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The US gun algorithm is broken. Just ask the IDF

Unlike Kyle Rittenhouse, my son completed months of weapons training in the Israeli army - and he still doesn't have access to his gun if he's not on duty
A swearing-in ceremony for new recruits to the IDF's Armored Corps on May 9, 2013. (Israel Defense Forces/File)
A swearing-in ceremony for new recruits to the IDF's Armored Corps on May 9, 2013. (Israel Defense Forces/File)

My son and Kyle Rittenhouse are almost exactly the same age, born a mere two months apart. Both are American citizens, both have carried weapons. But the similarities end there. 

My son is also an Israeli citizen. As an Israeli, when he was 18 he was drafted into compulsory military service in the IDF. An inexperienced teenager fresh out of high school, we took him to the drafting station, said goodbye, and within a few days, he was handed an M-16. He then spent the next several months in training, among other things, learning how to use that weapon safely and effectively. When he’s on base, he takes it to the shower. He sleeps with it.  He knows how to take it apart and put it back together. To clean it. The function of each of its parts. He’s heard personal stories of people killed and injured in gun accidents and watched movies about gun safety. When someone in his unit pointed a gun at a fellow soldier in jest, the reaction was swift and severe — the soldier was court-martialed and punished. 

When my husband and I were in the IDF, we brought our weapons home when we were on leave. My son, although he is in a combat unit, does not. The army’s calculation has changed, and it’s cold and logical — the risk of him taking his gun home simply outweighs any benefit of doing so. The chance of him needing his gun on the Egged bus from Ashkelon to the Shimshon Junction where we pick him up is negligible and the chance of a problem occurring with his weapon while he’s on leave — theft, a child playing with it, an accidental firing, an incorrect assumption — is much higher. Simple statistics. The calculation is individual — soldiers who live in areas deemed to be dangerous are allowed to travel home with their weapons. For the military, it’s all about logical assessments of risk. 

No one considers my son’s “rights” in this equation. His rights as an individual are secondary to those of the general public and the greater good. The rights of the people he serves and the civilians around him take precedence — he’s there to protect them, to ensure their safety from all and any threats, including ones he could potentially create himself. 

My son is of sound body and mind. Unlike Rittenhouse, he was strictly vetted and has successfully completed months of rigorous weapons training. And still, the IDF “algorithm” determines that the risks of him carrying a weapon in a civilian setting outweigh the benefits, so he only has access to the weapon when he is on active duty. 

The American public could learn something from the IDF about making logic-based decisions. In doing so, they would be protecting the lives of innocent people, among them, a young man who will have to carry the moral burden of having killed innocent people for the rest of his life. 

I don’t think Kyle Rittenhouse is an evil person. He’s a kid, like my son. It’s the American logic that allows him to carry a weapon in civilian settings — but not buy a beer — that is inherently flawed. Just ask the IDF.

About the Author
After having several life-changing educational experiences in her teens, Elana Kaminka dedicated many years to creating those experiences for others. Originally working in the field of Israel programs, she became fascinated by the field of development and worked for Tevel b'Tzedek, an Israeli NGO that both runs quality volunteer programs and does quality development work in Nepal. She is currently an independent content writer, working on a novel.
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