In the heart-wrenching days since the Sandy Hook school massacre shook our world, the images have slowly shifted. First came the photos of shell-shocked children rushing from the scene of terror and of devastated parents just learning of the horrors that had befallen their little ones. Now we are witnessing the double loss of innocence, with those too young to be touched by death attending the funerals of their friends and teachers.
Our emotions, too, have moved from shock and anguish to grief and outrage. As we offer heartfelt condolences to the families struck down by terror, we shudder as we face the grim reality that if it could happen there, in suburban Connecticut, it could happen here.
Even as we continue to seek comfort from our faith, our families and our community, now is the time to turn our anguish and despair into action, to take meaningful and concrete steps to get lethal weapons off the streets and out of our communities.
We must do all we can to regulate guns to minimize the chance that semi-automatic assault weapons will find their way into an elementary school or movie theater or shopping mall. We need to make this happen on the local, state and federal levels.
We’ve heard the outcries before, after Columbine, Colo., Tuscon, Ariz., and, just five months ago, Aurora, Colo., where a killer opened fire inside a movie theater, killing 12 and wounding dozens more. But something’s different this time around and it’s our job to help capitalize on the momentum for change.
Our tradition emphasizes the sanctity of life, with the well-known Talmudic view that “one who saves a life, it is as if he has saved the world.”
It is no surprise that Jewish policy organizations in Washington are already taking the lead in forcing a change in the culture that has allowed gun violence to persist for too long. We can add our voices by signing a petition created by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs at www.endgunviolencenow.org  to express our resolve to enact meaningful legislation to limit access to assault weapons and ensure access to quality mental health care for all who need it.
The gun control debate erupted almost as soon as news of last week’s massacre landed. Some may have questioned whether that was appropriate. But even as we grieve, we must ask, in the words of Hillel: If not now, when?