The United States stands truly alone in the developed world for its lax gun laws, which have contributed to Americans owning guns at a far higher rate than anyone else. The National Rifle Association, in its pushback against calls for gun restrictions after the Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting, has portrayed things somewhat differently. NRA chief Wayne LaPierre has drawn comparisons to Israel, saying that the U.S. should follow Israel’s example of loose gun laws and of responding to mass shooting by posting armed guards at schools.
LaPierre echoes a number of commentators who oppose gun restrictions and cite Israel as an ideal example. The argument goes like this: Israel has lots of guns and lower rates of gun violence, so clearly the problem with America is not our guns but something else.
The only problem is that Israel actually has quite strong gun restrictions and very low gun ownership rates, some of the lowest in the developed world. This confusion has gotten so bad that even Israeli government officials are now chiming in to knock back the claims, though the NRA is seen as a close ally of the U.S. Republican party, which positions itself as strongly backing Israel.
LaPierre appeared to take his Israel-model advocacy a step too far when he declared on Meet the Press this weekend, “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.”