As I sat down to the first night Passover Seder I attended on campus, I was offered a sheet with four recommended discussion questions. One question stood out to my friends and me: What enslaves you? We laughed over it at the time, at the sometimes-dark Jewish humor of the discussion of how oppressed our ancestors were that always comes up with Passover. Yet, this is a worthwhile question to pose.

We sit down yearly to remember the slavery our Jewish ancestors escaped millennia ago. But after another white supremacist with a deadly weapon has perpetrated another hate crime in Poway, California, we must all reflect on what enslaves us now, as a Jewish community and as a country.

I can’t get over the terrible symmetry of this event. Exactly six months after 11 were murdered at a celebration of new life in Pittsburgh, one was murdered and three were injured at a service memorializing the dead at the close of Passover. From birth to death, our community is still terrorized, with little to no action happening in our communities and legislatures to end the cycle of gun violence that enslaves us.

After 50 Muslims were murdered in New Zealand, their prime minister immediately banned the weapons used — the response we should all be taking as white supremacy puts marginalized communities at risk here in America.

What is it about our country that enslaves us in this cycle of violence? I have been working in the gun violence prevention movement for more than a year now, and I still do not have the answer. Why are we so enslaved by the idea of weapons of war as a method of self-defense? How can we let so many die without a national response to end the cycle?

We pray every year for peace and freedom, yet year after year, the plague of gun violence takes more lives. The president tweets that he supports our right to life, but also calls Nazis and white supremacists marching in the streets “fine people.” His pockets are so lined with money from the NRA that he will not consider taking weapons away from those who will take our lives.

While freedom of religion and the Second Amendment may both be in our Constitution, our Congress and the gun lobby are prioritizing one, regardless of the deadly consequences. It is time to end our country’s perpetual enslavement that puts every single one of us in danger.

Emma Bauer lives in South Strafford and is director of Vermont Youth for GunSense.

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