Yom Kippur Attack

Last month In Halle Germany, a murderous psycho tried to enter a synagogue, intent on killing Yom Kippur worshipers while live streaming his violent rampage on the social media platform Twitch.   

(Sebastian Willnow/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images) 

In light of the recent increase in anti-semitism in Germany, the synagogue had requested a police security detail for the holiday—but the request had been denied. Fortunately synagogue leadership did institute their own security protocol which included security cameras and locked doors. This surely saved lives! During the Torah reading, a loud booming noise was heard and a man dressed in black was seen amid a cloud of smoke via the security monitor.  

An assailant shot repeatedly at the door and ignited several Molotov cocktails and homemade grenades attempting to force his way in,  but the door held.  Amid his frustration for failing to enter the synagogue,  he shot a forty year old woman who was passing by. He then drove down the street and killed a twenty year old man in a kebob shop. 

The weapons used by the perpetrator were hand-fashioned from wood, steel pipes, sheet metal and plastic, using plans he had found readily available on the Internet. Additionally some components did appear to be manufactured using a 3D printer found at the assailant’s home.  

There have been concerns voiced that this extremists’ use of homemade weapons will—by example—usher in a new era of violent attacks.  I hate to be the one to break this news, but terrorists and criminals have always been able to manufacture their own weapons with a simple trip to any hardware store!  This of course assumes that they choose not to shop on the black market where fully functioning, commercially manufactured weapons of every description, are available at bargain prices to any criminal willing to break just one more law, before they go break even more consequential laws.  

There were also several commentators who stated with great certainty that this event would have been much worse had it taken place in the United States where real guns are so easy to obtain.  What this line of thinking fails to recognize is the possibility that in the United States, the worshipers hiding behind the locked door of the synagogue might be armed and trained to protect themselves and their community from just such an attack!  Or the possibility that the woman passerby might have been carrying a concealed pistol and could have ended the entire incident right there. Another possibility could be that upon hearing gunfire up the street, a concealed carrier in the kebob shop might have had time to draw his pistol from concealment and readied himself to fire upon the murderer as he entered, thus saving the life of the young man in the restaurant.   

God forbid I am ever unlucky enough to be caught up in an attack where someone is shooting at me. However—if it did happen—I would hope for two things: Number one, the attacker is using a homemade weapon, and number two, I’m not defenseless in Germany!  

Lott’s Mexico

Dr. John Lott had a new piece in the Wall Street Journal this week about Mexico’s extremely high murder rate despite its strict gun control laws.  

Photo Credit: The Wall Street Journal

The figures Lott quotes are staggering:  with almost six times as many murders per 100,000 people as in the U.S., Mexico has a serious problem.

By all accounts the problem may be of their own making.  As highlighted in the Wall Street Journal opinion piece, Mexico’s strict gun control measures began in 1972 ostensibly to control violence.  Presently only 1% of Mexicans possess a license to own a firearm, obtaining a permit to legally carry a pistol is unheard of and private sales are for all practical purposes forbidden yet since 1972 the murder rate has doubled! 

While addressing how many of Mexico’s crime guns come from the U.S., Dr. Lott explains why the 70% figure cited by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is grossly exaggerated. He points out that number is a select subset of a select subset and the actual number may be closer to 17%.

Furthermore, it appears evident the bulk of Mexico’s crime guns, often fully-automatic, are cartel supplied and originate in Central and South America or other international locations.  Once again, it is evidenced that when strict gun control laws leave the general population unarmed, vulnerable, and powerless, criminals will feel emboldened.  Layer onto this a history of military and police corruption along with a powerful cartel presence and you have the perfect recipe for out of control criminal violence.  

Game Theory

Certain truths can be stated without reservation.  FACT ONE: American youth love video games.  And, FACT TWO: Guns have been a large part of our history and culture for hundreds of years.  Here’s another: Without the constant renewal and growth of new participants, the gun culture and shooting sports will wither and die, and the Second Amendment will be closely behind it.  The Second Amendment would become a quaint reminder of a distant past, then, gradually, incrementally, be reduced to an abstract symbolic concept.  

If one were to set out to address the challenge of finding new participants for the shooting sports, where would you look and who would you look for?  Well, it would be nice to target young people, heaven knows the more “mature” crowd is already well represented!  It would also make sense to target people who already have demonstrated some interest in and knowledge of guns.  

