Gun sales have surged among Jews throughout the United States since Hamas attacked Israel more than two weeks ago.
Firearm instructors and Jewish security groups across the country say they have been flooded with new clientele since the Oct. 7 assault, according to NBC News. Gun shop owners in Florida say they have seen more Jews purchase firearms in recent weeks than ever before.
“We’ve definitely seen a tremendous increase in religious Jewish people, Orthodox people, purchasing firearms,” said David Kowalsky, who owns Florida Gun Store in the town of Hollywood, and also offers firearms training classes. “I’ve seen a surge in interest in individual training as well as group training.”
Kowalsky, who is Jewish, said local synagogues had asked him to host gun training seminars and shooting sessions in the past week. He said most participants at one gun safety seminar were new to guns, per NBC.
“These are mothers, teachers, the majority of them are mostly people who have never interacted with firearms or thought about owning them,” he told the news outlet. “There’s a safety concern. I think people are nervous about what’s going on and what can happen.”
An Anti-Defamation League report earlier this year found antisemitic incidents in the U.S. were up 36% before the war in Israel and Gaza. Assaults, vandalism and harassment were higher in 2022 than in any year since the league began keeping records in 1979.
Rabbi Yossi Eilfort, who runs a nonprofit in Los Angeles that offers self-defense classes and firearm training to the Jewish community, said his organization has received more than 600 calls in the past week, NBC reported.
Dallas-Fort Worth area television station WFFA reported that one gun shop owner says he’s seen a 300% increase in gun sales at his two locations immediately after the war started.
“It’s been a really big change this last three or four days,” David Prince, of Eagle Gun Range, told the TV station. “The people coming in and saying they are scared for their lives, because of their religion they are expecting to be attacked.”
The customers, he said, are primarily Jewish, including one named Jake, who described himself as an observant Jew.
“From my experience in Israel, whenever something big happens, the Jews around the world, they suffer from it too as well,” he said. “With what’s going on over there, I’m more concerned of something going bad.”
NBC News reported speaking with more than a dozen Jewish Americans around the country who looked to buy a firearm or get formal gun training for the first time in response to the Israel-Gaza war. Many said they did not feel comfortable publicly sharing their identities out of fear they might be targeted. At least two people said they had received antisemitic death threats on social media.
Ryan Burge, a political scientist and assistant professor at Eastern Illinois University, produced a chart last year showing the share of various religious communities that “personally own a gun.” He made the graphic using data from the 2020 Cooperative Election Study.
Burge’s chart showed that white evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are more often gun owners than other people of faith.
One-third of white evangelicals and about one-quarter of mainline Protestants and Latter-day Saints personally own a gun, compared to 17% of atheists, 17% of nonwhite evangelicals, 11% of Jews and 9% of Muslims, Burge found.