One Year After Attack, Jewish Community Embraces Self-Defense

It was December 28th, 2019 when a disturbed man entered a home in Monsey, New York where folks were gathering for a Hanukkah celebration and used a knife to stab five attendees. In the months since, one of the victims died from his injuries, the attacker has managed to avoid federal charges on the basis of his mental condition, and many members of the Jewish community in Monsey have embraced their Second Amendment rights.

According to Forward, a number of Monsey residents have applied for a gun license in the wake of the stabbing attack, including a 28-year old named Abe, who says there’s been a sea change in attitudes towards armed self-defense among his friends and neighbors.

Abe, a soon-to-be father of three, started the process to get his firearm license before the attack, but didn’t follow up at first. “It wasn’t something that was ever a priority,” he said. But after the tragedy, “everybody woke up and started their filing process,” he told Haaretz. “There are quite a few of us – some people might be surprised,” he added. “In my shul, on a regular Shabbes it’s a shul of 40 to 50 people – six of us carry guns, and these are all recent certifications.”

On the night of the attack, Yanky Fligman, 29, who was born and raised in Monsey, was at his father’s Hanukkah party when his phone rang and he heard the shocking news. As a volunteer first-responder in his community, people often turn to him for information.

“I immediately ran out to the car, turned on my radio, started driving in that direction and I didn’t understand what is happening, I just heard full chaos on the radio,” he recalls. “I was kind of confused until I arrived at the scene and started asking ‘what’s going on?’ And it kind of hit me.”

Fligman, a father of three young children, couldn’t help but wonder: “Is this going to start happening every few weeks?”

Although he always felt that “being a minority group that might be targeted, you should have a gun,” the attack last year finally pushed him to take action. The next day, Fligman and three of his friends began filling their application paperwork for a firearms license.

In the two weeks after the stabbing attack, 31 Monsey residents applied for a gun license, and many others have submitted their applications in recent months, though some of them are still stuck in a legal limbo waiting to be approved.

Yaakov Rosenberg, 30, thought about moving away from Monsey, where he was born and raised, after the attack. Ultimately, however, he decided to stay, and filed paperwork for a gun license a few months ago. He is still waiting for it to be processed.

“You face reality,” the father of two girls said. “It’s happening right in your backyard and it’s real and it’s not going to go anywhere.”

Even after the year-old attack, he had reservations. With New York’s strict gun laws, his license will still be restricted and he won’t be able to take his firearm to New York City or beyond state lines. If he ever uses it, he will have to answer to the courts and explain his action.

“It’s not like you can just walk around with it.” he said.

Yet another example of why New York’s gun control laws are an unconstitutional infringement on the right to keep and bear arms. Is Yaakov Rosenberg a more dangerous person if he carries his legally-owned firearm in Manhattan instead of Monsey? Of course not, but New York City’s draconian gun laws prevent him (and everyone else without a rarely-granted NYC carry permit) from protecting themselves in the city where anti-semitic attacks have been on the rise.

Self-defense is a human right, and I’m glad to see so many men and women in the Jewish community taking steps to be able to protect themselves from an attack. I just hope that in 2021 we’ll see the Supreme Court weigh in on the right to carry so that anti-gun jurisdictions like New York City can no longer infringe on our rights to keep and bear arms in defense of ourselves and our loved ones.

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