Senseless

      The alternating dazed and demonic looks of the Colorado killer illustrate the senselessness of the murders. And “senseless” is the operative and literal definition: it makes no sense, and it will make no sense, however hard inquiring minds seek a rational motive. While James Holmes might not be legally insane – that requires an inability to distinguish between right and wrong, as in ‘he thought he was blowing bubbles when he was firing his weapons’ – clearly he has several screws loose. The planning, the preparation and the execution all point to a calculating but disturbed mind that rests somewhere inside a red-colored head. How can society guarantee safety from such monsters?

     The sad and troubling news is that, ultimately, it can’t. There is no perfect, foolproof system that can protect against massacres of the innocent unarmed by the determined heavily-armed. Suicide bombings cannot be prevented, but bombers (or their dispatchers) can be halted before the mission begins. But at the time? It is usually too late. One who wants to kill, and does not mind being killed, has a distinct advantage over the sane and the decent.

     Nonetheless, these horrors are always accompanied by demands of pandering politicians for new gun control laws, to be added to the existing gun control laws. The reality is that gun control laws only inhibit the law-abiding citizen from acquiring a self-defense weapon. Criminals can always acquire weapons. Indeed, in my part of the world, it is much easier to purchase an illegal gun that it is to purchase a gun legally, after licensing and waiting periods. It is also cheaper; this I recall from my days practicing law. The plethora of illegal guns on Bronx streets – and the dearth of legal weapons – was shocking, and itself encouraged lawlessness.

    This is an aspect of the gun control fantasy that advocates refuse to recognize but that has been demonstrated conclusively by the research of John Lott, among others. An abundance of guns in the hands of decent, civilized people decreases street crime rather than increases it. The statistics do not support the argument that normal people who possess weapons routinely become enraged and start settling disputes with their weapons. That simply does not happen in a statistically significant manner.

    Gun possession is legal in Colorado, but – not surprisingly – the Aurora theater banned patrons from entering with concealed weapons. Surely, if a moviegoer that night – or several – had been armed with their privately-owned and licensed defensive weapons, the massacre would have been halted in its tracks (if it even would have taken place at all). Gun “control,” in that theater on that night, aided the criminal and hampered the victims.

That didn’t stop liberal Senator (and gun control fanatic) Dianne Feinstein from opining that those who might have had concealed weapons on that night would have caused a “bloodbath” and many people would have been shot in the “crossfire.” Huh? It was a bloodbath because only the killer was armed, and dozens were killed and wounded because there was no “crossfire.” But, as often happens in politics, ideology trumps common sense.

Gun control advocates are fighting a losing battle because the American ethos will not support it, because over 100,000,000 Americans already own more than 300,000,000 firearms, and because there should be a palpable fear when only government and naturally, the criminal, are in possession of weapons. The initial objective of every dictatorship is to remove the means of self-defense from the average citizen; that is why the Second Amendment was so cherished by the Founders and defended vigorously ever since. One need not speculate too deeply about how differently the Holocaust would have unfolded had Jews been armed and able to defend themselves. Yet, liberal Jewish groups are in the forefront of the gun control lobby, as sensible and Jewish-oriented as everything else they do.

Some people just hate guns, and they should fight for their right not to bear arms. But others see firearms as essential to defense of person, home and property, and therefore oppose even the incremental restrictions that are frequently proffered. Certainly, reasonable people support background checks to weed out the insane, but adjudication of insanity is difficult to obtain. If James Holmes had announced his intention to kill people a week before he did, I am not sure what could have been done to stop him. The police don’t arrest for prospective crimes (assuming he did not reveal any overt steps taken to perpetrate his massacre) and liberals ensure almost 30 years ago that nuts could not be institutionalized against their will, greatly exacerbating the homeless problem as well. If James Holmes could not be arrested or institutionalized, then how could he be stopped? Trailed every day the moment he left his home? Not likely.

The suggestion that semi-automatic weapons or clips that allow rapid fire be banned also falls short on the sensibility spectrum. And it is not because I seek to allow hunters freedom to kill their prey as simply as possible, hunting being anathema to any Jew and strikes me personally as barbaric. It is rather for the reason outlined above: a ban on any personal hand-held weapon just drives the market underground. The criminals will always have it, and the police never have to fight the honest citizen – so the only group ever affected by these restrictions is the group of peaceable citizens.

Paradoxically, we probably could use more guns on the street and in the places we deem worthy of protection rather than fewer. Cities with very, very restrictive gun laws – think Chicago – have the highest rates of homicide and violence in the country. The average person cannot protect himself against criminal assaults. The old bumper sticker – “when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” – still rings true. And societies with high rates of legal possession – think Israel or Switzerland – actually have very low rates of gun violence.

As frustrating as it sometimes might sound, the price we pay for having a free society in which an individual has the right and the capacity to protect himself or herself against hostile attacks is the occasional eruption of senseless violence. It is a tradeoff that we make, much like we do in our mass use of the automobile wherein reckless drivers kill many more people during the course of a year than do guns, and with all the licensing and testing that legal driving requires.

