Fred Kogen—physician, professional mohel (Google it), and bumper sticker-donning NRA member—describes Bullets & Bagels as a “post-denominational, gender neutral, egalitarian, fun-loving, all-embracing, mildly politically incorrect, noshing, networking, and shooting club.” Every two months, the 66 member-strong organization meets at a range in the Greater L.A. Area to grub on some lox, kibitz with like-minded mensches, and test their accuracy with guns like the Israeli-made IWI US Tavor SAR close-quarters combat rifle (they’re even raffling one off at their next event).
If this seems like an unlikely combination of activities, that’s because it is: The environment crafted by Kogen offers members a purely unique experience. He jokingly reassures us that the group is neither full of doomsday preppers nor militant nutjobs arming themselves for a proxy war. They’re just a group of Jews (and Gentiles—about a quarter of their membership is non-Jewish) trying to exercise their Second Amendment rights and eat some good food in the process.
“I wanted more of a social environment, and one that touched on a traditional element of Jewish culture: eating,” he said. “Jews like to talk, they like to nosh and kibitz, so that’s how we settled on Bullets & Bagels.”
Aside from noshing, kibitzing, and shooting, the club also features guest speakers from the Jewish community. At recent gatherings they’ve had a rabbi lecture on how guns fit into the teachings of the Torah (he confirmed they indeed fit well), and a Jewish ex-Navy SEAL speak about his experience with guns in military service. But, Kogen says, the noshing goes on unabated throughout the whole process—and with the spreads they have, how could it not?
“If it’s breakfast we’ve got lox and bagels from Katella deli in Anaheim, and for some of our bigger events on Sundays, we get a mess of sandwiches from Cortina’s—it’s this really great italian deli in Anaheim,” he said. “And don’t worry, we’ve always got some kosher food for our more orthodox members.”
The club’s next event will be held in conjunction with Israel Weapons Industries (IWI)—who is donating the Tavor rifle being auctioned off with all proceeds going towards the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF)—on August 23 at the Raahauges Range in Corona. Members pay $50 for the event and non-members $80, which includes basic shooting instruction and assistance from NRA-certified teachers. You can sign up here.
Kogen is trying to dramatically increase club membership numbers over the next year or so, and he eventually sees Bullets & Bagels as a nationwide network of shooting and noshing enthusiasts. He seems to have found a solid formula, too.
“If you put out good food, people will come,” he said. Truer words were never spoken.