Guns Make Us Less Safe
On Jan. 10, the Baltimore Jewish Times ran an article about local Jews buying handguns in response to rising anti-Semitic violence (“Pursuing Strength of Arms”). While fear is an understandable response, guns make us all less safe, Jews included, for two life or death reasons.
First, all available data shows an owner of a handgun is more likely to use it to commit suicide or accidentally shoot themselves or a family member than to use it successfully in self-defense. A gun in the home makes everyone who lives in or visits it less safe. According to the Pew Research Center, 60% of gun deaths in the U.S. in 2017 were a result of suicide.
Second, Jewish history teaches us that our Diaspora communities are safest when we live in solidarity with our neighbors of all backgrounds. We must seek safety by building strong bonds and close relationships with our Muslim friends, our black neighbors of all faiths, and immigrant folks; to name only three groups for whom, like us, safety can come only with justice and only by solidarity, and like us are sometimes threatened by racism and other biases that are more likely to become fatal when those who wield these ideologies also wield societal privilege and guns.
At home in the Diaspora, rooted here in Baltimore, we must recognize that it takes more strength to be brave than to be afraid. We must recognize, too, that while guns make their owners’ families less safe, armed guards and police officers may make many of our neighbors — including marginalized Jews of color, queer Jews, and working class Jews — less safe. We must recognize danger is far from contained, but rather is contagious, and so Jews in Baltimore will only become truly safer when all people in Baltimore are safer.
Recognizing these hard truths, we must seek safety through solidarity — the actions that stem from knowing our lives are bound up with our neighbors’ — by linking arms rather than carrying them.
—Owen Silverman Andrews