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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

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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.

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

  1. Ruth Baker says:

    shared…………………

  2. 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?

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. Brett Owsley says:

    the conservative response is always More Guns!

  10. 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.

  11. In the article above, I also noticed assumptions about gun ownership in the United States that are not born out by the facts. The author wrote disparagingly that: "… Israelis, unlike Americans, are taught from a young age a mature, respectful and structured interaction with their weapons."

    This is simply untrue. Although in the United States gun ownership is a right, and therefore any vetting by government is simply unconstitutional even when legislated, the vast majority of the gun owners in America are responsible, and understand that a firearm is a tool, not a toy. This is born out in the fact that doctors in the United States cause more accidental deaths than do the more than 1.1 million gun owners in America. For the vast majority of gun owners in America, the possession of a weapon is for our work as well as for our self-defense. For example, I am a cattle rancher living in one of the largest counties in the Southwest, that also has a very small population. I carry a gun on a daily basis, to protect my person, our livestock and our property from bears,
    mountain lions, coyotes and snakes. There are three sheriff's deputies available to us but they cover over 7,000 square miles daily. We don't call 9-11 because by the time help would arrive, we'd be dead. But since the residents of the county are all armed, and everybody knows we are, crime is almost non-existent here. We can leave our doors unlocked and our keys in our trucks.

    America is a very large country, with a great deal of geographic as well as human diversity, and the video games and movies that glorify gun violence do not define American culture. They do not define our citizen's relationships with guns any more than they do for Israel. Most American gun owners have been taught from childhood the proper use, storage and care of their firearms and they adhere to those rules and customs. Further, the progressive European attempt to label America as one of the most violent countries in the world is both hateful and wrong. The vast majority of American citizens are peaceful, law abiding people who want to be left alone to live their lives. Of course, those people do not generally make the 5 O'clock news. And we are not generally taken to blowing up our neighbors over religious practice, burning down their churches or stoning them to death, as we see in a majority of the barbarian Middle Eastern countries. We are not terribly interesting in telling anyone else how to live, either. We leave that to the progressives in Europe. But neither do patriotic Americans wish to have every aspect of our lives controlled by a police-state government. And even the most intrusive police state cannot prevent every random crime committed by individuals. Perfect safety is not achievable by any means, and Israelis really ought to understand that, given the perils they face every day. And they ought to recognize when another country is being libeled, instead of buying into it, seeing that Israel is the most frequently libeled country in the world.

  12. Freedom John says:

    The talking heads are trying to cover all their bases. Unfortunately they are not listening to the people that are voting them in and experience teaches them nothing. I'm concerned that Obama will attempt to take away our rights though executive order and will once again by-pass Congress. He is a devious individual.

  13. Richard C Nix says:

    YES, because NYC is a crime-free garden spot…

  14. Marcus Max says:

    Interesting, the author starts off as if he's pro-gun, but then gives a list of restrictions, similar to the anti-gun liberals. As well as the fact that much of what he said was simply inaccurate. For example, in order to receive a concealed carry permit, one must pass a certified pistol safety course and qualify at a range. The author also suggests that the Israeli system of getting permission from a doctor and police is a good idea. It is worthy to note that in states that require authorization from local law enforcement (NJ, for example) the police often abuse this power, unreasonably delaying the process (sometimes 6 months or more) or "losing" an applicants forms. As well as the fact that many doctors have been known to reject any application that crosses their desk (often veterans are told they must get permission from a VA shrink), simply for fear of liability issues, despite those same vets getting a clean bill of mental health from several other psychiatrists. Another difference is the fact that in America, the constitution guarantees an individual the right to keep (in their home) and bear (on their person) arms. Israel, on the other hand does NOT guarantee any such right, nor does it have a constitution (or a bill of rights). As a side note, I have personally witnessed trained Israeli soldiers (some, not all) who were not as competent with their firearms as many American civilians.

  15. Pat McCrann says:

    The 'settlers shoot the Pallies'? Israelis shoot in self defence. Only ignorance or lies could say otherwise.

  16. Sabrina Shaw says:

    Every citizen in Israel has to undergo a year or more of military training. I am sure that makes a difference in how their youth view firearms.

  17. Not more guns, but more responsible gun ownership. Further, a practical approach toward law enforcement being more diffuse in regard to citizen capabilities. I'm a former soldier and cop. I don't suggest gun possession lightly, but a liberal fantasy I should like to dispel. Namely, that "gun control" is an answer. That is a serious misstatement of the problem and an oversimplification of the solution to our nation's most lethal threat to children's safety in schools.

