Guns are a way of life in America. My family and I love to go shooting. I'm not alone and there are probably several hundred million firearms floating around America. Our Constitution advocates gun ownership--not for sport or self defense--but to protect the people from foreign or domestically imposed tyranny. Throughout much of American history, every male from 18 to 45 was considered part of the unorganized militia and required to possess a firearm in many jurisdictions. Charlston Heston, the American pro-Zionist actor and former head of the National Rifle Association (NRA) stated the view of firearms held by many Americans:

"They can have my gun when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers!"

Indeed, many Israelis must hold similar views--even their school children often carry automatic weapons for self defense. But, we are told, the Palestinians--especially Hamas--must disarm before they can be given any more foreign aid. Hamas, whose leaders such as Yassin and al-Rantissi were assassinated in cowardly ambushes during cease fires, is told it must further renounce all violence. Hamas does not want to disarm because, it apparently feels, the weapons are necessary to protect the people from an Israeli re-invasion, which is highly likely at some point. (If not an Israeli expulsion!)

I would like to suggest that Palestine emulate the model of a very democratic and European state: Switzerland.

In Switzerland, you can own anti-tank weapons, anti-aircraft guns, cannons and howitzers with an easily-obtained cantonal license. Military service and training is mandatory, with males 21-32 serving three weeks of active duty with periods in various reserve classifications thereafter until age 50. There are frequent meetings to inspect equipment and engage in target practice. Armories are strategically located so weapons and supplies can quickly be obtained in the event of invasion.

In a nation of six million, there are 2-million guns, of which some 600,000 are fully automatic. Military ammunition is subsidized and can be purchased, without registration, from shooting ranges. Long guns can be readily obtained and carried in public.

Perhaps giving every Palestinian male a stake in national defense will encourage a nationalistic spirit and less factionalism and will make proper and responsible use of firearms a civic duty.