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DEPT. OF SANE IDEAS

The US Should Learn from Israel How to Permit, Not Outlaw Guns

Jews have an obligation to fight laws that would ban their access to guns.

The Jewish Press Online's Malkah Fleisher training at the Caliber 3 gun range.

The Jewish Press Online's Malkah Fleisher training at the Caliber 3 gun range.
Photo Credit: The Jewish Press Online

Every shooting massacre in the U.S. is followed routinely by the calls to tighten existing gun control laws and even ban guns altogether.

But, as Jews, we have an obligation to fight those calls, because they’re wrong.

As Jews, giving up the means and the right to defend ourselves is the worst mistake we could make. Imagine if Germany or Poland’s Jews had been armed. Would rounding Jews up have been as easy or even possible? The answer is, obviously, no.

Friday’s massacre in Connecticut was a horrible event, but the shooter, Adam Lanza, didn’t use any legal loopholes to get his weapons, he didn’t even own the weapons he shot, he stole them from his mother.

One of things that strike most visitors to Israel is the number of guns they see people carrying everywhere. But most people don’t realize that Israel’s gun laws are both stricter and very different from those in the U.S.

Personal weapons are more difficult to come by in Israel. A lot of vetting is done by the government, the police, a doctor, and the gun range that must train and test the potential gun owner before they, too, sign their approval. And the Israeli government prefers to limit gun licenses to those with army experience, if possible.

Even then, one normally is permitted to only own one gun, and a limited amount of ammunition (although one can buy as many bullets as one wishes at the gun range). Some admittedly feel that the single gun limit, is too restrictive.

Appearances aside, in Israel there are fewer personal weapons per capita, and fewer homicides involving guns, than in the U.K., which has very strong and restrictive gun laws.

Still, guns in Israel are ubiquitous. There are no concealed carry laws in Israel, as every visitor sees right away. Guns are plentiful in the street, carried by settlers, soldiers, and security personnel, including the guards in front of schools, restaurants and malls.

In short, people who have a good reason to carry a gun will likely be approved to do so. The difference between Israel and the U.S. regarding gun ownership is in the attitude.

Even though Israelis watch the same movies and play the same video games that glorify gun violence as Americans do, Israelis, unlike Americans, are taught from a young age a mature, respectful and structured interaction with their weapons. In America, it’s considered a right to carry a gun, but in Israel, it’s considered both right and a privilege.

Reports are now saying that Adam Lanza’s mother was a “gun nut” who took her kids shooting all the time.

I can practically guarantee that their training and interaction with guns wasn’t mature, respectful or structured in the least.

Keeping guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens is wrong and unconstitutional. But America must rethink its gun laws and make them consistent for the entire country. They must include a serious, complex vetting process, at least as demanding as the process one must endure to receive a driver’s license. In fact, I recommend letting each state’s DMV develop a process of educating and testing potential gun owners. After all, in both cases, when providing a license to drive a car and a license to carry a gun (and to register the car and gun), the state is empowering its citizen to operate a potentially lethal weapon.

Like applicant drivers, potential gun owners must undergo extensive, well structured training on the proper handling, storage and use of their weapon, before being allowed to even buy one, and repeat the process at every license renewal. And they must have a qualified doctor sign off on them too.

And a DMV, or any other agency deposited with the responsibility to vet new gun owners, along with the individual people in the vetting process, must be held accountable should someone they approve end up using their gun license psychotically.

This personal accountability in the chain of approval is the most important aspect of what works in Israel, and what should be most emphasized in the U.S.

Also, the states must get rid of the concealed carry requirement (for those that have it). It’s an idiotic idea that is actually a result of American society’s veneration of weapons, and it removes any visual deterrence it otherwise affords.

Once obvious targets for an attacks, such as schools (think JCCs, and synagogues, too) appoint visibly armed, well-trained guards, we will undoubtedly be seeing a reduction in the number of massacres perpetrated in American schools and other public places.

But if schools and shuls can’t afford that extra expense, they should at least let their staff who can afford it undergo the proper training.

Jews have an obligation to themselves, their families, and their communities to own guns, and be well-trained in their proper handling, storage and use.

We mustn’t wait until, God forbid, another JCC, synagogue or a yeshiva is targeted by some crazed gunman.

