A look at gun issues from a Jewish perspective.

Chuck Klein © 2005
Published 2005: Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc.


Most minorities have some form of "family voice," be it a radio station or published periodical. The purpose of these minority media, aside from social news, is to inform group members of concerns, dangers, and threats. Sometimes, these closed media operations, for fear of offending their readership, falter when it comes to dealing with hard issues. Having personally experienced one of these incestuous rags hiding its head in the sand, I find it necessary to appeal to a broader media by posting the following warning.

The Jewish people are heading down a historically familiar path – the path of entrusting their safety and lives exclusively to non-Jews. This is especially poignant since the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center (WTC) in New York City.THE BEST OF CHUCK KLEIN

Rhetoric accusing the Jews of being the underlying cause of the WTC catastrophe started early and continues in some quarters to this day – and not merely in typically anti-Semitic circles. Brit Hume, a Fox News Anchor, said on national Television immediately following the WTC assault, "The attack [on the WTC] is because we [the USA] support Israel. Maybe it's time we stop supporting them [Israel]." Since then, many other commentators have explored the same premise -- that the root of the world's problems is the Jews.

This is the same logic Hitler wielded when garnering support for his "final solution" and American General (and later president) Ulysses S. Grant used in issuing his infamous Order No. 11: "The Jews, as a class...are hereby expelled from Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi within 24 hours." (See Below)


During the American Civil War the North fell victim to profiteering by unscrupulous cotton traders. Although the two sides were at war they continued to trade in cotton - the South needing an outlet for its crop and the North needing cotton to clothe its troops.

Though a small number of these traders were Jewish, the terms "Jew," "profiteer," "speculator," and "trader" became synonyms. When General Ulysses S. Grant was informed that "traitors and Jew peddlers" were gouging the Union Army, he didn't hesitate to issue orders saying, "No Jews are to be permitted to travel on the railroad southward into the Department of Tennessee...."

When this edict failed to halt illegal trading (an obvious indication that non-Jews were also deeply involved in the price-gouging) Grant issued General Order No. 11: "The Jews, as a class violating every regulation of trade established by the Treasury Department ... are hereby expelled from Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi within 24 hours."

Only heroic and tenacious efforts by a few Jewish leaders, who appealed directly to President Lincoln, rapidly got General Order No. 11 rescinded. Had it not been for the kindness of a Gentile....

This is not to say that non-Jews, per se, are our danger. Rather, the danger is that we Jews fail to put sufficient trust in our own resources in a world that, once again, is becoming increasingly hostile to us.

Prior to a recent High Holy days service, I had the opportunity to discuss security measures with management and officials of one of the local synagogues. To say there were significant holes in their plans and practices would be a gross understatement. Of course, since no attacks occurred they're confident that their preventative measures worked. That's like the guy who walks around constantly snapping his fingers believing that it keeps lions and tigers away. The fact that the natural habitat of lions or tigers precludes any being within 3000 miles is lost on him; the lack of attacks isn't due to his preparations.

In my latest book, Lines of Defense: Police Ideology and the Constitution, I devote a chapter to agendas. [ed2.jpg] It is important to realize that individuals, agencies, and governments might have different goals and aspirations. A local police officer's definition of "best interest" might not be the same as a Jewish congregation's, the general public's, or even that of other police agencies.

Nothing sums this up more poignantly than the 1999 Columbine High School tragedy in Colorado. Infamously, the responding officers waited 40 minutes for the SWAT team to arrive before entering the school building -- while children were being killed inside. The basis for this shameful inaction can be found in a public statement by the county sheriff: "I didn't order the officers in, because I didn't want any of them to get hurt."

As a result of the Columbine disaster and similar incidents with other police agencies, I wrote a series of articles for law-enforcement journals contending that modern police training is producing a mind-set of cowardice. Naturally, these columns generated a lot of mail, both pro and con. One of the scariest statements was from a midwest police chief who wrote, "Most officers ... are just like everyone else. Their main goal is to get home safely at the end of each shift, and I agree with that philosophy 100 percent." In other words, and in contrast to past times, the police today are more interested in saving their own hide than yours or your congregation's.

Those smartly uniformed police officers look impressive in the foyer of your temple. But when push comes to shove, whom do you really want protecting you and your children -- an experienced, armed, fellow Jew with his own family's safety at stake or a "40 minute" cop whose main goal is to get home safely at the end of his shift?

