This Sunday at 3:00 pm, Beth Emet will be hosting an interfaith vigil for victims of gun violence. The event is organized by People for a Safer Society, a gun violence prevention advocacy organization, and is being co-sponsored by several other organizations including the National Council for Jewish Women (NCJW). You will also see a memorial outside Beth Emet to those in our area who have died this year due to gun violence.
Gun violence is a scourge that is plaguing our country. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 692 mass shootings in 2021, and 610 in 2020. And these numbers don’t include the roughly 20,000 other gun homicides, 25,000 gun suicides and 115,000 non-fatal gun injuries—including the 18,000 children shot and killed or wounded every year. This year, the U.S. gun death rate hit its highest level in nearly 30 years, with the sheer number of people dying from guns reaching 47,000 last year. Close to home, we recall all too well the horrific mass shooting at the Fourth of July Parade in Highland Park, many fatalities in the City of Chicago, and some right here in Evanston.
Each of these deaths is a precious human being who died senselessly because of lethal weapons. Each person killed leaves behind bereaved family and friends and frightened community members who feel unsafe in their homes, neighborhoods, schools, parks, bars, religious institutions, and other places we gather.
Our very own, Nina Vinik, director of a new organization she founded this year, Project Unloaded, will be the keynote speaker. Project Unloaded is aimed at empowering teens to make informed decisions on guns via cultural campaigns. Project Unloaded is reaching teens with the message we’re Safer Not Using Guns (SNUG) through Snapchat ads and TikTok posts from influencers. We are fortunate to have a gun violence prevention expert in our midst from whom we can learn how to take constructive action against the threat of gun violence.
We will gather to pay our respects to those who have died, learn more about what we can do to prevent gun violence, support bereaved families, and commit to creating a safer society together.
With blessings for a Shabbat Shalom and a more peaceful and safer world.