Sunday, July 12, 2020

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I noted Rabbi Fred Elias’s letter of Oct. 4, (“Gun Ads Don’t Belong Here,” October 4, 2018) taking issue with an ad in The Link for a shooting range. Perhaps, in lieu of rejecting an ad for a legal, constitutionally protected form of recreation that is safer than football or soccer, The Link could simply refer Rabbi Elias to places where such an ad was not possible, because [it runs] counter to those places’ “midot” and “values,” as he puts it. To make this easier I will name a few: Cuba, North Korea, Iran. He will be quite safe from such ads there.

By contrast, our “revolutionary regime” is truly by, for and of the people, and is not afraid of them. As a result it is the oldest constitution in the world today. When we say that power is retained by and resides in the people, this is not the kind of cynical rhetoric that fills the constitutions of dictatorships; it is true. We are not afraid of our own army. We have it outnumbered and surrounded.

Like them or not, guns are freedom insurance; they are the “doomsday clause” of the Constitution, as one federal judge has written. Like other forms of insurance they have a cost, regrettable but necessary. And with good government it can be minimized, as it has been since the 1970s, when we had far fewer guns and many times the crime.

Given human nature, the European experiment in civilian defenselessness is not something I would bet on, long term. I would also have second thoughts about removing such ads for the simple reason that places in America without such forms of recreation happen to become the most dangerous and crime-ridden.

Neither of the world’s two main refuges for Jews, the USA and Israel, would exist without the private use of guns. The Holy One did not give the state of Israel to us in 1948. He gave us the means to take it at great cost, and that was guns: scavenged, rebuilt, smuggled, homemade, stolen and illegal. If your values and midot can’t support that, go to North Korea for Pesach instead.

Shimon Steiner