Few people know that in addition to being a psychotherapist and author I also have a background in law enforcement here in the United States. For a period of time I worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in both a men’s medium/high level facility and a women’s prison camp next door. I went through the Federal Training Academy. Firearms, self-defense, and classroom training were all key components of the academy. It was eye-opening work and experience that I have carried with me throughout my lifetime to date.
Just a few days ago a community here in California experienced a mass shooting at the hands of radicalized Islamist–a husband and wife team. Of course our government was initially claiming “workplace violence” but that is a topic for another article and frankly way too political for my tastes. None-the-less, as someone with firearms experience–like most of the Israeli population who serves in the army–I’d like to address the issue of gun control and the current state of the impending situation in the United States through my lens as a therapist and former law enforcement officer.
Recently on a local radio show the host was interviewing CIA and FBI specialists who were weighing in on the argument both for and against gun control and further defining what the need is for our 2nd amendment rights to keep and bear arms as U.S. citizens. I found this conversation to be enlightening on a two levels. First is the examination of the various types and categories of war. There are several categories of war but these men were discussing two in particular that I will expand upon. Second is the degree to which it appears individuals — both those in positions of power as well as average civilians — will go to in order to deny the existence of war even as it blatantly unfolds on the world stage and as close as one’s own state or even neighborhood.
The idea of war in general is for most a terrifying concept which is why most people choose to remain in some state of denial until it becomes personal in some way. Wars inevitably equate to loss of life, loss of property or home, loss of mental and physical health, just to name a few. However let’s examine the two general types of war that these men were discussing and then apply it to what is happening today.
The first type of war is war in the tradition sense. One country’s army fights another country’s army. This is usually done within the context of “rules of war” where the battle exists between the respective countries’ soldiers and the strings are being pulled by political and military leaders. The accepted notion here is that civilians are off limits and that civilians will be protected by the efforts of their army. We, here in the United States, have been very fortunate to experience little of this type of war on our own ground. Our geography favors our defense and allows us to take these physical wars elsewhere.
The second type of war discussed is what I will call the insidious war. This is a war where there are no rules, there are few military efforts that can defend it, and where true evil lurks. This is the war that Israel is currently experiencing, and it is the war that has now officially begun in the United States. Whether or not people choose to acknowledge it or live in denial will determine the extent to which this waged war will impact us.
The insidious war is a war not fought between armies, but rather waged against a country’s citizens directly. Radical Islam has waged this war as we have seen in the Middle East and most recently in Paris. (Of course these were simply extensions of one of their more successful attacks that being the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers and the subverted attack on Washington D.C.) In Israel we can see it clearly because the attacks are so frequent–multiple stabbings, people using cars to run people over. We can name it because Israel is a small country, the events are happening in rapid succession, and it is easy to connect the dots. Israel is actively at war and Her citizens are the targets.
In the past couple of months we heard of stabbings and attacks in New York against Jews. This was essentially written off by most because it was against Jews in particular, even though the attacks matched the profile for the insidious war being fought in other geographies. However now we have San Bernardino, California, on the opposite coast and not targeting Jews specifically, but rather U.S. citizens of varying backgrounds.
As a therapist I have seen that for every individual there awaits an eye-opening experience, one in which the effort to live in denial is so challenged by the reality that it becomes almost impossible to stay in that head space. San Bernardino was this event for me. I am now awake, fully aware, and see the writing on the wall. The insidious war is here, it is alive, and it has begun. We have had several events take place over the past few years–the bombing at the marathon and others the news doesn’t report. The United States is a large place, the events are slowly emerging, and it’s much easier to deny the connecting of the dots. Up until this point I was also willing (hoping?) to live in denial about the potential for radical Islam to impact my country, my state, and my home. However as is within the therapy room, the more a person chooses to live in denial, the more time is wasted, life is lost, and the hard work remains undone. Which brings me to the 2nd amendment of the United States Constitution.
It seems to me that most U.S. citizens feel that our forefathers created the second amendment as a means to celebrate freedom, as a means to demonstrate the citizen has power–so much so that they can own weapons that can take life with ease as a gun of any type can do. The power of the gun is not in it’s ability to take life–any simple item like a pencil or a toothbrush can be made into a weapon or “shank” as is called in the prisons. The power of the gun is in the fact that it requires the least amount of effort and can make the greatest impact to incapacitate or even kill another person from a distance. So if not for the above mentioned things, why was the second amendment created? According to the FBI and CIA experts, it was created for exactly what our country is on the brink of facing–the insidious war.
The war in which our civilians are and will continue to be targeted.
The war in which our military’s greatest asset will be its intelligence divisions and not its combat divisions.
The war in which any supermarket, movie theater, shopping mall, airport, stadium, hotel, conference center, highway, beach, amusement park, or sidewalk becomes an active and viable target.
The insidious war strikes from within at any moment with no warning. Your seemingly harmless neighbor suddenly becomes a mass murderer as was the case with San Bernardino attack on the government building servicing civilians.
Please tell me, what did Israel do in the wake of their current insidious war against their citizens? They loosened gun laws and told their citizens to walk armed. Why? Because unless you assign police and military personnel to every single citizen it is absolutely impossible to defend a nation of innocent civilians.
This is why the United States has a second amendment, so that in the event that our government and our military are incapable of protecting us, such as with the insidious war, that we have the right and the ability to protect ourselves. Do I believe we need solid background checking to purchase firearms? Yes. But what is concerning me most right now is that the individuals who will carry out this war against us will not only buy guns through any means, but that responsible, mentally healthy citizens who can and should be able to protect themselves and others are unable to. For example, in my county of Los Angeles it is currently almost impossible to obtain a concealed carry permit. Yet how might the outcome in San Bernardino been different had even one person–security guard or other–been able to fight back, or shall I say fire back?
A person’s individual insidious “war” in the therapy room is in dissecting the REALITY from the DESIRED REALITY. As someone with my professional experience, when I merge the lenses of law enforcement and psychotherapy, a certain primal concern washes over me wondering how long it will take our citizens to wake up and start connecting the dots of reality vs the dots of what our government and media are feeding us. It is only when each of us faces our country’s reality that any effective outcome can be produced and that we can begin to face this insidious war that radical Islam has brought to our doorsteps.
As we enter the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, the holiday of miracles and wonders, we can pray for a miracle that some how radical Islam is defeated swiftly and without further loss of life. However in addition to prayer, active and realistic understanding of the situation at hand is essential to overcoming very real threats to our welfare. Hope for the best, yet prepare for what is real. An insidious war is one of the hardest to win and we must come to the battle spiritually aware, mentally strong, emotionally sound, and physically ready–and this will and must include armed civilians. Our military and police forces are simply not large enough to defend our hundreds of millions of citizens from insidious attacks. The greatest strength our law enforcement will have is in intelligence gathering to prevent such attacks. However when it comes to daily living it is our background-checked, legally armed civilians who can be the “boots on the ground” in sudden, random attacks in those precious seconds before authorities arrive.
Make no mistake. I want peace. I wish for a world where guns are not necessary. But that is simply not the reality. It is only when we are rooted in the reality that we can accomplish what is necessary to overcome those who wish to harm us. We are coming to a time when it is a civil responsibility to know how to operate a fire arm even if you never have the intention to own or use one. We in the United States are embarking on unfamiliar territory–territory that Israeli citizens are all too familiar with–and it will be up to each and every one of us to shake off the dangerous effects of denial and get real about radical Islam.
May we merit living in a peaceful world.