I am disappointed in the response of the rabbis in the Ledger last week in regard to what is so glibly referred to today as ‘gun control’ (“Our Rabbis Respond: The Jewish View of Gun Control,” Jan. 18, 2013). What ‘gun control’ really is and always has been, is the government’s initiative to disarm one segment of society while leaving another part of society armed. In that context ‘never again’ becomes meaningless because those who are disposed to protect their families and themselves are often denied the means to do so.
Rabbi Dovid Bendory of Jews For The Preservation Of Firearms Ownership (JPFO), says that ‘gun control’ means putting the authority to decide who has the right to defend him or herself with a firearm into the hands of a government bureaucrat and that a more honest name for this process would be “victim disarmament.” History teaches us that in every instance, from the slaughter of the Turks in Armenia to the Holocaust and many other instances before and after that, the person with the gun will always control the person without the gun and absent a firearm the strong will always control the weak.
Our Jewish tradition tells us that righteous self-defense is not only permissible but an obligation: “If a murderer comes for you, strike him down first.” (Talmud Sanhedrin 72a) The Torah teaches: “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:16). According to Rashi, this passage means that one who is able to help another escape harm and fails to do so is held culpable in the Heavenly Court for the harm he failed to prevent. When we disarm citizens, we place them in harm’s way every day.
Jews are commanded by God to value all human life. How can one truly value human life if one advocates laws that leave people completely defenseless in the face of the criminal predators who roam our streets and break into our homes? That these laws are promulgated and advocated by those who are protected by armed guards around the clock is the height of hypocrisy.
Newtown was a tragedy, but both logic and analysis show that the number of lives saved by allowing Americans to retain their right to bear arms is much larger than the number of lives lost as a result of guns that are misused in pursuit of an evil purpose. There are many other factors that need to be addressed when we talk about Newtown and other incidents of this nature. Not surprisingly, some of them are derived directly from the misguided social policies put in place by the very lawmakers who now want to compound the problem of violence in our communities, especially in those communities where well meaning social policies have torn the fabric of our social order. In my opinion, this mindless push for ‘gun control’ is shameful, and a rabbinate that ignores the cold facts that surround this controversy and takes the easy, emotional way out is acting contrary to what our history and literature teach us and is complicit in the larger tragedies that will unfold if they succeed.
Judy Aron, West Hartford