Keeping with the theme that it takes a good gun with a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun, a Colorado gun store is offering free AR-15 rifles to rabbis.
Mel Bernstein, owner of Dragon Arms in Colorado Springs, became concerned after the Pittsburg synagogue shooting. He decided to do something about it. So, he is offering firearms, ammunition and training to rabbis interested in protecting their flocks. Rabbis can even choose, to a certain degree, what they want. Bernstein is offering a choice between an AR-15 rifle and handgun. He is also providing two magazines and 100 rounds of ammunition.
“Lets say there is a fire in a synagogue,” said Bernstein to KOAA News 5. “What do you grab? You grab a fire extinguisher right? Okay, lets say somebody comes in and starts shooting everybody. What are you going to grab? You grab your AR-15 or a rifle or a handgun.”
At this point, it is unknown if any rabbis have accepted, or even will accept, the offer. However, there has been some interest. Of course, some believe that arming rabbis isn’t the best approach.
Scott Levin with the Colorado Anti Defamation League, thinks that armed security is a good idea, but rabbis with guns would be a distraction. Others feel that a handgun would be more prudent than an AR-15 rifle.
Free AR-15 Rifles & Training
While providing firearms to rabbis for protection is good, Bernstein is also offering training. This is especially good since a gun is only as good as its user. Additionally, synagogues and other religious buildings typically contain parishioners. Training is required to know when to shoot and when not to shoot. Of course, in an attack, timing can be very fluid, and sometimes hard decisions must be made.
In any case, training is even more important than providing a tool. The chances of a mass shooting in church is actually quite rare; just as rare as mass shootings in general. In fact, church leaders probably have a greater chance of being robbed on the street than having to protect their flocks. This is why training is so important. Church leaders tend to be caring individuals. They also don’t typically think tactically. Training is about so much more than using a gun. Good training teaches situational and tactical awareness. It also makes people look around and see what might be a problem, from a suspicious person to an unlocked door or window.
Sure, giving away free AR-15 rifles is awesome, and Bernstein deserves accolades. And rabbis should consider his offer. However, making people think about their own, and others, safety is paramount to prevent becoming a victim.