Column: Gun Violence: A Visitor From Jerusalem Unsafe In Israel Or America

Israelis Efraim Gordon and Yehuda Guetta learned too late that they were not safe whether waiting for a bus in the West Bank or visiting relatives in Baltimore.

Just two weeks prior to the present carnage in Israel and its territories, the 19-year-old Guetta was among the latest victims of Palestinian terrorism, and Gordon, 31, was gunned down possibly in part because Congress refuses to enact nationwide gun-safety laws.

So, yet another American Jewish community is struck by tragedy. It has happened in Brooklyn, Seattle, Overland Park, Kansas, and in the most recent years in Pittsburgh, Poway, California, and Jersey City.

Gordon traveled from Jerusalem to Baltimore to attend his cousin’s wedding during the holiday of Lag B’Omer, then at 12:05 a.m. on Monday, May 3, police found him suffering from a gunshot wound in the heavily Orthodox Park Heights neighborhood in northwest Baltimore, according to JMore, a local Jewish magazine.

He was reportedly shot during a confrontation with three juveniles after he drove up to the home of his aunt and uncle, where he was staying. He later died after being taken by police to a local hospital.

According to JMore, video surveillance from area homes shows the three youths approaching Gordon as he left a car and prepared to enter the house. One of the youths then shot him. No suspects have yet been arrested.

Much closer to Gordon’s home on the day before, three yeshiva students were shot in a drive-by shooting as they waited at a bus stop at the Tapuach Junction in the northern West Bank. Guetta died of his wounds last Wednesday, May 5, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.

What happened to both Gordon and Guetta was inexcusable, though Guetta’s murder should surprise nobody given the merciless hostility of many Palestinians. Is Gordon’s slaying due to the merciless hostility of Republicans and a few Democrats in Congress?

Perhaps Gordon’s fate could have been avoided had Congress enacted gun-safety laws. Gun control may not remove all illegal guns, but it will likely reduce the amount at the outset and more and more as access is cut off over time.

A few Republicans in the Senate have at least given lip service to gun-safety laws, and two Democrats are indirectly blocking progress.

We must deal with a system in which Republicans can readily block legislation with the filibuster, and Democrats who form a fragile majority in the Senate are short two votes of ending the filibuster. Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kirsten Simena of Arizona say they want the filibuster retained.

More frustrating is the outlook for the next Congress to be elected in 2022. Democrats have more than a reasonable chance of gaining seats in the Senate. A net increase of two Democrats who oppose the filibuster will sideline the power now enjoyed by Manchin and Simena.

Unfortunately, Republicans have an opportunity to regain the majority in the House of Representatives through redistricting and attacks on the Biden administration’s record, depending on President Biden’s standing with American voters. Of course, a GOP takeover of the House could counteract gun-safety legislation enacted by the Senate.

I had initiated this commentary during the second week of May, but set it aside to present  my first take on the Israel-Arab conflict. Yet it is still critical to call attention to the terrorism in my own country where our fellow citizens cannot patronize a mall in Boulder, watch a movie in a Denver suburb, shop in a grocery store in Jersey City or attend religious services in Pittsburgh without fear of being shot.

Shootings in Philadelphia, where I live, are ongoing nearly each day, and 90 miles south of my residence one of my brethren cannot travel from a dangerous place 5,400 miles away without losing his life to terrorism American-style.

About Bruce Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker, who writes from Philadelphia, also blogs for The San Diego Jewish World and Smirking Chimp and previously for the suspended Philadelphia Jewish Voice. He was previously a reporter and copy editor for daily newspapers in eastern Pennsylvania.

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