Yuval Krausz

Guns! Guns everywhere!

Many a tourist has returned from Israel with the distinct impression that there are guns everywhere. This is not a wrong impression.  Israeli soldiers carry their weapons openly, in public. Police and Border Patrol carry weapons. Reservists coming from or returning to deployment carry their weapons.

I myself “graduated” from a very heavy Belgian FN rifle to an even heavier one with a bipod to a lighter Uzi and then to (a captured) Soviet RPG complete with rocket pack along with the Uzi, to an M-16.  Upon further deployment I was trained on the earliest versions of the Galil and then to a more compact M-16, known as the AR-15. While working as a civilian in the Gaza Strip I signed out an AK-47 and a 9mm Beretta along with appropriate magazines and ammunition.  Such was the reality of life in Israel while I lived there on a full-time basis.

The one major difference from the first time I received my weapon was that I took an oath.  I held a Tanach (Holy Scriptures) in one hand, and my new weapon in my other.  I swore to defend the Jewish people and the people of Israel, Jewish blood will not be spilled in vain.  And so, throughout my 20-year chapter of living in Israel and serving in front-line combat units until I left to live in the US, I took that oath very seriously.

Things are a bit different here. Gun rights are protected by the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States (i.e. “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”).

There has been and there continues to be much debate and interpretation of that amendment.  There are many gun owners who take that amendment very seriously. Many behave very responsibly with their weapons, be they hunters with rifles, sport enthusiasts with guns used for skeet shooting or target shooting, collectors with all manner of muskets, rifles and revolvers.

Many states within the US make ownership of a gun simple.  Pass a background check.  Buy your weapon: a hand gun; a rifle; a shotgun.  Some states allow an individual to carry a gun openly and in public.  Some states allow an individual to conceal the fact that they are carrying a gun.  The responsible owners of such guns know how to care for their weapon.  They store ammunition safely and many have gun safes locked with combination locks.  They continuously go to firing ranges to maintain a level of competence when handling their guns.

But, sadly, not everyone is responsible.  Not everyone should have a gun in their possession.  A major metropolis a short distance from my town has up until this point in time had 521 gun deaths.  These were deaths due to homicide, someone pulling a trigger on a gun and firing, either with intent or indiscriminately and taking someone’s life.

There have been movie theater mass shootings.  There have been Church shootings.  There have been Synagogue shootings.  There have been supermarket shootings.  There have been nightclub shootings.  There have been concert shootings.  And, yes, most terrible of all, there have been SCHOOL SHOOTINGS!

Oxford High School in Michigan was the latest.  Sandy Hook.  Parkland.  Virginia Tech.  The list is seemingly endless.  The sadness is everywhere.

The banning of assault weapons, (i.e. machine guns and submachine guns) was legislated, but when the law came up for renewal the law was repealed.  Bump Stocks (i.e. converting a semi-automatic AR-15 to a fully automatic one) are yet to be banned and the issue is in the US Courts.  The ban on high capacity magazines is still in effect in some states, yet not in others.

Americans love their guns, yet while many act responsibly with them – others do not.  And, with each and every irresponsible individual who has access to a gun, countless people die.  Countless families grieve.  Countless children are traumatized.

Again, and again, and yet again, a nation will mourn, a president or a governor will send prayers and heartfelt messages of condolence and sympathy.  Again, and again and yet again, a Law Enforcement Officer, a police chief, a sheriff, a school principal, a mayor, will make public statements trying to make sense of the senseless.

How then is Israel, with its guns literally everywhere, so different?  What will it take to bring about a complete change in American attitudes to their guns?  How many more children must die?  How many more worshippers?  Shoppers?  Movie goers?

Should Americans take an oath to never do harm with the guns they own?  Should background checks be truly meaningful?  Should fewer people even own guns or have any access to them?  Should every citizen who wants to have a gun claiming Second Amendment privilege simply be handed a Revolutionary War musket, along with a lead ball and a powder horn to satisfy their need?  Is not the fact that the United States now has a powerful military make the word Militia redundant, thus clearing the way to allow only the military to have ASSAULT weapons?

I’m still hopeful that Americans will come to their senses and end this deadly infatuation with deadly weapons in the hands of the irresponsible.

About the Author
Born in Israel, Yuval emigrated as a baby to Austria and then Canada. He returned to live in Israel in '71 until '91. His military service was in Golani Brigade's 13th Battalion (including Yom Kippur War) with reserve duty as a tank commander and later a liaison officer in the IDF Liaison Unit. He now resides both in the US and Israel, Maryland and Zichron Yaakov respectively.
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