Gun ownership

The Hamas invasion of southern Israel, Saturday morning, provided a good argument for permitting gun ownership, at least among Jewish adults. It is not generally understood that civilians have almost as much trouble obtaining arms in Israel as they do in, say, Canada, owing to the proliferation, there as here, of asinine liberal politicians. But the murder of many hundred unarmed and unthreatening people, by terrorist psychopaths giddily at leisure, may influence public opinion.

While restricting gun ownership to Jews might seem illiberal, it could perhaps be justified if it applied to everyone who has served in the defence forces.

Israel has, like Switzerland (another of my favourite little countries) a national system of military conscription, and has had since its Declaration of Independence in 1948. But unlike the Swiss, those who have completed their service, which of course includes good training, including target practice, are not allowed to keep their rifles upon their retirement. While there are more legal gun-users per acre in Tel Aviv, than in Toronto, this is only because there are more soldiers on the streets there than here. And as Hamas has demonstrated, you can never have enough; and life will illustrate the old Boy Scout adage, “Be prepared.”

The Israeli draft laws extend only to Jews, but include both males and females; and Circassians, and Druze (males only). Musselmans and Christians and Haredi Jews are exempt, although they may join up voluntarily. Perhaps that could be the condition for a shooting licence, if a restriction had to be made.

I had a delightful encounter with a reserve female paratrooper, in Jerusalem just over fifty years ago, but perhaps today is not the day to recount it. But I still remember her explanation for why a woman would be carrying an impressively high-powered gun, and look like she could use it. “We [reserve female paratroopers] go in after all the men are dead,” she explained. Female reservists should be, on this Israeli model, employed wherever they are needed, in war. It’s not a feminist principle.

It is instead a principle of war: that sacrifices are made that would not be contemplated in peacetime. It is a principle of civilization, that it must be defended against barbarians and savages. Guns have, in principle, practical uses.