Rabbi Eliezer (Shabbat 63a) wanted to permit men to carry their swords in the public domain on Shabbat, deeming them “ornaments.” The majority disagreed, saying that such weapons reflect poorly on man and the sad necessity of war, and of course carrying weapons are only permissible for security reasons. Nevertheless, we can appreciate Chazal’s characterization of weapons as a “gnai” while understanding – as they did – their indispensability before the Messianic Era dawns upon us,

To imagine that we live in a world more moral than it actually is simply courts danger unnecessarily and leaves us ill-prepared to defend ourselves when appropriate. That fantasy directly negates fundamental Jewish values.

Until Messiah comes, let us fight for the right to defend ourselves and our homes, in conjunction with the police. In the meantime, let the maniacal miscreant be tried, convicted, and, if there is true justice, executed for his crimes. But let him not be used as a pretext to tamper with our vital freedoms.

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41 responses to “Senseless

  1. Rabbi Pruzansky said:
    “And societies with high rates of legal possession – think Israel or Switzerland – actually have very low rates of gun violence.”

    Rabbi Pruzansky’s entire argument is summarized in this one sentence.

  2. Granted that criminals will always find a way around the law,but why not ban rapid fire weapons and/or their ammunition, to try to prevent a disturbed individual from access?

    • Disturbed individuals are already banned from purchasing such weapons. The real problem is ascertaining who is disturbed. The ban will only put such weapons in the hands of the outlaws. Personally, I would ban even butter knives from the disturbed.
      -RSP

  3. Surely, if a moviegoer that night – or several – had been armed with their privately-owned and licensed defensive weapons, the massacre would have been halted in its tracks (if it even would have taken place at all).

    Surely? What makes you so sure? Holmes entered the theater, dropped a few smoke bombs, was wearing armor, and had automatic weapons. You really think a guy with a Colt in the middle of the theater would have stopped him? Really?

    • Not a Colt but a Glock or two. We’ll never know, of course, but the NRA magazine has a monthly feature of crimes prevented (names and places mentioned) because the putative victim was armed. As it is, we do see what happens when no one is armed. Why would you be so certain that the odds of survival are not improved if the good guys also have firearms?
      – RSP

      • Because the bad guy came armed to the teeth and with smoke bombs as cover.

      • Actually, A Colt .45 ACP or a Kimber, SIG or any other handgun of reasonable caliber (not a .22 unless you’re a tremendous shot) would have slowed down or stopped Holmes. The fact that he had ballistic body armor doesn’t negate the fact that a large slug, hitting its mark,would or could have broken ribs, knocked the target down, or if equipped with a laser or other illumination device, have scored a head shot. The sudden shock of having someone return fire could have made Holmes hesitate, make a critical error and enable someone take him down. We all saw how easily he surrendered to the police once they found him in the rear of the theater.
        The one disturbing fact about this whole thing is that the police were already on the scene providing crowd control for the movie premiere event and they still couldn’t do anything about it until after the fact, after all the innocents were shot and/or killed. This is not their fault since they can’t be everywhere at once and the last time I checked clairvoyance is not part of their job description, although some would like to think so.
        Looking back over the history of the Jewish people, have we not learned that only we, ourselves, bear the responsibilty for our own well-being. How many times have we stood by and/or capitulated to an invading or enslaving force and not lift a finger to protect ourselves, our families and our heritage?
        How many times did we allow ourselves to be disarmed (jew and non-jew alike) only to be subjugated and worse by the ones who disarmed us?

    • rabbifink – the murderer Holmes did not have automatic weapons, and his “body armor” did not cover his most vulnerable spot – his eyes. In the words of my last firearms instructor “he needed to get one betwixt the lookers”

    • So even if an armed cop had been in the theater, they would have stood no better chance?
      What you’re actually saying, whether you realize it or not is that the best thing a Jew could have done is walk quietly onto the train going to the death camp.
      Any effort to preserve ones life would only result in more death?

      Yes, it will happen again, and again, and it will be because of people with your mind set.
      Thinking someone else is responsible for your security.
      I find this contemptuous.

    • Really?? I do!! With my Colt and a head shot. And just because someone may have body armor on them, doesn’t mean they won’t be put down by body hits, there- by making the head shot that much easier. I would bet you do not own or have limited knowledge of firearms and their defensive use.
      Holmes did not have automatic weapons. They have been stricly controlled since the 1935 National Firearms Act.

  4. Not to nitpick, but I still can’t understand opposition to banning assault weapons and ammunition, and the NRA refusal to compromise on this. Perhaps someone like Holmes would then only have been able to obtain less sophisticated weapons and inflicted less harm. I agree with your main point, having been a victim of an armed robbery, and subsequently carrying a licensed handgun for many years.

    • “Assault weapon” — Definition:

      A fictitious category of firearm – invented for the purpose of deceiving members of the American Public who are not familiar with firearms. The weapons in this category operate no differently than any other semi-automatic rifle which is not labeled as an “assault weapon”.

      The meaning and use of the word “assault” is intentionally twisted to cause confusion and aid in the deception.

      The term is based on the valid firearm category “assault RIFLE”, which describes a selective fire (fully automatic “machine gun”), intermediate caliber rifle – resulting in a light-weight, low-recoil weapon, well-suited for use in the ASSAULT PHASE of a MILITARY attack.

