Discussion Guide - Discussion Guide – Gun Control

November 2, 2009
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  1. Why has the “loophole” in current gun laws remained on the books?
  2. How might you bring a talmudic explication to the Second Amendement, the right to bear arms?
  3. Do you know anyone who owns a gun? How do you feel when you’re in that person’s house? Would you let them bring the gun into your house?
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  1. The supposed loophole is a rhetorical figment. Private transfers of firearms have always been permitted in American law, with certain restrictions. I have done it, in a perfectly safe manner, and so have my friends. And they will continue in huge numbers whether states or Congress ban them or not.

    Amdt II has its own Talmud, and doesn’t need a new one; Abaye and Rava are irrelevant to a proper understanding of this Anglo-American right, which reaches back to the Glorious Revolution of 1689 in written form. A measured, scientific analysis of the intellectual and legislative history is what is necessary. I would refer readers to the various briefs of amici in the Heller and McDonald cases, and to the Heller decision, which is a wonder.

    I feel more secure with guns, since I know how to use them and to lock them up properly. I am an NRA member, of course. I have many; I collect historical rifles. Israel’s independence was secured with guns, mainly illegal. I aim to collect all the rifle models used in 1948 and make an exhibition with historical photos, video and lots of text. One of my most prized possessions is a Mauser from 1950 with the crest of Tzahal on it. First weapon made for a Jewish army in two millennia, no?

    Posted by
    Shimon Steiner
  2. Sorry Shma, but even your biased questions can’t possibly result in the answers you want. Here are some “Talmudic arguments” — all of which are *very strongly against* “gun control.”

    1) Sanhedrin 73a, mishna + gamara — “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor means that if you see someone come with intent to harm, you ARE OBLIGATED to respond, using force if necessary, even up to and including deadly force, to prevent the criminal activity. See also Vayikra 19:16; Devarim 22:23-27 and Rashi thereon.

    2) Sanhedrin 72a — why is a person allowed to kill a robber in defense of his home? Rava explains that we have a principle: no one is expected to stand by and watch his property violated without responding. See Shmot 22:1-2 and Rashi. If a robber sneaks into a home, and it isn’t clear that he has no intention of harming the occupants, they may assume he intends to harm and use force in response, up to and including deadly force. See Rambam Hilchot Rotzeach 1:7 where he poskins similarly, and the Shulchan Aruch goes this way as well. See also Rambam Hil’ Geneva 9:9-9:10 where he poskins that we use force in defense without a requirement to discern the intentions of the intruder — his very presence implies his use of violence and we can respond with force in defense thereto. 9:7 — the Rambam even requires us to respond as such to an intruder in a neighbor’s home. 9:8 and 9:12 — criminal trespass is sufficient to assume violent intent. See the related references to the Sh”A both from the Rambam and the Gamara on 72a, 72b, 73a.

    3) Note that the only dissenting opinion with regard to #2 is how far you have to go in ascertaining the intentions of the intruder before using force. Sanhedrin 72b — you need not even warn the person first.

    4) With regard to warning the person before striking, see Rambam Hilchot Rotzeach 1:10, 1:13; Choshen Mishpat 425:1 in the Tur, Beis Yosef, and Shulchan Aruch. We are REQUIRED to use as much force as necessary in defense.

    5) Even if the person being attacked says, “leave the attacker alone — I’m afraid that if you respond he will kill me” — you still respond, up to and including deadly force. CH”M 425:4.

    6) Rav Moshe discusses the danger presented by a criminal trespasser — see Igros Moshe Ch”M 2:54.

    7) Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Da’at 5:55) requires us to defend our schools, even arming teachers with guns, as necessary.

    8) We have a long tradition of defending ourselves, our families, and our property using the force of arms as needed. Avraham takes up arms in defense of Lot — Breishit 14:12-16. See also Moshe (Shmot 2:11-12) and also his defense of Tzipporah and her sisters at the well.

    9) “Gun Control” occurred back in Biblical times too, where it was always used as a weapon against the Jews. 1 Samuel 13:19-22 — the Philistines refused to sharpen or fix any Hebrews’ metal tools in order to disarm us so that we had no swords or spears; we had none of our own smiths (and thus no weapons makers). Only Saul and Jonathan had arms available.

    9a) Ester 8:11, 8:13 — Jews actually had to ask permission from the King for the right to self-defense! Our G-d given right to defend ourselves (see #1 & #2 above) was restricted by government fiat.

    I could go on for hours. “Gun Control” is NOT a Jewish idea in the least — it is anti-Jewish and has been used against us throughout our history. Have a look at the Nazi’s gun control policies — which resulted in the confiscation of all Jewish-owned guns in the 2-3 weeks prior to Kristallnacht. When you read those policies and the history of the devastation that followed, imagine how things might have been different if the Jewish community had arms with which to defend itself.

    Read about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and how a few tens of Jews with a few small arms and no more than a few hundred rounds of ammunition held off the onslaught of thousands of German soldiers with tanks and grenades for weeks… and imagine how history might have been different if those Jews had hundreds of arms and thousands of rounds of ammunition with which to defend themselves. Remember, they were disarmed in the name of “gun control.”

    Do I advocate a Jewish paramilitary? No. Jewish Defense League? Not me either. Should all Jews own and carry guns? That’s up to you and your rabbi.

    But I do advocate that every Jew should know how to shoot a gun — just in case.

    And I strongly oppose any measure at “gun control.”

    If you are interested in learning how to shoot, I am a certified instructor and will be honored to teach you proper gun safety and to take you to the range to teach you how to fire a gun.


    Posted by
    The Gun Rabbi
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