Bring Your Gun To Synagogue

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Last week’s attacks in France should be ample evidence that the late Rabbi Meir Kahane was right when he popularized the slogans, “Every Jew a .22” and “Never Again!”

Since 2008 I have been carrying a Glock 19 with me virtually everywhere it’s legally permitted – including the synagogue I attend in St. Louis. If, Heaven forbid, a Muslim or other anti-Semite were to enter the sanctuary and begin making threats, I’m confident the event would end rapidly – preferably peacefully, as just brandishing my weapon can defuse a situation. But if I had to engage to protect the congregation, I am confident I am prepared and trained to do so.

Of course, the “intelligentsia” says more guns mean more deaths. But as author Robert A. Heinlein put it, “an armed society is a polite society.” The point of more guns is not more shootings, but less. Since the institution of gun control, every single mass shooting in the United States save one has taken place in a “gun-free zone.” When America began restricting gun rights, the murder rate and other crime rates skyrocketed – though armed defenders continue to stop violent criminals.

While two police officers were killed at the Charlie Hebdo offices, none of the civilians present were armed. Of course, France has no gun-owning culture; civilians cannot purchase and carry pistols for self-defense. But if citizens at the newspaper’s office or in the kosher supermarket that was also attacked carried weapons – or perhaps more importantly, if the terrorists knew they might be carrying weapons – the episode could have turned out differently, if it happened at all.

Along with an increasing number of my fellow Jews, I consider my weapon a vital tool for personal protection. Jews know – or should know – what happens when we face disarmament. In the last century, that process can be described in three words: Kristallnacht, Ghettos, Auschwitz.

French Jews now face the specter of a new Kristallnacht, and they certainly cannot just expect protection from the government that welcomed and coddled their attackers in the first place.

To their credit, this time the French people seem truly incensed, but it may be too little, too late. Europe’s current version of the Nazis (the Islamists) regularly convulse with anti-Semitism, with nary a peep of real outrage from official France. In many parts of Europe, Jews no longer feel comfortable wearing yarmulkes or otherwise outwardly Jewish garb in public, for fear of inciting Muslims (as if any effort is really needed to incite Muslims.)

Of all religious, ethnic, or other social groups, Jews in particular should understand the necessity of being armed, to protect the liberty we still, thank God, enjoy.

But the Anti-Defamation League, the Union for Reform Judaism, B’nai Brith International, and most of the other prominent voices in the American Jewish community keep parroting left-wing talking points as usual, supporting nearly every gun control proposal.

I imagine some of the hesitance of this country’s Jewish community toward guns is cultural – supposedly, “Jews don’t hunt.” In fact, when American Jews go to Israel, many are initially jarred by the fact that there are Jews carrying guns all over the place – but they soon get used to it and even feel reassured by it.

In fact, Israel is considering loosening its strict regulations regarding carry permits, as one response to the attack on a Jerusalem synagogue six weeks ago. Israeli Jews seem to know what those in France and America need to – that guns in pews save lives.

Sad to say, we have a history of synagogue violence here in St. Louis. In 1977, during the luncheon for Ricky Kalina’s bar mitzvah at Congregation Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel (BSKI), a neo-Nazi shot and killed one guest and wounded two others. The murderer, Joseph Paul Franklin, had chosen BSKI at random from the Yellow Pages. He perched himself on a telephone pole and fired five shots, then fled.

To my knowledge, none of the Jews in attendance at Ricky’s bar mitzvah were armed. What if several of them were? Yes, maybe Franklin still could have pulled the trigger five times. But would he have wanted to, not knowing which of the men and women he faced was packing? And would he have gotten away?

I certainly don’t want to find myself staging a gun battle in my sanctuary. But would I prefer a massacre of my fellow congregants? Never again.

Matthew Chase is an attorney from St. Louis. He can be reached at matthew@chaseplanet.us.

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Matthew Chase