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76 Responses to “The US Should Learn from Israel How to Permit, Not Outlaw Guns”

  1. Grace Acosta says:

    I fail to see how more restriction on civilian gun ownership is going to stop violent crimes. The only people deterred from gun ownership will be the law abiding citizens. (That said, a simple metal detector at the school's door would have alerted the staff not to buzz the killer in. They didn't even need an armed guard.)

    When was the last time a violent crime was committed by the trained, legal owner of a licensed and registered gun? 99.9% of guns used in crimes are stolen, bought on the black market, purchased with fake ID, or otherwise obtained by people who are breaking the law to acquire them – with further law breaking in mind. If a deranged person has a well planned attack in mind, he/she will find a way around the system, no matter what.

    When something goes "bump in the night", I rest easy knowing that I can defend my family when needed. I refuse to allow criminals to dictate my rights to self defense.

  2. Jonathan TheDoak says:

    the other flaw I see with this argument is the DMV can barely handle drivers licenses….if we let them handle gun licenses…. need I say more…

  3. Jonathan TheDoak says:

    the other flaw I see with this argument is the DMV can barely handle drivers licenses….if we let them handle gun licenses…. need I say more…

  4. And so the cycle of violence continues.

    Oh, Israel does have shootings. The settlers shoot the pallies.

    Bad example I'm afraid.

  5. Mark Perry says:

    Please read early American History. The intent of the 2nd Amendment was not just for hunting and personal protection. Israel may allow the people to have guns but have clearly made sure the Gov. is in full control of the user.

  6. C. Lee Vermeers says:

    Just one note of fact: the shooter was not buzzed in. He forced his way in.

  7. Chaiya Eitan says:

    This sounds like a very reasonable approach to the whole issue.

  8. Chaiya Eitan says:

    Stacie Officeshrew Curtis – you asked me earlier concerning guns in Israel. Here's an article you should read.

  9. Zev Stern says:

    The Constitution (Second Amendment) speaks of a well-regulated militia. If you're in the National Guard, fine – keep a gun at home and carry one around. Ordinary civilians don't need one, and if they have one it's more likely to be used in a tragic accident or in domestic violence than in self-defense. We have entirely too many guns in the wrong hands. Enough already.

  10. Melissa From-Chicago says:

    Amein!

  11. Roc Diaz says:

    Chris 'thegoth' Wilcox
    hey schmucko, we shoot in self defense or when we are being attacked, thats what guns are supposed to be used for. the only bad example is your wacked attitude

  12. Don Steele says:

    You would think that Jews would have learned by now NEVER to trust the authorities..instead they act like obedient little schoolchildren.

  13. Hadar Israel says:

    The USUAL uninformed B.S.
    It doesn't even take into account the US Constitution, in which driving a car is not a right, hence the DMV can take it away and regulate it, but having a gun is a right.
    Nor it takes into account that a crime like the one committed in Connecticut could not have likely happened in Texas, where carrying a gun is allowed almost everywhere and where criminals KNOW that they get shot at by good citizens.
    Have you noticed that those massacres happen often in states with draconian gun laws, from California, to New York, to Colorado, to Connecticut?
    Nor the writer takes into account that there are much more gun crimes and murders in Chicago (where it is almost impossible for a law abiding citizen to be allowed to carry a gun, only criminals a police do!) than in Dallas; or that Vermont, that even has a Socialist Senator, has NO GUN LAWS AT ALL, that is free sale and everyone can carry, and it is at the last place for violent crime in the US.
    What about Switzerland, where every family has an automatic assault rifle, or Finland, where pistols are as free and as ubiquitous as cell phones?
    It's ALL a matter of EDUCATION!

  14. Freedom John says:

    Common sense. I can't believe that someone advocates common sense. Where have you been hiding? Thank you. What sends red flags for me is the people that are buying bulletproof vests. What do they need those for? They certainly aren't going to wear them at home. I'd monitor the sale of those.

  15. Freedom John says:

    I disagree Zev. You're expecting people in the police force or National Guard to be in the McDonalds or grocery store or mall in the event of a criminal in whose hands the gun is probably stolen. They aren't. Police respond to events after they have happened. I carry a gun, am licensed and capable and you'd better hope that someone like me is around if you need it. But then again, I live in a Red state that recognizes the value of having citizens armed. We have far less crime than you do and are not victims. Yes, I carry a gun to Shul and the Rabbi's love me for it.

