On June 2nd, Wear Orange and Take Action Against Gun Violence

May 28, 2015Shira Zemel

The Reform Jewish community, via the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) and the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), are partnering with a broad coalition of national organizations to promote “Wear Orange,” a new national campaign to end gun violence in America. As part of the first National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 2, the campaign is asking supporters to wear orange as a sign of solidarity and commitment to change in the face of an all too tragic status quo.

Why orange? From the Wear Orange website:

“The color orange symbolizes the value of human life. Hunters wear orange to alert other hunters that they’re there…A couple of years ago, teens on the South Side of Chicago asked their classmates to wear orange in honor of a friend who was shot and killed. Now, we’re amplifying their call to action and turning orange into a symbol for the value of human life everywhere.”

Beyond wearing orange, NFTY and the RAC are urging Reform Jews across the country to make June 2 a day of legislative action.

Join the fight for meaningful legislation in Congress to end gun violence: We urge you to rally around Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar’s Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act, which was introduced last Congress as S. 1290 and will be reintroduced in the 114th Congress shortly. This bill aims to close loopholes in existing domestic violence legislation by extending these protections to include “dating partners” or others “similarly situated to a spouse,” and makes it illegal for convicted stalkers to own guns.

Enacting this law would not end gun violence in one fell swoop, but the facts speak for themselves: in domestic violence situations, the risk of homicide for women increases five-fold when the abuser has access to firearms, according to a study published by Everytown for Gun Safety in 2014. Federal law does not keep guns out of the hands of abusive dating partners or convicted stalkers, and 41 states do not require all prohibited domestic abusers to relinquish guns they already own. We must take action.

Our tradition tells us, “It is not upon you to complete the task, but neither are you free to give up on it” (Pirkei Avot 2:21). As Reform Jews, and people of strong conviction, it can be disheartening that gun violence prevention policy in America is advancing in such a slow, piecemeal way. However, we must strive to change the status quo in any way we can.

Contact your members of Congress and urge them to support the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act. Senator Klobachur’s bill is on the verge of securing bipartisan support, and in today’s legislative climate sometimes it is necessary to focus on immediate, achievable goals. Is this the gun violence prevention bill that will end gun violence in our nation forever? No. But if, as Reform Jews, we only spend our time and resources supporting “ideal” legislation, we are losing sight of the individual trees for the sake of the entire forest. This bill will help save people’s lives.

While we wear orange on June 2nd, working to reshape the culture of violence in this country and to build the broad support necessary to enact sweeping change, we must also focus on change that we can make right now. And each day, if we strive to do both at once, then piece by piece, we can work together to make a broken world more whole.

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