Leaders join call to ban assault weapons

An interfaith alliance including Jewish religious and lay leaders is seeking a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence held a news conference on Jan. 15 calling for the bans, as well as improved background screening of gun buyers. On what would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 84th birthday, the group also urged Americans to work together to curb gun violence and  improve how the mentally ill are helped.

It was announced that religious leaders throughout the country will mobilize their congregants to join in an Interfaith Call to Prevent Gun Violence on Feb. 4. On that day, Americans will call members of Congress to hold them “accountable for the safety of our communities.”

Alliance members also sent a letter to Congress that urged  lawmakers to lead the way toward a safer society that not only protects children in schools against a mass

shooter — a reference to last month’s massacre in Newtown, Conn. — but stops inner-city gun murders as well.

Those signing the letter included the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish Reconstructionist Movement, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and Women of Reform Judaism.

Agudath Israel of America, a national Orthodox organization in New York, sent a letter to Vice President Joseph Biden, who is leading a gun control task force, urging federal assistance for school safety. — jta