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Is it proper to own a gun?




Rabbi Steven Pruzansky

It is proper, it is recommended, but it is certainly not for everyone.

The Torah places a priority on pikuach nefesh and to the extent that owning a firearm enhances personal safety, it is a no-brainer. One enormous caveat is the necessity for licensing, training, safety, and ensuring that the weapon is always properly locked and stored, away from children but available for immediate use.

Our long history has taught us that when government has a monopoly on force, it usually ends sadly for Jews. Dictatorships often first collect the weapons owned by private citizens, the better to execute their nefarious and restrictive policies without opposition.

The rise in Jew hatred in America – mostly words, for sure, but accompanied by routine eruptions of physical violence – should put Jews on notice that their safety is not guaranteed. As much as we support the police, the authorities are useful when it comes to investigating crimes and making arrests; they almost never prevent crimes. As the old saying goes, “When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.”

Additionally, many jurisdictions today have prosecutors who refuse to prosecute, so attacks on Jews often go unprosecuted and the assailants unpunished, something that is not sustainable in a civilized society. It is important to realize that most gun owners, like most police officers, rarely fire their weapons in hostile situations, and for civilians, merely displaying the firearm most often deters the criminal.

The greatest Jews – Avraham, Moshe, King David, and others – bore arms when necessary to protect their lives and the lives of the Jewish people. We have to overcome the squeamishness that the exile has engendered in Jews. Guns are not for everyone. But undoubtedly, if word got out that Jews were armed, the number of attacks on Jews would plummet precipitously.

Rav Steven Pruzansky lives in Israel and is Israel Region Vice-President for the Coalition for Jewish Values and Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun of Teaneck, New Jersey.

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Rabbi Marc D. Angel

The National Safety Council reported that in 2020 over 45,000 people died in the United States from gun wounds. While most entailed crimes of murder or suicide, over 500 people died through gun-related accidents. Having a gun in one’s house, unless carefully locked away, is an invitation to disaster.

If someone feels that owning a gun is vital to the safety of oneself and family, then one should train carefully in the use of the gun. One should be absolutely sure that the gun is kept locked and out of reach of others – including children – who could be tempted to use it unsafely.

Given the general rise in crime and the specific rise in anti-Jewish crime, it is (unfortunately) becoming more common to think about owning a gun as a means of self-defense. The problem is that owning a gun does not in itself provide safety. The criminals are more adept at gun use and are likely to act more quickly and more violently if resisted by an amateur gun-holder.

While I think it is preferable for civilians not to own a gun, it is understandable why some feel the need for a gun in order to defend themselves, their families and businesses. If one is to own a gun, though, he/she must be thoroughly trained on its use. The gun must be stored in an absolutely safe manner so as to avoid accidental shootings.

Instead of giving one peace of mind, owning a gun might have the opposite effect of causing ongoing anxiety. The exception would be where a person feels so threatened that gun ownership becomes imperative. Each person must evaluate the risk/benefit ratio of gun ownership.

Rabbi Marc D. Angel, Director, Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals

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I don’t believe that the Torah has a definitive view on whether it is proper to own a gun. I think I can argue with certainty that owning a gun for recreational use is inconsistent with Torah values. After all, the Rema (Orach Chaim 316:2) rules that trapping animals with dogs is a frivolous activity and Rav Yechezkel Landau (Noda B’Yehuda, mahadura tinyana, Yoreh De-ah, #10) writes that hunting for sport is not proper and one who does this follows in the footsteps of Nimrod and Esav, and not Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov.

Is it proper to own a gun for protection? Here we have two conflicting Torah values: potential danger versus protection. On the one hand, we may not keep a public hazard on our property. The Gemara (Bava Kamma 15b) states that we must not raise a vicious dog in our homes based on the Biblical verse of “Lo tasim damim b’veitecha – Don’t place blood in your homes” (Devarim 22:8). The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat, 427:8) codifies this ruling.

