Some Newtown clergy disapprove of Senate compromise on guns
Demonstrators set up more than 3,300 grave markers to symbolize the people killed by gun violence since the Newtown shooting.
April 11th, 2013
04:02 PM ET

Some Newtown clergy disapprove of Senate compromise on guns

By Dan Merica, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

Washington (CNN) – The bipartisan gun control agreement reached by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey on Wednesday does not go far enough in the eyes of multiple clergy members from Newtown, Connecticut.

In interviews with CNN, religious leaders from Newtown, the site of last year’s school shooting where 20 children and six adults were killed, said that a recent gun control agreement does not do enough to fight gun violence, leading one rabbi to doubt whether Congress was actually working for the American people.

“Who are they compromising with?” said Rabbi Shaul Praver of the Congregation Adath Israel in Newtown. “Ninety percent of the country, 92% really, want the universal background checks. That is it, straight up, no exceptions. That is what the people want.”

Praver continued: “If there are so many people saying, ‘We want you to do this’ and it is not being done, then we are not being represented. I think we have a really big problem. It is called corruption and it is really a problem. You have elected officials who come here to do, you know, serve the NRA and not their constituents that elected them. I think they are out of touch.”

On Wednesday, Manchin, who represents West Virginia, and Toomey, from Pennsylvania, announced an agreement that broadens background checks to include private purchases at gun shows and on the Internet. The agreement does not, however, include a ban on semiautomatic firearms modeled after military assault weapons or a limit on ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, two provisions many gun control activists had wanted.

The compromise passed an initial hurdle in the Senate on Thursday and is expected to get a vote in the next two weeks.

The Rev. Matthew Crebbin of the Newtown Congregational Church echoed Praver and seemed unsettled that any compromise was needed on gun control.

“It is hard for me to believe that we need a piece of legislation on compromise when 92% of the American public supports universal background checks,” Crebbin said. “I do think that many of our representatives are late adapters to the issues and don’t recognize the changes that are happening under their feet.”

A CNN/ORC International Poll released Wednesday found that 86% of people support “tougher new background checks for gun purchases.” The number is consistent with other polling on the issue that finds around 90% of people support more stringent background check laws.

One other member of the Newtown clergy joined Crebbin and Praver in Washington, the Rev. Kathleen Adams-Shepherd of Trinity Episcopal Church.

All three were members of an interfaith group that organized a vigil after the shootings at Sandy Hook. President Barack Obama attended the event and spoke about possible legislative recourse for protecting “our children.”

“No single law - no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society,” he said. “But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this.”

The three Newtown clergy also took part in an event, organized by PICO National Network and Sojourners, two religious groups lobbying Congress to approve stricter background checks.

Surrounded by more than 3,300 grave markers that symbolized the number of people killed by gun violence since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, 27 religious leaders stood together to ask Congress to pass gun control legislation.

“It’s past time for our political leaders to find the moral courage to act,” said the Rev. Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners. “The majority of our country supports change, and 92% of Americans support universal background checks, but unfortunately powerful lobbyists for gun manufacturers have some politicians scared to do what they know is right.”

Sporting large yellow stickers that read “Background Checks Save Lives,” a number of religious leaders spoke about the need for stricter gun laws.

“We all know too intimately the ripples of grief,” Crebbin said, his hands trembling during his remarks. "Now is the time to change.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Guns • Politics

soundoff (121 Responses)
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    April 12, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  6. WOW

    Wow from front page cnn:

    "Two shot at New River Community College inside a mall in Christiansburg, Va., CNN affiliates report."

    In other words – the daily dose of Americans' fascinating with guns continues to blossom.

    April 12, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  7. Jesus


    The Christain and Muslim faiths encourage being armed and the Jewish community should still be very familiar with the continuity between the registration and confiscation of personal arms before the registation and elimination of religious groups in Germany.

    "the registration and confiscation of personal arms before the registation and elimination of religious groups in Germany" a lot of people like to repeat this but it is not true ... dig a little before spreading misinformation

    April 12, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      In 1935, Jewish residents were no longer considered citizens, and thus gave the precedent for new laws to prevent any resistance. The gun control provisions under the 1938 German Weapons Act, which superseded the 1928 law. As under the 1928 law, ONLY citizens were required to have a permit to carry a firearm and a separate permit to acquire a firearm. Furthermore, the law restricted ownership of firearms to "...persons whose trustworthiness is not in question and who can show a need for a (gun) permit." Under the new law,

      Gun restriction laws applied to all guns and ammunition. The 1938 revisions introduced restrictions specifically reiterating the prohibition for Jews to hold firearms, but made it easier for one party nazi regime to gain acquisition and transfer of rifles and shotguns, as was the possession of ammunition."[4]
      The legal age at which guns could be purchased was lowered from 20 to 18.[5]
      Permits were valid for three years, rather than one year.[5]
      The groups of people who were exempt from the acquisition permit requirement expanded. Holders of annual hunting permits, government workers, and NSDAP members were no longer subject to gun ownership restrictions. Prior to the 1938 law, only officials of the central government, the states, and employees of the German Reichsbahn Railways were exempted.[4]
      Jews were forbidden from the manufacturing or dealing of firearms and ammunition.[4]

      Under both the 1928 and 1938 acts, gun manufacturers and dealers were required to maintain records with information about who purchased guns and the guns' serial numbers. These records were to be delivered to a police authority for inspection at the end of each year.

