I am here to tell you that peaceful
submission to evil is not only not a
higher morality, it is not morality
at all. It is a moral atrocity.
Stopping Power—Talk at Temple Beth Shir Shalom
by J. Neil Schulman
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
In light of the October 27, 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, this is an address I made April 30, 1993 at Los Angeles's Temple Beth Shir Shalom, included in my 1994 Charlton Heston endorsed book Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns—a PDF free download linked from http://www.GunClock.com: http://jneilschulman.agorist.com/2010/06/j-neil-schulmans-stopping-power-talk-at-temple-beth-shir-shalom/.
The Village Voice called this speech a “tough Jew
Manifesto” when it was reprinted in Guns in America: A Reader , Jan
E. Dizard, editor (New York University Press, 1999)
—J. Neil Schulman
If you haven’t already seen Schindler’s List, see it. Then ask yourself whether it was better for a thousand Jews to be saved by a righteous gentile, or whether it would have been better for millions of Jews not to need saving because they had fought like the ancient Israelites against the Nazis.
I do not understand how any Jew can walk out of the theater, after seeing a graphic and historically accurate portrayal of Jews being exterminated like rodents, and not wish every Jew to own a fully-automatic assault rifle and plenty of ammunition.
To die as a warrior fighting for one’s people has, at least, nobility to recommend it.
The modern Israelis understand this. They manufacture and possess excellent assault rifles.
For the most part, American Jews don’t understand this. I hope they get wise before it’s too late and history repeats itself.
It is my belief that if the Jews of Europe had believed in and prepared for armed resistance against the Nazis, then the night known as Kristallnacht would have been the beginning of the end for the Nazi expansion over Europe. The Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto held out against the Nazis for weeks longer than all of Poland did. If even thousands more Jews had made the taking of their lives expensive, it might have cost Hitler’s war machine enough that Germany might have suffered an early defeat.
When I have expressed that opinion before, I have been charged with engaging in idle speculation.
I have gotten awards for engaging in idle speculation. I’m very good at it.
A science-fiction writer is just a prophet with a pocket calculator. Ignore us at your peril. -JNS
Talk at Temple Beth Shir Shalom
Friday, April 30, 1993
Just to introduce myself. I’m a novelist, screenwriter, and journalist. I’m also a graduate of the PC-832 reserve police training program at Rio Hondo Police Academy. I was asked to speak here tonight because I’ve written about firearms for the Los Angeles Times opinion page. I should also mention that one of my articles convinced Dennis Prager1 to change his views about guns. And just for the record, I’m a member of the National Rifle Association, Handgun Control, Inc., and the American Civil Liberties Union. So I have all bases covered.
I’d like to start by asking you a question. How many of you can correctly quote me the Sixth Commandment?
It’s not “You shall not kill” but “You shall not murder.”
There’s a big difference between killing and murdering. Killing means purposely ending a life. Murdering means purposely ending an innocent life. If you kill someone who’s trying to murder you or some other innocent person, that’s not murder. As a matter of fact, it’s a moral requirement to defend the innocent by killing if that’s the only way you can do it.
I’m going to spend about two minutes correcting the lies you hear about guns on TV and in the newspapers.
You’re told the lie that gun control will stop criminals from getting guns. The truth is that according to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms study titled “Protecting America, Yes,” criminals get 37% of their guns on the black market and another 34% from burglaries and robberies. That means that 71%—almost three out of every four guns a criminal uses—won’t be stopped by gun control. If you pass gun restrictions, criminals will still gets their guns for murder, robbery, burglary, and rape—but you won’t be able to get a gun to stop them.
You’re told that a gun kept in the home for protection is more likely to kill someone you know than a burglar. That’s a distortion of the truth, which is that a gun kept in the home is far more likely to capture or chase away a burglar without having to kill anyone at all.