  16. Freedom John says:

    I disagree Zev. You're expecting people in the police force or National Guard to be in the McDonalds or grocery store or mall in the event of a criminal in whose hands the gun is probably stolen. They aren't. Police respond to events after they have happened. I carry a gun, am licensed and capable and you'd better hope that someone like me is around if you need it. But then again, I live in a Red state that recognizes the value of having citizens armed. We have far less crime than you do and are not victims. Yes, I carry a gun to Shul and the Rabbi's love me for it.

  17. Freedom John says:

    I disagree Zev. You're expecting people in the police force or National Guard to be in the McDonalds or grocery store or mall in the event of a criminal in whose hands the gun is probably stolen. They aren't. Police respond to events after they have happened. I carry a gun, am licensed and capable and you'd better hope that someone like me is around if you need it. But then again, I live in a Red state that recognizes the value of having citizens armed. We have far less crime than you do and are not victims. Yes, I carry a gun to Shul and the Rabbi's love me for it.

  18. Many years ago I was visiting Israel. A relative's gun was missing and he was required to report it to the police station immediately. I was told the police there are tough on anyone who reports a missing gun, as it could have fallen into the wrong hands. Eventually someone else who had borrowed the gun came forward and it was recovered, but the relative was at the police station for hours to deal with the gun loss before it was found. So that is another form of gun control, to require an immediate report of a missing gun.

  19. Marie Currie says:

    Brilliant man that you are, I wish to see you someday on 'Face The Nation'. YOU, kind Sir would really make all those 'suits' look like the idiots they are. xo!

  20. Charlie Hall says:

    Texas's violent crime rate is higher than that of New York, a blue state with strict gun laws — 15% as of 2010, the last year for which I could find data.

  21. Charlie Hall says:

    "When was the last time a violent crime was committed by the trained, legal owner of a licensed and registered gun? "

    Jared Loughner purchased his massacre weapon legally, thanks to Arizona's lax gun laws. That should give us all chills.

  22. Not at all. Pallies have guns too, beat younger children down, and beat women and rape both… So, of course you shoot at them but not kill them and is rare to kill, so such instance proper when rape children and women. Israelis are not savages -they are Jewish and Obey God's Law.

  23. Israeli people have "FULLY-AUTOMATIC" weapons and not semi-automatic weapons in there homes as needed and yes -I agree with assertion Israeli peoples and government are very weapons responsible, Thank You!

  24. Gang/Drug related… Shoot them in the back of the head, (call it suicide by-proxy of crime committed), on National T.V. and your gang violence goes down over night.PERIOD!

  25. Ruth Baker says:

    shared…………………

  26. Steve Klein says:

    What works in Israel, might not work in America. Israel is a Jewish state. No matter how corrupt this or that Israeli prime minister might be, "he or she is one of us." Look what we have here in the White House. Americans (many) viscerally do not trust their government; thus the Second Amendment. How much more today? Would gun-owning Americans want Barack Obama somehow involved in permitting gun-owners?

  27. Chris Gray says:

    Lets remember that only 7% of Israelis have gun permits, while 50-80% of American households are permitted or have weapons. Israel ranks 80th of 178 countries in the number of guns among its population. The US is #1

  28. Charlie Hall says:

    Local or state law enforcement agencies would be much better choices than motor vehicle administrations — they have the experience to check people out to see if they are likely to be able to be responsible gun owners. That is how it works in New York City.

  29. Charlie Hall says:

    And when George Washington faced a rebellion as people used their "Second Amendment Rights" to stage a tax revolt, he and Alexander Hamilton raised a huge army to go fight the rebels. The cowards mysteriously disappeared. The idea that a ragtag militia can defeat a large well trained well disciplined army is sheer lunacy.

  30. Charlie Hall says:

    Barack Obama is the duly elected and re-elected President of the United States. Those who question that are little better than traitors. You can disagree with his policies but he IS our President.

  31. Decent article, albeit with a few spelling errors. I remember seeing a T-shirt long ago that read, "gun control works: just ask the experts." The picture that followed featured Mao, Hitler and Stalin. I think Shalom Bear is partially correct, however, I believe the DMV is not the proper licensing agency. Also, I believe that there is room for both concealed and non-concealed ownership. If there is one guard posted at a location, he/she will be the first to be shot. If, by chance, there were others in the vicinity who concealed their arms the balance of threat is better suited for both deterrence and defense. Practically speaking, if someone was carrying a concealed pistol in Aurora Colorado, or a teacher in Newtown Connecticut had bore the same, the massacre may have been miniature in comparison. The reason that folks who seek to kill innocents gravitate toward a movie theater or a school is that they are betting they'll be able to carry out their evil unfettered. An armed guard is a decent start, but may become the object of a surprise attack. People should be clearly vetted (medically, legally, etc.) for the responsible possession of firearms. That being said, when one who obtains firearms unlawfully is intent on using them to terrorize their mission may be cut short by those among us who refuse to be a lamb to the slaughter. The sheepdog must prevail!

