Norris: Israel, a model for reducing violent crime
This past week, I made an audio recording endorsing the re-election of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel’s general election Tuesday, Jan. 22.
I explained in the endorsement: “You might think I’m a tough guy in my films, but in a rough neighborhood like the Middle East, Israel has its own tough guy. His name is Bibi Netanyahu.”
Netanyahu’s leadership and strength were evident as far back as 1967, when he was a part of the Israel Defense Forces’ elite commando unit, Sayeret Matkal. And they were just as obvious in his public service through the years, as I added in my endorsement: “Bibi brought the pressing issue of Israel’s security to the world, speaking loudly and clearly at the United Nations and in Congress, bringing the world together to put sanctions on Iran. He has raised a wall along the whole southern border of Israel, stopped the missiles raining on Israel and showed Hamas it will not be tolerated. He also made the bravest decision in securing the release of Gilad Shalit,” an Israeli sports columnist and former soldier who was abducted inside Israel by Hamas militants.
I concluded the audio recording by encouraging Israeli citizens, “So vote for Benjamin Netanyahu, because a strong prime minister is a strong Israel.”
As our ally, Israel is also a model from which we can learn — from the intrinsic value of Judaism to Israel’s fortitude and security. And with the deep pains and grief over the years from so many mass shootings in U.S. schools, Israel stands as a beacon of light for how to protect our children in public places.
First, though Israeli law does not guarantee the right to bear arms as the U.S. Constitution does, private citizens can obtain gun licenses for defense, hunting or sport. For those who legally own guns, carrying a firearm openly or concealed in a public place is allowed without a permit.
Most citizens are trained to use weapons in Israel’s mandatory military service. And when there is an outburst of violence in Israel, gun ownership immediately is expanded to those who hold a certain rank in the military.
True, Israel has fewer guns per capita than the U.S., but it’s also a tiny country with virtually no opportunity for hunting or other recreational use of firearms. Anti-gun advocates love to point out that there are only about 500,000 weapons that are privately owned in Israel, but in terms of area, that’s in a country that is only about one-fifteenth the size of California or one-twenty-fifth the size of Texas.
When it comes to guns, however, it’s not the number of them that is critical but how and where they are used. For example, Israel mandated armed guards at the entrances to all schools in 1995, and those guards are backed up by special police forces. Despite the fact that these school defenses are primarily intended to thwart terrorists, they also deter any would-be psychos who would cause harm to their children.
According to CBS News, Israeli schools have suffered from only two shootings in the past 40 years: one in 1974 (22 children and three adults) and another in 2008 (eight youths).
Back at the home of the brave, the U.S. has faced multiple mass shootings on academic campuses, and the majority of the population still refuses to post any type of armed guard or even unarmed security at schools to protect our children. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 70 percent of public schools do not have a police officer, and 57 percent have no security staff. There is an old-fashioned term for that lack of security response in these times: stupid.
Also compare Israel’s plan to reduce terrorism and violent crime with our own President Barack Obama, who announced Jan. 16 that a new and tougher assault weapons ban and a 10-round limit on magazines would be a part of his comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence (aka limit our Second Amendment rights), including 23 steps without congressional consent.
Regarding a solution to reduce the rash of U.S. school shooting sprees, Oren Shemtov — CEO of Israel’s Academy of Security and Investigation and one of 16 people in Israel authorized to train those who instruct school guards, which he has done for 22 years — recently told Fox News that “gun-toting teachers could, at the very least, buy time for kids to escape while police race to the scene.” Shemtov explained, “Two (armed) teachers would have kept (the Newtown, Conn., shooter) occupied for 45 seconds each.”
He further added in reflection of school security in Israel, “At one point, the Interior Ministry mandated that a certain percentage of teachers be armed, but … due to increased terror attacks, private guards were mandated at all schools.” He said the two most important keys to defending children at schools anywhere are armed guards and armed teacher response teams.
It’s beyond sickening to me that though the U.S. posts armed guards to protect such places as historical monuments, politicians’ offices and presidential libraries, when it comes to our children — our greatest and most precious blessings from God and the inheritors of our republic — we repeatedly throw them to the winds of chance and the wiles of crazy men who could and would obtain armed weapons even if we abolished our Second Amendment rights entirely.
Tell me this: If various robbers repeatedly storm-trooped your house and stabbed your loved ones, would you try to rally Washington to minimize the production and distribution of butcher knives or simply post a sign outside your front door like the one I have outside mine, which has a picture of a gun and the words “We don’t call 911”?
How many school massacres will it take before we protect our children at places they live en masse nearly eight hours a day?
And which one of our fine law enforcement or military personnel (in any branch) wouldn’t consider it his greatest duty and honor to take a shift as a guard in front of one of our schools, protecting those precious souls?
Next week, I will prove once and for all why gun bans don’t reduce violent crime.