      The “ASSAULT PHASE” of a military attack is closing in on the enemy, advancing on his position to drive him from that position, or kill him if he attempts to remain.

      The word “assault” is re-utilized in the term “assault WEAPON” to suggest the common civilian concept of “assault” as meaning a violent, criminal attack committed against an innocent victim.

      The meaning of the word “assault” in the term “assault RIFLES” as a MILITARY term, a phase of a MILITARY attack, is psychologically re-directed toward the popular understanding of the word “assault” as a CRIMINAL attack against an innocent victim in the term “assault WEAPONS”.

      In addition to this twisting of the word “assault” to cause deception and fool the general public, the valid category of firearms — “assault RIFLES” — was simultaneously expanded to a new, and unashamedly false, more general category of “assault WEAPONS”.

      This was done to rationalize including not just rifles, but shotguns, and even pistols, in the newly invented pseudo-category. This reflects the twist in the meaning of “assault”, from a phase of MILITARY ATTACK to criminal violence.

      First they invent a new pseudo-category of firearm. They name that category in a way that suggests that the only use for such weapons, in civilian hands, is criminal “assault”.

      Then, they include in that pseudo-category any firearm they can rationalize as somehow being too dangerous, or “unsuitable” for “civilians” (more properly CITIZENS) to own.

      Clever — fiendishly clever.

      • William Eigles

        Good, accurate comment by Ira Jaffe on the psychology behind the media’s use of the misnomer “assault weapon” to mischaracterize military-style semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and presumably pistols. Just one clarification is in order: The feature of “selective fire” as it pertains to true “assault rifles” reflects the ability of the shooter to mechanically select via a switch either single-shot-per trigger-pull functionality or fully automatic (continuous firing as long as the trigger is held to the rear) functionality. In some weapons, such as the U.S. military’s current M16A2 rifle, this second mode of firing is limited by design to three-shot bursts per trigger pull, to avoid wastage of ammunition; some other military weapons actually enable a shooter to choose to fire from any one of these three modes.

  5. Here is a question for all of you… Why is the Milwaukee incident being investigated at Domestic Terrorism and the Aurora incident not? The murderer Holmes had 2 Glock 40 cal semi automatic pistols, an AR-15 rifle, smoke bombs, and some form of light body armor. The anti-semite, Nazi, skinhead murderer Page had one 9mm semi-automatic. Seems to me that Holmes was better armed and better prepared – at a minimum, both incidents should be classed “domestic terrorism” but in comparison, Aurora would have to be higher on the list. Why? Because murderer Page went after the Sikh people? Do not the kids of Aurora Colorado deserve the same level of investigation for their group ?

  6. I strongly disagree on the one point, that “reasonable people support background checks”
    (Translation- government registrations of gun owners)

    This is just more anti-gun talk, like anyone that apposes background checks are unreasonable.
    Another words, anyone that supports 2A is unreasonable, because I sure don’t remember reading anywhere in those 4 lines anything about asking permission from any branch of government.

    What kind of “civilized society” denies people that have paid their debt to society their basic human right of self-defense, even the nonviolent ones?
    This is a government gun grab, that so called “2A supporters” support it all day long.

    When we deny any group their 2A rights, we turn that right into a privilege for everyone.
    And in fact, every right is then considered a privilege, not a right at all.

  7. Fact check please: This guy did not have automatic weapons. They were either semiautomatic or pump shotgun. He also did not have body armor. He had a tactical vest… which may look cool but won’t stop a bullet any more than wearing a jacket or sweatshirt. At least a person legally carrying a concealed weapon would have had a chance to prevent some of this tragedy,

  8. He had an AR-15 … Which is NOT an automatic assault rifle. It is a semi-automatic … 1 squeeze of the trigger, one shot , not a machine gun as the gun grabbers and left wing media would like you to believe. The AR-15 is functionally no different than many hunting rifles. It’s just black and LOOKS (but does not WORK) like the full auto M-16 that the military uses. The round it fires (5.56mm or .223 Remington) is way less powerful than many hunting calibers.

    The shotgun was no different than any other shotgun.

    The pistol no different than what I carry.

    As the Rabbi stated, banning guns only enables the bad guys by leaving the innocent, law-abiding people defenseless against the occasional random nut case.

    Could a legal carrier of a concealed weapon have prevented the attack? Perhaps not prevented, but cut it short and reduced the body almost certainly. Same thing at VA Tech, where the nut was free to calmly walk around executing helpless victims who could not resist effectively. Same thing at Ft. Hood and every other “gun free” victim disarmament zone. The problem is that the nuts and bad guys simply don’t obey the rules (that’s why they call them criminals) and the people that do obey the rules end up paying with their lives.

  9. Rabbi Michael Lazar

    Dear Rabbi Fink, (Never has a more suitable name been given, FINK?) A righteous Jew, who understands Torah and it’s principles and owns a legal firearm SURELY would have acted on behalf of himself and other movie goers for he is commanded to do so by Hashem. Pikuach Nephesh, is this a familiar concept?

