Excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values


The numerous shootings of many innocent people in the pasEncyclopediaofJewishValues9789655241631t few years, which have occurred in public places such as schools and movie theaters, have caused renewed debate and attempts at legislation regarding prevention or limitation of gun ownership, popularly known as gun control. This issue is especially acute in the United States, where the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms”, gives each citizen the legal right to protect himself, even with guns obtained legally and quite easily. In 2008 and again in 2010, the Supreme Court of the United States issued two landmark decisions officially establishing the interpretation that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm, unconnected to service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Therefore, the percentage of U.S. citizens who own handguns and the actual number of legal guns in the United States far exceeds the number in any other country in the world. However, this law and protection also makes it far easier for deranged people to also obtain guns and kill blameless individuals for no logical reason at all. As more and more guiltless people are being shot publicly for no apparent reason, many U.S. citizens and legislators are seeking to limit the guns that people can legally obtain. They also want to legislate closer scrutiny for obtaining a firearm, thereby limiting the damage and deaths that a single gun can cause, in order to minimize such incidents in the future. Where does Judaism stand on this issue? Since traditional Jewish sources were all written before handguns were invented, can Judaism possibly have a view on this and related issues?

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(Those who would like to see all of the original quotations in Hebrew can find this in the printed appendix to the book.)

The Encyclopedia of Jewish Values

By Nachum Amsel

Urim Publications, 9789655241631

Excerpted with permission from the author.

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