Pittsburgh tragedy followed by surge in firearms training

by WorldTribune Staff, November 7, 2018

A large number of American Jews have signed up for firearms training in the wake of the Oct. 27 shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 people dead.

Yonatan Stern, the founder of Cherev Gidon Israeli Tactical Training Academy, said he received hundreds of requests in the days following the Pittsburgh shooting and now offers training in how to respond to an active shooter in a synagogue.

A firearm training session at Cherev Gidon. / Facebook

“There are some people on the left of the Jewish establishment who say, ‘Don’t use guns.’ Those voices are becoming more marginalized,” Stern said, according to a Nov. 5 report by France 24’s The Observers.

“The voices of reason which promote responsible gun ownership are becoming more mainstream,” Stern said. “Obviously gun control does not work. So when we are confronted by evil people who are armed, we need to be ready. Our goal is to get the population trained.”

In its 2017 annual audit, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported a 57 percent increase in the number of anti-Semitic attacks in the U.S., the largest single-year increase on record.

“There is no question that Jews are under threat in America,” Stern said. “Would you say to soldiers on the front line, ‘just lay down your guns and let the enemy kill you?’ No. So Jews need to be armed.”

Cherev Gidon Israeli Tactical Training Academy, which opened six years ago, offers classes in Pennsylvania and Arizona.

In the days after the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, which was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history, Stern said the academy received more requests for firearms training from Jews than in the entire time the academy has been running.

Stern told The Observers that the academy’s course which trains participants how to respond to an active shooter in a synagogue teaches many of the same skills that are taught in other classes, but with added situational details such as how to immobilize an attacker in a location where there are a number of civilians packed into a crowded space.

“We need citizenry who are going to be able to protect themselves in the case of these attacks,” Stern said. “I’ve actually been getting calls from police departments all over the country congratulating me, because our getting people armed makes their job easier.”

Stern added: “The climate of anti-Semitism is growing. It’s coming from every direction; from left and right, from black and white. This culture of hate will coalesce into violence. Are we going to be sheep to the slaughter? Are we going to allow them to murder us? Or are we going to stand up and fight? I know what I’m going to do.”

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