers lead their industry in developing safer guns and responsible practices?” a flier inviting community members to the meeting asked.

The potential game changer for Mosbacher and his colleague would be a pledge made by New York City’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, to require all gun suppliers selling weapons to the city’s police force to fill out the gun safety questionnaire. If de Blasio, whose city has the largest police department in America, follows through on the promise that organizers said they had received from him during the campaign, pressure on gun manufacturers will increase substantially.

Gun violence was not at the top of the agenda of Mosbacher’s suburban New Jersey congregation until Newtown. The shooting, he said, “was kind of a wake-up call” to many congregations and communities that had not viewed gun violence as their own problem. It was even a wake-up call for Mosbacher, who lost his father to an armed robbery but for more than a decade did not find an opportunity to make the issue have an impact.

The Sandy Hook shooting also led Mosbacher to tell his 10-year-old son for the first time about the gun violence that took his grandfather’s life. “I think he is deeply proud of the work we are doing on gun safety,” Mosbacher said of his son. “This is something he has in his grief and mourning process that I did not have when I went through the process.”

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or follow him on Twitter, @nathanguttman


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