Judaism & Guns…. AGAIN?!

In fifteen years as a rabbi, I have written about guns after too many tragedies – Jonesboro, Columbine, University of Texas, Virginia Tech, Colorado movie theater – and these are just the ones that jump to mind immediately.  I am sickened by the news out of Connecticut that there was a shooting at an ELEMENTARY school.

While there were no guns in the days of the Bible or Talmud, I believe that two Jewish principles apply.

“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, (lit. “the one who falls”), should fall from it (Deuteronomy 22:8).”

“You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind (Leviticus 19:14).”

We have an obligation as a society to protect people from obvious dangers.  Our current gun laws do not protect us or our children.  Further, we have an obligation to prevent people with some sort of limitation from hurting themselves and others.  We must do a better job of keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

What will it take for us as a society to put in place some common-sense rules regarding gun ownership?





About Rabbi Avi Friedman

I am the rabbi of Congregation Ohr Shalom - SJCC, a progressive Conservative and traditional congregation. I am also husband to Jodi as well as father to Gabi, Jonah, Jessica and Ilana. I have been a part of the Summit community since 2005.
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6 Responses to Judaism & Guns…. AGAIN?!

  1. Ilene says:

    The problem is that those who want to do something horrific like this will always find a way to get a gun. Unfortunately new laws and cries of gun control will not change that reality.

    • Ilene – I do not buy the argument that we cannot have an influence on the world around us. If what we are currently doing is not working – and it is clearly not working – then we have an obligation to try something else or something more. There is no doubt in my mind that we could make it harder for some of these folks to get guns even if we cannot completely eliminate the problem. If we can prevent even ONE of these horrific shootings by enacting a new law or changing enforcement procedures, wouldn’t it be worth it?

      • Ilene says:

        I agree with you that we cannot stand by and just do nothing. If we need to feel better that tighter restrictions, waiting periods, etc are enforced, then so be it. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s just that we really have no way to stop or prevent this, and that feeling of vulnerability and not having control is what strikes fear in us.

      • It’s not just about feeling better or assuaging our fears (though those are certainly important). It’s about using our common sense and taking concrete steps to make it more difficult for mentally ill people and people with criminal records to get guns. How can anyone be against that? RAF.

      • Ilene says:

        I am in no way am against making it more difficult for the mentally or criminally insane to get firearms. My only point is that whatever new legislation is born from yet another tragedy will unfortunately not change the fact that such undesirables will get guns. It really only has the potential to limit our freedoms if that is where we wanted to go. I think that discussion is best left for another time.
        Respectfully submitted,

  2. Pam says:

    Even though other countries have demonstrated they can control guns appropriately and I don’t think we are less capable, we somehow don’t have the will. As a compromise alternative I propose taxing bullets enough to be a barrier. My initial proposal is a tax of $40,000 per bullet.

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