Category Archives: Jewish Gun Rights

Jewish Legal Minds and American Gun Rights: Gura, Sigale, Gottlieb, and Posner

It has not escaped notice of many gun owners that Jewish politicians like Dianne Feinstein (D-California) are contributing to the efforts of late to destroy Americans’ gun rights.  However, many are unaware how prominent Jewish attorneys have been in protecting those rights.  Here are a few examples:

Alan Gura is a sort of superstar in the fight for 2nd Amendment rights.  First he won the 2008 case  United States Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller, which finally settled the notion that the 2A provides a right to firearms ownership independent of membership in any organized “militia.”  Then in 2010 he won  McDonald v. Chicago, which held the 2A and Heller applied to the states.  His most recent 2012 win is Moore v. Madigan, where a federal district court held that Illinois’ ban on concealed carry (the only state to ban all concealed carry) is unconstitutional.

In a 2008 article about Gura:

Gura, in contrast, said statistics indicate that gun ownership tends to reduce crime and increase public safety. Moreover, self-protection is a fundamental right, he added, because citizens cannot always depend on the government to protect them from criminals or tyrannical rulers. He said Jews, in particular, should take note.

“We should examine our history and see that our reliance on governmental officials to preserve our liberties has not always worked out so well,” explained Gura, who considers himself a libertarian. “There is still anti-Semitism. The sad fact is that many Jews have the option of being armed or dead and not that many prefer to be armed.”

Asked why Jews seem disproportionately opposed to gun ownership, Gura said, “It’s puzzling. Many Jews seem to prefer heavy government intervention, and it’s not a good thing.” Jews, he said, often have the mistaken belief “that the government is a beneficent force to always do good and help people out.”

An Israeli native now living in Alexandria, where he attends the Conservative Agudas Achim Congregation, Gura, 37, came to the United States with his family when he was 7. They settled in Los Angeles. He received his undergraduate degree in government from Cornell University and his law degree from Georgetown University. Gura, whose law practice, Gura and Possessky, has offices Alexandria and D.C., focuses mainly on civil rights and intellectual property matters.

Gura, who with his wife has a 1-year-old son, first became a gun owner in the early 1990s because, he said, he wanted to be able to defend himself against crime. Among the contributing factors in his decision to buy a weapon were the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, which Gura said he watched on TV “with a great deal of concern” while he was in college at Cornell. He said he has never used the gun in self-defense.

Gura was hired to handle the case in 2003 by social acquaintance Robert Levy, a nonpracticing attorney and libertarian scholar. Levy and another lawyer recruited the plaintiffs, six D.C. residents who wanted to own handguns. 

Another attorney, David G. Sigale assisted Gura on the McDonald and Madigan cases, and appears to be involved in a Chicago-land synagogue.

The Jewish judge writing the majority opinion in the Madigan case was none other than Richard Posner.  Posner’s opinion is very good for gun rights, because he wrote that “…a ban as broad as Illinois’s can’t be upheld merely on the ground that it’s not irrational…”so substantial a curtailment of the right of armed self-defense requires a greater showing of justification than merely that the public might benefit on balance from such a curtailment, though there is no proof it would.”  That language is critical because the Supreme Court’s Heller opinion did not explicitly tell courts what test to apply when determining whether certain laws restricting gun rights are constitutional or not.  Lower courts are still feeling out the parameters, and Posner’s opinion is a step in the right direction towards strict, or at least intermediate scrutiny.

Finally, Alan Gottlieb is not an attorney (according to Wikipedia) but is  is the Chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, Founder of the Second Amendment Foundation.  The SAF, as I understand it, funds Gura’s and other gun-rights lawsuits, but also promotes knowledge of the 2A and its history.

Jewish Marksman’s Thoughts on Assault Weapons Bans

Short answer: Banning so-called assault weapons will not save lives. Such bans are nothing more than an “assault” on a sub-culture that some do not understand, and therefore fear and demonize.

I. Digression on cosmetics.

A. Color
I have written before about how so-called assault weapons like the AR-15 have been maligned by many simply according to its cosmetics.  It “looks” like something evil and menacing, no doubt due to it’s black color (sorry, but the fact is that throughout the history of Western culture, the color black is associated with evil, death and disease) and prominence in violent Vietnam-era war movies like Full Metal Jacket.

So first let’s look at some examples of fully functional AR-15s which are cosmetically less menacing:

Do you see how powerfully colors effect human perception and emotion?  Changing the color allows you tho view the AR-15 rationally and with intelligence, as opposed to emotion.  It took Americans hundreds of years to overcome using color as a basis to judge human beings, and some of them haven’t quite made it all the way.  Why would the public consciousness about black rifles be any different?  Now you are equipped to use your intellect instead of emotion.

B. Cosmetic/Ergonomic Features
Our legal system is governed by statutes and regulations, not feelings.  This means law makers must define what makes one rifle an “assault rifle” and another not.  Uninformed law makers having conjured up the term “assault rifle” simply fall back on cosmetic features.  For example, a rifle’s having a pistol grip is usually one element of being termed an “assault rifle.”  As you can see in the pictures immediately above, the shooting hand holds the AR-15 similar to a pistol.  And this matters…why exactly?  Below is an example of a M1A rifle, used by the US military prior to adopting the AR-15, and actually making a comeback because in most configurations it shoots a more powerful cartridge than the AR-15.  Note that it does not have a pistol grip like most AR-15s have:

The pistol grip is just an ergonomic preference.  Some people prefer them for comfort, some people don’t.  A pistol grip has nothing to do with the deadliness of a firearm.

