By Cody J. Wisniewski
“Speech is worth one coin, but silence is worth two,” states the Talmud, a central text of Jewish tradition. Perhaps Joe Biden should have favored us with his silence regarding the recent hostage-taking at a Texas synagogue.
Instead, he offered some remarks that didn’t make much sense.
Predictably, the president pushed more gun control, while also admitting this wouldn’t have stopped the synagogue hostage-taker. He made no clear attempt to reconcile this contradiction.
From there, Biden went on to speak disconnectedly about too many guns being purchased in recent times. He assured a journalist that he was working to solve this supposed problem—not crime or terrorism, but “so many guns” being sold.
Biden’s gun control rant came during a short press conference about the events of January 15 when British citizen Malik Faisal Akram took a Rabbi and three congregants hostage at Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. The hostages survived the ordeal unharmed, while Akram was killed after a 10-hour standoff.
Taking questions about the incident, Biden said Akram had apparently purchased a gun “on the street.”
The president was then asked whether the terror incident would have “ramifications for the push to ensure that guns are not available”—an appalling question from the press, given the natural right of self-defense that the Second Amendment is meant to protect.
It would have been good to hear the president push back and clarify that America must never become a country in which “guns are not available.” Instead, here’s how his response began, according to the official White House transcript: “Well, no—well, it does but it also doesn’t,” he said. “The guns are—we should be . . .” At a loss for words, the president landed on a familiar trope: “The idea of background checks are critical.”
But even President Biden could see the contradiction with what he had said only moments ago. Akram had purchased his gun “on the street,” outside any system of background checks.
Biden admitted as much. “But you can’t stop something like this if someone is on the street buying something from somebody else on the street,” he acknowledged. The policies he had just called “critical” would have made no difference.
Stuck, the president seemed to go in a different direction: “Except that there’s too — there’s so many guns that have been sold of late; it’s just ridiculous.”
Biden is correct that Americans have been buying more guns; although that’s hardly ridiculous, given the crime and violence in America’s cities. Indeed, millions of Americans bought a gun for the first time in 2020, a trend that continued in 2021. The increase in gun ownership is clearly related to the nationwide riots of 2020, and continuing record rates of violent crime in 2021.
Biden never even bothered to connect his rambling complaint about “so many guns” being sold back to the synagogue attack. But it’s worth noting that Judaism itself has a robust tradition of acknowledging self-defense rights.
Armed guards, and even armed congregations, are becoming increasingly more common in synagogues throughout the country. What choice do Jews have, with anti-Semitism on the rise and politicians, including Biden himself, slow to acknowledge it. Jews must count on their own measures to protect themselves from incidents of hate.
Meanwhile, Biden — still on the “so many guns” theme — concluded his answer to the press by claiming this alleged oversupply is “because of the failure of us to focus as hard as we should and as consistent as we should on gun purchases, gun sales, ghost guns, and a whole range of things that I’m trying to do.”
Of course, none of this would have stopped Akram from buying a gun on the street, any more than “background checks” would have. But by this point, Biden seemed rather off-track from discussing the hostage-taking by the terrorist at the synagogue. Instead, he was content to complain about Americans buying too many guns, while assuring a journalist he means to do “a whole range of things” about that.
While Biden’s statements were misguided and wrong, they at least offered remarkable insight into the gun control mindset: whatever the problem, the answer is always to demonize guns and to disarm the People, however ineffective they are at stopping criminals. Only now, gun control advocates no longer bother to hold back from saying it out loud.
Cody J. Wisniewski (@TheWizardofLawz) is the Director of Mountain States Legal Foundation’s Center to Keep and Bear Arms. He primarily focuses on Second Amendment issues but is happy so long as he is reminding the government of its enumerated powers and constitutional restrictions.
To learn more about the Center to Keep and Bear Arms’ work and support their fight for your natural right to self-defense—from both man and tyranny—visit www.mslegal.org/2A and donate today!