  10. There is always the gun owner / carrier who is willing to ban what he (she?) does not choose to employ. Never forget – “Freedom is your right to make choices I would not make for myself”. Whether a 22 revovver or a bomb vest is chosen it is still the mind of the individual that actuates the device. Personally, I will side with arming any citizen who will choose to defend their and others rights. Firearms are used about 1,500,000 times per year by US citizens. What will you say to them after disarming them and giving the villains a free fire zone? Armed citizens make evryone safer!

  11. Very well said, R’ Pruzansky.
    Unfortunately most Jews are afraid to think (at least aloud) like that.
    So many people tell me “I have a gun but don’t tell anyone”… so sad…

  12. Rabbi Fink:
    You destroy your own argument: most of what the murderer used was illegal – didn’t stop him from committing the crime. And yes, a well placed from shot from a Colt (or practically any pistol) would have put him down; he wasn’t superman, only tried playing one.
    Following your logic, since all rapes are committed with the same ‘instrument’ it should be outlawed too (boy, would the Krohns have a blast with that one…) – do you really feel the need to get a license to carry concealed?

  13. Get real ! The terms “Saturday Night Special” and “Assualt Weapon” are exactly like the yellow star. They are meant to call to ridicule a class of things that are no different from other things, just as a class of people are no different in their humanity as other people.
    These catchy names are used by people like Sarah Brady and Carolyn McCarathy to demonize, not people, but inanimate objects. both the Ladies mentioned have suffered losses to “nuts” with firearms. Both those losses were in “gun free” areas. Mrs. Bradys was in a venue protected by the Secret Service. They are simple crusaders who seem to enjoy the crusade, and their position in heading it,
    A gun is no different than a brick. Each will injure no one unless thrown or activated. However, carrying a brick may well stop others from throwing one at you.

  14. earl l. forman,II

    there are still those,who would climb into the cattle cars,hoping for the best….
    not me,not ever,to protect a free society,an armed citizenry is essential;
    those who doubt it are lining up to be extermiated…

    the logic of this event is focused on the tools,not on the actor…if someone sees a poorly built house,no one says “bad nails,worthless hammer” no,they say the builder made it so;

  15. Joebar is exactly correct. The shooter did not expect to encounter any resistance in the gun-free theater, and he was hiding when found by the police and did not resist or fight. This tells us he was not determined to fight to the death and that he was not military of law enforcement trained. Had anyone in the theater that night provided resistance with a handgun, even if striking body armor, would have likely caused the shooter to pause in his shooting spree, and likely take cover so that he would not be hit again. It is not pleasant being hit by bullets when wearing soft body armor. This action could have provided precious seconds needed for people to escape and for the resistors to find and close on the shooter, finishing the job. The mentality of “oh, well he had body armor and had 4 guns and was shooting rapidly…what could anybody do?” is a victim mentality. Anyone with this mentality has no business carrying a gun or second guessing those that do.

  16. Russell Middleton

    For all those who still believe banning “assault” weapons et al., and the bureaucracy this would require, is reasonable — read ALL THE WAY DOWN THE SLIPPERY SLOPE: GUN PROHIBITION IN ENGLAND AND SOME LESSONS FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES IN AMERICA by Joseph E. Olson and David B. Kopel. I know because I live here in Britain. The land of ‘the gold standard of gun control’ where the risk of being a victim of crime is higher than in the USA. The latent hostility here has to be seen to be believed.

  17. This has been a great thread, and I’m really heartened to read the many informed responses to the rabbi’s op-ed. I would add a point concerning so-called “assault weapons,” in the context of the 2nd Amendment. The Founders penned that amendment to ensure that the American people would always have access to personal arms equivalent to what they might face from any likely enemy of their Liberty — whether foreign or home-grown. Such enemies included not just crazed miscreants like James Holmes, but “ambitious men of false designs” who would seek to impose a tyranny on us. In other words, the U.S. Bill of Rights serves to guarantee to Americans all of the major rights needed to ensure our liberty society and, if necessary, resist forcibly and defeat any would-be tyrants who sought to wrest it from us — rights from unrestrained free speech and press; to protection of person and property from arbitrary search, seizure, and confiscation; to trials by juries of common people; to the right to have and use military-style arms to protect self, family, home, state, and nation. Those needs are clearly timeless, because human nature — both good and evil parts — has not changed in 4000 years of recorded human history, let alone the last 223 since the U.S. Bill of Rights was promulgated. Thus, inevitably, those who allow their self- and national-defense guns to be turned into ploughshares, will surely plow for those who don’t.

  18. One of the most well-written and sensible articles on gun control that I have read in a long time. Kudos to you Rabbi Pruzansky!