  32. Decent article, albeit with a few spelling errors. I remember seeing a T-shirt long ago that read, "gun control works: just ask the experts." The picture that followed featured Mao, Hitler and Stalin. I think Shalom Bear is partially correct, however, I believe the DMV is not the proper licensing agency. Also, I believe that there is room for both concealed and non-concealed ownership. If there is one guard posted at a location, he/she will be the first to be shot. If, by chance, there were others in the vicinity who concealed their arms the balance of threat is better suited for both deterrence and defense. Practically speaking, if someone was carrying a concealed pistol in Aurora Colorado, or a teacher in Newtown Connecticut had bore the same, the massacre may have been miniature in comparison. The reason that folks who seek to kill innocents gravitate toward a movie theater or a school is that they are betting they'll be able to carry out their evil unfettered. An armed guard is a decent start, but may become the object of a surprise attack. People should be clearly vetted (medically, legally, etc.) for the responsible possession of firearms. That being said, when one who obtains firearms unlawfully is intent on using them to terrorize their mission may be cut short by those among us who refuse to be a lamb to the slaughter. The sheepdog must prevail!

  33. Brett Owsley says:

    the conservative response is always More Guns!

  34. Although I agree with the premise that restricting guns is the wrong move to make, I see a whole lot of assumptions in this article that are unfounded, and I also see a complete disregard for the differences between the Israeli Constitution and that of the United States.

    Israel's Constitution does not begin with the Enlightenment premise of individual rights, and there are restrictions on the rights of Israelis, right down to limits placed on "personal status"–a concept foreign to the American heritage–with regard to religion and Israeli law. As an American Jew, my government has so far protected my rights, including the right to marry according to the practices of my religious institution and practice my religion as I wish, with no legal interference from a specific brand of rabbis. In Israel, my freedom in this realm and others would be restricted and my religious identity as a Jew would cause me to come under the rule of Israeli Rabbinate who would make all kinds of restrictions upon my free expression of my religion. This is why I choose to remain an American Jew: because I cherish and respect that my government was instituted to preserve and protect my right to life, liberty and property. Although those rights are now under threat by collectivist notions imported from Europe, individual liberty is still my heritage as an American, and I act to do everything I can to preserve them.

    The right to keep and bear arms is uniquely American, and predates the American Revolution. In Colonial America, men were not even free to choose NOT to own a firearm, and the first battles of the American Revolutionary War–Lexington and Concord–were also the final confrontations of a series of Powder Alarms–in which the martial law Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony attempted to disarm the colonists there. Having just fought a Revolution against an illegally imposed government on them (one that violated the colonists rights), the Founders (particularly the anti-federalists) enshrined into the Bill of Rights the right to keep and bear arms in order that Americans would be able to resist their government should it become tyrannous, as the writings of Jefferson, George Mason, and others attest. The Constitution would not have been ratified by the states if the Bill of Rights had not been promised, even though its purpose was originally limited to defining the scope and limits of the power of the federal government.

    This is also a difference between Israel and the United States: Israel is formed after the image and likeness of a European Democracy, but the United States is a Constitutional Republic, in which rights are not given by the government, but derive from individual human nature–"nature and nature's God")–as written in the Declaration of Independence. They cannot be voted away, and the whole purpose of the government is to protect those rights, leaving individuals otherwise with the liberty to pursue their lives as they please. That this ideal has been adulterated somewhat by the collectivists and progressives in there more than century-long campaign to make the United States look more like European Democracy (G-d forbid!) does not mean that ordinary Americans do not continue to look to this ideal.

    In short, although there are things the United States can learn from the experiences of Israel, there are many ways in which the founding principles of the two countries so differ that what works in one will not work in the other. To sum, Israel was founded on collectivist and socialist principles and looks more like a European majoritarian democracy. The United States was founded on the Enlightenment concept of individual rights and is a Republic.

    This comment is long enough, and so I will take up the facile and derogatory assumption of the author about how Americans relate to firearms in another.

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