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Why It’s OK for Israelis to Own Guns But Not You

Gun control advocates use tortured logic to defend their positions. Take the Bloomberg-distributed commentary Why Israel has lots of guns but few gun crimes by Rabbi Daniel Gordis [above]. It starts out like this: “Early in 2002, as the Second Intifada was raging, guns — normally ubiquitous in Israeli society — were even more in evidence. In restaurants, at synagogue and especially on the street, you could see pistols stuck into men’s belts or pants. One of my wife’s closest friends kept a gun in her purse.” And then he takes a sharp turn to the left . . .

Guns on Black FridayThose were dangerous times in Israel. More than once, legally armed civilians killed or wounded terrorists in places as seemingly benign as the grocery store. I decided that I, too, should probably get a gun license, and promptly went to the appropriate government office to apply.

I’d been told that I’d have to justify my “need” for the license, so I brought a copy of a New York Times Magazine piece that I’d written about the violence. I indicated that was I going to write more pieces like it and that to do so, I would need to go to places less secure than Jerusalem, where I lived. It was entirely true. I filled out a several-page form, and was told that were my application declined, I wouldn’t be allowed to apply again. I signed the form and turned it in.

Several weeks later, I received notice in the mail that my application had been refused. The government thought I didn’t need a gun. So I couldn’t have one.

No reason given? Not by Mr. Gordis. Strangely but not unexpectedly (given the source), he’s OK with that.

More than a decade has passed, but I still recall that laconic refusal when I read about Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary and now Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Guns are virtually everywhere in Israel, certainly much more so than in the U.S. Yet as Barack Obama noted in a recent tweet, Americans kill one another (per capita) 33 times as often as do Israelis. When we lived in the U.S., had I walked into any gun shop, I would undoubtedly have been able to buy a gun legally. In Israel, though, even at the height of the Second Intifada, I was told that I couldn’t carry a weapon.

So it’s a good thing that Mr. Gordis could’t buy a gun in the US because the United States is less dangerous than Israel? More dangerous? I’m so confused.

In the U.S., every discussion of gun ownership leads to the Second Amendment and a guaranteed constitutional right. In Israel, the ubiquity of guns distorts a deeper sensibility that carrying a weapon is not a right — it is a responsibility and a tragic necessity.

I wonder what the word “distorts” is supposed to mean there. Anyway, this might be a good time to bring up the fact that Israel instituted gun control in 2014. And then “loosened” it – a bit – after a bloody attack on a synagogue. I’m so confused!

In a country where almost everyone serves in the army — in which guns are associated with the country’s endless battle to stay alive — a culture of weapons responsibility, rather than rights, has emerged.

Along with that sense of responsibility — and the knowledge that Israel’s enemies, who live not far from us, are constantly looking for weapons to steal — comes intense caution. When our children were in the army, we got used to them coming home with weapons, disassembling them, hiding the parts separately and locking the doors to their rooms whenever they weren’t in them. There was no swagger or bravado about walking around with a gun; the sense was that it was sadly necessary — and dangerous. Young people in Israel are taught to take both the necessity and the danger seriously. They take their army- issued weapons with them wherever they go — even to weddings, even to the beach.

Gordis is suggesting that Americans who own guns are not responsible enough to own guns; as [allegedly] evidenced by the [supposed] fact that Americans own guns with “swagger” and “bravado.” Suffice it to say Gordis isn’t hanging out with the same American gun owners as you and I. Or checking the number of U.S. firearms-related homicides as a percentage of legal U.S. gun owners. Which can be rounded down to zero.

What we have here is another example of anti-gun elitism – by a man not deemed worthy to carry a gun in a country that he deems dangerous enough to warrant widespread gun ownership. Go figure.

But as Obama noted: Despite the hundreds of thousands of guns legally and illegally owned in Israel, and despite the stresses on society, Israelis kill one another with firearms at a small fraction of the rate of Americans. Just like the U.S., Israel is a society predicated on citizens’ rights. Unlike the U.S., however, those rights do not extend to gun ownership. So far, that has seemed to make all the difference.

Gotcha. Gun ownership is OK in Israel, but not the United States because it’s a privilege in Israel and a right in the United States. Yeah, not buying it. While I support Israel, the right to keep and bear arms is a natural right. Regardless of its relatively low level of “gun violence,” Israel’s denial of its citizens’ gun rights puts them in harm’s way. As Gordis admitted personally, and admits again in an earlier passage:

Israel, of course, has had horrific cases of gun violence. Baruch Goldstein killed 29 people and wounded 125 in an attack on Muslim worshipers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in 1994. Yigal Amir assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. Mentally ill soldiers such as Eden Natan-Zada (who was technically a deserter) have attacked innocent people. Israel has an underworld, and occasionally intended “hits” go wrong, killing bystanders. Israel is hardly immune to gun-related violence and death.

Would Gordis have been singing the same tune if he’d been at the synagogue slaughter on November 14, 2014? Probably. Which just goes to show you his level of inhuman delusion. As an armed American Jew and the son of a Holocaust survivor, I’ve got a message for him and his ilk: never again. Or, if you prefer a purely American idiom, you can have my gun when you take it from my cold dead hands.

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