  19. Alex, your articulate, well-written commentary sounds logical and well thought out. You sound like you come from Academia, or at a minimum have some advanced degrees. The problem is several of your arguments do not add up. For instance your comparison to illegal narcotics. While your argument about increased use of illegal narcotics in areas where there are less restrictions may be accurate, it is not valid to equate a tool (firearm) with a consumable drug. Take my own hometown of Chicago for example. Chicago banned all handguns for civilians in 1983 – 2009. It was strictly illegal for any Chicago resident to own, possess or transport a handgun and most rifles. The end result was Chicago’s gun murders skyrocketed. Chicago has had a high level of gun violence throughout this time and continues to have one of the highest murder rates in the country. Irregardless of the McDonald case which struck down’s Chicago’s ban as unconstitutional in 2009, firearms are still strictly controlled and difficult to get ; you need a $150 permit, background check and 5 hour training class to own a single handgun. You are only allowed one. There are no gun stores or practice ranges in Chicago- they are prohibited. There are very few gun stores at all in Cook County, the greater Chicago area. Yet they consistently have higher levels of gun violence than most other cities in the nation. By your reasoning, because there is less access to guns, there should be less gun violence in Chicago. Since the greater Chicago area has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation and no gun stores, we should see lower levels of gun crime than most cities in America. But this is not the case. On the flip side, Arizona and Montana should have higher levels of gun crime than just about anywhere in the country, because in those states guns are everywhere and accessible to practically anyone. A drivers license in those states gives you the right to walk down the street carrying a gun. But we do not see higher levels of gun violence in those states. In fact, if you read Professor John Lott’s academic treatise on the subject entitled “More Guns, Less Crime” you will find that his exacting statistical analysis on the subject found that in most cases, the more guns and easier access to guns that law abiding citizens have, the lower levels a gun and weapons crimes we see in general. Case and point: The town of Kennesaw, Georgia. It is located in the most populous county if the state- Cobb county, GA which is part of the Atlanta metro area, which is plagued with crime and gun violence. Kennesaw was named as one of the top 10 towns for families, and hasn’t seen a single murder in 25 years. In 1982, the town passed a mandatory firearm ownership law that requires each household to own at least one gun. Kennesaw has the lowest crime rate in Cobb County, and from 1982 when the law was enacted to 2009, they have had one murder. What more proof do you need that an armed society is a peaceful and law abiding society?

    Your comments about Israel are also wrought with inaccuracies. You say “Most of the civilians who possess firearms there are current or former members of the military who have gone through strict background checks and firearm use training”. This is inaccurate for two reasons. First, almost ALL members of Israeli society are current or former members of the military since serving in the army and reserves is compulsory. Therefore, this is really no restriction at all. Israel’s Defense Forces are estimated to total 2 million, which is roughly one-third of the population. Second, any civilian with a legitimate purpose can walk into a police station and ask to check out a firearm for concealed carry. On a daily basis, teachers, tour guides, Rabbis, and various people who are responsible for the care of others are allowed to carry concealed firearms. These same people can purchase, own, and carry Uzi’s and other military rifles as well as concealed handguns with a simple permit. Also, characterizing the population of Israel as homogenous with relatively common societal values represents a gross mischaracterization. Israel’s population is roughly 75% Jewish, 16% Muslim, and the rest a mix of Christian, Druze, Bedouins, Cicassians and other sects, who all serve in the IDF and are given the same weapons training and access. Out of those 75% of Jewish Israelis, there are secular Israelis, Ethiopian Jews, Orthodox Jews, Haredi Jews, Sefardic Jews from Arab lands, Russian Jews, Eastern European Jews and North African Jews; all with different customs, societal values and cultural values. The Jewish population in Israel is likely one of the most diverse in the world, and is anything but “homogenous”. The racial makeup of Israel roughly mirrors the racial demographics in the United States, just with a different racial makeup (for example no significant Hispanic population like in the U.S.). In the U.S. 75% of the population is Christian of some sort and 75% of the population is of White/European ancestry.

    You also expressed your disagreement with the Rabbi’s comments concerning difficult enforcement, and having gun control laws is counterproductive and impractical is like saying that because it is difficult to enforce effective control of alcohol sales to minors and the possession of alcohol by minors, underage drinking should be legalized. Again, you are not comparing apples to apples. The Rabbi is correct; we tried banning alcohol in this country and it failed miserably, giving rise to the likes of Al Capone and organized crime. Underage drinking is difficult to enforce and is symbolic at best. But if we compare guns to another dangerous tool like knives, the picture becomes more clear. With 300,000,000 guns already in circulation, banning or severely restricting guns would be next to impossible. If we ban or restrict knives, you would have to essentially cease all importation, manufacture, distribution and sales; an almost impossible task. But what about the hundreds of millions of knives already in circulation? Do you go house to house with secret police searching for contraband to confiscate? Let’s say with the waiving of a magic wand you are able to accomplish that, what prevents people from using baseball bats, machetes, axes, screwdrivers or nail guns as weapons? How about people who make their own homemade knives and guns? Almost anything can be used as a weapon or made into a weapon. It is a losing battle. So why not focus on the real problem- people’s propensity and desire to do violence to their fellow man. In the U.K. and Australia we have seen the effect that banning guns has on crime. Gun crimes go down, and violent crimes go up. In both countries, assaults, home invasions, and robberies have gone up, and murders with knives and bludgeons replace the decrease in gun crimes. And both of those countries are basically islands surrounded by water which makes controlling contraband coming into their ports much easier to control than the U.S. Notwithstanding, If you speak to law enforcement agents in both places, like I have, they will tell you that organized gangs and mafias still outgun the police, and can get anyone anything they want for the right price. So you can make all the laws you want in the U.S., enforce the laws we have more aggressively, and find all kinds of creative ways to restrict guns from law abiding citizens, but the guns aren’t going anywhere. They are here to stay, so we better figure out a way to get at the root causes of violence rather than focusing on the tools of the trade.

