Guns have killed more than 400,000 Americans since 2001. What I wrote two years ago is just a true today: We need to shift the center of this debate. That means talking about what should be, not simply about what is possible today (although we should do whatever we can today). We have bans on smoking in public, child safety seats, marriage equality and, yes, an African-American president, because we changed societal attitudes.
We can do the same with guns if we speak out. We can do the same with guns if members of Congress in safe districts take on the NRA and if members of Congress in other districts consider whether making the NRA a target (instead of our children) is a winning strategy.
And if you don't think killing animals with guns for sport is a constitutional right (hint: it isn't), say so. Don't be intimidated. Were it not for NRA myth-making, the Second Amendment would be irrelevant today. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in 2008:
The Second Amendment was adopted to protect the right of the people of each of the several States to maintain a well-regulated militia. It was a response to concerns raised during the ratification of the Constitution that the power of Congress to disarm the state militias and create a national standing army posed an intolerable threat to the sovereignty of the several States. Neither the text of the Amendment nor the arguments advanced by its proponents evidenced the slightest interest in limiting any legislature's authority to regulate private civilian uses of firearms. Specifically, there is no indication that the Framers of the Amendment intended to enshrine the common-law right of self-defense in the Constitution.
But he was outvoted 5-4. We need to put judges on the bench who would make Stevens's dissent the majority opinion and reverse the NRA misinterpretation of the Second Amendment.
Many Jewish groups support gun control. For example, the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism and the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly called not only for a ban on assault weapons, but also for longer purchase times, deeper background checks, coding ammunition for identification, and banning online sales of ammunition.
The Israeli approach is worth considering. In Israel, to own a gun one must have a legitimate reason and one must reestablish that reason every six months. Israel rejects 40 percent of its gun applications, the highest rejection rate of any country in the world. Only 2.5 percent of Israel's population is licensed to carry a gun. In Israel, it is not a right to bear arms, but a privilege. Still not convinced? Read this October 2 post from Yael Shahar.
But what about these arguments? Guns don't kill people, people kill people. If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns. Guns prevent crime. Read this and learn the facts. Then tell your member of Congress that you want the strongest gun control bill possible.
Do you think Ben Carson is nuts? Carson's position on guns is the Republican position on guns. Even specifically Carson's rant about gun control and the Holocaust? That too is accepted by too many within the NRA and GOP.
Did you read Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's ugly attack piece on Rep. Debbi Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)? I mentioned it last week. If you read it, then you owe it to yourself to read Rabbi Jack Moline's brilliant response. Boteach should be ashamed of himself, and so should StandWithUs for inviting a bully like Boteach to speak at its November event in Chicago.