      On November 11, 1938, the Minister of the Interior, Wilhelm Frick, promulgated Regulations Against Jews' Possession of Weapons. This regulation effectively deprived all Jews living in those locations of the right to possess firearms or other weapons.[6][7]

      I may have to do some more digging about this alleged elimination of religious groups thing.

      April 24, 2013 at 11:00 am |
  8. Oakspar77777

    The Christain and Muslim faiths encourage being armed and the Jewish community should still be very familiar with the continuity between the registration and confiscation of personal arms before the registation and elimination of religious groups in Germany.

    A few misguided religious leaders do not speak for these faiths.

    April 12, 2013 at 10:38 am |
  9. reo

    What ever happened to humanity, love and having a moral compass. i dont vote. i dont belong to a religion. But i do believe we should treat each other decent. Weapons are not used for defense. Thats why they are called weapons. Its just sad that owning a something that can take the life of another can be considered. we as humanity need to take a deep decent into who we are because we self destructive. we should care about the old the sick the disabled. I mean we use to believe that one day we would all come together and love one another but you get slammed for that now.

    April 12, 2013 at 10:32 am |
  10. colby


    So you really think a poll conducted by CNN or Fox will involve a truly random sample of people? If you do, you're not as educated as you put on.

    If a third party, completely free of bias did the poll, then I am all about it and would believe the numbers. Our country could never get a 92% agreement on even the most non-issue, let alone something this important. I absolutely see 92% of the CNN viewers agreeing, though.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:44 am |
  11. Pandamonius

    I'm surprised more of the NRA's paid trolls aren't on this. Must be too early yet.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:38 am |
  12. Kristin

    "Last year's school shooting"? Err...this was a few months ago, not last year!

    April 12, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      It happened a December 14, 2012...2012 being last year.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:03 am |
  13. Bill

    If the vast majority of people want background checks, then why is this not fast tracking. Maybe the rabbi is right and the system is corrupt. And people say the govt is not tyrannical. Yet this is the very example of a govt not listening to its people.

    I swear partisanship, the nonsense of super pacs and corps as people are destroying us.

    I am a gun owner and support background checks and very stiff penalties for straw purchasers.

    April 12, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • One L

      I second that! (non-gun owner, but support rights to own for protection)

      April 12, 2013 at 8:35 am |
  14. jonat

    Maybe the clergy should have opposed the President using Air Force 1 and our tax dollars to fly the victim's parents to DC for a gun control rally

    April 12, 2013 at 6:47 am |
    • Bob

      You are a fool

      April 12, 2013 at 10:37 am |
  15. ThosePollsAreCrap

    I was never asked either. And i highly doubt that number is even close.
    How many people live in this country are there?
    How many people voted in this poll? because if i saw it i would have voted against the so-called "92%".
    Yeah so cuz some idiot stole a gun from his mother, lets expand backround checks. That makes sense. Thats goona stop the shootings. Typical of our government. No sensibility

    April 12, 2013 at 6:46 am |
    • Poltergiest

      And make it harder for the affected dealers to sell to felons.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:41 am |
    • Bill

      What are you afraid of? I am a gun owner and support expanded background checks and extremely stiff penalties for straw purchasers and gun crimes.

      Stop being a paranoid nut and compromise. The bill as proposed, which I'm guessing you haven't even read, does impede your rights one bit as long as you are a law abiding citizen.

      Btw, maybe you should have paid attention in school. Your grammar and knowledge of polls are signs of an undereducated dolt.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:08 am |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    April 12, 2013 at 5:53 am |
    • meifumado

      What does it change?

      What are these things you speak of?

      April 12, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      April 12, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • Really?

      "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"

      That's why the data, has shown that atheists have happier and healthier lives than conservative Christians. Your post is built on a lie!

      April 12, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  17. Knightsix

    92% ? Ninety two percent? Did someone pull that out of their backside? No one asked me. No pollster, no committee, no representative...no nada. Somewhere along the way, an individual sold the great unwashed an idea that polls actually represent what the majority of U.S. citizens think. NO, they don't. I do agree with some parts of the article above, in that we are not being represented by those we elect, but "polls" and all they claim can take a hike.

    April 12, 2013 at 5:37 am |
    • Bill

      Oh come on. Get educated on survey methodology and the science behind it. Believe it or not a truly random sample of people can accurately predict what the entire population thinks. As usual there is a margin of error depending on several factors.

      Btw I was an NRA member until this nonsense of stonewalling over something as simple as a background check.

      April 12, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • Bob

      "No one asked me"

      No one cares what you think.

      April 12, 2013 at 10:38 am |
  18. Getoverit

    Works for me. Most Liberals don't care what the clergy have to say.

    April 12, 2013 at 1:19 am |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      Are you seriously trying to say that liberals do not believe in God? Or are you just casting aspersions for sh!ts and giggles?

      April 12, 2013 at 10:59 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.