  20. The Chicago example is often used, but it’s problematic. Maybe crime rates would increase if gun restrictions were relaxed? Look at Japan. It’s nearly impossible for private citizens to legally obtain a weapon and their gun crime rate is almost zero. Both sides of the gun control debate like to point to examples that bolster their side of the argument, but the truth is that none of them are completely reliable because of the old fallacy that correlation does not imply causation. John Lott’s research contains a lot of that, although most scholars stopped taking him seriously after the Mary Rosh scandal.

    • Can we have just a little bit of intellectual honesty here? If there ever was a homogenous population, Japan is it. Common customs and societal values across the board as well. It is a small island nation that is capable of controlling all harbors, ports and entries into the country. Plus, there was never a time in Japan when the population en masse was in possesion of firearms. Even in feudal Japan only Samarais and royalty had swords. There is a long tradition of keeping the public disarmed and strong cultural respect for the government and the law. That being said, the one segment of the population that does have access to guns is the Yakuza. So once again, we see the truth in the old addage “If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.”

      So although many like to obfuscate the issue and talk about complex nuances that need to be understood- claiming equal validity on both sides (just like the left does with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) if you look slightly under the surface of the gun control theories, you see how quickly they fall apart.

      I also find it interesting how easily you dismiss John Lott. It does not sound like you have actually read the book as I have, because he does a lot of very extensive statitiscal analysese and draws conclusions based on those analysese. If you dismiss that process as just causation theories, well the same could be said for all gun control arguments as well as any scientific theories and hypotheses. The problem is that just like socialism and communism, there is no model of success to point to as an example of where gun control in and of itself has worked. Whereas there are clear examples of success for the availability and ownership of guns by law abiding citizens, such as Kennesaw. Lack of evidence that lives up to your own subjective and biased standard is not evidence of lack.

      I know nothing of the scandal you mention concerning Mr. Lott, but I do know that left wing extremist colleagues of his have been attacking and trying to discredit him for years, which happens all too often when you are a right wing conservative working among the 80% of academia that is are self described left wing liberals. There is very little tolerance for conservative thought in professions saturated by liberals.

      • Craig, I agree with much of what you write on Japan. Very different culture. It’s simply making my point that there can be different reasons for high or low gun crime rates. The reasons in Japan are simply the obvious cultural ones.

        I’m sorry that the causation / correlation fallacy calls into question much of John Lott’s research, but as Rabbi Pruzansky often writes, “facts are stubborn things.” The causation / correlation fallacy is not some sort of fringe theory – it’s a standard, well-established principle. And the “Mary Rosh” scandal was not invented by some crazy left wingers. Lott admitted he lied. Do a Google search.

        Lastly, your arguments would be more convincing if you left out the unwarranted little ad hominem attacks. I hardly think my previous comment was somehow lacking in intellectual honesty.

      • Craig Lawrence

        I sincerely apologize- the intellectual honesty comment was not intended as a personal attack, it was simply meant to point out the irony in using Israel’s “homogenous” population in one example you write about, but then ignoring that same characteristic entirely when using the Japan example. If you feel the comment was inapproriate, I apologize. What did Mr. Lott lie about? Was it related to his work?

      • I think you’re mixing up my comment with that of another commenter because I didn’t mention Israel. The Mary Rosh scandal, to make a long story short, went something like this: scholars started going after his theories, so all of a sudden Mary Rosh popped up and started writing pieces defending John Lott, saying she was a former student of his and that he was “the best professor she ever had,” etc. Until one day it turns out that there was no such person and Lott admitted that it was really him.

      • Craig Lawrence

        I apologize Mr. Schlansky, I was responding to your comments from a mobile device and could not see the poster’s names clearly, and I assumed that you were in fact the same as the person who posted previous to you. Please forgive me. I did read up on the scandal involving Mr. Lott, and although it doesn’t bode well for his professional reputation, I do not see a reason to discount the entirety of his work in “More Guns, Less Crime”. There is a huge amount of verifiable data that was included in that book. His conclusions are also supported by a number of respected scholars on the subject, including Gary Kleck, Stephen Halbrook, Clayton Kramer, Don Kates and John Latimer, MD, just to name a few.

        In terms of the causation/correlation fallacy, my point is it can be used to discredit any hypothesis on any subject. Science is simply man’s attempt to understand the incomprehensible (a.k.a. Hashem). All scientific theory takes a set of data and extrapolates assumptions from that data, but it is impossible to prove any one hypothesis to 100% certainty; even more so with theories regarding human behavior. Everything we know about life and the universe, including the origins of both, are simply theory based on the current data set available to us, and changes as more data is acquired.

      • William Eigles

        Thanks for a good dialogue on an important thread.

