“Because of all the people on the face of the Earth who should be pro-gun, the Jews should be right at the top of that list,” he says. “How many Jews have to die before they realize that ‘never again’ means being prepared — personally prepared?”
Kenik carries two pistols, one for each hand, both concealed. Like Farago, Kenik has never had to use guns in self-defense. Few states have a lower crime rate than Rhode Island, and he lives in one of the most bucolic parts of the state. But he says armed robbers hit the convenience store nearby a couple of years ago.
Kenik is more strident than Farago and says he believes the ultimate goal of gun-control advocates is to eliminate private ownership of firearms. He got his first pellet gun at 13 and started carrying a revolver at 18. Only in the past 10 years has he become an absolutist about gun rights.
“We have sheep and we have sheepdogs. Robert and I are sheepdogs,” Kenik says. “Getting rid of the sheepdogs will not get rid of the wolves.”
He’s not a gunslinger looking for a shootout: “I don’t carry a gun to get into a gunfight. I carry a gun to get out of a gunfight.”
But he’s prepared for what might happen at any moment. A truism among gun people is that when seconds matter, the police are only minutes away.
“If someone kicks in my front door, I’m the first responder,” Kenik says.
The national debate about gun violence is often framed around the question of why anyone would need an assault rifle, or a 30-round magazine, to hunt a deer. But the gun fundamentalists, such as Farago and Kenik, scoff at the focus on hunting. The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting, they say. This is a matter of self-defense, and freedom from tyranny, and they don’t believe they have to justify their choice of firearm, or the number of rounds in their magazines. They think background checks on gun purchasers impede the right to own a gun.
“ ‘Shall not be infringed’ means shall not be infringed,” Farago says.
Kenik and Farago say, however, that they do not think the right to bear arms includes weapons that kill indiscriminately, such as bazookas.
“We’re not crazy people,” Farago says.
The two men drive to a gun club north of Providence to demonstrate some of their weapons for visiting Washington Post journalists who have limited familiarity with firearms. No one is at the range — it’s cold, with light snow falling.
“Range clear! Eyes and ears!” Kenik shouts, and with the onlookers wearing eye and ear protection he fires an AR-15 at a paper target about 100 yards away, clustering the bullets in a space the size of his palm.