You’re told the lie that gun accidents are killing children at unprecedented rates. The truth is that gun accidents account for less than 300 deaths of children under age 14 each year—less than 3% of children’s accidental deaths. Car accidents kill around 3700 children each year, 1200 drown, and 1000 die in fires. In general, firearms accidents are down about 40% from ten years ago and down 80% from fifty years ago. You can thank NRA’s gun safety training programs for that. If NRA’s gun safety courses were taught in all schools, we could probably get it down to a quarter of that.
Yes, there are teenagers—usually gang members— murdering other teenagers with guns. But those young murderers are already forbidden by law to have guns; laws don’t stop them for an instant. Matter of fact, the Bloods and the Crips are required to commit a murder to advance rank in their gangs. That’s why there are so many drive-by shootings.
You hear that assault rifles are major crime guns. The California Department of Justice has admitted that was a politically motivated lie—the truth is that fewer than 2% of the guns used in crime fall into the prohibited categories.
I could go on refuting these lies for hours. I’m not going to bother. It’s beside the real point.
Let me tell you some things you don’t hear about on TV or in the newspapers. According to figures compiled from around eight different studies, private citizens in this country use a firearm about a million times each year to stop or prevent a crime.2
My father is a concert violinist who was a member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York. He carried a gun to protect himself in Boston and New York for fifteen years — and on around five separate occasions, carrying that gun saved him from gangs of robbers.
My father couldn’t count on the police to save him, and neither can you. Under California law, which is like the laws of the rest of the country, no one in the government is legally responsible for protecting you—no one.
California Government Code, Section 845, states, “Neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for failure to establish a police department or otherwise provide police protection service or, if police protection service is provided, for failure to provide sufficient police protection service.”
But the California Constitution says the following in Article I, Section 1: “All people are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.”
California law merely reflects reality: when you’re attacked, the only person you can count on to protect you is you.
During the Los Angeles riots, police were completely unable to stop arson, shootings, and looting for three days, until another fifteen thousand army and National Guard troops showed up. A few months later, Hurricane Andrew left parts of Florida without electricity or phone for almost three months—and no one could call the police for help. A major earthquake here could do the same.
I know that some of you are thinking that the more guns you have, the more violence you have. That’s another one of those lies. Switzerland has one of the lowest murder rates of anywhere on Earth. Yet the Swiss keep machine guns and anti-tank weapons in their homes, and Swiss citizens regularly carry their machine guns on bicycles and trains to the ranges where they practice. Why is it that the Swiss have hardly any murderers? The answer is simple. The Swiss take their responsibility to defend themselves very seriously. Every able-bodied male in the country is in the Swiss army or reserve and the Swiss have been eliminating their violent criminals regularly until their criminals are an endangered species.
It comes down to competition. If you’re running a business today, you know that you’ll go under if you don’t have competitive technology. You wouldn’t run an office today with typewriters when other businesses are using computers. The same is true regarding your life and property, which the criminals are in competition for. The criminals are arming themselves with 9 millimeter semi-auto pistols which can easily be smuggled in across the Mexican border. If you are going to survive, you’d better not be armed with anything less effective.
As Dennis Prager says, there are only two races of people: the decent and the indecent.3 Laws should stop indecent people who use guns to commit violent crimes. That means the decent people need to be better armed than the criminals, or the criminals will win.
And that’s the real issue. As Jews, we know that from the destruction of the Second Temple of Solomon two millennia ago, until 1948 when the State of Israel was created, Jews have been persecuted. Jews stopped being victimized when they took up arms and started fighting back. The first major battle was fifty years ago this month, when the Jewish militia of the Warsaw Ghetto fought a battle with the Nazi SS. Almost all the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto died in that battle, but the lesson lived on, and Jews learned they needed to fight for survival.
Jews in America have been blessed. We have been less oppressed in this country than anywhere else in modern history. But that’s made a lot of us complacent and lazy.
The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. You can’t count on things always being good. Jews in Germany thought they were safe because Germany was a modern, enlightened, industrialized country where they had been safe for hundreds of years. In a short twenty years that turned around. Jews in Germany submitted to Nazi gun control laws and allowed themselves to be disarmed. And because they’d lost the will to fight, a third of the Jews on this planet were murdered.
