Gun Safe Congregation


What does it mean to be a Gun Safe Congregation?  It means putting the strength of this congregation behind a principle that matters to us all: creating a safe community. This begins at our congregational home and radiates outward. Certainly all of us have a role to play in creating a culture of safety.

Here are five principles of being gun safe:

 1. No one should feel the need to bring a firearm into Temple Israel. We have a trained security team here. We have an excellent relationship with the Westport Police Department. We review our security stance on a regular basis. Our congregation is safe.  

2. If you own a gun at home it should be stored safely away, under lock and key. As Chief Koskinas of the Westport Police Department said, “There’s absolutely no reason your gun shouldn’t be secured.” In addition, all adults in your household should be properly trained in firearm use and safety.  

3. When we send our child to a neighbor’s home we need to ask whether there’s a gun in the house, and whether it’s safely secured. We don’t live in a community where guns are a visible part of the culture, but there are more guns around than we realize. So we have to start asking other parents about guns in their homes even if it may feel nosy. And we have to keep asking until the question is a natural part of the culture of our community. Let’s keep our precious children safe.

4. We will put the strength of this congregation behind sensible legislation and public policy initiatives that make our community safer. We are fortunate that Connecticut already has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. We will work with allies such as Connecticut Against Gun Violence and the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association to continue to pass sensible laws that keep us safe. And even in an era of stretched budgets, we will support increased funding across all mental health services.

5. We will continue to work with our interfaith partners to encourage manufacturers to bring smart gun technology to the marketplace. Our interfaith community organizing group has made gun safety a priority.  However in so many places around our country legislation on guns is either blocked or ineffective. That’s why we are aiming to mobilize the power of the free market to change the culture around firearms in our nation.  It is astounding to learn that 40% of all guns are purchased using taxpayer dollars. Local police departments, state troopers and corrections, federal marshals, FBI, and of course the military together buy 40% of the guns sold in America.  Our interfaith community organizing group, Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut, is trying to use the collective buying power of the public sector to encourage manufacturers to bring smart guns to the marketplace. A smart gun is like your smart phone – it uses technology to ensure that only the legal owner can operate it.  Bringing smart guns to market will reduce accidental shootings, theft of weapons, and the number of guns sold illegally. Over 100 municipalities including Fairfield, Bridgeport and Stamford and several states, including Connecticut, have already signed on to our strategy. So has the White House.

The Talmud says, “If you save even one life you have saved the entire world.” In now becoming a Gun Safe Congregation we aim to establish a standard that changes the culture of our community, sanctifies human life, and increases peace in the world.  

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