Other “assault weapon” features lawmakers have identified is the presence of a bayonet lug.  Yep, the fact that a bayonet can be easily attached to the rifle is, supposedly, a great threat to public safety.  Actually, the reason the bayonet lug remains on many AR-15s today is that tripod manufacturers have developed mounts to attach there, helping shooters who like to shoot from tripods.  I don’t know of anybody who has ever actually attached a bayonet to their AR-15, and I believe that 99% of AR-15 owners don’t even own or care to own a bayonet.

As you can see, once you learn about these so-called “evil features” that define a so-called “assault weapon,” you begin to see that behind the curtain sits an uninformed fool.  The politicians who scrabble together the legislation have no education regarding firearms, and are navigating by feel.  Now you know better.

II. Reasons why an assault weapons ban will not save lives.

A. Pistol vs. Rifle Caliber Irrelevant at Close Range

Modern pistol chamberings are more than effective at killing at close range, including but not limited to: 9mm, .45ACP, .40S&W and .357SIG.  For example, on April 16, 2007, on the campus of Virginia Tech, Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others using a pistol chambered in 9mm as well as one chambered in .22LR, the latter being one of the weakest pistol calibers available.  In 1999 the Columbine massacre primarily involved 9mm rounds.  9mm is by far the most popular handgun chambering round worldwide, with .45ACP a close second in the U.S.  Therefore, concerns over weapons chambered in more powerful rifle rounds are moot, because common pistol calibers are already extremely effective.  Banning certain firearms, in part because they are chambered in powerful rifle rounds will not save lives.

By way of analogy, this is akin to banning 500 horse power sports cars out of concerns that they have the ability to travel far in excess of a 75 MPH highway speed limit.  Such a ban would be senseless because even a 250 HP motor can accelerate a car to dangerous speeds, and in fact even a 120 HP motor can.  All modern cars can hit 125 MPH and above, even with only 4 cylinders, which is extremely dangerous on trafficked roads in the US.  Worrying about and banning a car that can hit 150 MPH or 160 MPH is somewhat pointless, and in point of fact, AFAIK there is no legal limitation on horsepower or how fast a car is capable of going with respect to being sold, manufactured or possessed in the US.

Concern over cartridge power might be relevant if indeed mass shootings ever took place at distances of 100 yards or more, but these are extremely rare, and in any case, a typical hunting rifle would be a more effective tool for that task.  In 1966, this is what a shooter did on a Texas college campus, killing several students from a tower at long range using a hunting-style rifle.  It is true that in 2002 the so-called Beltway sniper used and AR-15, but in that case the rifle was used in a manner similar to a hunting rifle, i.e. one well placed shot for each kill and not as a rapid-fire weapon.  The shooter took only a single shot from one location hidden inside the trunk of a car, and the driver then sped away to a completely new location.

B. Magazine capacity irrelevant and banning high capacity magazines will not save lives.

I blogged separately on this point, so go read that post for that argument.

C. Semi-automatic irrelevant and will not save lives.

This argument is based on pure ignorance of what revolvers based on 19th century designs are still capable of, primarily because revolvers re no longer featured much in movies and TV.  But some sportsmen still use them, and millions are still used for self defense.  With practice, a revolver is just as capable of being a tool for mass murder:

Even a cowboy lever action rifle can inflict serious damage:

Again, this 1800′s-era technology in the three videos above.

In conclusion, gun ban legislation is conjured up by folks who have very little or any knowledge of firearms at all.  Clearly, any firearm is capable of killing large numbers of people in a short amount of time.  Therefore, bans on so-called “assault weapons” is nothing more than smoke and mirrors designed to:

a. Give the public (and politicians) a false sense of security and control over violence.
b. Distract from the fact that the US has deplorable mental health care policies.
c. Distract from the fact that pop culture pumped out by Hollywood and video game makers contributes to a culture of violence.
d. Attack people on the conservative end of the political spectrum, who are more likely to own firearms and oppose gun bans.
e. Attack people who belong to the sub-culture of gun enthusiasts, who others don’t understand and therefore fear and demonize.  Jews have known and suffered this trait of human culture for centuries.

Jewish Marksman’s Thoughts on Magazine Capacity and Proposed Bans

Short answer: banning high capacity magazines will not save lives.

1. Reason #1: Magazines can be quickly swapped, even before they are empty (i.e. when convenient for the shooter) such that whether a shooter carries one 30-round magazine or three 10-round magazines makes no difference.  Check out USAMU member Travis Tomasie:

If you watched carefully, he only took 6 shots from each magazine!  I think the video speaks for itself, case closed.

2. Reason #2: Magazines are based on the exact same design as a simple PEZ dispenser.  It is very easy to either modify an existing magazine or make a new one into a “high capacity magazine.”  If someone set on mass murder cannot buy one, he/she will just make one.

It seems to me that most people who propose bans on high capacity magazines don’t really know what a magazine is or how it functions.  So hopefully some of them will read this.  If as a kid (or adult) you ever ate PEZ candy with PEZ dispenser, you need to understand that firearms magazines are pretty much designed exactly the same way.  The website collectingpez.com has this diagram of a PEZ dispenser taken apart (and what kid didn’t take his/hers apart?):

And here is a Hello Kitty PEZ dispenser in action:

I think you can see it would not take a mechanical genius to create a “high capacity” PEZ dispenser.  Just lengthen the inner sleeve and inner sleeve spring.  It can be done with simple hand tools, or if you want to get serious, use a “3d Printer” (an inexpensive home CNC machine).

Most firearms magazines are no different.  Here is a diagram of the internals of a Glock handgun magazine:

And here is a disassembled AR-15 magazine:

So unless you are the kind of person that struggles to change a light bulb, I think you can grasp the concept that magazines are primitive devices that can and are made and modified at home.