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July 26th 2012
In light of the evil perpetrated at a crowded Colorado movie theater, and now that the Wisconsin legislature has partially re-established the right of the people to publicly bear arms, Jews in the state must reexamine some of their beliefs.
A set of Wisconsin synagogues decided to ban the legal possession of firearms on their property soon after the enabling law passed. Their lengthy justifications and rationalization for doing so are posted on their websites.
One dangerous issue in the Wisconsin synagogue-sans-guns debates is the Gun-Free-Zone Liability Act, under consideration in some states. It basically says if you declare a so-called “gun-free zone,” you’re liable for any harm it causes. Synagogues are likely unaware that if they ban the civil right to arms, and someone is harmed in an assault, they may bear liability. The Colorado massacre forever establishes that a paper no-guns policy is a cruel hoax.
A second conundrum arises from the fact that denial of a civil right under color of law, which the synagogues’ proposed no-gun signs appear to be, is a federal crime (18 U.S.C. §241 et.seq.). This is an unsettled area of law, but does a house of worship want to be a test case? A no-gun sign of course is feckless, but why let reality interfere with feel-good sophistry?
I can tell you that six people were in a Wisconsin synagogue just recently, discreetly carrying sidearms. They came and went in peace without anyone having a clue and no one was harmed. They could have wreaked havoc had they wanted to, despite the signs -- but law-abiding armed citizens don’t do such things. Here’s the bad news you face in Wisconsin, which that movie house and the nation just learned: Your signs do not work.
Everyone, good or bad, has complete power to completely ignore no-guns signs. Good people -- the law-abiding citizens who bear arms solely for defensive use, and thus those best positioned to respond to an attack in a synagogue -- are more likely to obey your signs, and leave their defensive tools at home, or in their vehicles. As for “undesirables,” those you dream will be disarmed by a sign on the wall ... well, that’s the rub, isn’t it?
“Posting signs to ban guns
does not ban guns.”
That is the problem you face. The decision of whether to post signs, reached it seems without input from knowledgeable pro-rights advocates, has reached a false conclusion. Posting signs to ban guns does not ban guns. Signs do not prevent a person with a gun from going berserk. Signs simply create dangerous, reckless and negligent make-believe gun-free zones -- safe and attractive places for would be murderers and terrorists to wreak havoc with the fore-knowledge that they will face no resistance.
Let’s imagine for a moment that door signs somehow will protect you from both Muslim jihadis bent on slaughtering Jews and from armed congregants with ill intent or about to go berserk. Throw in anti-Semitic skinhead attackers for good measure. We admit we’re not clear on how that protection would work exactly. This leads us to wonder what other rational reasons the synagogues must have for declaring what are essentially victim-disarmament zones. Banning the tools of self-defense to protect... whom exactly? This whole dustup may be simply a function of an undiagnosed condition known as hoplophobia -- the irrational, neurotic fear of guns -- crying out for treatment.
If in fact the synagogue’s concern is with people who have qualified for a firearms permit and been cleared by the FBI and state police, then hoplophobia is likely the cause. Presumably your congregations agree with your decision, which suggests they all fail to see the “make-believe” part of the plan.
This is actually quite dangerous: a room full of Jews with no way to protect themselves, adamant about not letting in anyone who could protect them in an emergency... and deluding themselves into believing this makes them safer. Aren’t they actually even less safe with a front door that says, in essence, “We’re all defenseless in here”?
When one single synagogue in Wisconsin gets smart and refuses to post signs, the relative increase in threat level to the disarmed synagogues will become more painfully obvious. Hopefully the Jewish advocates of the disarmament program will get it. The perpetrators of anti-Semitic violence will -- the synagogue without a no-guns-allowed sign has to be a less attractive target to miscreants.
Like you, we wish guns would just go away, replaced by an era of enduring peace, harmony, prosperity and abundance. Until then, while murderous criminals continue to exist in the world, it is incumbent on all of us to be smarter than our avowed enemies and to take prudent steps to protect our families, congregations, and communities. Requiring everyone in synagogue to be defenseless, in denial of their G-d-given human right to defense of innocent life, does not accomplish -- and indeed subverts -- that paramount goal.
The handful of people who would legally and discreetly exercise their right to carry sidearms in your shul or on your grounds are not your enemy, but your ally. You should welcome the person willing to risk life and limb in your defense, just as you would welcome a member of the police or armed forces. These people are HaShomrim.
If Jews learned the lessons and truly believed their “Never again!” bumper-sticker slogans, they would welcome their fellow armed landsmen with open arms, instead of treating them like Blacks at a lunch counter.
The misguided belief that signs on a wall will protect you is not merely false but perilous and jeopardizes the lives and safety of the entire congregation. Colorado proved it. The fact that some Jews hold and advocate for such an incredulous lack of security threatens the entire community -- Jew and Gentile alike -- and should be rejected outright.
Rabbi Judah Freeman, JPFO Staff Writer
Alan Korwin, Publisher, Bloomfield Press
Founded in 1989, Wisconsin-based Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO) is a leading advocate for the right to keep and bear arms in America. http://jpfo.org/
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO)
PO Box 270143
Hartford WI 53027