Interfaith Coalition Targets Abusers’ Gun Access

Interfaith Coalition Targets Abusers’ Gun Access

Several Atlanta-area clergy members signed a letter to Congress advocating legislation to close loopholes in gun laws as part of Jewish Women International’s Interfaith Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

The letter was one piece of a call to action Wednesday, May 18. The initiative, called the National Faith Call-in Day, included the letter to Congress, as well as phone calls, emails and tweets to senators and representatives by other JWI members and the general public.

According to JWI, the Atlanta clergy members who signed the letter are Rabbi Scott Colbert of Temple Emanu-El, Rabbi Lydia Medwin of The Temple and Cantor Barbara Margulis of Temple Kehillat Chaim.

Cantor Lauren Furman Adesnik listens while Rabbi Scott Colbert speaks to a gathering of Catholics and Jews held at Temple Emanu-El in May in honor of Nostra Aetate.
Rabbi Scott Colbert at Temple Emanu-El

The focus was on legislation that would prohibit people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence against dating partners from owning or accessing guns — specifically, H.R. 3130, the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abusers Act, and S. 1520, the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act.

The JWI initiative was a response to a perceived flaw in federal gun law that allows people convicted of misdemeanor stalking or domestic violence against a dating partner to access guns legally, according to a press release from the women’s organization.

“The law’s narrow definition of intimate partner relationships leaves a dangerous loophole,” JWI CEO Lori Weinstein said in the press release, explaining that the law prohibits gun access or ownership for a person convicted of domestic violence against a spouse but not against someone a person is dating.

That is a massive problem, according to JWI leadership, as a significant proportion of domestic gun violence victims are dating partners rather than spouses.

“A woman is not safe when her abuser has access to guns,” Weinstein said. “It’s not controversial; it’s common sense.”

JWI’s focus on interfaith efforts to combat domestic violence led to the development of the coalition in 2007. According to JWI, the coalition is crucial to women’s safety and progress because many women turn to clergy and faith organizations in times of distress.

The coalition combines 36 faith organizations, according to the press release, and 500 clergy members and national faith-based organizations signed the letter to Congress.

The coalition meets twice a month to discuss legislation, advocacy and congressional educational events.

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