An examination of the latest statistics on murder (1973) leads us to several important conclusions. The fact that 25,000 people were killed by guns that year in the United States demands that we take immediate and effective action. The fact that 53% of all murders in the United States are committed with handguns forces us to focus our attention and concern on this dangerous, concealable, and accessible weapon. The fact that 71% of the murders committed in this country occurred among people who knew one another; that a large percentage of the 10,000 suicides each year are by handguns; that 73% of all murderers have never broken the law before leads us to conclude that the answer is not just preventing "known criminals" from possessing handguns or assigning longer sentences to people who use guns but making handguns inaccessible. Finally, the fact that there are more people murdered in the United States every 39 hours than are murdered in Great Britain each year, where there is stringent and effective control of handguns, shows us the efficacy of proper legislation.
In Jewish tradition, the sanctity of human life is a primary value. In an increasingly impersonal and alienating society, the dehumanizing of the human being and the carelessness with which human life is taken stand in direct violation of these affirmations of our tradition.
The Bible commands us, "Thou shalt not murder." The Talmud teaches us that "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 UAHC supports legislation to implement the recommendation of the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence to eliminate the manufacture, importation, transportation, advertising, sale, transfer, and possession of handguns except for limited instances, such as the military, police, security guards, and licensed and regulated pistol clubs.
Recognizing the similarity of problems in Canada, we furthermore call for the implementation of the above recommendations where they are applicable in that country.