It’s All the Guns’ Fault!

While there’s much truth about America’s diminished respect for human life, this is also true in other countries, but the homicide rates involving firearms is far smaller, because access is severely limited. Of the 300 million allegedly legal guns in America, about one per person, how many are assault rifles designed to kill multiples, in minutes? Not many, I’d suspect. Why are these high-powered VCX rifles available for civilian purchase? As to profiles on who’s buying them, has the NRA, financed by the gun manufacturers/importers, effectively brainwashed even some within the frum community that it is unconstitutional or un-American or not worthwhile to argue against the sale of semi-automatic assault rifles to almost anyone? That removing the sale of the deadliest weapons, and/or raising the legal purchasing age (along with ending the gun show loopholes), is an affront to the Second Amendment?

Legal gun ownership is a security need for some, a sense of entitlement for others, and is also becoming more common amongst our own. Nobody is talking about banning all gun sales or confiscating all weapons. But the NRA has effectively choked off any meaningful federal solutions, and likely massages homicide stats to suit their purposes. All this to prop up the double-digit billion-dollar gun industry!

The student protest movement, despite some sponsorship by undesirable groups, is to be lauded. As a country we have failed our youth, especially those living in gang-infested inner city neighborhoods. The Declaration of Independence’s promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is in direct contradiction to the current (largely the Republican party’s) definition of the Second Amendment. As Torah-abiding Jews, it should be quite clear where we stand.

Yocheved Lieberman, Chicago

Rabbi Donn responds:

Gun use is against the Torah? I mostly agree. We should be clear where we stand on guns? I fully agree.

What the writer wants is not that I, as a Torah Jew, believe in the “sanctity” of guns but that I should condemn millions of others — tens of millions of law-abiding citizens who live in a culture where guns are commonplace and are as dangerous as the writer’s butcher knife.

I refuse to do so. I expect those respectable gun owners to respect my First Amendment rights of freedom of religion and speech the way I interpret those rights. In return, I respect their Second Amendment rights to bear arms the way they interpret those rights.

It is ironic that respect for human life and the dignity of a traditional society is more associated with the Second Amendment people than with the gun-control crowd.

And no, the NRA is merely a repository of the hopes of tens of millions of people, not a cultish assemblage of people supporting the murder of innocents. And guns are a “double digit billion dollar” industry because people buy them legally. Most gun violence is committed by criminals who illegally own their guns, according to Politifact.

As to your comment about the student protests, teens are not allowed to buy guns, vote or drink alcohol for a reason — they’re not able to pick up the nuance of two sides of an argument. Their protests just showed it.

And right, the protests were organized by some pretty nasty people.

Thank you for your communication,

Yochonon Donn