29 March 2012

The Opposite of Stand Your Ground

the *Opposite* of Stand Your Ground
The grandfather I never knew was shot and killed in 1939, by a mentally ill employee whom he managed, when my mother was just a girl of six.  For this reason alone, we were never allowed to have toy guns in our house.  My middle name, Norman, is for him.

For this reason alone I feel a special, personal pain when people die unnecessarily from guns wielded by those who really ought not to have them.  Trayvon Martin's tragic death is another in a countless list of those whose lives unjustly came to an end because of guns in the hands of those people, buttressed by state law, who have too much discretion to do too much damage.

In two interesting pieces today--one by Gail Collins in the New York Times and another unattributed editorial in the Forward--the practicalities and moralities of the trendy Stand Your Ground laws, fully armed and loaded by the notorious National Rifle Association, are laid out as among the most wrongfully minded and dangerous set of laws we have in this country.

In our own area of Brooklyn, people are doing very important to stop violence of this kind.  S.O.S Save Our Streets in Crown Heights, is an organization I support and look forward to further helping out.  I hope you'll take a look, too.  I give annually to S.O.S. from my Rabbi's Discretionary Fund and invite you to help me in those efforts.

The issue of how we understand guns, violence and race remains at the center of the soul of our nation.  Thanks to Mayor Bloomberg and past New York City administrations, our civic values are leading the country in helping to maintain safe streets with tough gun laws.  But the broader challenges are far from over.

The Wild West and ideas like Stand Your Ground are best left to the Spaghetti Westerns of yore.

No comments: