Wednesday, July 6th | 7 Tammuz 5782

June 2, 2014 5:46 pm

Why Jews Should Support Gun Ownership

avatar by Zalman Myer-Smith


United States President Barack Obama listens as Vice President Joe Biden presents proposals as part of the Obama Administration's response to the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, during a policy meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House on January 14, 2013. During the divisive national debate on gun control, some federal legislators are now arguing for laws to provide better mental illness treatment as a preventive measure for shootings, rather than stricter gun laws. Photo: Pete Souza/White House.

In reading Deborah Jacobi’s understandably emotional op-ed on Jews and gun control, I find that I am able to pose strikingly similar questions. As a father of five young children, I too ask “Where is the outrage?” I share the war cry of the frustrated and despairing. I share the frustration regarding gun control and the current political establishment for their excessive ties to special interests and partisan politics.

Republicans have been bad on the issue. But the involvement of government has actually caused more problems. Prohibition does not work.

I’m not here to defend the Republican Party, but I will and must defend the right to defend oneself and one’s family. The great equalizer in the United States is not the gun, but the Constitution.

Putting emotion and politics aside for one moment, let’s examine the realities regarding firearms in the United States to gain perspective.

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The NRA, of which I am a proud member, has its issues as does any large non-governmental corporation. However, their successful education programs and activism is unsurpassed.

Two vocal opponents of the NRA, former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg, who is putting up $50 million to fight against the NRA, and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein (producer of some of the most gratuitously violent imagery) do not offer plans to deal with the 300 million guns in circulation, except widespread prohibition and confiscation.

Prohibition has not worked in the United States. We only need to look at the wars on drugs, prostitution, and alcohol to see billions of taxpayer dollars wasted through prohibition rather than education.

Jacobi’s understanding, or lack of it, regarding firearms is clear when she talks about “automatic” or “machine guns.” While these are legal, they are highly restricted, tightly controlled, and prohibitively expensive. Don’t fall for the disinformation given out by anti-gun proponents.

I doubt Jacobi has a clear understanding of the efforts the NRA makes on gun education. I certainly do not agree with a lot of what the NRA does, but they are the oldest and most lucid proponent of gun safety and education out there.

When it comes to “better” background checks, the current system created and run by the Federal government is very detailed and effective. Criminals do not care about laws or permits. I would like to see it be a felony for guns to be left unlocked. I would like to see guns being removed from a person if any violent crime is committed. But that’s not the same as prohibition.

Indeed, 10,080 lives lost a year are 10,080 too many. But that figure would be dramatically higher if criminals knew that they were the only ones with guns or knives. We know guns are used in a positive way. To protect our schools, synagogues, and community centers. The same anti-gun politicians, Hollywood elite, and music moguls who promote rampant and explicit gun violence and disrespect of women are protected by the guns they wish to remove from the population. Where is the outrage in that?

How can we ignore the more than 2.5 million documented times a firearm is used in self-defense every year? Why ignore the 200,000 women who use a gun to halt sexual assault or abuse each year? Why ignore the fact that the Clinton Administration admitted that guns overwhelmingly stop serious acts of violence every year? Why ignore the fact that the Clinton Administration started the armed police officers in schools program to stop gun violence? Where is the outrage, we must again ask ourselves?

The Jewish response is deafeningly loud, yet the ears of those focused on removing guns and the right to self-defense are very much closed. Our response as Jews has never changed or wavered. The cogent response is education.

Those martyrs of the Holocaust and other atrocities committed against the Jewish people throughout our history must be horrified by the laissez faire attitude towards the rights of Jews to protect themselves using weapons. As Europe begins a political collapse and Jews in France, Belgium, and the rest of Europe live in fear of their lives, the suggestion that American Jews should remove tools to protect themselves and their communities is outrageous.

I too grew up in England where guns were prevalent up until 1997. However, gun prohibition has failed. I am not sure which part of England it was that the author grew up in, but gun crime rose by 110% after the drastic legislation and gun confiscation came into effect. The UK Daily Mail reported in October 2009 that despite widespread gun bans, armed crime had shot up 89%. Where is the outrage in that?

Let’s look at Israel, where guns are prevalent. Yes, they are tightly restricted, but access to someone else’s gun is pretty easy. There are no school shootings (armed guards in every school), very rare mass shootings, and very few gun accidental discharges or gun incidences involving children. Why is that? Simply good solid education about firearms and a respect for life and the lives of others.

While we yearn for a gun free utopia, education is the key.

Zalman Myer-Smith is a former high threat bodyguard, a licensed Federal Firearms dealer, an NRA instructor, and Director of Training of

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