Daniel Winston: Stopping Mass Shootings — A View from Israel

A general view taken on January 13, 2017 shows the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. An international conference being held in Paris January 15, 2107 is the latest of many bids to forge peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel …
THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty

I have carried a firearm 24/7 since 1994 to protect my family, my neighbors, and everyone else in my vicinity as I travel throughout the land of Israel. Although I live in a community in Judea that has seen two of its members brutally murdered by infiltrating terrorists, I find that I am on an even higher level of alert in cities like Jerusalem than when I am at home since these are places with many more hostile terrorists and many more blind spots.

As a medic with Israel’s national ambulance service, I have seen video of actual terror attacks. The footage shows terrorists using knifes, axes, guns, trucks, front-loaders, and just about anything else they can get their hands on.

What’s always amazing is how fast things happen. Within less than two seconds, someone previously thought to be an innocent pedestrian whips out a knife, stabs a heavily-armed soldier with full body armor several times, and runs out of frame before the soldier can even begin to respond. Sometimes an armed civilian is able to intervene while the terrorist is attacking a soldier.

I have seen a terrorist plow his car into a bus stop full of people, get out, and starts hacking at the survivors with an axe until he is confronted by a citizen with a gun. He is so determined to kill Jews that even after receiving round after round in the chest, he just keeps getting back up like the Energizer Terrorist.

I have been on the scene for numerous terror attacks and have seen how civilians armed with just a pistol, and of course soldiers, are able to stop a two-victim scenario from exploding into a mass casualty incident with dozens dead and wounded.

What I cannot comprehend is why people propose gun control as a means of combating gun violence. Yes, childish word-games sound very strong, like the slogan, “No Guns, No Shootings.” The problem with these cute phrases is that they seek to simplify the complex in the hope that our desires can change reality if we just believe really really hard.

Obviously, the world does not work that way, and those who fail to recognize it do so at the risk of enabling bad guys to run amok in a “gun-free zone” where they are the only ones with guns.

This is not to say that gun ownership should be a free-for-all. In Israel, people have to have a healthy mind and body, have no criminal record, take a serious pre-licensing shooting course, and be retested every four years. That said, There have been numerous occasions where a good guy or girl with a gun has stopped the terrorist early enough to save dozens or hundreds of others who otherwise would have just been more fish in the barrel. What part of this is not clear to the gun control folks?

Most Israelis are determined to not be terrorized into submission by terror and continue to pursue the well-armed moral high ground towards a glorious future in our land. Above all, we strive to keep open the channels of prayer to the Almighty in the Holy Land, as the best shot is only as good as His guiding hand allows.

I would humbly add my own personal prayer that radical gun control advocates around the world wake up and see the real dangers inherent in their extreme misunderstanding of the nature of violence. Maybe, just maybe, that awakening will transpire before any more good people get killed in eminently stoppable mass shootings.

Daniel Winston is a therapist and writer living in Gush Etzion, Judea, Israel. He volunteers with the MDA national ambulance service, the Israel Police Search and Rescue Unit, and is a guest columnist for Down Range with AWR Hawkins.

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