The back-to-back mass shootings in the U.S. this past week, first in El Paso, Texas, and then in Dayton, Ohio, have brought the issue of gun control to the fore once again. The subject had until now received minimal attention in the 2020 presidential race, with health care, immigration, the economy and President Trump dominating the national conversation.
Unfortunately, it takes monstrous acts like these to capture our attention. At the same time as gun-related homicides have been going up in America, many Orthodox Jews have been shifting their allegiance from the Democratic Party to the GOP. There are a host of good reasons for this – most notably the cooling of blue-blood support for Israel and Democrats’ extreme leftward shift on social issues.
But just as too many secular Jews have allowed their affinity for progressive causes to blind them to the anti-Semitism that has permeated the liberal camp, some Orthodox Jews apparently fear that falling out of lockstep on some Republican positions might place their conservative bona fides in question. One such area is advocating for even small and reasonable gun control measures.
Let us be clear about two things: First, the recent clamor among anti-Trumpists laying the blame for the El Paso tragedy at Trump’s feet is ridiculous – as well as libelous. Of course, these cranks fail to mention the perpetrator of the shooting in Dayton expressed enthusiastic support for Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the violent Antifa movement.
And second, gun control is but one of many solutions necessary to address the scourge of gun violence in the country. Funding adequate mental health services, for example, is a critical piece of the puzzle.
But there are several moderate gun control measures that the federal government can take that would lower the number of shootings as well. And all relate to keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
One, close the Charleston loophole. When someone walks into a store to buy a gun, the seller initiates a background check by phone or computer. Most are completed within minutes. But if a determination is not obtained within three business days, the transfer may legally be completed. This is called the Charleston loophole because it allowed Dylann Roof to buy the gun he used to kill nine people in a church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015.
Two, close the boyfriend loophole. According to one study, 93 percent of the women murdered by men in 2015 were killed by a man they knew (not necessarily by a firearm). To address this, the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban prohibits selling guns to anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence or who is under a restraining order for domestic abuse. However the ban does not apply to stalkers or current or former boyfriends – even if they’ve been convicted of a domestic violence crime.
Three, close the gun show loophole. While gun stores must perform background checks and record all sales on virtually every buyer that comes into the store, private-party sellers are allowed to sell guns to unlicensed residents of the same state as long as they do not know or have reasonable cause to believe the buyer is prohibited from receiving or possessing guns. Private-party sellers also don’t have to record the sales or ask for identification.
In other words, even if someone has a restraining order against him, is a convicted criminal, or is someone with a severe mental illness, he can still purchase a gun as long as he does so at a private gun show from an unlicensed, private seller.
We are conflicted about another measure that some have called for – a federal ban on semi-automatic guns – but we bring it to our readers attention as something we and everyone should continue to consider and monitor.