What's even more disturbing is that during September's High Holy Days, we had almost exclusively Gentile police and guards protecting us, our synagogues, and our clubs. As long as we allow our security to depend upon the resolve of Gentiles we will remain under their control and continue the victim mentality that equates "being a good Jew" with hiding and submission. I'm not saying we should establish our own police force or army, but we might stand a better chance if we took a lesson from the Israelis and looked within our own ranks for our first line of defense. After all, who has Jewish interests and security more at heart than we Jews ourselves? (See Below)  

Anti-Semitism is evident in American cities, suburbs and especially in the rural areas. The writer spent 17 years in a sparsely populated county of a Midwestern state and experienced numerous acts of discrimination. One incident of blatant bigotry involved the county newspaper. This weekly publication (the only newspaper in the county) published a letters to the editor column in which the writers were identified only by name and city. Writers were not allowed to include pitches or contact information for business. Unfortunately, the paper made a single exception to this rule.

The paper's editor regularly published letters from the local Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. These very anti-Semitic and anti-Black "letters" were complete with a post office box and request for donations. In other words, they were a de facto, and free, advertisement not offered to anyone else. When none of the Christian readers wrote to complain (a la Martin Niemoller), this writer and an African-American friend called on the editor.Circa 1957 front 2nd

We pointed out that we had to pay to advertise our businesses in her paper while the Klansman got a free ad. It was obviously unequal treatment. Our position was that if the paper wanted to run articles promoting the KKK, then label them as such, and if the paper wanted to sell advertising space to the KKK to raise funds, then so be it. But keep letters, ads, and editorial content separate and treat us all the same. The editor stood firm on her First Amendment rights to publish as she saw fit and refused to label the KKK "letters" as an advertisement.

We called the paper's out-of-town owner who admitted he had never met a Jew, at least one he knew was Jewish, but was going to stand behind his editor. Besides, he said, the Imperial Wizard couldn't afford to pay for advertising. Calls from the Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith' and a Black judge only provoked an editorial by the editor gloating that even behind the scenes pressure couldn't obstruct the freedom of the American press.

As it turned out, the editor's husband, a prominent attorney in an adjacent and more cosmopolitan county, was running for circuit judge. The editor was told that unless she published a retraction the voters of this neighboring county would be informed that the wife of the candidate for judge was a Klan sympathizer, perhaps even a closet KKK member, and a demonstrable bigot. Soon thereafter the editor resigned and the paper's owner had a clarified "letters" policy published. My African-American friend received a few anonymous threats and I experienced the same, plus roofing nails on the driveway and a damaged mailbox. It could have been much worse, but everyone knew that we were licensed to carry concealed weapons - and did.

"Come on, Klein," you say. "You're just paranoid!" Maybe. But to survivors, paranoia becomes prudence long before pogroms and flying bullets strike.

Steven Spielberg's Academy Award-winning motion picture, Schindler's List, was a compelling and moving depiction of 20th Century Jewish persecution. Thanks to the Ford Motor Company and NBC, the movie has had even greater exposure on prime time television than it did during its run in theaters. Now available on video and DVD, the film will forever be touted as a true depiction of the plight of Holocaust victims. Yet this movie is fatally flawed.

Viewed through the eyes of a Jew, or anyone with a working knowledge of history, the story is well told. There was a Holocaust and many were killed. However, if viewed with the paranoia of a Jew who takes the neo-Nazis/Aryan-nations/Fundamentalist-Muslim or anti-Semite groups du jour seriously, then this deluded horror film might fuel the fires of the next holocaust.

In the film, in a barracks scene in a concentration camp, a prisoner relates how she heard from someone, who heard from someone who "was there," that all inmates of Auschwitz were gassed to death -- gassed in a room these inmates were told was only a shower. Others in the barracks doubted her story. How could she know this if all had been killed? It's a good point. If all were killed then no one could have escaped to tell the story, therefore the story must be false.

Later in the movie, the women on Schindler's list are sent to Auschwitz. Here they are stripped naked and herded into what appears to be a shower. The background music becomes ominous while the camera pans the terrified faces. This darkened room must be the rumored gas chamber. Then the questions, rumors, and doubts are answered conclusively when the shower heads spew only water, not poison gas. This corroborates the earlier assumption that rumors of mass killings were merely wild tales.

Scenes in this movie depict hundreds, maybe thousands, of deaths by gunshot. But Shindler's List depicts not one single killing, let alone millions of killings, by mass mechanical methods. Nowhere in the entire movie is anyone shown dying in a gas chamber. If this feature film is to live as a true accounting of the Holocaust then our credibility, as victims and historians, is seriously tarnished. The irony of the televised showing of this production is that it was sponsored by Ford. Henry Ford was a hard line anti-Semite.

Sometime in the future there will be another push to claim that the Holocaust never happened. And what better "proof" than an award-winning film, made by a Jew, that not only fails to exhibit scenes of the most horrendous killing machine that ever existed, but that claims that the now-alleged killing machine was only a shower, after all. Of course, the real death camps remain for anyone who cares to see. But a good propagandist can make it appear that the gas chambers were something else or were built after the fact as a Jewish distortion.

