I Wish Those Jews Had Had Guns
How often does the above phrase run through your head? It ran through mine when I read about this week’s atrocity in Jersey City, New Jersey. CBS News reports:
A police officer was among six killed in a lengthy gun battle in Jersey City Tuesday.
The two suspects were also killed, along with three civilians. Their bodies were found in a kosher grocery store at Bayview Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard after an intense, hours-long shootout with police. Jersey City Police Chief Michael Kelly said police believe the three civilians killed in the grocery store were shot by the suspects.
Why attack this store? It seems because its owners were visibly Jewish. According to the Jewish Telegraph Agency:
The gunmen who entered a Jersey City kosher supermarket and engaged in a deadly shootout with police deliberately chose the store, the city’s mayor said.
“Based on our initial investigation (which is ongoing) we now believe the active shooters targeted the location they attacked,” Steven Fulop said on Twitter Tuesday night.
The Killer from the Cult
The “mastermind” of this butchery, David Anderson? He’s a member of the “Black Hebrew Israelite” movement. They’re the people who stand on street corners in major cities denouncing Jews, gays, whites, Christians … the list is long. They’re the same cult that mobbed Nicholas Sandmann and the other Covington Catholic pro-life boys in D.C. The same group that the “Indian tribal elder” was sticking up for, when he banged his drum in Sandmann’s face. Thus provoking a national media lynch mob aimed … at Sandmann.
Helpless Before the Extremists
As a student of history, I often find myself muttering phrases like “I wish those Jews had had guns.” Read about the expulsion of helpless, unarmed Jews from every Arab country after Israel was established in 1948. Of course, who founded and defended that country? Jews with guns. Many of those very people saw their families massacred by the Nazis and their allies, all across Europe. Few could defend themselves. They’d been disarmed.
Reading history, we see again and again minority religious or ethnic groups targeted by intolerant majorities. Those that survived were those that could defend themselves.
One of the first things the Nazis did when they occupied a country was to seize all civilians’ guns. They’d started at home. As Stephen Halbrook documents in Gun Control in the Third Reich, that totalitarian faction started as an illegal street militia (the brown-shirted SA). When it came to power, it used the well-intended gun control laws of the previous Weimar Republic to disarm all its enemies. Starting with the Jews. I wrote here back in 2015:
The build-up to the first national Nazi pogrom, the brutal Kristallnacht, included a frenzied effort on the part of leading Nazis to track down all the registered firearms owners of Jewish descent, and seize their weapons so that there could be no real resistance when Nazi stormtroopers attacked Jewish businesses and burned historic synagogues.
But the Nazis’ job was an easy one, because virtually all of Germany’s Jews who owned any guns had dutifully registered them, years before, in compliance with the laws of the Weimar Republic — which was trying to disarm extremist groups.
The only effective resistance to the Nazis? That came in countries where citizens had private firearms, or could get them from Hitler’s enemies.
Minorities Need the Means of Self-Defense
It’s not just about the Jews, of course. Reading history, we see again and again minority religious or ethnic groups targeted by intolerant majorities. Those that survived were those that could defend themselves, like the Protestants in France. The reason the monarchy couldn’t wipe them out in the French Wars of Religion in the 16th century? They’d formed well-regulated militias. They fortified whole cities, which intolerant Catholic kings couldn’t conquer. In the end, the regime was forced to grant toleration to Protestants, which lasted for a century, till Louis XV felt strong enough to overwhelm them militarily, and drive the Huguenots out of France.
That lesson came home to fellow Protestants in England, in the wake of the English Civil War. Terrified that either the Anglican Church or (in a paranoid fantasy, a restored Catholic regime) would resume persecution of Puritans and other non-conformists, the English Parliament acted in 1689. It decreed that Protestants (and only Protestants!) could keep and bear arms, for their own defense. While that discriminatory language offends us today, it highlights the deep connection between religious freedom and gun rights that Protestants felt at the time. (At the same time, over in France, the last of the persecuted Huguenots were fleeing.)
No Second Amendment, No First
These lessons of history were fresh in the minds of America’s founders when they added the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights. In case such stories seem stale today, let’s remember that around the world, people face persecution for their faith. In some of them, like Northern Syria, they have the means to defend themselves. The Christians and Kurds stand armed and organized, resisting the Turkish-led jihad that rages in the wake of President Trump’s withdrawal.
But in many other places, minorities are utterly helpless. China’s government is waging a genocidal campaign of extermination against Uighur Muslims, who have no means to resist. Christians in Pakistan, India, parts of Africa, and many other countries face terrorist attacks and routine abuse, with no means of resistance.
What if Hong Kong Citizens Had Guns?
Look at Hong Kong, where millions of citizens want to retain the freedoms left behind by the British, who turned over that colony in 1997. These citizens demonstrate, carry signs, use high-tech hacks to foil thuggish police. But they know that should the Chinese regime use force, it would face no effective resistance. They would end up just like the Uighurs. And the world would shrug and move on, eager to keep access to China’s lucrative markets.
Every time I read about Hong Kong, I think, “I wish those good people had guns.”
Lest you scoff at the notion that it would make any difference, consider this: The U.S. has still not been able to subdue Afghanistan. Angry citizens, well-armed, who want a sharia regime, have frustrated the most powerful military on earth for eighteen years. Would China keep putting Uighurs into concentration camps if it feared that kind of resistance? Doubtful, at best. Nor would the People’s Army relish the prospect of urban guerilla warfare in densely settled Hong Kong. Beijing would have to compromise.
The Intolerant and the Incompetent
You don’t just need gun rights when your government is intolerant. They’re helpful because any government is incompetent to protect every citizen from violence. In extreme cases, like Nigeria, the government can’t suppress murderous jihad militias. So citizens need the firepower to protect themselves. In Western Europe, governments have intentionally imported millions of military age Muslim men, some of them fired up by radical imams to despise the “infidel” natives. And those neighbors have been disarmed by those very same governments.
Narwhals Against Jihad
The most lurid, ludicrous case happened just this month in Britain. A hardened jihadist, released prematurely from prison, attacked the very activists who’d helped to get him out. Helpless civilians scrambled to defend themselves from this sword-wielding zealot with … a fire extinguisher and a narwhal tusk. As Ben Johnson wrote here at The Stream:
the narwhal tusk … is one of the few means of self-defense the British government hasn’t gotten around to outlawing. “The UK has some of the toughest gun control laws in the world,” the BBC reported. Gun control brought a surge in knife violence, so now carrying a knife that is too long, or the wrong design, is punishable by four years in prison and an “unlimited” fine. The UK bans citizens from carrying mace, pepper spray, air guns, and stun guns. The British people are so powerless that it took a half-dozen people to restrain a lone terrorist with two knives.
Christ never called us to accept that level of helplessness. To leave the innocent at the mercy of strangers. The fantasy of a State where only the government has weapons is not a glimpse of the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s a worldly, Utopian vision. It empowers the fallen men and women controlling the government to wield absolute, god-like power over citizens. Accepting that, craving it as some Christians seem to today? It isn’t just dumb. Such worship of Caesar amounts to idolatry.
First They Came for the Gunowners
To learn more about the threats to individual and religious liberty posed by the left’s gun grab, check out a powerful new book. First They Came for the Gunowners, by best-selling author Mark W. Smith, delves deep into history. It shows the tight connection between individual freedom and private firearms. And it exposes how the left weaponizes tragedies to try to take our freedom away. Consider it as a Christmas gift to a family member who doesn’t “get it.”
John Zmirak is a Senior Editor of The Stream, and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism.