There is a well known Talmudic Dictum “Shtika Kehoda” that is, “Silence is complicity.” Years ago, I remember years ago going to hear Eli Weisel, the Voice of the Holocaust, speak. He put it most succinctly that night, “the opposite of love is not only hate, it is also indifference.” Indeed the only way in this world to affect change is to use our voices to be heard.
Last week, I watched in horror a scene that has sadly become all too familiar here in the US, a crazed young man mercilessly gunning down innocents with an automatic weapon. I watched a mother, who lost her daughter in the massacre, tearfully plead for something to be done about this. As a new father to two little angels, her heart wrenching plea resonated very deeply with me.
So what is the current landscape like in the United States when it comes to our safety? The statistics speak for themselves, and they speak loudly. The United States has one of the highest murder rates per capita in the civilized world today, and the vast majority of the homicides are committed using guns. The incidence of gun violence has only increased more in recent years. And the US certainly leads in the incidence of mass shootings. But perhaps even more telling is the very low homicide rate in countries with very strict gun control. If one would look at the charts of the countries today, a glaring correlation stands out. For those who claim that guns are needed “for the good guys to protect themselves,” once again the statistics prove them to be wrong. Guns are very rarely used in self defense, the vast majority of the times they are used for offense. In short, guns help “the bad guys” much more than they help “the good guys.”
So what in Washington is being done about this? Well, pretty much nothing. At the top of the list is President Trump. For all of his claims of making America safe as his “top priority” and his tough talk on Extremist Islamic Terrorism, he has done nothing to help curb the gun control problem. In fact, he actually signed an executive order making it even easier to obtain guns, as he blocked an Obama era order to make it harder for severely mentally ill people to obtain guns. Now, thanks to Trump, it is easier for severely mentally ill people to obtain guns.
Why would Trump, who ran a campaign of toughness on safety issues, suddenly be so silent and even make America even less safe? Maybe, just maybe it has to do with the $30 million in campaign donations he received from the NRA? Or maybe to show loyalty to his voters, who love guns? As the President himself has said many times, loyalty means everything to him. Can anyone who is pro-Trump honestly say that he has America’s best interests with standing by and doing nothing?
But it isn’t Trump alone. Many congressman and senators are on the NRA’s large payroll as well. The local Senator in Florida, Marco Rubio, who has been completely inept at passing any gun legislation, has received some $3.7 million from the NRA. Does this seem to be right to anyone?
And for those who claim that this is the “right to bear arms” is part of the Constitution, can anyone honestly say that the current situation is what the Founding Fathers had in mind? The Founding Fathers, who needed guns for hunting, and to protect themselves from the British, didn’t exactly have this current predicament in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment. And certainly they didn’t mean assault weapons, which have no civilian use.
My Jewish friends here that are Pro-Trump for his fiercely strong support for Israel, I urge you to look past that for one moment and criticize in a place where he deserves to be criticized. Being Pro-Israel, as wonderful as it is, does not give him a free pass on everything. It is important to call out a wrong when there is a wrong. And that goes for all of the politicians who have been refusing to enact change.
For those gun-toting voters who claim that the solution is to put added security at schools, I wanted to write the following parable: Imagine a bridge with a giant gaping hole in it. Every car that goes over the bridge falls into the water below. Two politicians are standing next to this bridge. One says to the other “We need to do something about this.” The other one replies “You are right. We need to build more hospitals.” Trying to fix a problem by not addressing the source of the problem will not bring real change. Only addressing the source of the problem will effect real change. And the source is the incredibly easy access to guns.
So allow your voice to be heard.. Speak out online. Sign the petition going around to ban assault weapons. Write politicians to put much stricter limits on the ability to acquire guns, if not eliminate gun acquisition entirely. But whatever you do, do not be silent. For silence is complicity.