  18. Rebecca Lee says:

    The Revolutionary War began as militia. They were led by people like Washington who had experience in the French and Indian war. They defeated the biggest military power present in the world at the time, the British Empire. To God be the Glory!

  19. Tim Rowland says:

    Charlie……
    Except, that's how America defeated the British…….

    The ragtag Revolutionary Army was a string of state militias drawn together for a greater cause, and the world was rocked when they beat the most disciplined, well-trained, and best-equipped army on the planet.
    Its the heart of the matter that can make the difference. What you're fighting for draws out the best or worst in ordinary "rag-tag" fighters. Just ask the Soviets in Afghanistan, as well as our men and women who are ready to just pack it in and come home after 11 years of futility.

  20. Tim Rowland says:

    Charlie, Texas is a border state with some of the worst gang-drug violence in the nation. Our gun control will not affect what Mexican drug gangs do on our soil because we don't control our border.

  21. John Adams says:

    In the 1920s the US govt. banned the mfr., distribution and sale of alcohol. It was totally ineffective and the law was repealed in the 1930s.

    There are very strict laws today in the USA against the use, sale and mfr. of heroin, cocaine, etc. In fact, every nation in the Western Hemisphere and Europe and much of the "civilized"world has equally stringent laws.
    Yet, here in the USA ANYBODY AND EVERYBODY who so chooses, can obtain any drug they desire; ANY DRUG AT ALL!

    The lesson here is that enacting a law prohibiting something (drugs, booze, prostitution, etc.) does not produce the desired outcome and most likely will produce other undesirable effects (e.g., more crime, more violence).

    The definition of stupidity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

    The US govt can pass all sorts of laws to limit/prohibit access to guns, but it simply will not work. We KNOW THIS from our experiences with the prohibition of drugs and booze.

    Frankly, IMHO , the only way to actually stop these mass murderers it to adopt Israeli model and have armed guards and many many UNCONCEALED guns in plain view (and robust screening and training programs for gun owners).
    I realize this sounds very extreme, but the Israeli model has been shown to work and if it works than we need to adopt it.
    The US and European model has been shown NOT to work (recall the wacko in Norway who shot about 70 kids!)

    By the way, I have never owned nor do I own any guns at all and I do not foresee that I ever will.

    We either enact programs that will in fact provide the desired result – elimination of mass shootings – or we can just enact laws that will not produce the desired result but will merely show others how "responsible"and "caring" we are while boosting our egos and our own public persona.

    Many years ago in the USA there were basically no gun laws at all and we rarely, if ever, had these horrible horrible incidents. Our culture is changing for the worse and we need to adopt measures that actually work; not nice sounding measures that will not work.

  22. @Charlie Hall. And yet the Iraqis and the Afghanis have held off the Americans for ten years. I think the Iraqi and Afghani terrorists are the bad guys and the US military are the good guys – but the simple fact of the matter is asymmetrical warfare allows the poorly trained and equipped to make even the best army bleed. Look at the IRA in Northern Ireland.

  23. @Charlie Hall. And yet the Iraqis and the Afghanis have held off the Americans for ten years. I think the Iraqi and Afghani terrorists are the bad guys and the US military are the good guys – but the simple fact of the matter is asymmetrical warfare allows the poorly trained and equipped to make even the best army bleed. Look at the IRA in Northern Ireland.

  24. Hasn't anybody noticed that there are FAR more guns in the US than gun murders? There are 300 million guns and 11,000 gun murders annually. That works out to 27,272 guns for every gun murder (even assuming that a gun can only murder one person). If you make the assumption that in order to have a gun murder you have to have: 1) a gun, 2) a victim, 3) a murderer it would seem logical that of the three the gun is not the limiting factor. I would suggest that it is the number of murderers that is the limiting factor. Interviews with violent criminals in jail supports this observation – they say that it is easy for them to get illegal guns from other criminals. Only about 7% of all gun murders are committed with "legal" guns.

    Where am I going with this? Trying to prevent gun crime by banning guns is like trying to prevent snowballs by banning snowflakes – the best way is to stop the PERSON from making snowballs.

