Green Room

Why Israel has no Sandy Hooks

posted at 2:07 pm on December 17, 2012 by

A thoughtful piece at Tablet by Liel Leibovitz on why a country brimming with guns, that’s been under siege for more than 60 years, almost never sees the sort of mass shootings that the U.S. does. Spoiler alert: It’s not because the gun laws are unusually strict, or strictly enforced.

If the United States, itself awash with weapons, wishes to benefit from Israel’s experience, it must make sure it learns the right lessons. The first and most universal one is that ever more stringent gun control is bad policy: As is the case with drugs, as was the case with liquor during Prohibition, the strict banning of anything does little but push the market underground into the hands of criminals and thugs. Rather than spend fortunes and ruin lives in a futile attempt to eradicate every last trigger in America, we would do well to follow Israel’s example and educate gun owners about their rights and responsibilities, so as to foster a culture of sensible and mindful gun ownership…

In Israel, still a somewhat socialist country, mental health services are ready available, for free, to anyone. And because so many young Israelis undergo traumatic experiences in the course of their military service, a whole host of nonprofit organizations are on hand to provide counseling and treatment. We must do the same. Rather than pretend that it was the objects in their hands rather than the afflictions in their minds that led Lanza and Holmes and Cho and the others to perpetrate their monstrosities, we should offer help to those young men and their families. We have no more compassionate route, and no greater hope for peace.

A lecture on responsible gun ownership will reduce accidental shootings but it won’t dissuade James Holmes, Adam Lanza, or Cho Seung-Hui. Two questions, then. One: How long would it take, and how much would it cost, to build a system of mental-health services as robust as Israel’s in the U.S.? Two: What if the local would-be Holmes/Lanza/Cho doesn’t want to use those services? See Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt for more on incentives to seek treatment once the government is more deeply involved.

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Two: What if the local would-be Holmes/Lanza/Cho doesn’t want to use those services? See Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt for more on incentives to seek treatment once the government is more deeply involved.

There has to be some way of making them. Adam Lanza’s high school saw something was amiss with the guy right way and assigned a school psychologist to him. Maybe, in addition to that, they’re required to go to an outpatient center, or something?

changer1701 on December 17, 2012 at 2:14 PM

Rather than spend fortunes and ruin lives in a futile attempt to [fill in the blank]

You’ve described the entire leftist purpose and project — it’s reason for being. Think they’re going to give it up?

rrpjr on December 17, 2012 at 2:21 PM

Everything has a price. Most social workers here in Israel are government employed and many don’t earn a practical salary. There have been recent and past scandals here in Israel on the dilapidation of several mental health care facilities and reported cases of physical and sexual abuse.

High school students usually go straight into the army after high school, so there’s a framework of discipline that you do not have in the US.

There are more difference, making certain claims a comparison between apples and oranges.

And I cannot own a gun here in Israel. My only reason to apply for one is being a home owner and a protector of my family. That will not get me past the permit application. Now, if I lived in Judea and Samaria, that significantly would up my potential. But he in “plain ol’” Jerusalem, the Interior Ministry will quickly stamp REJECT if I apply.

Shy Guy on December 17, 2012 at 2:22 PM

This is why.

sharrukin on December 17, 2012 at 2:29 PM

Does Israel declare schools to be mass victim zones…I mean gun free zones and advertise that fact?

NotCoach on December 17, 2012 at 2:30 PM

And I cannot own a gun here in Israel.

Shy Guy on December 17, 2012 at 2:22 PM

As a citizen of Israel?

NotCoach on December 17, 2012 at 2:32 PM

The Israelis cannot afford fantasy based solutions. About the only time you see them depart from reality based solutions is when the United States insists.

claudius on December 17, 2012 at 3:03 PM

The American mental health system has been decimated by advocacy lawyers. We would prefer to have dozens of sociopathic teens (and adults!) running around than risk the possibility of one sane but eccentric person being erroneously committed to an institution.

Over and over we (and their families!) hear, “Nothing can be done unless they commit a crime.” Problem is, for some of these disturbed people, the first crime is a doozy!

Until we are willing to allow courts to free people on an individual basis, instead of the current class-action format, we will continue to have frequent tragedies like Sandy Hook. I do not pretend to know the answers, but we need to start changing the way dangerous mentally ill people are treated, beginning with the way the courts interpret the word, “dangerous”. There are certainly many people who ought to be in institutions who are walking around our communities.