If there is one tragic attribute we Jews seem to have, it's the apparent inability to learn from history. Centuries of persecution and victimization have failed to dampen the spirit of a basically trusting and idealistic people -- Israelis excepted. Many Jews, when confronted with the correlation of past to present, invariably counter with the familiar lines: "It can't happen here"; "We have elected officials"; "Our Constitution protects us"; "I'm an American first and a Jew second; therefore, my country would never allow this to happen." 

1) Adolf Hitler was an elected official. Our potential problem here in America is not so much that we might elect an evil person like Hitler, but that domestic or international catastrophic events could force American Jews, under an unsympathetic president, into untenable positions. When persecution arrives it is not how we define a Jew - Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, parentage – that matters. What will matter is how the persecutor or the propagandists define a Jew. To them a Jew is a Jew. And "all Jews are alike." If future leaders of this country are like Brit Hume or like the Internet ranters who scream about "ZOG – the Zionist Occupation Government" or like a million more polite, everyday anti-Semites, that won't bode well for us.

2) Civilian control by elected officials (of which many are Jewish), is only in effect during peaceful times. If civil insurrection (gang wars, plagues, terrorist assaults) force the president to declare martial law all civil rights protection will be at the discretion of the heavily armed military. The first step the Nazis took, long before the war started, was to disarm the people. Today, in the USA, there are many citizens, some even well-intentioned, who are working to remove all guns from civilian hands. Do we want to trust our safety to soldiers who may not have our best interests at heart – soldiers whose top priority is almost certainly something other than protecting a minority group to which most of them don't belong?

3) In pre-war Germany, Jews proclaimed that their primary loyalties were to the Fatherland. Many were proud that they, or their fathers, had fought for Germany in the First World War. Even as the oppressive anti-gun laws were passed, as their property was seized, and as they were forced to wear a yellow star, the German Jews never stopped thinking of themselves as Germans first and Jews second. But again, what mattered was not how they defined themselves, but how their government, their neighbors, and a highly propagandized media defined them.

4) Today, like yesterday, we Jews live in towns, states, and a country manned by largely non-Jewish police agencies, fire departments and military forces. From the beginning up to the present time American and European Jews, for the most part, have aspired to be doctors, lawyers, merchants, statesman - but rarely military or police officials. By our own choices, we live in a de facto ghetto, in which armed agents surround us while we render ourselves helpless.

Upon establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, Jewish settlers coined the slogan "Never again!" to warn the world that they would never turn the other cheek when threatened. In Israel, service in the military for men and women is mandatory. Though their tiny Jewish army has proven its might they would be of little help if we American Jews needed them to fight for us on our vast shores. Legal problems might also preclude American Jews from staffing their own military unit for Jewish defense, but we can and should be prepared by encouraging our youth to enter our American armed forces and police ranks. Thus will our own sons and daughters be armed and trained to defend us on some future day when anti-Semitism takes its ugliest forms.

Because we Jews cannot stop the slams at us and our history, and because there will always be unintentional errors in depictions of Jewish activities, we should emulate our brothers and sisters in Israel. That is, we should cease to rely on the kindness of non-Semites for our protection.

American Jews may not have either the clout or the motivation to proclaim, "Never again!" But if we are vigilant we can decree that "Not today!" are we Jews going to set ourselves up for future persecution.

1) What preparations have I made to protect myself, my children, and my parents should a terrorist enter my home, business, or synagogue?

2) Don't we Jews owe it to the world to be in a position to save ourselves - or another minority - when the next holocaust, insurrection, or war arrives?

3) What have I done to repeal restrictive local, state, and federal gun laws? -- laws that have historically disarmed my people (and other minorities) and left them vulnerable both to crime and to persecution in hard times.

4) Am I writing letters to the editor of my local or national "family voice" publication encouraging my fellow Jews to own defensive weapons and become proficient in their use?

5) Do I belong to and support pro-rights organizations such as the National Rifle Association (, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (, The Second Amendment Foundation (, and Gun Owners of America (, et al.?

In wartime Germany, Martin Niemoller (1892-1984), issued a warning that most of us are familiar with. In it, Niemoller lamented that he failed to speak up when the Nazis came first for the trade unionists, then the Jews, Catholics, and others. And, finally when they came for him there was no one left to speak up. A modern day parallel might read:

When they came to Waco, Wounded Knee, Ruby Ridge,

I  didn't speak up because I wasn't one of them.

Then they came for the gun owners,

but I never spoke up because I don't own any Saturday-night specials

or assault rifles.

Now they come -- self-empowered bureaucracies

fronting for constitutionally blind judges – to persecute my own people

and I can't speak up because I am unarmed and afraid.

***************** BIBLIOGRAPHY *************

American Jewish Historical Society;
Bartlett's Familiar Quotations;
Fox News;
National Rifle Association;
Gun Control, Gateway to Tyranny by Aaron Zelman.