(Editor’s note: This is Part 1 of Chuck Norris’ two-part series on reducing violent crime in the U.S.)
Last week, I made an audio recording endorsing the re-election of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel’s general election on Jan. 22.
I explained in the endorsement, “You might think I’m a tough guy in my films, but in a rough neighborhood like the Middle East, Israel has his own tough guy. His name is Bibi Netanyahu” (the prime minister’s nickname).
Netanyahu’s leadership and strength were evident as far back as 1967, when he was a part of the Israel Defense Force’s elite commando unit, Sayeret Matkal. And they were just as obvious in public service through the years, as I added in my endorsement: “Bibi brought the pressing issue of Israel’s security to the world, speaking loudly and clearly to the United Nations and in Congress, bringing the world together to put sanctions on Iran. He has raised a wall along the whole southern border of Israel, stopped the missiles from raining on Israel and showed Hamas they will not be tolerated. He also made the bravest decision in securing the release of Gilad Shalit,” an Israeli sports columnist and former soldier who was abducted inside Israel by Hamas militants.
I concluded the audio recording by encouraging Israeli citizens: “So vote for Benjamin Netanyahu, because a strong prime minister is a strong Israel.”
Why else would I endorse an Israeli prime minister when I don’t live in the Holy Land? Because a strong prime minister helps to maintain a peaceful Middle East and reflects a democratic America.
As our ally, Israel is also a model from which we can learn, too: from the intrinsic value of the Jewish religion to Israel’s fortitude and security. And with the deep pains and grief over the years from so many mass shootings in U.S. schools, Israel stands as a beacon of light how to protect our children in public places.
First, though Israeli law does not guarantee the right to bear arms as the U.S. Constitution does, private citizens can obtain gun licenses for defense, hunting or sport. For those who legally own guns, carrying a firearm openly or concealed in a public place is allowed without a permit.
Most citizens are trained to use weapons in Israel’s mandatory military service. And when there is an outburst of violence in Israel, gun ownership is immediately expanded to those who hold a certain rank in the military.
True, Israel has fewer guns per capita than the U.S., but it’s also a tiny country with virtually no opportunity for hunting or other recreational use of firearms. Anti-gun advocates love to point out that there are only about 500,000 weapons that are privately owned in Israel, but that’s in a country (area) that is only about one-fifteenth the size of California or one-twenty-fifth the size of Texas!
When it comes to guns, it’s not the number of them that is critical but how and where they are used. For example, Israel mandated armed guards at the entrances to all schools in 1995, and those guards are backed up by special police forces. Despite that school defenses are primarily intended to thwart terrorists, they also deter any would-be psychos who would cause harm to their children.
According to even CBS News, Israeli schools have only suffered from two shootings in the past 40 years: one in 1974 (22 children and three adults) and another in 2008 (eight youth).
As a result of Israel’s tough culture, the Holy Land suffers minimal amounts of casualties from guns. For example:
- In 2009, the total annual deaths’ resulting from firearms was 139.
- According to Israeli police data, the rate of violent offenses of all types in Israel declined from 1999 (31 offenses per 1,000 persons) to 2008 (23 offenses per 1,000 persons).
- Violent crime fell by 17 percent from 2007-2011, according to Israel’s Ministry of Public Security.
- Even in the years where organized, juvenile, trafficking and drug crime increased, a disproportionate amount of offenses were carried out by immigrants and Arabs, according to the Jerusalem Post and the National Council for the Child.
- Seventy-four percent of the Israeli public feels a high sense of personal security, placing the country fourth among all OECD countries surveyed.
In 2011, even the U.S. Department of State rated the crime level in Israel as “medium” in its “Israel 2011 Crime and Safety Report: Tel Aviv.” It elaborated, “Tel Aviv sustains a low rate of violent crime compared to other similarly-sized metropolitan cities. The most common crimes are vehicle thefts, petty larcenies, and residential burglaries with incidents of violent organized crime increasing. Auto theft in Israel occurs frequently, and the recovery of stolen automobiles is rare. Home burglaries are common in more affluent neighborhoods, and though rare, burglaries may occur while the residents are home. Historically, these residential break-ins have been non-violent.”
