Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Halachic Implications of Gun Control

It _is_ appropriate to lobby against any law which would prohibit Jews from observing Halacha. If a Jew wishes to support a ban on carrying handguns for self-defense, it is incumbent upon him to ensure that adequate alternative means of self-defense are available. Consider New York City -- the only U.S. city where Jews have a major input on local laws. What kinds of weapons are _permitted_ for its residents to carry? Not knives, not clubs, nor even something as innocuous as pepper spray. Can anyone claim that a life-threatening criminal attack in N.Y.C. is outside the realm of reasonable possibilities? It seems apparent that the average New York Jew must choose between obeying local secular law versus being prepared to observe the mitzvah of killing the pursuer. This situation has been typical of our experience in Golus. We do not expect our lives to be threatened on any given day, so we obey the law of the land and go out unarmed. If, G-d forbid, we are attacked, our obligation to defend ourselves is voided due to our incapability. But it is outrageous that a Jew should _ask_ the government to put us in this position! It's like a Jewish prisoner asking the warden _not_ to offer kosher food -- so he can enjoy the heter of eating tref when kosher food is unavailable. Some may cite Pikuach Nefesh to defend their support for handgun bans, arguing that we will be safer with such a law than under a policy permitting reasonable self-defense. The halachic correctness of this argument depends entirely on whether the gun control measure in question will indeed incapacitate criminals rather than merely inconvenience them. Thus, the potential effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of gun-control has tremendous halachic implications. I find the arguments supporting handgun bans poorly reasoned, and the statistics cited deceptive (but the moderator has asked me not to discuss the details in this group). I consider the handgun to be the only reasonable weapon which puts a physically small or weak person at parity with a criminal who is powerful and very likely armed. Therefore, to fulfill what I consider to be my Halachic responsibilities, I and my wife have acquired handguns and taken courses in their use. We are investigating the possibility of acquiring concealed-carry permits. We will oppose any law or political candidate who would interfere in our observance of this mitsvah.
F.S. New Orleans, Louisiana USA

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