        Mr. Schlansky, like so many who support greater gun control up to and including confiscation of tactical arms from the civilian population, errs on a number of key points is his cri de coeur for an end to all the senseless murders he feels America is experiencing, to wit:

        The United States was conceived as a Liberty society where individual rights (including self-defense, both personal and collective) were to be secured and protected by government (both state and federal), not undermined on the basis of some socialistic “social utility analysis” whose ultimate aim is always to create a utopian society. The Founders well understood that living in a free society entailed many risks, but knew that the certain benefits to personal prosperity, security, and happiness far outweighed those risks, both in the short and long term. The rights they secured for us via the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights were based on key Biblical values (Jewish and Christian); they are G-d-given (and thus inalienable), timeless, and have been incredibly successful in every sense. They are not at all dependent on the ever-changing circumstances of ethnic diversity, urbanization, etc. that so many liberals advance as a justification for ending or trenching on them–all to achieve elitists’ designs for a more perfect, centrally controlled (by them) society. Free societies are inherently more messy, but that’s the risk for having a better life in every way. The fact is, however, whenever good men and women are armed and capable, criminals and would-be tyrants alike tread much more lightly everywhere, because human nature is such that even bad people generally prefer not to be shot (Islamic jihadis & other psychotics notwithstanding).

        As for John Lott, his research work is indeed in good company via the likes of Gary Kleck, David Kopel, et al. As well as via basic common sense. For those who doubt it, simple recourse to the crime statistics maintained by the FBI and Dept. of Justice year over year will show that all violent crimes (homicide, rape, robbery, night burglary, aggrvated assault) decrease in states with liberal concealed carry laws and liberal gun-acquisition & -possession laws–and it happens in very short order.

        Those who prefer to live in a society where the lawful authorities (i.e., government) have a virtual monopoly on armed force in the interests of greater “public safety” would do well to consider moving to a country where that paradigm is regnant today (such as the UK) and then hope and pray that (i) the so-enabled criminals don’t attack them more often, and (ii) that the enlightened government does not one day decide to turn its guns on them, for whatever reason (like so many governments in modern history have done; see e.g., Death by Gun Control, by Aaron Zelman).

        To paraphrase Ben Franklin, demanding temporary security from the state in the form of gun control, in derogation of taking personal responsibility for your own safety and freedom, will result in your loss of both your freedom and security–and in record time. Most of us live here In the USA because of this and other elements of such time-tested rationalism; let’s not throw it out because of an innately emotionalistic need to “fix” society so that we can all supposedly–but very illusorily, indeed–live stress-free. A nod in the direction of George Santayanna would be good–“Those who forget history are condemned to relive it.”

        William

      • Craig Lawrence

        Brilliant points William. That is pure poetry. I find that the same group that calls for the “updating” of the constitution, characterized as an antiquated document written by White men in desperate need of modernization, are the same people among our community that call the Torah a “living and breathing” document that needs to be adapted to modern times. The most ingenious thing that the founding fathers of this country did was to base the constitution on rights and obligations given by G-d, not by men. This is the one thing that sets the U.S. and Israel apart from all other nations in the world; it is also the fail-safe against tyranny, persecution and genocide. Rights granted by men and their governments can be taken away. (Inalienable) Rights granted by G-d can only be taken away by the Creator himself.

        As William mentioned, Aaron Zelman before he passed was instrumental in documenting the racist and genocidal nature of gun control throughout in the past two centuries, so I would encourage anyone who is interested to explore his organization’s website and materials. They are first rate: http://www.jpfo.org. Here is an example of some of the articles concerning the founding fathers: http://jpfo.org/alerts2012/alert20121024.htm

        Some of the data that JPFO has put together in their documentaries and articles include the following:

        -It is a proven fact of history that the Japanese in WWII planned to invade the western coast of CA but feared they would run into armed resistance from the population, so they bombed Pearl Harbor instead. At the very same time, metro London was being bombed by the Nazis.

        -Every major genocide that has taken place in the past 150 years, which has claimed over 180 million souls, was preceded by the disarmament of the population. In the 20th Century: Governments murdered four times as many civilians as were killed in all the international and domestic wars combined. Governments murdered millions more people than were killed by common criminals. How could governments kill so many people? The governments had the power – and the people, the victims, were unable to resist. The victims were unarmed.

        -It is common sense: unarmed defenseless people have no hope against armed aggressors. The historical truth is that evil governments did wipe out over 180,000,000 innocent non-military lives in the 20th Century alone. Here’s the Formula: Hatred + Government + Disarmed Civilians = Genocide.

        If anyone truly has a commitment to the phrase “Never Again”, they will never again consider disarmament of the population as a means to achieve security.

      • William Eigles

        Thanks much, Craig, for the kudos. Those who call for the “updating” of the U.S. Constitution and characterize the Torah similarly as a “living document” are the selfsame utopian statist cadre who long to perfect human society by legislation/regulation–and ultimately centralized force, as necessary, totally oblivious of the inescapable historical fallibility of human beings to perfect anything but inanimate machines. (See, e.g, the Tower of Babel story in Genesis for the basic lesson). This is the core conceit ruling those “ambitious and designing men” who don’t recognize the ultimate sovereignty of G-d and the Natural law that emanates from Him, which is the source and quoin of our inalienable rights. It is these folks’ theory of “positivism” (=> people’s rights come from the grants of government alone) that led inexorably and inevitably to the persecutions, genocides and other wanton mass killings of the 20th century.

