Rabbi Jen Feldman of the Kehillah Synagogue in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, recently spoke out in favor of anti gun laws. Some of the Rabbi’s statements, other statements from related individuals, and my responses, follow:
“At the time the Second Amendment was written, the worst gun you could go out and buy was a musket,” said Kaulfman. “It was a single shot that took 15 minutes to reload.”
Actually, at that point in time, muskets could fire between 3 and 8 rounds per minute. More importantly, the Supreme Court of the United States has made clear that the Second Amendment protects modern firearms. The “musket” argument has long since been addressed and debunked.
“Who needs an assault weapon? I’m not going to kill a deer with a gun that has 30 rounds of a clip,” said Kaulfman.
To begin with, that sentence has some factual and grammatical problems. I also believe that the term Kaufman was looking for was likely “magazine,” rather than “clip.”
Moving on to the substance of the statement, it appears that Kaufman believes the purpose of gun ownership is limited to hunting. I don’t hunt but I do own quite a few guns. Instead, I own firearms first and foremost for self defense. I also enjoy trapshooting. In my self defense firearms, I appreciate ample magazine capacity. It would be quite unfortunate to be faced with a violent attacker and wish that I had just one more round. When target shooting at the range, I appreciate not having to change magazines as often. In a case of a riot or other civil unrest, or when facing multiple attackers, having enough ammunition can be the difference between life and death.
It is also worth noting that changing magazines can take an “average” person just a second or two, while a person who practices can do so in under a second. Even if criminals were to obey a law banning magazines with a capacity of over 10 rounds (which they won’t, as they are criminals), the speed at which a magazine can be changed makes such restrictions pointless.
Those criminals bent on mass murder could easily bring along enough 10 round magazines to kill as many people as they wish. The extra weight and bulk of the extra magazines is no issue when a person is bent on walking into a buildings, killing as many people as possible, and then killing themselves. However, as I go about my daily life, I am primarily focused on my (law abiding) tasks at hand. I don’t carry a backpack full of extra magazines. I don’t substitute my suit for cargo pants and stuff the pockets with magazines. Instead, I generally have just the one magazine that is in my pistol. That means that a ban on magazines with more than 10 rounds would leave me carrying 10 (or fewer) rounds. A person bent on mass murder would still have all the ammunition they wanted.
“I don’t see why responsible gun owners should be against a ban on assault rifles,” said Kaulfman. “There’s no use for them outside of the military.”
Once again, we have a person who is confused about so-called “assault weapons.” To set the record straight, the “assault weapons” that the Rabbi mentions are not military weapons. Instead, the AR-15 and other so-called “assault weapons” are semi-automatic. That means that one pull of the trigger fires one bullet. Military weapons, such as the M-16, M-4, MP-5, etc., are fully automatic machine guns – they fire more than one round with each pull of the trigger. The military would rightfully pitch a fit if their true military weapons were replaced by semi-automatic “assault rifles” that have no where near the same firepower.
Instead, calling these ordinary civilian firearms “assault weapons” is just another way of banning ordinary guns. For example, the ordinary and very popular pistol that I carry every day, the Springfield XD, would qualify as an “assault weapon” under many such “assault weapon” bans as its magazine holds 12 round.
“From a Rabbinic mind, from the perspective of Jewish tradition, it’s unbelievable.
This is a secular country, and as such the “Jewish tradition” or any other religion’s traditions are thankfully not the standard against which we should base our laws. Given the discrimination that Jewish people have faced when other religions have dominated politics and imposed their views – both here and elsewhere over the last several hundred years – I would hope the Rabbi would understand that point.
In any event, it appears that these Jewish people disagree, and see the benefit of gun ownership. In particular, Rabbi Bendory has taken the time to specifically address many gun-related issues from a Jewish perspective.
A couple of questions for Rabbi Feldman: If the millions of Jewish people who the Nazi’s wished to murder had been armed, would lives have been saved? If Jewish hate-crime victims were armed, would those attacks have gone differently? I think the answer to both of those questions is a definitive “yes,” as do these Jewish people who have considered the issues.