I am here to tell you that peaceful submission to evil is not only not a higher morality, it is not morality at all. It is a moral atrocity. Those among us who tell us to be unarmed are setting us up to be victims of the next Adolf Hitler to come to power—and if you ask me, they want us disarmed because they intend for themselves to be the ones in absolute power over our lives and property.
Maybe one of you is going to quote Gandhi to me about non-violent resistance. Gandhi chose that strategy in his fight to chase the British out of India because the British had already disarmed the Indians, and non-violent resistance was the only strategy Gandhi had left. Here’s what Gandhi had to say about it: “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of Arms, as the blackest.”4
Adolf Hitler agreed with Gandhi’s assessment—but from the other side. “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make,” Hitler said, “would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall.”5
If the Jews of Germany had listened to Hitler, they might have saved Earth a Second World War.
Jews in Israel understand this. They are armed to the teeth—and have as low a murder rate as Switzerland. A few weeks ago, the Israeli Chief of Police called for all Israeli citizens to carry their guns with them at all times. Can you imagine what would have happened here if Chief Gates had done that a year ago during the LA riots?
But Israel is dependent upon the continued freedom of the United States for its own survival. If Jews in America do not actively support the right of the American people to keep and bear arms for their individual and common defense, then the American civilization is open to political dictatorship, and the next Holocaust of the Jews is just a short step behind.
We are already well down the road to Nazi Germany. Did you know that we have had the Nazi gun-control laws in America since 1968? There is strong evidence that the 1938 Nazi Weapons law was the basis for the 1968 Gun Control Act. The two laws are structurally very similar. The 1938 Nazi Weapon’s Law disarmed Germany’s Jewish citizens and made it possible for the democratically-elected German government to murder millions of innocent people. Don’t tell me it can’t happen here.
Never again. Take up arms. Learn to use them properly and teach your children to use them properly. You can’t have a peaceful or civilized society if good people won’t fight to preserve it and practice with the weapons needed to do it.
Defend the constitutional provisions that legally protect those who keep and bear arms to preserve peace and civilization. Demand the impeachment of all government officials—police, judges, and legislators—who lie about the right to bear arms and try to disarm us. It’s not the government’s job to defend society from gangsters and potential dictators: it’s yours. It’s the moral responsibility of every one of us who is able to do so.
1 See my parenthetical comments which lead off the first section of this book containing my LA Times Op-Eds. Prager, whom I’ve mentioned several times, is a popular Los Angeles radio talk-show host on top-rated KABC AM. He is also a former teacher, newspaper columnist, and an author of several books on Judaism. He is an internationally known lecturer, and is considered one of the most prominent spokespersons for modern Judaism, and writes a newsletter titled Ultimate Issues devoted to the promotion of ethical monotheism.
2 Now 2.45 million defenses yearly. See Q & A On Gun Defenses.
3 On his radio program, Dennis attributes this paradigm to Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. I read that book years ago but didn’t remember the quote until I heard it again from Dennis on a program before I gave this talk, and didn’t remember the quote was from Frankl until Dennis attributed it on a subsequent program.
4 “Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of Arms, as the blackest.” M. Gandhi, -An Autobiography or The Story of my Experiments With Truth Volume 2, Published 1927, M. Desai, Translator, Page 666
5 “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.” Hitler’s Secret Conversations—1941-1944 , Farrar, Straus and Young, 1953 Page 345
Stopping Power—Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns is
Copyright © 1994, 1999 J. Neil Schulman &
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.
J. Neil Schulman is a novelist, screenwriter, journalist, radio
personality, filmmaker, composer, and actor. His dozen books include
the novels Alongside Night and The Rainbow Cadenza,
both of which won the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus
Award for best libertarian novel, and the anthology Nasty, Brutish,
And Short Stories.
Read more about him.
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