Last week’s shooting at the Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston, South Carolina, which left nine people dead after their murderer, Dylann Roof, sat with them at Bible study for nearly an hour before spouting racists tropes as he gunned them down, has brought the issue, which always simmers just below the surface, to an angry boil.
“On the one hand, Charleston is another in a series of mass shootings that seem to happen almost weekly at this point,” Rabbi Mosbacher said. “That speaks to part of the core of this problem, which is access to guns. People will say all sorts of things. They say it is a question of mental health. Yes, it is — but it’s not fundamentally about mental health. I don’t think that we have significantly more mental health problems here than in Europe.” But laws controlling gun ownership are far more stringent in the rest of the Western world, and the numbers of shootings are correspondingly lower.
“The sad fact is that we seem to feel resigned to the fact that this is part of being American,” he continued. “We shrei gevalt, we have a vigil, we comfort the mourners, we bury the dead, and we say ‘not one more,’ and then the news cycle moves on and we rinse and repeat.
“We have the idea that we can’t change this cycle. But we can change the cycle. We can change the narrative.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Charleston community. I want us to transfer our hurt, our pain, and our anger into action, so we can stop going through the cycle of tragedy, mourning, lament. We have to break the cycle.
“It was so disheartening to see the president’s resignation when he first spoke. He said the right things — but he seemed resigned to the idea that there is nothing we can do, or that he can do. We profoundly disagree that there is nothing we can do.
“We can never assure anyone, with 100 percent certainty, that no American ever will be shot again. That cannot be our standard. But there are other things that the president can do.
“We need to emerge from this grief with a new commitment to act. To change. Not just to be resigned.”