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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.

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