We also need to allow the mental-health community to come up with solutions for mentally ill people who refuse to take their medications.

momodoom on December 17, 2012 at 3:04 PM

I think if we put the government and private fundraising forces like was used for AIDS into mental illness the world could do great things. When you consider the time frame, the world has done much, in a relatively short time to make a really horrible disease manageable and at affordable limits. We need to duplicate that effort and hopefully it won’t take as long since we are further ahead than we were with AIDS.

Cindy Munford on December 17, 2012 at 3:10 PM

As a citizen of Israel?

NotCoach on December 17, 2012 at 2:32 PM

There is no 2nd Amendment equivalent here. You’ll only get a license if you qualify based on your home or work location or if your job entitles you to it or for special circumstances. But for your average citizen, no, you’re not going to be granted a permit.

Shy Guy on December 17, 2012 at 3:33 PM

This is why.

sharrukin on December 17, 2012 at 2:29 PM

Israeli counter culture.

Shy Guy on December 17, 2012 at 3:34 PM

In Israel, still a somewhat socialist country, mental health services are ready available, for free, to anyone

What if crazy people who are prone to committing massacres don’t check themselves in for treatment?

gwelf on December 17, 2012 at 3:35 PM

There is no 2nd Amendment equivalent here. You’ll only get a license if you qualify based on your home or work location or if your job entitles you to it or for special circumstances. But for your average citizen, no, you’re not going to be granted a permit.

Shy Guy on December 17, 2012 at 3:33 PM

That’s a shame. Are you a citizen of Israel?

NotCoach on December 17, 2012 at 3:35 PM

In the early years of the Jewish State, the schools and isolated kibbutz were mostly unarmed, and were easy pickings for the random terrorist group.
Then, they armed the staff, and trained them.
After finding out that attacking schools and isolated kibbutz was not without a cost, the terrorists put their time to tasks that involved a lower personal cost.

Another Drew on December 17, 2012 at 3:37 PM

Are you a citizen of Israel?

NotCoach on December 17, 2012 at 3:35 PM

Yes. 10:45PM here in Jerusalem.

Shy Guy on December 17, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Israel does have strict gun control rules Allah.

lexhamfox on December 17, 2012 at 3:50 PM

Israel does have strict gun control rules Allah.

lexhamfox on December 17, 2012 at 3:50 PM

We sure do! We had a neighbor whose house was broken into years ago and his pistol was stolen. He got hell from the police. Frankly, I don’t know why he wasn’t put in jail. The negligence began with their flimsy front door.

Shy Guy on December 17, 2012 at 3:55 PM

The relevant Wiki entry claims that most of Israel’s gun restrictions were imposed after the Rabin murder. If residents of the territories are nonetheless treated more permissively than the average Israeli, I have to wonder about the political logic involved. Did the state apparatus expect a settler putsch to start in Tel Aviv?

Seth Halpern on December 17, 2012 at 4:33 PM

What if crazy people who are prone to committing massacres don’t check themselves in for treatment?

gwelf on December 17, 2012 at 3:35 PM

When you sell it as a room with free XBOX 360 24/7 with meals and laundry service, you’re going to get people faking mental illness to get in.

TexasDan on December 17, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Does Israel declare schools to be mass victim zones…I mean gun free zones and advertise that fact?

NotCoach on December 17, 2012 at 2:30 PM

At most schools in Israel -at least in the city I lived in- there are armed guards at the school gates. They check guests in and check your bags if you look sketch. In my town all High, Middle, elementary and K schools, have armed guards. For example, my High School had 2- one for each gate.

aebloo on December 17, 2012 at 5:04 PM

It is really probably just a matter of numbers. America has had less than a 50 mass murders by guns in the last 30 years. Assuming a population of 300,000,000 for America and a population as high as 10,000,000 for Israel. Proportionately, Israel would have had less than 2 mass murders by guns in the last 30 years.

Ira on December 17, 2012 at 5:28 PM

Liel Leibovitz’ analysis is pretty hackneyed. As pointed out by others here, Israel is a much smaller country than the US. (8 million people vs. 311 million people). More people = more nutjobs. A better analysis of Israel would be the fact that, because they are constantly under attack from their neighbors, people don’t have to make up imaginary targets for their angst/hate/whatever. There’s also more of a sense of “were all in this together”, so people there look out for one another and families are a hell of a lot closer.

Dagnar on December 17, 2012 at 5:45 PM