And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not take up Sword against nation; They shall never again know war.
If you only read Isaiah, what would you think about Judaism's perspective on gun ownership?
What would a world with no weapons look like?
When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, so that you do not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone should fall from it.
How does this commandment inform how we use and store firearms?
אין מוכרין להם לא זיין ולא כלי זיין ואין משחיזין להן את הזיין ואין מוכרין להן לא סדן ולא קולרין ולא כבלים ולא שלשלאות של ברזל אחד עובד כוכבים ואחד כותי...
We don't sell to them [idolaters] a weapon or the housings [or accessories] of a weapon, nor do we sharpen a blade for them. Not stocks, nor neck-chains, nor fetters, nor chains of bronze--neither to an idolater nor to a Cuthean.
"The Halacha of Selling Arms" Jewish Ideas Daily
By the 5th century, it seems, Jews in Babylonia were selling arms to local [non-Jewish] authorities, reflecting a generally cooperative relationship with them. Christine Hayes has argued that exceptions to the gun sale ban might have already existed in the land of Israel in the 3rd century, as a parallel text in the Jerusalem Talmud (Yerushalmi Avodah Zarah 2:1) seems to indicate. In that text, the Talmud asserts that the prohibition applies only to cities where no Jews live. Once Jews live there, weapons sales remain permissible either because they will serve to protect Jewish as well as non-Jewish residents or, alternatively, because the peaceful habitation of Jews within the city shows that these Gentiles are not hostile to them.
Medieval commentators explained this Persian dispensation differently, possibly in partial reflection of their position within their own society. Rabbi Menachem Ha-Meiri took a moral approach. We need to do our share to help our society, he maintained, arguing that the original prohibition applied only to the godless barbarians of yesteryear. Others made more pragmatic calculations: We need their help now, and we hope they won’t later turn their weapons against us (Nimukei Yosef). Maimonides formulated this dispensation in terms of an alliance: “If Jews live among idolaters and have established a covenant with them, it is permitted to sell arms to the king’s servants.” In the 13th century, Rabbi Yitzchak of Vienna further deemed such a sale permissible even if the local ruler was at war with a city known to have a Jewish population, though he hoped that no harm would come to those Jews (Or Zarua Avodah Zarah 132). Others argued that no unvarying rule could be made, since the nature of Jewish-Gentile relations varied according to time and place (Riaz al ha-Rif). It remains clear, however, that this was not a mere theoretical discussion: Many sources affirm that Jews throughout the Middle Ages sold weapons or their components to their Gentile neighbors, because it benefited both parties and because they believed that the non-Jews in any case could acquire weapons by other means.
When does these texts say it is appropriate to sell weapons?
Why do these texts make a distinction between selling weapons to idolaters and others?
If that same distinction would be made today, who might be the idolaters?
What type of contract is required between the sellers and purchasers of weapons?
"Gun Control in Halachah" Jewish Action
As noted earlier, the Talmud prohibits selling a weapon to a mashmuta—a Jewish bandit who has no history of violence but may use the weapon to escape capture. Rashi (Avodah Zarah 15b, s.v.L’Olam) notes that even if one is certain that the bandit won’t use the weapon to kill someone, he may use it to threaten someone and commit a crime (steal, et cetera). Thus, selling weapons to a bandit could make one guilty as an accessory to a crime. Rabbeinu Nissim (Avodah Zarah 5a), however, has a different explanation. He suggests that even if the bandit does not have a violent past, he will eventually be in a situation where he will use the weapon to avoid being captured. According to Rabbeinu Nissim, we are not only prohibited from selling weapons to people who are actually prone to commit murder, we may not sell weapons to those who have a greater than average propensity to use the weapon in a destructive manner.
According to these texts, who should be barred from purchasing a weapon?
What are the responsibilities of one who sells weapons?
How does this inform the conversation of mental health and access to firearms?
|תלמוד בבלי מסכת סנהדרין דף לז:א לפיכך נברא אדם יחידי, ללמדך שכל המאבד נפש אחת מישראל - מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו איבד עולם מלא, וכל המקיים נפש אחת מישראל - מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו קיים עולם מלא.|
Bavli Sanhedrin 37a
For this reason, one individual was created first, to teach that anyone who causes one life to be lost from Israel it is as if they have destroyed the entire world. And anyone who saves one life from Israel - it is as if they have preserved an entire world.
Pikuach Nefesh - the saving of a life - is of prime importance in Judaism, so much so
that one may even break the Shabbat in order to preform this mitzvah.
Why is causing the loss of life of an individual as if one has destroyed the entire world?
Can causing the loss of a life and saving a life ever be in conflict?
Is self-defense/self-preservation a Jewish commandment?
Mishnah: A burglar who is found breaking into a house may be killed by the owner of the house with impunity (see Exodus 22:1)...[But] if a father broke into his son’s house, in which case it is presumed that even if the son resists his father, his father would never kill him, and therefore the son may not kill his father, and if he does so he is liable.
How does this complicate the self-defense argument?
"Jews and Guns" My Jewish Learning
Most authorities say it is not permissible to hunt for sport. Two sources are generally cited in this regard. The first is Rabbi Isaac Lampronri, who wrote in his work Pahad Yitzhak that it is forbidden to hunt animals because it’s wasteful. The 18th-century rabbinic authority Ezekiel Landau added that recreational hunting is forbidden on the grounds of animal cruelty and because of the risks to the hunter. Neither of the two biblical figures known to be hunters — Esau and Nimrod — are held up as role models. All the biblical patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), as well as Joseph, Moses and King David were herders — nurturers of animals, not their pursuers.
Hunting for food is, in principle, not objectionable. However land animals must be ritually slaughtered by hand to render them kosher , which would make hunting them for food with a firearm impermissible.
What arguments are given against hunting?
Would Jewish law permit a Jewish person to own firearms for the purpose of hunting?
"Jews and Guns" My Jewish Learning https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/hunting-in-judaism/
Some have suggested that if Jews had possessed guns in Nazi Germany, the Holocaust might not have occurred. Germany’s move to forbid Jewish gun ownership prior to launching the Final Solution is typically cited as a key support for this belief. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson briefly made this notion a matter of public debate after including it in his 2015 book A More Perfect Union and in subsequent interviews. The Anti-Defamation League responded that it was ludicrous to suggest armed Jews could have stopped the Holocaust. (Carson called the ADL statement “foolishness.”)
But the argument has also surfaced in publicity materials from Jewish gun activists, including the 2010 documentary No Guns for Jews, which implied that gun control measures in Europe in the 1930s enabled the Nazi genocide. “When the right to self defense is denied, God’s law is violated,” the film intones. “Would history have been rewritten if the SS confronted thousands of armed Jews during the riots of Kristallnacht?”
What is the relationship between gun ownership and the Holocaust?
How does the Jewish history of oppression and anti-semitism relate to the gun control debate?