As a sensible, pragmatic, proud member of the Republican Party, it quite was disturbing to read Moshe Hill’s clueless justification for doing nothing to enhance gun safety legislatively.
Hill blames mental health issues, broken families, and communities for the upsurge in gun violence. However, these are longstanding problems that will not be solved anytime soon. The Uvalde shooter, as most mass murderers, was not in school or employed and was estranged from his family. Under such circumstances, he would not have been referred to or would not have taken advantage of mental health services, which in any case were certainly available to him without “increased funding.”
In addition to gun sales, which should never have legally taken place (such as the Uvalde shooter buying a gun on his 18th birthday), the vast majority of guns in circulation in the US that are used by criminals were legally purchased, however got into the wrong hands. Reducing the number of guns circulating by tightening purchase laws, would necessarily result in fewer atrocities.
What problem would Mr. Hill have with sensible gun control measures to be legislated on the federal level (which would, of course, apply to all states) such as raising the purchase age to 21, mandating a waiting period before gun ownership, closing the “gun show” loophole, and enhanced and enforced background checks? And let’s consider banning AR-15-type assault rifles, which nobody outside of the military or law enforcement has any good use for. These steps would respect the Second Amendment while saving lives.
Forest Hills, New York
Since we have just celebrated Yom Yerushalayim, I am reminded of the trip I took with my HANC classmates to Washington, DC, to protest on behalf of Israel in the midst of the Six-Day War. I also recall attending numerous gatherings for the Russian Jews who were trying to immigrate to Israel. Yet, neither of these public gatherings could light a candle next to the massive crowds at the Salute to Israel Parade in the 1990s. Twenty-five years ago, you could barely walk up or down Fifth Avenue without being jostled by people.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case anymore. Yes, it was a sweltering 90+ degrees. Nevertheless, every able-minded person should have pushed himself/herself to attend. The rows of marchers, on the other hand, were impressive. Yet, these marchers should have included schools of every ilk: Reform, Conservative, Modern Orthodox, and chareidi as well.
I will probably get flack for insisting that right-wing yeshivos march, but the surging anti-Semitism in this country targets all Jews. If there is one lesson to be learned from the rise in anti-Semitism (or call it anti-Zionism), it’s that there must be achdus (unity) among us all. That includes all Jewish sects. We don’t want to be like our parents’ or grandparents’ generation during the Holocaust. We must be like the group of 400 rabbis and Rabbi Stephen Wise and raise our voices in unison.
A postscript to this article must include my admiration for Riverdale Jewish Center. I attended a family bris there on Yom Yerushalayim, where they said the entire Hallel with a brachah. In addition, the 200 attendees sang HaTikvah at the end of the davening. It was stirring!
Rabbi Schoenfeld was spot on. It is the culture. The lack of morality and spirituality in American society today is what is causing the deterioration of our society. Where I will disagree with him is that every law-abiding citizen should own a gun. Learn how to properly use it and properly store it. The second amendment is there to protect the citizenry from tyranny and, unfortunately today, this government is tyrannical. Should you need it, you will have it.
Regarding Rabbi Schonfeld’s article, “It’s the culture, stupid,” yes, events can change the culture, such as the 1960s revolution and the mini-revolution of BLM, which was really years in the making.
But another way to change the culture is slowly but surely to start with the children in school, and that’s what the Left is doing, but the Right is conceding to them, because we think that we have to use religion per se to teach culture, and since that is unconstitutional, we don’t do anything. But really, to separate church and state, we can use the fruits of religion which is to teach about character development to children in school.
This is what I’ve been saying for years, but no one seems to agree except some who agree in theory but not in practice, because they think that it’s impossible to implement. However, I think if we made a concerted effort, it could be done.
On May 16, NYC Transit Workers Union members received a 2.75 percent basic wage increase under the last year of their contract. Previously, the agreed-upon contract in 2019 provided for wage increases of 2% in May 2019, 2.25% in 2020 and 2.5% in 2021 for a compounded total of 9.8% over four years. The annual costs of the wage increases will grow from $42.0 million in 2019 to $354.3 million in 2023, for a total of more than $1 billion through 2023. The MTA’s November 2020-2023 financial plan assumed two percent annual increases and set aside $907.7 million for wage increases. It anticipated a cumulative shortfall of $638 million. The current contract includes other increases to pay and benefits. The Citizens Budget Commission (CBC) estimated that these benefits would add at least 0.5% to the 9.8% in annual wage increases, for a total cost of 10.3%. They further stated that the four-year costs of these benefits to be at least $64 million, bringing the total four-year agreement cost to $1.1 billion.
Inflation was 4.16% in 2021 and 8.26% in 2022. Why would the TWU not ask, under the next round of contract negotiations with the MTA, for salary increases to keep up with inflation? Given the MTA’s ongoing financial crises, commuters and taxpayers have to ask how they will find the additional billions in funding to meet transit workers’ demands? What will be the MTA budget under the next financial plan for employee wage increases? Will riders be asked to pay more at the fare box? Will motorists be asked to pay increased tolls, a portion of which is transferred from the Triboro Bridge and Tunnel Authority to transit? Will City Hall or Albany increase operating assistance to cover these costs?
LIRR union workers will want the same salary increases obtained by NYC Transit TWU members in their next contract, as well.