Don’t misunderstand me. There are more than just firearm factors that contribute to reduced rates of violent crime in Israel. For example:
- The City Without Violence program has not only posted CCTV cameras across city centers but also requires greater cooperation between schools, welfare officials, central government and local government to reduce violence.
- Despite limited reasons for capital punishment, Israeli culture and government are generally tougher on crimes and criminals than the U.S.
- As with most Middle East cultures, Israel generally frowns upon and cracks down on disrespect, disobedience and juvenile delinquency by solutions relating to parental and family responsibility.
- Though conservatism is waning in Israel, recent surveys show that citizens there are more morally conservative than they often convey.
- Leaders like Prime Minister Netanyahu believe that religion (Judaism) is at the heart of transforming and maintaining civility in individuals and the country.
- Israel trains its citizens to use firearms through mandatory military service, which is compulsory for everyone who reaches the age of 18.
- When it comes to the battlefield, Israel is known among the global community of countries for taking a tougher retributive stand against anyone who stands against or attacks her.
- The first site most visitors to Israel see are ubiquitous soldiers and security personnel bearing public display of automatic weapons
So, anti-gun advocates can’t use Israel’s tougher gun laws and regulations as justification for the U.S. government’s over-reaching restrictions on our Second Amendment rights. Why? Because Israel is tougher in comparison to the U.S. in almost everything it does.
Back at the home of the brave, the U.S. faces multiple mass shootings on academic campuses and the majority still refuses to post any type of armed guard or even unarmed security at schools to protect our children. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 70 percent of public schools do not have a police officer, and more than half (57 percent) have no security staff. There is an old-fashioned term for that lack of security response in these times: stupid.
Also compare Israel’s plan to reduce terrorism and violent crime with our own President Obama, who announced Wednesday that a new and tougher assault-weapons ban and a 10-round limit on magazines would be a part of his comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence (a.k.a., limit our Second Amendment rights), including 23 steps without congressional consent. Immediately after the president spoke, he signed nearly two-dozen actions increasing government firearm regulations via presidential executive orders.
Regarding a solution to reduce the rash of U.S. school shooting sprees, Oren Shemtov, CEO of Israel’s Academy of Security and Investigation, and one of 16 people in Israel authorized to train those who instruct school guards – which he has done for 22 years – told Fox News that “gun-toting teachers could, at the very least, buy time for kids to escape while police race to the scene.” Shemtov explained, “Two (armed) teachers would have kept (the Newtown shooter) occupied for 45 seconds each.”
He further added in reflection of school security in Israel, “At one point the Interior Ministry mandated that a certain percentage of teachers be armed but … due to increased terror attacks, private guards were mandated at all schools.” He said the two most important keys to defending children at schools anywhere are armed guards and armed teacher response teams.
It’s beyond sickening to me that the U.S. posts armed guards to protect such places as historical monuments, politicians’ offices and presidential libraries, but when it comes to our children – our greatest and most precious blessings from God and the inheritors of our republic, we repeatedly throw them to the winds of chance and wiles of crazy men who could, and would, obtain armed weapons even if we abolished our Second Amendment rights entirely.
Tell me this: If various robbers repeatedly storm-trooped your house and stabbed your loved ones, would you try to rally Washington to minimize the production and distribution of butcher knives or simply post a sign outside your front door as I have outside mine: a picture of a gun and the few words: “We don’t call 9-1-1″?
How many school massacres will it take before we protect our children at places they live in mass nearly eight hours a day, every day?
And which one of our fine law enforcement or military personnel (in any branch) wouldn’t consider it their greatest duty and honor to take a shift as a guard in front of our schools protecting those precious souls?
(Next week in Part 2, I will prove once and for all why gun bans don’t reduce violent crime.)
Chuck Norris is the star of more than 20 films and the long-running TV series "Walker, Texas Ranger." His latest book is entitled The Official Chuck Norris Fact Book." Learn more about his life and ministry at his official website, ChuckNorris.com.