You’ve undoubtedly heard the slogan used in reference to the Holocaust: “Never again.” Now, one Jewish Second Amendment advocate is using it to defend Americans’ gun rights, arguing that an armed citizenry is the only way to prevent a dictator like Hitler from coming to power.
Richard Feldman, a former National Rifle Association lobbyist who now heads the Independent Firearm Owners Association, told the Jewish news outlet JTA that Jewish-Americans ought to be enthusiastic supporters of the Second Amendment.
“I think it’s only incumbent on the Jewish people who believe in the slogan ‘Never again,’” Feldman said. “Just because it hasn’t happened here doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen here. I’m not saying it’s going to happen soon, but once you give up your right to protect yourself, you don’t get it back very easily.”
The JTA’s piece profiled a number of Judeo-centric gun groups, including Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, the Golani Rifle and Pistol Club, and Orthodox gun instructor Johnathan Burstyn.
Burstyn, 27, came under fire recently after an ad he posted which “displayed a blurry photo of survivors fleeing the bullets” in Las Vegas followed by an advertisement for his ChiDefense Firearm Training. Even though some called it “vile and distasteful,” Burstyn defended it.
“How many threats have there been on JCCs?” Burstyn said, referring to threats against Jewish community centers in the past year. (According to CNN, that number topped 100.) “Is there ever an attack at an NRA convention or at a police station or at a gun store? No, because everyone’s heavily armed at these places.”
(He wasn’t quite right about gun stores, but robbery attempts at them often don’t end well for the criminals.)
“His gun advocacy also comes with a Jewish twist,” JTA reported. “Burstyn says the Second Amendment should be just as sacrosanct to Americans as Jewish law is to Orthodox Jews. In Burstyn’s reading, the Constitution is the American Torah and NRA President Wayne LaPierre is defender of the faith.”
“The Torah is a timeless message,” Burstyn told the outlet. “Our founders who started this country knew better and entrusted us with this, just like Hashem entrusted us with the Torah — not to compare the two. Just like Orthodox Jews, we don’t reform the Torah. Wayne LaPierre is expressing faith in the Constitution.”
While the JTA seems to be sensationalizing Burstyn’s religious reverence for the Second Amendment and LaPierre (at least by the quotes given), his stand for the Second Amendment is a deft one. The reason the Constitution is so difficult to change is because the men who put it together thought pretty highly of the rights they enumerated there — including the right of citizens to arm themselves.
That takes on a special resonance for members of a persecuted minority group who have seen the horrors that can be visited upon them when they’re left powerless and defenseless. Let’s not forget that Hitler loved gun confiscation. All dictators do; it makes it that much easier for the police and militaries to oppress minorities and political dissidents.
Enabling civilians to resist such oppression is the entire point behind the Second Amendment; it’s not in the Bill of Rights to protect hunting. When the gun-grabbers take away guns, what they take away is our primary mode of self-defense.
Burstyn acknowledges that concealed carriers likely couldn’t have stopped the Vegas massacre. However, he’s trained 50 clients in concealed carry since he became a licensed gun instructor in January, most of them Jewish — and he wants gun-grabbers to know they’re ready to defend themselves.
“Shabbat, Yom Kippur, I always carry,” Burstyn said. “Of course, you want to carry a gun all the time.”
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