Guns’ Tragic Message

Guns’ Tragic Message

Killing is easy; action is harder.

Rabbi David Geffen

Rabbi David Geffen is a native Atlantan and Conservative rabbi who lives in Jerusalem.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

“Cry out! Cry out!” hit me as I turned on the TV and learned that 17 high school students in Parkland, Fla., had been killed by a former fellow student, whose semiautomatic rifle blew his victims away, one by one.

I wrote about the Columbine, Colo., massacre in 1999, in which two students carried weapons from room to room in their high school, murdering victims as they continued to fire. I cried out then: “Stop this carnage. The gun laws must be changed. The Wild West attitude of the United States must be neutralized.”

Then the supporters of guns and larger weaponry can be deprived of their strength — of lobbying with no restrictions.

Israelis ask me what is wrong with Americans. I pause, then reply, “They have truly become apathetic. They no long are ready to fight for a cause and destroy evil, which is the real face of easy access to guns.”

I am very fortunate: My mother saved me. When I was growing up in Atlanta in the 1940s after the war, a fad arose among practically all my friends: love of the BB gun.

The gun was an answer to the pressures of everyday existence. Have that gun and kill squirrels, kill birds, kill whatever else a BB will execute.

I was like all my friends: I wanted that gun to be sure that I was accepted.

My mother said no. “Human beings cannot be armed to kill the smallest creatures and then move on to human beings.”

Truth to tell, I do not know whether those in my Atlanta past who were BB gun owners became gun enthusiasts. I do know that our TVs, our movies and the Internet demonstrate how every human can be killed without restraint.

Having passed on a few truths, now is my time to speak to you man to man (or woman). First a question: Do you want the Second Amendment to the Constitution confronted as a killer?

American law makes it easier to add an amendment to the Constitution than to delete one.

I share with you the slightly altered words of Rabbi Morris Adler, who was assassinated on a Shabbat morning in Detroit in 1966.

Let us motivate ourselves for the fight ahead.

Only we, the citizens, can eliminate unrestricted purchases of guns, which set the stage for murder after murder of the innocent, young and old.

I am in this fight because our tradition teaches that every life is sacred.

I am in this fight because I can no longer watch as innocent victims are destroyed not by natural acts, not by automobile accidents — the list goes on — but by the speeding bullet, which has no conscience as it strikes indiscriminately with the inevitable result: death.

I am in this fight because I know it is right. I know it cannot continue this way or we will murder ourselves.

I am in this fight because I know the NRA can be beaten, no matter what people say. They control our legislators with money, cash and favors. This has to end.

I am in this fight because my tradition and my experience as a Jew have sensitized me to recognize that human life is fragile, not to be blasted away.

Will you line up to fight, or say I cannot do anything?

Will you organize like-minded individuals in every state of the Union who will say dy (enough)?

Will you then march on Washington to see your congressmen and senators?

Will you surround the Capitol and not permit any of our legislators to exit until a breath of fresh air can be breathed — finally a start for gun legislation?

Killing is easy; action is harder. Veim lo achshav ametai — if not now, when?

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