Who Should Own a Gun?
גמ׳ אמר רבא מאי טעמא דמחתרת חזקה אין אדם מעמיד עצמו על ממונו והאי מימר אמר אי אזילנא קאי לאפאי ולא שביק לי ואי קאי לאפאי קטילנא ליה והתורה אמרה אם בא להורגך השכם להורגו

Rava says: What is the reasoning for the law concerning a burglar who breaks into a house? He explains: There is a presumption that a person does not restrain themselves when faced with losing their money, and therefore this burglar must have thought: If I go in and the owners see me, they will rise against me and not allow me to steal from them, and if they rise against me, I will kill them. And the Torah stated a principle: If someone comes to kill you, rise and kill them first.

According to this passage from the Talmud, under what circumstances may you kill someone? How might this relate to the right to bear arms?

ועוד תניא 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

One may not sell to certain people weapons nor the auxiliary equipment of weapons, and one may not sharpen weapons for them. And one may not sell them stocks used for fastening the feet of prisoners, or iron neck chains, or foot chains, or iron chains.

The Talmud does not forbid weapons, but it does forbid selling weapons and their accessories to certain people. How might this relate to gun violence prevention today? What might be considered modern “auxiliary equipment”?

(ח) כִּ֤י תִבְנֶה֙ בַּ֣יִת חָדָ֔שׁ וְעָשִׂ֥יתָ מַעֲקֶ֖ה לְגַגֶּ֑ךָ וְלֹֽא־תָשִׂ֤ים דָּמִים֙ בְּבֵיתֶ֔ךָ כִּֽי־יִפֹּ֥ל הַנֹּפֵ֖ל מִמֶּֽנּוּ׃ (ס)

(8) When you build a new house, you shall make a railing for your roof, so that you do not bring blood on your house if anyone should fall from it.

ר' נתן אומר מניין שלא יגדל אדם כלב רע בתוך ביתו ואל יעמיד סולם רעוע בתוך ביתו שנאמר (דברים כב, ח) ולא תשים דמים בביתך:

Rabbi Natan says: From where is it derived that one may not raise a vicious dog in their house, and that one may not set up an unstable ladder in their home? As it is stated: “You shall not bring blood on your house” (Deuteronomy 22:8), which means that one may not allow a hazardous situation to remain in his house.

How would you relate the Torah's principle of "you shall not bring blood on your house" to guns in a home today?

Please note the Torah did not forbid the making of flat roofs, dogs, or ladders; it forbade dangerous ones. Do you think this distinction applies to guns? Why or why not?

מתני׳ לא יצא האיש לא בסייף ולא בקשת ולא בתריס ולא באלה ולא ברומח ואם יצא חייב חטאת רבי אליעזר אומר תכשיטין הן לו וחכ"א אינן אלא לגנאי שנאמר (ישעיהו ב, ד) וכתתו חרבותם לאתים וחניתותיהם למזמרות ולא ישא גוי אל גוי חרב ולא ילמדו עוד מלחמה.

MISHNA: No one may neither go out on Shabbat with a sword, nor with a bow, nor with a shield, nor with a club, nor with a spear. And if someone unwittingly went out with one of these weapons to the public domain, they are liable to acknowledge their sin. Rabbi Eliezer says: These weapons are ornaments for him [that is, they are just fashionable clothing accessories]; just as someone is permitted to go out into the public domain with other ornaments, they are permitted to go out with weapons. But the Rabbis say: They are nothing other than reprehensible and in the future, they will be eliminated, as it is written: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation will not raise sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).

According to this passage, what is the general attitude of the majority of the Rabbis towards weapons? Why?

Key takeaway: What does Judaism have to say about balancing the right to armed self-defense, responsible selling and handling of weapons, and not making weapons into idols?