In 2017, for the first time in modern history, substantially more Americans were killed with firearms than in motor vehicle accidents. This tragic trend continued in 2018, underscoring that in the face of the unabated, preventable epidemic of gun violence, Congress must act. The vast majority of Americans, including gun owners, support common sense policies like background checks for every gun sale to prevent senseless violence.
In February 2023, the House and Senate introduced background check legislation. On February 1, 2023, Representative Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1) introduced the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2023 (H.R. 715). Senator Chris Murphy (CT) re-introduced the Senate counterpart, the Background Check Expansion Act (S. 494), on February 16, 2023. The bills have different names but contain the same provisions.
Urge your members of Congress to support the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2023 (H.R. 715) and the Background Check Expansion Act (S. 494).
The Gun Control Act of 1968 made it illegal for prohibited purchasers, such as individuals convicted of felonies, to purchase or possess firearms. In 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act strengthened this law by requiring background checks on gun purchases. However, the Brady Act only requires background checks for sales by licensed firearms dealers.
As federal law stands, a gun sold by an unlicensed firearms dealer online, at a gun show, or through a private sale does not require a federal background check. Studies have shown that at least 1 in 5 guns sold in the U.S. are sold without a background check. Tragically, 1 in 3 mass shooters would have been prevented from purchasing a gun but were able to because of loopholes in the existing background checks systems.
The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021 would decrease gun violence. Those wishing to purchase a gun online or at a gunshow would now have to pass a background check. States with background checks on all handgun purchases have seen a 35 percent decrease in gun deaths per capita.
Leviticus 19:16 instructs us, “Do not stand idly by while your neighbor’s blood is shed.” For too long, Congress has stood idly by, refusing to take action to prevent the next senseless firearm death or injury.
The Talmud teaches us that “He who takes one life, it is as though he has destroyed the universe, and he who saves one life, it is as though he has saved the universe” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5). Each victim of gun violence leaves behind loving parents and siblings, family and friends. Every day, over 100 universes are shattered by gun violence in the United States. As Reform Jews, it is our duty to demand that Congress take action to pass common sense gun legislation and save countless innocent lives.
In addition to sending an email though our form above, you can also call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
For more information, contact Legislative Assistant Israel Harris at (202) 545-3650 or visit the RAC Gun Violence Prevention issue page.
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