        To amplify your last point, if anyone is truly committed to “Never Again” being more than a slogan, they will honor their G-d-tasked obligation to preserve, protect, and defend human life, both one’s own and that of innocent others in the often dangerous world we actually live in. And that means honoring the authority and ability of the law-abiding to acquire the tools needed to accomplish the task, should it be necessary. Whosoever misuses a tool of self-protection must be held fully accountable for his/her individual actions, but it must never be at the expense of the universal human right to personal and collective self-defense that inheres in the rest of us.

      • Craig, just to clarify, are you suggesting that we are in danger of genocide at the hands of the US government? Furthermore, the German gun restrictions on private ownership of firearms were put in place during the Weimar Republic – before the Nazi takeover. And even if they were, do you actually think the Nazi storm troopers ym’sh would’ve hesitated for one second because a few Jews had pistols?

  21. Amen!

  22. Elliott, I am suggesting that if we look at the data, it clearly shows that in modern times, more innocents were killed by evil governments who disarmed them first, than any other type of violence. I am also suggest that the 2nd amendment to the U.S. constitution was created by the founding fathers to prevent exactly that.

    And although you are correct that some restrictions were established in the Wiemar Republic in 1928, a ban on possession by Jews, among other prohibitions was established by the Nazi Weapons Law of March 18, 1938. And do I think storm troopers would have hesitated if Jews had a few pistols….because it happened. It was called the Warsaw ghetto uprising. A small gang of resistance held off thousands of Nazi troops, frustrating their deportation operations for 4 months, with a few smuggled or stolen weapons and some Molotov cocktails. Although the Nazis eventually won by razing the entire Ghetto with flame throwers, tanks, artillery and heavy machine guns, it is obvious that the impact of their efforts would have been much greater had weapons been readily available to them. This is echoed by Aish Hatorah’s Rabbis Ellis and Selinsky who wrote:

    “Although the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was not really very successful, it was the first time in all of German-occupied Europe that there was any organized uprising against the Nazis. Word got out, and it set a climate. And afterwards, there was Jewish resistance in many other places, including some of the camps.”

    And the United States Holocaust Museum wrote this about it: “Even after the end of the uprising on May 16, 1943, individual Jews hiding out in the ruins of the ghetto continued to attack the patrols of the Germans and their auxiliaries. The Warsaw ghetto uprising was the largest, symbolically most important Jewish uprising, and the first urban uprising, in German-occupied Europe. The resistance in Warsaw inspired other uprisings in ghettos (e.g., Bialystok and Minsk) and killing centers (Treblinka and Sobibor).”

    So do I think that if European Jewry had the type of access to guns that we have here in the United States things would have been different? You bet. I think the impact of an uprising like we saw in the Warsaw ghetto would have been immeasurably multiplied many times over.

    • Craig writes:

      >So do I think that if European Jewry had the type of access to guns that we have here in the United States things would have been different? You bet. I think the impact of an uprising like we saw in the Warsaw ghetto would have been immeasurably multiplied many times over.<<

      I agree completely, as well, yet allow me to add this fine point: The presence of more and/or better guns alone was not and would not have been the deciding factor, but rather the resolute will to resist with violence, even at the risk to one's own life, by the Ghetto's denizens. When the Warsaw Ghetto uprising commenced, the Jews there knew to a certainty what fate awaited them at the end of the rail lines departing from Warsaw; some had slipped out earlier and rode train undercarriages all the way to the loading platforms at Auschwitz and Treblinka, where they personally witnessed the brutality from a short distance. Thus and so, upon their return to the Ghetto, their accounts served to inspire the other young men and women there to claim their masculine resolve, gird their loins, and prepare to die fighting rather than surrender meekly to their fate as sheep. It was this direct experience, in part — a small, limited but nonetheless shining example of modern Jewish physical courage in the tradition of Judah Maccabee –that helped inspire the Jews of Palestine to arm, train, and deal the invading Arab organized armies a harsh military and paramilitary defeat in 1948-49.

      For those, like Elliott, who appear to have a total disdain for militant armed resistance by civilians (especially Jews) in the name of life, liberty, and civilized values, I would respectfully commend to them the 400-line poem by a Jewish American writer (whose name I'm forgetting at the moment) about the 1903 Kishinev Massacre of Jews by Cossacks, the still bloody site of which he attended shortly after the event. Therein he pined for a "new kind of Jew [ish man]", who would not cravenly cower in the cellars while their wives and daughters were being viciously defiled and murdered on the streets above.

      Like it or not, the verdict of political history is doricly clear, as memorialized in the sagacious words of English writer G.K. Chesterton: To paraphrase him for this discussion: "Armed violence is never the best way to resolve disputes, but it is frequently the only way to ensure that they are not resolved for you."

      This the American Founders well understood, and the 2nd Amendment was their last-resort insurance policy bequeathed to us so that we would retain the ability to preserve life, liberty, and civilization against the encroachments of tyranny. It's timeless wisdom, and if we yield today to the seductive blandishments of those who would disarm all free men & women "for the good of the children," then we cannot be heard to complain later if and when the heavy, mailed fist of unrestrained statism drops on us again. So, don't be fooled: Because we are all human in this country too, Virginia, it can one day happen here too.

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