Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association (NRA) Wayne LaPierre has come under fire for using the state of Israel as an example of how to avert school shootings, saying the country should be emulated in its policies of having armed guards in every school.
LaPierre has been speaking publicly in an attempt to deflect blame away from gun control following the Newtown school massacre, which resulted in the death of 20 young children and seven adults.
“Israel had a whole lot of school shootings, until they did one thing. They said we’re going to stop it and they put armed security in every school and they have not had a problem since then,” LaPierre said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, told the New York Daily News that the situation in Israel was “fundamentally different” from that in the United States.
“We didn’t have a series of school shootings, and they had nothing to do with the issue at hand in the United States. We had to deal with terrorism,” Palmor told the newspaper.
“What removed the danger was not the armed guards but an overall anti-terror policy and anti-terror operations which brought street terrorism down to nearly zero over a number of years,” he said. “It would be better not to drag Israel into what is an internal American discussion,” he added.
“There is no comparison between maniacs with psychological problems opening fire at random to kill innocent people and trained terrorists trying to murder Israeli children,” Reuven Berko, a retired Israeli Army colonel and senior police officer, told the Daily News.
In fact, restrictions on gun ownership in Israel have been tightened on recent years. “Israeli citizens are not allowed to carry guns unless they are serving in the army or working in security-related jobs that require them to use a weapon,” said Berko.
“The attempt to compare the two tragedies is absurd,” said Prof. Gerald Steinberg of Bar-Ilan University. “Palestinian terror attacks like the one at Maalot — the goal of which was to use the children as hostages in order to free other terrorists — are totally different from crimes committed by deranged people with guns.”
Israel has strict firearms licensing and supervision. Licenses must be renewed regularly and cannot be issued to people with a history of mental problems or a criminal background. “In a country where hundreds of thousands of people carry firearms, it is essential to manage the training, licensing and authorization of those who wish to be armed,” Yakov Amit, head of the firearms licensing department of the Public Security Ministry, told the Daily News.