What Will Help on Guns?

Editorial

getty images

Published April 24, 2014, issue of May 02, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

A troubling new play at Manhattan’s Public Theater begins with an eerie scene of a girl laid out on a table as if in a mortuary, and ends with an enigmatic question. For the 90 minutes in between, the audience witnesses what happens after a disturbed former student opens fire in the crowded library of his high school, initiating the kind of deadly rampage that has sadly become a familiar feature of contemporary American life.

The play is called “The Library.” It echoes like the latest school shooting.

We’re not giving away any of playwright Scott Z. Burns’ script by recounting its closing words. In matter-of-fact tones, several characters describe in detail the three different firearms used with abandon by the gunman. Then Chloe Grace Moretz, the brilliant leading actress who plays a student survivor of the shooting, says: “You’re left with only your scars to mark the void. All you could choose to do is go on, or not.”

To which her character’s mother replies: “Did that help?”

There, with dramatic economy, Burns lays it out: the instruments of carnage; the stark emotional toll, the challenge to the audience. Will this drama, inspired partly by the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School, help galvanize the public? Will the fact that it all seems so familiar finally rouse our civic anger?

If Columbine didn’t bring about sensible, national gun safety laws, and Virginia Tech didn’t, and Gabrielle Giffords’ near death-experience didn’t, and even Newtown didn’t, what will?

The recent announcement that former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grassroots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence may provide the answer. Bloomberg is certainly asking the right question: Why should one organization, the National Rifle Association, exercise such overwhelming political power when it reflects only a fraction of American public opinion?

“They say, ‘We don’t care. We’re going to go after you,’” Bloomberg said of the NRA in an interview with The New York Times, explaining how the lobby threatened to attack politicians who refused to go along with its pro-gun agenda. So, Bloomberg added, “We’ve got to make them afraid of us.”


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!
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • 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.