JWI's statement on the California synagogue shooting, and your civic action to-do list for 4-29-19

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In the past six months, shootings at two synagogues have taken the lives of 12 members of the Jewish community - the latest shooting occurring just two days ago, at the Chabad in Poway, CA. In the past six weeks alone, synagogues, mosques, and churches around the world have been targeted by gunmen with hateful, extremist beliefs.

Fear and hate should have no home in houses of prayer. Our places of worship should be sanctuaries of peace. 

May the memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye be for a blessing as we pray for the safe and speedy recovery of all who were injured in this latest terrible shooting. JWI will continue to work tirelessly to end access to AR-type assault weapons, and to ensure stronger background checks. 


3. AR-Style assault weapons and white supremacy ideology are a lethal mix – and the tragedy at Chabad of Poway this weekend just reinforces what we all already know – haters use guns to kill and maim.  Banning assault weapons is part of the solution but the proliferation of hate speech, neo-Nazism and white supremacists also must be addressed.

In a nutshell: The 19-year-old suspected shooter reportedly used an AR-style assault weapon, as was used at Tree of Life, Parkland High School, Las Vegas, and numerous other mass murders while shouting hateful statements about Jews. He also admits to setting fire to a mosque last month.

Take Action: Ask your Senator to co-sponsor S.66, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019, introduced in January 2019 by Senators Feinstein (D-CA), Murphy (D-CT) and Blumenthal (D-CT.) and be vocal about the very real harm caused by anti-immigrant and anti-refugee statements.  

2. Rape kits contain crucial DNA evidence to identify a sexual assault perpetrator, but too many rape kits are either never sent to the crime lab or never tested after they're received. Sexual assault survivors don't receive justice, and perpetrators are free to continue assaulting other victims.

In a nutshell: The Debbie Smith Act of 2019 is a bi-partisan bill that authorizes increased funding to states to end the backlog of untested rape kits and requires states to develop a plan to reduce the backlog.  

Take Action: Ask your senator to co-sponsor S. 820 – the Debbie Smith Act. Ask your senators to sign on to this bi-partisan legislation. Remind them that these rape kits can not only help the survivor – they can prevent future crimes from taking place.

1. And now for some good news: The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the Kansas state constitution protects abortion rights, blocking a first-in-the-nation ban on a second trimester procedure.

In a nutshell: The Court held that a woman has the right “to make her own decisions regarding her body … decisions that include whether to continue a pregnancy,” as the state constitution includes the right to ‘personal autonomy.’

Take Action: The fight isn’t over as Kansas legislators are preparing to fight the decision through a constitutional amendment. If you live in Kansas, contact your legislators and tell them you support the court’s decision. And everyone, contact your Congressional representative and Senators and tell them you support the decision in Kansas and will fight to preserve a woman’s right to personal autonomy.