This ideal demographic of future competitive shooters, firearms enthusiasts, and Second Amendment activists exists within the world of video gaming.  We know from anecdotal evidence that the cross-pollination opportunity between the video gaming culture and the “real” gun culture is significant.  In fact, even the briefest look at the gaming industry reveals the staggering scale of the numbers involved.  Gaming is huge!  According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 97% of all teenagers play video games; and 81% of 18-to-29 year olds are gaming, and a large percentage of those games are based on shooting and gun themes.  For example, the Red Dead Redemption Part 2 Cowboy’ action game grossed over $725 million its opening weekend and has sold over 25 million copies.

In fact, my own introduction into the world of firearms was the indirect result of video games.  My sons’ interest in guns was piqued after playing video games, which lead to an interest in paintball and airsoft guns.  Realizing quickly if I had declared real guns forbidden it would have only strengthened the attraction, I embarked on a mission to learn all I could about safe gun use in order to educate my sons and keep them safe.  I reached out to a knowledgeable gun-owning friend, who gave us a brief introduction to guns and recommended a safety training class.   To my great joy,  guns and the shooting sports have become a central part of our lives ever since, providing countless hours of enjoyment and family bonding.

Of course, only a small percentage of gamers will make the leap from shooting guns in video games to shooting guns in real life.

But a small percentage of a big number is still a big number.  There are barriers to entry that must be overcome. Not everyone has a gun-owning friend (that they know of) to whom they can reach out.  With this in mind, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), promotes the excellent “First Shots Program” offered at many local shooting ranges. The program is geared towards safely introducing first-time shooters to the fun of shooting.

Andrew Gottlieb, Director of Outreach for the Second Amendment Foundation, has begun some excellent work on the issue of gaming and how it relates to the Second Amendment.  A key point he made in his presentation at the 34th Annual Gun Rights Policy Conference in Phoenix related to the inevitable blame-game and finger-pointing that occurs whenever a mass murder event occurs and it’s subsequently revealed the “murderer was a video game player”.   Mr. Gottlieb said plainly “The gun people need to stop pointing to the video games as the cause,  because that just makes the gamers point back to the gun as the cause when both parties should be pointing to the acts of the individual perpetrator!”  I must admit, I have been tempted myself to point to games as a causal factor; however, considering how pervasive gaming actually is you might as well point to shoes as the cause of mass murder because as far as I know most murderers aren’t barefoot!  Alas, there are not simple answers to complex problems.  

As firearms enthusiasts, gun owners and Second Amendment advocates, let’s actively look for ways to reach out to the people who are already interested in what we do.  Get out there and find a gamer to take shooting, it’ll be a blast!

A Sea Change From A “C” Change Will Help Us See Change!

In musical notation a change in pitch up or down a full octave is known as a C change.  Anyone paying attention to the fight to protect our second amendment rights has likely noticed the sound of the most prominent voices has indeed risen a full octave.  I am referring of course to the growing cacophony of women’s voices that refuse to be ignored or marginalized.  

When considering the protection of our 2nd amendment rights it is easy to get overly focused on legislation and litigation and ignore the cultural messaging that is the true driver of both.  It is in this messaging that the women in the gun rights movement seem to be having great success.  It is much harder to use the same old arguments and decades old character assassinations against a mom who says she just wants to be able to protect her family.  

When Dianna Muller of the DC Project testifies before a house judiciary committee and says ”I will not comply” she can’t be dismissed as just some eccentric rancher that needs to be taken down.  When A Girl and A Gun women’s shooting league hosts their Fall Festival it gets press as a fun event for strong women offering training, competition and fellowship not a para military terrorist training camp.  

The other factor to remember is that winning hearts and minds on the issue of guns is an emotional endeavor that can’t be won by just regurgitating facts and figures and on this point women speak with much greater perceived authority and sincerity.  

One woman speaking sincerely of her journey from victimhood to empowerment from fear to strength can open a lot more minds than a thousand men shouting Molon Labe.  

I’ve come to recognize in my own life that for all my bravado it is often my wife that really get’s things done, especially the hard things!  So I say thank you to all the women in the shooting sports and the 2nd amendment battle, keep doing what you’re doing it’s working and always know we got your back!