Following the horrific Sandy Hook massacre, a spate of articles on the very controversial topic of gun control has swept the nation. Hamodia’s coverage of this subject (Wed., Dec. 19) included several pieces that seemed to me replete with misinformation, misleading information and unwarranted conclusions.
In your piece on “The Myth of the Gun-Totin’ Israeli” the author asserts, as fact, that “[i]n the United States you can go into a store and buy automatic weapons. It’s regarded as an inalienable right to buy as many automatic weapons as you want, with ammunition, without it being reported to the authorities.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. You cannot go into any store in the U.S. and buy an automatic firearm of any kind at all. Period. They are not sold there. Additionally, there are very extensive background checks that may take months, run by the BATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms], and special licenses must be applied for and granted, as well as special taxes paid. Finally, you must get permission from your local police authority before you are permitted to own any automatic weapon.
Semi-automatic weapons and even revolvers cannot be purchased in any store without passing a nationally run background check. The truth is that guns are heavily regulated in this country, with over 20,000 laws on the books.
Similar misleading information was passed off as fact in the editorial “A Culture of Violence.” The author writes: “Though Connecticut has an assault weapons ban, the lack of Federal law makes it almost impossible to keep out weapons that are legally purchased in other states” — implying that the rifle in question was somehow snuck into the state in violation of its own ban. The reality is that the rifle was purchased, registered and owned legally in Connecticut, under its own laws, proving that the ban, like virtually all other bans (think drugs), just does not work.
The author then goes on to state, with absolutely no justification, analysis, or facts to back it up, that “[t]here is no legitimate reason why a peace-loving, ordinary citizen should be allowed to own a semi-automatic — which is for all practical purposes a weapon of mass destruction.”
Additionally, there were political cartoons sprinkled throughout the paper completely misconstruing the meaning of the Second Amendment of our Constitution, as well as caricaturizing gun-owners, well over 99 percent of whom are honest, law-abiding citizens, in a demeaning and pejorative manner reminiscent of the way Jews were portrayed in pre-war German newspapers.
Guns are not only protected by the Constitution, and consistent with authentic Jewish thought and hashkafah; they also enhance not only an individual’s personal safety, but society’s safety in general, as well…
It is a d’Oraisa to defend one’s life. The Torah (Shemos 22:1) tells us if a thief tunnels into your home, his blood is forfeit and you shall kill him. The Gemara learns from this: “If someone comes to kill you, arise [preempt him] and kill him first” (Sanhedrin 72a). It only stands to reason that you are required to have the implements needed (weapons) to carry out those commands, just as you have to build a sukkah in order to eat in one.
In a more secular vein, criminologists tell us that U.S. citizens use guns between two and three million times a year in self-defense. If the Jews in Crown Heights all had guns, knew how to use them, and everyone was aware of that fact, do you think the Crown Heights riots would have happened when Mayor Dinkins ordered the police to stand down while the blacks rioted in order to “let them vent”?
Consider the following question, seriously posed, for a moment: What prevents a tyrant from launching a military coup in England and enslaving its population? Answer: The political reality, as it currently exists in England, makes that impossible.
Now, ask yourself: What prevents a tyrant from launching a military coup in the U.S.A. and enslaving its population? Answer: The political reality, as it currently exists in this country, makes that impossible… and the fact that 100 million Americans own guns in the event political realities ever change. They are the real protectors of this country’s freedom and liberty. The Founders understood this and enshrined our right to keep and bear arms forever in our Constitution. And make no mistake. The arms so protected were military grade. The Founders were a pretty smart group. We would be wise to heed their counsel.
Consider also that shortly after Pearl Harbor, Emperor Hirohito, flush with his victory, directed his military to come up with a plan to invade mainland U.S.A. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto replied to him, “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass.” The invasion plans were scrapped.
I believe we would have to be fools to willingly surrender that which protects us most.
Finally, I would like to leave you with the words of Thomas Jefferson. Not a Gadol, nor a historic Jewish figure, but a pretty smart guy nevertheless. “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms… disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes… Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve, rather, to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man” Thomas Jefferson (quoting Cesare Beccaria).