If it hadn’t been for the photo of me next to last edition’s article (“Josh Levy: The Best Defense – Get a Gun”), I wouldn’t have recognized myself in the article’s cartoonish description of my views. The article contained imagined quotations about topics that were never discussed, and misrepresented my statements on the topics that were discussed. Perhaps the article would have been more accurate had the author not refused my offer to use a copy of the full audio recording I had made (with his consent). To provide a sense of how flagrant the errors were, below are relevant excerpts from the recording, followed by the corresponding words from the article.
On Tanach and self-defense, I said: “What we see in Tanach is a recognition that there is evil in the world that sometimes requires armed self-defense. We see this as early as Avraham rescuing Lot from his kidnappers...Nowhere in Tanach do I detect the idea that it is a good idea for Jews to be helpless. And then, historically, I have not thought of an instance where it was good for Jews to be at the mercy of other people. Of course, I distinguish between the use of self-defense and the use of other sorts of violence.” I said also: “As a condition of servitude, [the Israelites] were not armed, but ‘they went up out of Egypt armed.’ They were no longer slaves, they were ‘armed’… There’s nothing in Tanach that I see that suggests that the Israelites should not be personally armed. I see laws about the misuse of those arms, but I do not see laws that forbid the possession and use of those arms. I don’t see any evidence for bans.” (The article stated inaccurately: “Levy believes Jewish law consistently encourages self-defense and does not limit that right in any way.”)
On Zionism and Israeli gun restrictions, I said: “The Zionist dream has Jewish self-reliance and self-defense at its heart...I can’t make any comment on what happens in Israel except to say that gun bans or severe restrictions on self-defense are not consistent with Zionist ideals…” (The article ignored this and instead stated something I didn’t say: “[Levy] thinks that restrictions on gun ownership in Israel cannot be compared to the situation in the United States.”)
On the Left’s anti-gun mission, I said: “[T]he Left…wants to completely remove the right to self-defense…and every time there’s some new bloody flag they can wave, they’re going to wave it and take away more. They have never ever advocated preserving the right as it is… Instead, every chance they get, they advocate more and more restrictions, and it’s obvious that their goal is the elimination of guns.” (The article stated far too broadly: “Levy told JLBC, ‘All efforts to impose gun regulation are calculated to lead to the confiscation of all weapons from all individuals.’”)
On rising gun ownership, I said: “Fortunately, a lot of Americans—especially women, by the way—understand basic logic. They understand that if there is the threat of crime against them, they might want to have a gun. This is why applications for gun permits skyrocketed after Newtown in Newtown. This is why, for instance, women are among the fastest growing groups of gun purchasers. This is why a lot of people even on the Left like to have a gun for self-defense.” (Again the article ignored what I said and stated something I didn’t say: “Levy believes that, in fact, women are in special need of gun protection because they are more vulnerable to assault because of their size and strength.”)
Finally, I never said that “the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”; or that “the personal use of firearms is the only reliable defense available”; or anything about “Hitler, Stalin, and China” or “gun suicides.” And when I was asked repeatedly about tanks, missiles, or Tommy guns, my response was straightforward: such questions are red herrings since the current debate is about bans on rifles, shotguns, handguns and ammunition.
There are many more mistakes that I do not have space to correct. But if it’s in last edition’s article, chances are it’s not what I said.
For local gun training programs at any level, go to www.gunforhire.com. To help preserve the right of armed self-defense in New Jersey, go to http://www.nj2as.com/ and http://www.anjrpc.org/.
By Josh Levy