Greater Gun Control Not the Answer

Greater Gun Control Not the Answer


The sight of innocent children gunned down at Sandy Hook has tugged on our emotions. Seizing this “opportunity,” many Jews (not to mention the Obama administration) have called for greater restrictions on gun ownership. The Atlanta Jewish Times even published a column entitled “Gun Control is a Jewish Value.”

Mitchell Kaye
Mitchell Kaye

This thinking is not only misguided from a safety perspective, but runs counter to Jewish principles.

Reducing the level of violence in society is a worthy goal and must be pursued. However, gun control is not synonymous with crime control. Criminals know too well where to find the easiest prey – namely, the weak and/or defenseless.

Except for the shooting at a congressional town hall meeting in Arizona in 2011, practically all mass shooting murders in the U.S. have occurred in gun-free zones where the law-abiding cannot defend themselves: Columbine, Luby Cafeteria, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, ad nauseum.

The killers responsible for the tragedies at these sites are cowards and seek easy victims. At the first sign of armed deterrence, they surrender quickly or kill themselves.

In Aurora, Colo., the masked killer had a choice of seven theaters showing the Batman movie within 20 minutes of his home. He didn’t go to the closest for convenience, nor did he choose that location that might allow him to achieve a maximum body count.

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Instead, he chose the only one that specifically banned firearms. Gun-free zone: 12 dead and 58 injured. In this case and others, such a zone resulted in disarming law-abiding citizens, not criminals (who by definition do not obey the law).

Reducing violent crime is a multi-faceted task and includes greater assistance for mental illness; reducing Hollywood and video game violence that glorifies and desensitizes; better inter-governmental sharing of data in the NCIC instant background check system to prevent ineligible purchases; and enforcing the 20,000-plus Federal and state gun laws already on the books.

But what do you do when an active shooter is in your school, business or house of worship, intent on killing as many people as possible? Dial 911 and wait?

Homeland Security advises us to run, hide or fight. The Talmud (Berachos 58a) says, “if someone comes to kill you, anticipate him and kill him first.”

In gun-free zones, only the law-abiding are unarmed and make for obvious and easy targets.

After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, the Newtown School Board (with the urging of parents) voted unanimously to assign two armed officers to every elementary school under its jurisdiction. The board members understood that the only real way to stop a bad person with a gun is with a good person with a gun.

Armed personnel were already in Newtown’s middle and high schools, as threats were thought to come from students of those ages. Today, we sadly know that threats often come from outsiders, and for this reason many elementary schools have started using armed security.

And what else can we do? We need to start enforcing existing laws.

In 1994, as a member of the Georgia legislature, I helped pass mandatory minimum sentencing for those convicted of the “seven deadly sins.” Since that time, the overall violent crime has decreased by more than 60 percent in the city of Atlanta.

What’s more, the Center for Disease Control reports gun homicides have decreased every year since 2007, and the per capita rate is at a 30-year low. Gun ownership continues to rise, while murder and violent crimes continue to drop.

Unfortunately there is no legislative remedy that could guarantee a tragedy like Sandy Hook will never happen again. If there were, it would have been enacted years ago.

The Connecticut assault weapons ban is more restrictive than the expired Federal law, and that didn’t help. Besides, annual FBI crime statistics show more people are murdered each year with hammers and clubs than assault rifles. So are we going to ban those, too?

The FBI estimates there are approximately 1.5 to 2 million instances of defensive firearm usage in the U.S. annually, and the overwhelming majority don’t even result in the firing of a single shot! These incidents rarely make the news, because “if it doesn’t bleed, it doesn’t lead.”

“If it could save even one life” is often a rallying cry. But with greater gun restrictions, more innocent lives would be lost. A rapist would never hear the words “stop or I’ll shoot!”

In the U.S., gun control has racist roots designed to prevent blacks and other minorities from being able to defend themselves from lynch mobs – the KKK didn’t want any armed resistance. For proof, one need only look at our hometown paper: An Atlanta Journal headline once read “No Guns for Negroes.”

In 1968, during the frenzy after the murders of Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the most comprehensive piece of gun legislation – the U.S. Gun Control Act – was passed. It was sponsored by a U.S. Senator from Connecticut, Thomas Dodd (father of former Sen. Chris Dodd), who assisted the Allied prosecuting team at Nuremberg.

So, was it coincidence that many portions of the U.S. law were taken verbatim from the Nazi gun laws of the 1930s? Regardless, it is not a comforting fact.

History has taught us Jews that with gun control. governments have a monopoly on weapons, and this has been a recipe for disaster. Our protectors can and have turned into our persecutors.

Time after time, the story is the same. Disarming law-abiding citizens results in more crime, while punishing criminals results in less crime.

New gun laws are about sound bites, not sound crime-reducing policies. The right to protect ourselves and our loved ones is not a right bestowed upon us by any government; it is an inalienable, G-d-given right.

Mitchell Kaye served in the Georgia House of Representatives for 10 years and lives in east Cobb with his wife and three children.


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