AP Photo/Seth Wenig
As we learn more details about the attack in Jersey City that claimed the life of a longtime police officer and two civilians, it’s becoming clear that not only did New Jersey’s draconian gun control laws fail to prevent the attack from taking place, but the same laws ignored by criminals made it impossible for the Jewish community targeted by the two killers to defend themselves.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tried to use the anniversary of the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary and the attack in Jersey City to call for more federal gun control laws, claiming that’s what’s really needed to prevent these types of targeted attacks.
Seven years ago, our hearts broke for Sandy Hook. Today, our nation is reeling from yet another mass shooting – in our beloved Jersey City.
Our nation’s gun laws continue to fail us – it’s time for Congress to do its job.
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) December 14, 2019
Like other gun control activists, Murphy ignores the fact that violent crime is actually dropping nationwide, while the number of privately owned firearms and concealed carry holders have reached record highs. It wasn’t the nation’s gun laws that failed in Jersey City. It was New Jersey’s.
The two killers in Jersey City specifically targeted the city’s Jewish community after they murdered Detective Joseph Seals. As one individual who was in the kosher deli when the pair came in and began firing said it was clear they came to kill.
When bullets started flying at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City, David Lax pushed his way past one of the shooters to escape.
Lax was in the JC Kosher Supermarket on Tuesday when a heavily armed man and woman stormed in, killing three people before engaging in an hours-long standoff with police.
“The way they came in, they came to kill, to shoot,” Lax, who runs an appliance repair shop in the neighborhood, told CNN on Friday.
We also know that the killers were apparently targeting a Jewish school across the street from the deli. If they had gained entry, there would have been no armed citizens there to serve as a first line of defense for the students inside, because New Jersey only has a handful of citizens who are allowed to bear arms in public.
In New Jersey, individuals who wish to carry a firearm have to get permission from their local law enforcement or the New Jersey State Police. The issuing authority has almost complete discretion in granting permission, and self-defense isn’t seen as “good cause” to carry. Neither is “It’s my right” or “Have you ever heard of the Second Amendment?”
As a result, almost no one in the state outside of retired law enforcement officers and a few well-connected and politically powerful individuals have a concealed carry permit. In 2014, for instance, fewer than 500 permits were issued in a state with nearly 10,000,000 residents.
After the Tree of Life synagogue attack in Pittsburgh, and amidst a rise in anti-Semitic attacks nationwide, some synagogues have opened their doors to armed parishioners, and it stands to reason that if New Jersey’s concealed carry laws were “shall issue” (as is the case in more than 40 states), that some members of the Jewish community in Jersey City would have been armed for self-defense and there’s a chance, however small, that an armed citizen could have engaged the two killers before they opened fire in the deli.
Yehuda Remer, a Jewish Second Amendment advocate who goes by the moniker the Pew Pew Jew, says the attack in Jersey City should be a wake up call for those of the Jewish faith.
In less than two weeks, we Jews will be celebrating Hanukkah. But, news flash: Hanukkah is not a just holiday about presents, oil, dreidels, and latkes. Those traditions are a cherry on top of what we are actually celebrating. Hanukkah is a holiday about Freedom. It is a celebration of a time in our history that we accomplished a great and important thing. It is the remembrance of the triumph of a tiny band of freedom fighters who won our Land and Freedom of a much larger and highly trained military.
In other words, we defeated anti-Semitism. We took up arms against people who were oppressing us. Now, please don’t get me wrong: I am not calling for a revolt against this government. What I am calling for is this:
It is time for Jews to take up arms. It’s at this moment in time that Jews need to fall in line, not to the gas chambers but under the banner that reads “I Support the Second Amendment.” It’s time to embrace and take advantage of the Freedom and the Right enshrined in the Second Amendment. Purchasing a firearm, learning to use it, and training with it will help ensure you and your family or community are safe. Do not rely on the police or government to protect you. Do not rely on the security guard standing in front of your synagogue. You are your own first line of defense and guardian.
Lastly, it is time to stop believing that it can’t happen to you. It can happen to you in your synagogue, or on the streets, or in your local market.
I spoke with Yehuda after Sabbath ended Saturday night, and asked if he’s seeing a new interest in armed self-defense within the Jewish community where he lives.
“I do believe there is a strong desire for those that never imagined themselves a ‘gun person’ to begin the education process. I am not just talking about learning to shoot or the technical side of firearms. I am seeing Jews from all walks of life talking about the Second Amendment. With the uptick in anti-Semitism in the country and the continuous assaults Jews are taking on a daily basis, the concept of ‘Never Again’ is more than lip service. I really feel that Jews are finally realizing that ‘Never Again’ means nothing if you are not willing to do something about it. Jews are finally understanding that they are their own first responders.”
Self-defense is a human right, but that right is denied to residents of New Jersey thanks to its gun laws that threat the Second Amendment as a privilege to be granted to a few lucky souls. We know that the killers in Jersey City didn’t care that they were violating the state’s gun laws. After all, they wanted to violate the state’s prohibition against killing innocent people.
It’s the law-abiding citizens of New Jersey who are paying the price for the state’s unwillingness to acknowledge the right to bear arms. There is a ray of hope, however, in the form of a challenge to the state’s concealed carry laws that’s currently in conference at the U.S. Supreme Court.
The argument in Rogers v Grewal is simple; the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms outside the home, and a conditioning the exercise of that right on a showing of a special need to carry a firearm is an unconstitutional infringement. The Court has held on to the case for months, neither dismissing the case outright or agreeing to hear the case. The speculation is that the case is going to be the next Second Amendment case heard by SCOTUS, but first it has to deal with the NYC gun case that justices are mulling over at the moment.
There’s a good chance that in a year or two, New Jersey residents will have their right to bear arms reluctantly recognized by the state, but in the meantime, Governor Phil Murphy and his anti-gun cohorts in the New Jersey legislature continue to put good people at a disadvantage when evil decides to strike.