Jewish leaders responded to the mass shooting in Las Vegas by condemning the violence and calling for gun control legislation.
At least 59 people were killed and more than 500 were wounded in the attack at a country music festival outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Oct. 1. It is the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history.
Rabbi Menachem Creditor of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, founder of Rabbis Against Gun Violence, said: “Ninety-one Americans lose their lives to gun violence every day, and mass shootings are both not representative and incredibly galvanizing. Mass shootings represent 2 percent of the total murders by gun each year in the United States and also sharpen our attention.”
Creditor is doubtful that Congress “will challenge the blood money of the NRA.” Rather, he said, “It’s going to take a grassroots effort to change facts on the ground — the blood of 59 concertgoers needlessly shed should change the facts on the ground.”
The Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith International, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Reform movement were among the national Jewish groups that called for tougher gun control laws in the attack’s aftermath.
“While we are still learning details and do not know the impetus for the killings, one thing is clear: The threat of mass violence against innocent civilians in America has not abated. This threat must be taken seriously,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s national director, said in a statement. He called for the enactment of “tough, effective gun violence prevention measures.”
Greenblatt said its Center on Extremism is investigating the background and activity of suspected shooter Stephen Paddock and whether he may have ties to extremists or was motivated by any extremist ideology.
B’nai B’rith International said it is “well past time for meaningful, bipartisan gun violence legislation in this country.” It also said: “Though information about the shooter and his arsenal is still being uncovered, we have long held there is no acceptable, reasonable need for civilians to have access to large rounds of ammunition.”
“B’nai B’rith stands in solidarity with the Las Vegas community and with all those impacted by gun violence around the nation,” the statement also said.
In a statement, Nancy Kaufman, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, called for Congress to act to “stem the tide of this senseless violence before [this] tragedy becomes just another record to be broken.”
“Federal lawmakers must act now to restrict access to automatic weapons, reject the current bill before Congress that would make it easier to buy silencers, and instead focus on how to make our communities and our country safer. NCJW expects nothing less from our elected officials,” the statement also said.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said the mass shooting cannot be termed a random act of violence.
“Even before all the facts are known, we know this: Rather than revere gun rights, our country must finally revere human life,” he said.
“We mourn those callously slaughtered in Las Vegas and pray for the wounded. But our prayers must be followed by action, long overdue limits to the easy access to firearms.”
The Jewish Federations of North America in its statement called on people, wherever they are, to donate blood.
“These attacks are just the latest instances of senseless violence that terrorizes innocent people everywhere and must come to an end,” the group said.
Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, also called the attack senseless.
“On behalf of world Jewry, I condemn this horrific criminal act,” he said in a statement.
Cheryl Fishbein, chair of the JCPA, added, “It is imperative that we come together to address the underlying causes in the days ahead.”
There are more than 70,000 Jews and at least 19 synagogues in Las Vegas, according to the JewishVegas.com website.