Monday, January 23, 2012

Rethinking Gun Control

It is about time that an article like this appeared in a mainstream Jewish publication. It is well past the time when Jewish Americans should be carefully reexamining their support for gun control.

The author of the piece, Jared Silverman, is a Jewish attorney in West Orange, NJ. 

The news from northern New Jersey this week was not good. Several Molotov cocktails and other incendiary devices were thrown at Congregation Beth El in Rutherford early on the morning of Jan. 11, igniting a fire in the second-floor bedroom of the rabbi’s residence above the synagogue.
This was the fourth anti-Semitic incident in Bergen County within a three-week period. A fire was intentionally set at a synagogue in Paramus and anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered at synagogues in Hackensack and Maywood.

Silverman also notes that Alan Dershowitz has warned that anti-semitism is becoming increasingly mainstream.

It should not be news that Jews are at risk of violent acts from others who hate us. After all, we only have a several thousand year history of being enslaved, expelled, and slaughtered by non-Jews. Sometimes this was at the hands of thugs and others at the hands of governments. Regardless, Jews have the right to defend themselves. Having that right, they should have the means to do so.

Unfortunately, Silverman goes on to state that, 

I believe guns should be licensed and their owners properly trained. I also want to emphasis that there is a difference between ownership and the right to carry. It is difficult to get a permit to carry a concealed gun.

As Jews, we have often been the victims of officially-sanctioned oppression. Giving the same people who might someday want to do you harm a say in whether or not you have the tools to resist them is simply foolish.

Now, I do agree with Silverman that any new firearms owner should get training on how to safely, effectively, and legally use a gun. I disagree in that such training should be mandated by the government, for the same reason I'm against licensing. It is all too easy for training requirements to be setup in such arbitrary and capricious manners that they are impossible to comply with, as recently seen in Chicago.

Further, Jews should not wait until they are the victims of anti-semitism before arming themselves. By the time that happens it could be too late. On top of that, competence with firearms takes time to develop and is perishable skill. You need to know how to use it, and use it well, before the time comes when you need it.

Silverman's view on the difficulty of obtaining a carry permit is colored by his experience as a NJ resident. In NJ, it is difficult to legally purchase a firearm but damn near impossible to get a carry permit. However, in most of the United States, Americans are able to get a permit to carry a firearm as a matter of right, although in many states that right is conditioned on getting trained. On the other hand, the neighboring state of PA has no training requirement for a license to carry a firearm, while AK, VT, and AZ do not require law abiding citizens to get a license to carry a gun for protection.

Regardless of training requirements, Jews should get a license to carry a concealed firearm, as long as doing so is possible. Antisemetic crime is not confined to the home, indeed as Silverman described at the beginning of his article, Jews should be prepared to confront it at synagogue, and elsewhere.

In some of my prior posts to this blog I have stated that "Never Again" requires more than harsh language. If we as Jews are serious about preventing another Shoah (Holocaust), we have no one to depend on but ourselves.

So where do you start? The largest organization providing firearms instruction is the National Rifle Association. (Indeed, it was founded in 1871 to promote marksmanship training. The NRA only became active in gun control politics in the past 40 - 50 years.) You can find courses local to you at Information about the content of the various courses are available at

The NRA is obviously the largest and best known organization working to protect your right to keep and bear arms. One that should be of particular interest to Jews, though, is Jews For the Preservation of Firearms Ownership. And if you think the NRA is radically pro-gun, you should check out JPFO. ;)

1 comment:

R. Ray Rosenblatt said...

Also the "2nd Amendment Foundation" is a great resource
great article...
I was raised in NJ, but now I live in the midwest. Huge difference...