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Urge Your Senators to Vote for Mandatory Background Checks

On June 12, the largest and deadliest mass shooting in American history occurred at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. With 50 lives tragically lost, and 53 injured, there has never been a more important time to strengthen our gun laws. Though the Orlando gunman bought his gun legally, there remains much to be done to make guns less accessible to those who seek to do harm. A key step is to close loopholes in the background check system for people purchasing guns.

While there is no evidence that the shooter was prohibited from having firearms, mass shootings generally happen more frequently in states that do not require background checks for all gun sales, which means felons and other prohibited people there can evade background checks and obtain guns in unlicensed sales. One Everytown for Gun Safety analysis shows that in states that require background checks for all handgun sales, including guns offered in unlicensed sales online and at gun shows, there are 52 percent fewer mass shootings.

Soon, the Senate will vote to expand mandatory background checks to all firearm sales. It is imperative that you urge your Senator to support the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2016 (S. 2934) when it comes up for a vote. 

Background: Currently, when someone purchases a gun at a store in the United States, a background check is conducted. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has been able to conduct background checks almost instantaneously since it was started in 1998, and has prevented hundreds of thousands of people who are prohibited from owning guns, from purchasing one. Unfortunately, a background check is not required for every gun sale in the United States, so many people are still able to legally purchase guns in places like gun shows or online even if they wouldn’t be able to in a store.

The Fix Gun Checks Act of 2016 (S. 2934), introduced in May 2016 by Senator Schumer (D-NY), would expand Brady Background Checks to all gun sales (including those made at gun shows and online). It would also improve reporting of prohibited purchasers to NICS and require federal agencies to certify that they have provided appropriate records to NICS. Lastly, it would require gun owners to report their lost or stolen firearm(s) within 48 hours.

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  • Jewish Values: Our tradition emphasizes the sanctity and primary value of human life. The Torah commands us, “Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Further, Leviticus 19:16 tells us, “do not stand idly by while your neighbor’s blood is shed.” We, as Reform Jews, cannot stand by and watch as thousands of people are impacted by gun violence each year.

    Take Action: Urge your Member of Congress to support measures to prevent gun violence in America by improving our background check system through the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2016 (S. 2934), which has the potential to save countless lives by requiring background checks on every gun sale.

    To reach your Senator, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Tracy Wolf at 202-387-2800