A rising number of Jews are seeking training to protect themselves with a firearm in the wake of the Hamas attack on Israel, with one gun shop seeing a “tremendous increase” in purchases made by Jewish customers.
The attack on Oct. 7 by the Hamas terrorist group on Israel has put the world on alert, with many Jews looking for ways to protect themselves from similar attacks. One defense tactic Jewish people are taking is purchasing and learning how to use a firearm.
“We’ve definitely seen a tremendous increase in religious Jewish people, Orthodox people, purchasing firearms,” said David Kowalsky, a Jewish man and owner of the Florida Gun Store. “I’ve seen a surge in interest in individual training as well as group training.”
Kowalsky’s store also offers firearm training, and he has stated that local synagogues have contacted him to host gun training seminars in the past week. At one gun safety seminar he hosted this past week, Kowalsky said most participants were new to guns. He explained that many of the people at the seminars were mothers and teachers and that most of them had never even considered owning a gun before.
“There’s a safety concern,” Kowalski said. “I think people are nervous about what’s going on and what can happen.”
Magen Am, a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles that gives firearm training to Jews, has received a new wave of interest in the subject. Rabbi Yossi Eilfort explained that Magen Am has received over 600 calls in the last week and that the calls for self-defense training have “just been really, really nonstop.”
The uptick in Jews looking to defend themselves comes after Jewish gun owners in New York sued the state’s leadership in 2022 for banning firearms in places of worship, with the lawsuit organized by the New York State Jewish Gun Club. The lawsuit claimed that Jewish congregants could not freely worship if they were fearful and unable to protect themselves.
Prior to the attack by Hamas against Israel, the United States had seen an increase in antisemitism, with 3,697 antisemitic incidents reported in 2022, an increase of 36% from 2021. Orthodox Jews also accounted for 53% of assault incidents nationwide last year.