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Kosher Firearms

Meet the southern, Orthodox face of gun rights

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At first glance, Bill Bernstein—an Ivy League-educated, ultra-Orthodox, conservative gun dealer—seems like a perfect fit for a profile in the Nashville Scene, a local weekly magazine with a penchant for covering its town’s more peculiar citizens. The article shows Bernstein in a host of gosh-darn-wouldn’t-you-believe-it situations: Shooting an AR-15 in the woods with a German buddy, reading the megillah on Purim, taking a stab at Holocaust humor, referring to the popular German handgun Heckler and Koch as “Hitler’s Cock”—all against the backdrop of a corner of Tennessee the writer describes as the “Bible Belt’s buckle.” It’s a classic fish-out-of-water story, if fish had peyes and semi-automatic firearms.

But the “quirky local color” aspect crumbles as soon as Bernstein is given the opportunity to speak on the record. Far from a charming kook, he is one of the more eloquent spokesmen for gun rights that I—myself a strong advocate of same—have heard in a long time.

When he is asked, for example, why people should have guns, Bernstein replies, “The bigger question is, ‘Why shouldn’t they?’ Guns do lots and lots of different things, just like any tool. Some provide self-defense, some provide sporting opportunities, some provide hunting. … Whatever activities that particular gun implies, people should have the right to do that.” He correctly mentions the overall failure of gun control programs to effectively fight crime, and is on target when he lectures a customer about the terrific responsibility that comes with taking a gun into one’s hand: If you shoot someone, he says, seemingly without much of his customary bravado, you have to be ready for the burdensome possibility of taking a life.

Bottom line? We gun enthusiasts are not necessarily nutjobs—even if we sometimes seem as out of place in polite society as, well, an Oxford-trained Orthodox Jew in the woods of Tennessee.

Glorious Bastard [Nashville Scene]
Earlier: Calling Out Bloomberg on Gun Control

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Avrohom Wachs says:

I agree with statement that a gun is just a tool. A gun can’t shoot on its own. Perhaps the sensible way to go, is to examine who wants a gun or guns and for what purposes? The gun lobby would have you believe that restrictions are un-American. Keeping weapons out of the reach of the mentally unstable is responsible government!

Liel, do you condone owning assault rifles? What about the fact that there are 44 Million gun owners in the US, but 192 Million guns? You can’t gloss over this stuff. It’s support for gun culture by sensible guys like Bernstein who perpetuate these statistics, and allow others (read: crazies) to own guns. We don’t need gun control; we need to curb our obsession with violence.

Isn’t it bad enough that trust in our fellow humans has eroded so badly? Now we have to add more fear to the mix. So what that this clever pilpul is coming from an Oxford-educated Jew? Metaphorically speaking, whoever said the Devil was stupid?

Isn’t it possible to favor gun rights as well as peace? To me the two don’t seem contradictory, at least in a world where not everyone has your/my/our/anyone else’s best interest at heart. As for trusting our fellow humans, I trust everyone — but only to a certain point, which experience shows me isn’t the same point to everyone.

philip mann says:

Nachmanides says plainly that free people carry arms. look it up.

Chana Batya says:

@Eli, I agree.

Repeal the 2nd Amendment.

And what kind of Jew likes to hunt, particularly because animals we hunt would not be schected and so couldn’t be eaten, therefore, they would have been killed for sport, and what is less kosher than that??

The “arms” to which Nachmanides referred weren’t guns, and they weren’t automatic and generally required the user to be pretty close to the target, all of which would lead to much more prudent use of them.

Alexander Diamond says:

No one has been able to clearly articulate why persons who are responsible citizens and qualified to own a gun or guns, should not be allowed to do so. It is beyond me to understand the arrogance that goes with this attitude. To claim a fear of guns is a joke. Is your overactive imagination going to ban my ownership of guns? Please, get a grip.


I believe that I succinctly stated how America glorifies gun culture and violence. It is the thought pattern you have (everyone should be allowed to own a gun) that also leads to the thought that everyone should be allowed to USE a gun. By which I mean, people see themselves as capable or compelled to assassinate Jewish politicians in Arizona. Don’t perpetuate gun culture.

To the other eli-

First, a Jewish politician was not assassinated in Arizona, though sadly others were.

The attacks occurred because a threatening and paranoid person was not arrested and/or hospitalized – because laws make locking up people like Loughner extremely difficult.

The problem is not the guns but allowing mentally ill and dangerous people to roam free and with access to all sorts of things which can serve as weapons – including cars, gasoline, knives and guns. I can attest to other murders and violent crimes without guns which have resulted from our inadequate laws about the dangerously mentally-ill.


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Kosher Firearms

Meet the southern, Orthodox face of gun rights

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