    Banning guns WILL have one effect on the crime rate – it will make it go UP. That has been the experience of every nation that has tried it. The reason why is obvious and was readily enunciated by those same violent criminals in jail. Violent criminals don't fear the cops because they know that they will be long gone before the cops respond. What they DO fear is armed victims. Violent criminals know better than most the effects of gunshots on the human body because they have often inflicted them themselves. They fear the armed victim more than cops or even other criminals because they don't know what the potential victim will do: they might freeze, threaten, run, plead or shoot – and it is this uncertainty that causes violent criminals the most concern.

    Every year in the US violent crimes are prevented between 2.5 and 4.5 MILLION times by privately owned firearms without them being fired. If you take away the guns you take away the uncertainty in the lives of violent criminals – making it much more likely that they will commit crimes.

  25. Anonymous says:

    It's not about banning guns completely. It's about making sure ASSAULT WEAPONS are illegal. period. There is NO REASON for citizens to have the kind of weapons used by the Newtown killer. Don't confuse the issue by saying all guns will be banned, cause that's not the case!

  26. Harry Cannon says:

    The "Well Regulated Militia" was supposed to be the only type of organized force in the United States (they did not necessarily want a Government Army and Tyranny all over again), and it was every man capable of bearing arms – 14-40 Years Old.The "Well Regulated" part meant Regimented or practiced – not regulated as into non existence by Laws. It was not uncommon for land owners to have their own field cannons – much more damage could be caused by those mortars than a .223 Semi-Auto Rifle I might add. The 2nd Amendment was written NOT to protect us from one another or for "Hunting", it was there to protect us from an overbearing tyrannical state. What part of shall not be infringed do you not get? If you want the 2nd amendment over turned, go ahead try to amend the constitution, that's the procedure those very smart men decided could always be the path or alternative.

  27. Harry Cannon says:

    Charlie Hall – There are more guns now than ever – Obama is the NRA's gun salesman of the year (past four years). Violent crime rates are down overall by one third since 1994 51/1000 (*Republican Congress takeover) today – 16/1000 (BJS). If you want to compare rate statistics by State, why not a another red state with concealed carry that does not border a drug cartel crime infested country – One of which Obama's Justice Department allowed/nay pushed illegal guns to flow into. http://tinyurl.com/br558du

  28. Tim Wallenburg says:

    I would be more than happy to put up with additional carry restrictions that made me a better shooter!

  29. The liberal response is always: "ban guns"!

  30. David Wall says:

    Knee jerk reactions amaze me, and in many cases are used immorally to gain support for a cause.

    Smoking kills almost 20 times more people than guns, alcohol almost 4 times. The suggestions that tobacco and alcohol related deaths are victimless is false. 50,000 people/year die from secondhand smoke, 5 times the homicide by gun rate. Non-driver DWI rates are approximately equal. Gun related deaths are approximately 1% of preventable deaths. If you factor out suicide (60% of gun related deaths), and it drops to about half a percent. More people die from STDs (another preventable category). I guess we should outlaw sex. Where do you draw the line to limiting personal freedom? Way more lives are lost to alcohol, and tobacco, than guns. We turn a blind eye to using alcohol and tobacco around our children because we enjoy those vices, yet each (by them-self) kill more than guns. Of westernized countries we have one of the lowest mortality rates. Lower than gun controlled Europe and Japan.

    The majority of gun related deaths are suicide, then individuals with a criminal background (death related to criminal behavior). The majority of those deaths are young minority males of poor socio-economics in urban areas. Switzerland has the highest gun ownership per capita and one the lowest incidents of gun related fatalities. The major difference is socio-economics and education. Take care of your people and your economy and mortality rates improve.

    I'm not against implementing sensible legislation regarding licensing, education, waiting periods, assault rifles, and high capacity clips. The challenge is leaving it at sensible. Look at all the personal freedom we so easily gave up after 911. History shows that governments always manipulate tragedies to attempt to disarm the people.

    In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated. China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated. Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million educated people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.

    Switzerland issues every household a gun. Switzerland's government trains every adult they issue a rifle. Switzerland has the lowest gun related crime rate of any civilized country in the world.

    Defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control: 56 million. You won't see this data on the US evening news, or hear politicians disseminating this information. Guns in the hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control laws adversely affect only the law-abiding citizens. Notice that these mass tragedies happen in “gun free zones”. Criminals don't obey laws.

    It's a shame that guns are blamed for a lunatics activity. Timothy McVeigh and the 911 terrorists didn't use guns. Crazies will always find a way.

    © David Wall 2012.

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