Dear Liaisons – The UULMNJ Gun violence Prevention Task force is proposing that NJ UU’s join in a campaign that has been initiated by a community organizing group called NJ Together. This group is part of a national organization called Industrial Areas Foundation which originated with Saul Alinsky. Here is a link to their web page regarding this issue: http://metro-iaf.org/content/covenant
This current strategy is based on the idea that, since it is the gun manufacturers who profit from the unlimited sales of guns, the ability to hurt them financially might be a way to get them to see their self-interest to work towards safer gun practices. When one realizes that 40% of gun sales are by the government (25% federal government and 15% municipal governments for their police forces) then it becomes clear that government purchasing is a large and therefore influential slice of the market.
The NJ together strategy begins by simply requesting that municipal governments include in their gun procurement bidding process questions that ask the gun manufacturers whether:
- They are working on developing ‘smart gun’ technology – i.e. guns that have owner recognition capabilities so that only the owner can fire them.
- They are developing micro-stamping of bullet cartridges which makes them easier to trace to a specific gun if found at a crime scene.
- They refuse to sell to gun dealers who have a record of allowing their guns to go to people known to be engaged in illegal activities/straw purchases.
At this point, the municipal governments are not being asked to be bound to purchase from any particular company but this is the first step in a process of sending a message to the gun manufacturers. Once enough information and development occurs, then the next step would be to only purchase from responsible gun manufactures.
The GVP task force thinks this is a promising strategy. The town of West Orange has already passed a resolution to engage in this campaign. (See attached Resolution). In this effort, UU Montclair’s Rev. Charlie Ortman worked with Rabbi Elliot Tepperman of B’Nai Keshet in Montclair (both men are W.O. residents) to get this through the W.O. town council, which happened on Jan. 28th.
We would like to explore if our statewide congregations would like to get involved in this effort, working with NJ Together to send delegations of residents to the towns in which they live to make this “Ask”. If we can get together enough people who would want to be involved in this, then we can ask NJ Together to come and do a training for us (possibly via Skype or conference call) and work with them to funnel our people into places where they already are amassing some people to go to their municipal elected leaders.
Please reach out to your congregations and/or those you know to be interested in this issue to see if there is interest in taking on this campaign. Please get back to Craig firstname.lastname@example.org or Diane email@example.com with the response you get from your congregations.
Thanks so much.
Diane Finn, GVP TF co-chair