"A Weapon... A Weapon... A Deadly Weapon...
A Weapon... A Weapon... A Deadly Weapon..."
She just kept saying it over and over and over again. We have it on a family home video, and it has since then been a little inside joke.
Well, I think about that little song often while living in Israel because I see guns all the time. Big guns... small guns... guns everywhere. Most of the time they are strapped onto the backs of soldiers, but civilians carry them too.
This week three civilians with guns caught my eye. The first one was a middle aged man, well dressed, tall, with patient mannerisms. He was waiting at my bus stop with a hand gun in a HOLSTER around his waste. Today we road home on a bus with a young man who had a big M16 on his back, the same as the soliders, except he was wasn't in uniform. The most interesting of all was a young woman I ran into a few days ago. My gun carrying, well accessorized, southern friend, Trinidy, would have been envious of this chick.
She had short sassy blond hair, and she was wearing big earings, a light pink tank top, skinny jeans, and a feminine looking backpack. It was a neutral color with Art Nouveau flowers embroidered on the pockets. To complete the trendy and girly look of the bag, she had little stuffed animals hanging from the zipper—and just below the dangling animals—a HOLSTER with a handgun.
Yep. Annie Get Your Gun goes Euro style in the Middle East.
I'll admit, I used to be freaked out by all the guns. I was afraid one might accidentally go off and shoot somebody, or someone might flip out and open fire, but a few experiences last summer changed my mind.
Anyone remember the bulldozer terrorists? On two occasions, Arab guys driving bulldozers decided to start running over people, cars and even flipped over a bus. Several people were killed. During the first attack, the driver was shot by an off duty soldier carrying his gun. The second attack was ended in a similar fashion when a civilian with a gun shot and killed the driver just minutes before he murdered my boss's attorney... who did end up losing his leg.
Besides the connection to one of the victims, these attacks hit close to home because I had just passed through both areas minutes before they took place. Had I been running 10 minutes late... Let's just praise the Lord I wasn't. Fortunately, Israeli's are some of the bravest people I have ever met and they looked out of each other on both of those days. I'm sorry for the families of the Arab men who lost their lives, but I'm thankful that they weren't able to do more damage than they did.
The real and apparent need for defense against acts of terror was my first revelation.
The second revelation came one night after Shabbat Dinner. Devin was home for the weekend and we decided to have our friend, Jesse, over. After we ate, we talked a little, and watched a movie. The lady I was living with had long since gone to sleep. Thankfully she had a guest room for Devin in her bed'n'breakfeast style flat, but Jesse had to leave. The buses stop running on Fridays around 4pm so I asked Jesse if he was going to get a taxi.
"No, I'm going to walk." He said in his upbeat "Jolly Dutchmen" tone. It was like 1:00 am and he lived a good 45 minutes away, on foot.
I started to panic! "Are you going to be safe? You better call us when you get home! Maybe you should just sleep on the couch..."
I was sincerely nervous for his safety. The two men then started laughing at me. You see, Israel doesn't have violent crime. At least not nearly the amount in America. In that reguard, I really do feel more safe in Israel than in the US. Jesse was just as safe walking home in Jerusalem in the dark as he was in the day light.
More guns do not equal more violence—that was my second revelation.
Since Israel has mandatory military service, most of the population is trained in how to properly use a gun and most people chose to carry one for the rest of their lives. Devin often talks about how much he misses his M16 short from the army. The military service could definitely affect the low crime rate in a nation of so many guns. It could also be the low rate of divorce and single parent homes, but I haven't done the research yet to really know.
Meanwhile, I no longer see all the guns and freak out. Instead, I'm thankful that I live in a nation, amongst a people, who are willing to lay their lives down for each others safety, and not just in theory, but in deed and action.
Here's Devin with his M16 while guarding the Israeli/Egyptian boarder.
Violence and the Break Down of the Traditional Family
Shabbat Letter - Moving in Formation This was right after the bulldozer attacks.