Million Mom March May 14, 2000 By Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President, Union of American Hebrew Congregations
Is the need for sensible gun-control a religious issue? You bet it is.
The indiscriminate distribution of guns is an offense against God and humanity.
Controlling guns is not only a political matter, it is a solemn religious obligation. Our gun-flooded society has turned weapons into idols, and the worship of idols must be recognized for what it is-blasphemy. And the only appropriate religious response to blasphemy is sustained moral outrage.
Our legislators and the gun lobby want to blame everyone but themselves. The problem, they say, is media violence: violent action films, gory horror flicks, violent computer games. And this is a deeply troubling problem. There is far too much violent entertainment, and it is very bad for our children's souls.
But in Canada, Germany, and Japan, children watch the same movies and play the same computer games, and they don't kill anyone afterward. Their children are not more religious than our children, and their parents are not better parents than we are. What distinguishes us from them is the prevalence of our guns, and the cowardliness of our politicians.
Some say that the problem is young people with violent fantasies. Oh really? Young people everywhere have violent fantasies. Teaching teenagers to curb their angry impulses is a challenge for every parent and religious leader on the planet. But of all the developed countries, only in America is it possible for a disturbed teenager to get his hands so easily on such a terrifying array of weapons.
And so we come here today to counter the cheap platitudes of our political season, and to help fill the moral void of our land.
We come here with a voice loud and strong, intent on shattering the complacency of our lawmakers and arousing their dormant conscience.
We are proud Americans, each and every one of us, and we know that we live in the greatest country on earth.
But are we proud of the fact that our murder rate is 12 times higher than any advanced country?
Are we proud of the fact that too many members of Congress pontificate on morality and then do nothing while the carnage continues in our streets and our homes?
Are we proud of the fact that there are too many handguns in too many trigger-happy hands, while politicians remains deaf to the frightened cries of children?
Are we proud of the fact that the House and Senate are awash in NRA cash, while the voice of the average American gets lost in the halls of Congress?
And so let's send a message today to those who represent us in Washington. And the message is this:
We care deeply about this issue and we will hold you accountable.
We are ready for a knock-down, drag-out, no-holds-barred battle against the NRA, which is the real criminals' lobby in this country, and which is drenched in the blood of murdered children.
True, we may not have the money of the NRA, but we've got savvy, grit, and passion. And we're going to find out who's getting NRA funds, and benefiting from NRA ads, and we're going to vote for the other guy.
Until now, our moral outrage has been too feeble and our sense of injustice too timid, but we look at the mothers of the murdered and the maimed, and we say: Enough.
I for one am filled with a fresh spirit of hope.
Yes, all of this may seem daunting, but the tobacco lobbyists once seemed invincible, and look what happened to them.
The American people, I believe, are ready for a leader who will take on the fanatics and support sensible gun control.
We are not prisoners of our past. We are not doomed to relive history.
We are here today, in such great numbers, because we are, all of us, partners with God in shaping a better and more hopeful future for all of God's children.