On the other hand, the Rema (Choshen Mishpat, 409:3) rules that Jews could own dogs to protect themselves and keep the dogs unchained unless there is a serious concern that they will attack innocent people. However, Rav Shlomo Luria (Yam Shel Shlomo, Bava Kamma, 7:45) disagrees with the Rema, arguing that the outside threat isn’t so great and there is a significant concern for accidents by keeping the dog unchained during the day when innocent people are present. As such, halachic authorities have disagreed about how to precisely balance the danger and protective value of owning a dangerous weapon like a gun. Sometimes, though, how much weight we give to each factor may depend on where we live.

Rabbi Jonathan Muskat is the rabbi of the Young Israel of Oceanside, a rebbe at Shulamith High School, and a pastoral health care liaison at Mount Sinai South Nassau.

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Rabbi Zev Leff

The Gemara in Shabbos (63a) relates an argument between Rabbi Eliezer who holds that weapons are considered ornaments of dress and may be worn on Shabbos and the Chachamim who hold they are not ornaments but signs of shame, since in the times of Mashiach they will be abolished and only exist because of the present sad state of the world as an unfortunate necessity. Since the halacha is according to the Chachamim, a gun is only positive if it is needed for protection but not something to carry as a badge of honor. Additionally, Esav was blessed with the honor of living by the sword but to Yaakov this is not an honor, only an unfortunate necessity when warranted. A weapon is also not permitted to be brought into shul unless covered, as it symbolizes something that shortens life, diametrically opposed to prayer which extends life.

Hence, if owning a gun is warranted when a reasonable danger to life presents itself and owning and carrying a gun will reduce that threat, most certainly one should carry a gun. It goes without saying that one should learn and train to use it properly and responsibly and keep it safely away from children or others who may be harmed by it or use it irresponsibly.

Additionally, weapons are considered manly accoutrements and as such are forbidden to women unless a reasonable threat to harm exists that a woman can avert by carrying a gun. All in all, owning and carrying a gun when necessary is mandated, but for sport or as a show of power is frowned upon halachicly and hashkaficly. It simply is not a Jewish thing to do.

– Rabbi Zev Leff, rav of Moshav Matisyahu, popular lecturer and educator.

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Obviously, the question is not only in regard to owning a gun, but having it in one’s possession and if necessary, using it.

The Torah (Devarim; 22:8) teaches us: “Ki sivneh bayis chodosh v’asisa ma’akeh l’gagecha v’lo sosim domim b’veisecha ki yipol ha’nofel mimenu – When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet about your roof, that you not cause blood to be spilled in your house, if any fall from it.” If one were to translate this pasuk literally, the end would be rendered as “the one who fell will fall from it.” This means to say that if not for the ma’akeh – the parapet – one will surely fall. Thus our sages (Sifrei, Parshas Ki Seitsei) learn that in this verse there is both an aseh and a lo sa’aseh – – a positive command and a prohibitory command.

They derive from this verse as well that one should not have in his possession anything that can be a source of danger to others. This in the words of the Chayyei Adam (topic 15:24), “And any matter that can be a cause of danger to life there is a positive commandment to remove it.” Thus a dangerous animal fits that description. In our day and age we know that for example where proper construction guidelines were not kept, that too is something that if not remedied can cause death and destruction.

As far as a gun is concerned, it too is a tool that has the capacity to kill, but then so can an automobile, yet no one questions the right to own an auto. The answer lies in the intended purpose for possessing this item, an auto is for transportation but one must take care so as not to harm another in the course of its being used.

The Torah would sanction the use of gun and obviously ownership in certain circumstance as we see the Torah (Shemos 22:1) states clearly: “Im b’machteres yi’matzei haganov v’hukah va’mes ein lo damim – If the thief is found breaking in [to one’s house] and he was hit [by one in the home] and died the one who has hit him has shed no blood.”

Rashi explains that from here our sages derive Ha’ba l’horgecha hashkeim l’horgo – if one comes to kill you, with haste kill him.

Thus, we see that the right to own a gun (U.S. Constitution, Second Amendment) is a right because of the need for an individual to protect life and limb.

Of course, with gun ownership comes responsibility. Just as one must learn how to use any tool or device such as a car, one must also be trained in how to use a gun or any other weapon. One must take care that it not come into the hands of young children as well.

In summation, we do pray, especially as we live in times where lawlessness is rampant and the criminal element have been emboldened by the increasing ascendancy of our woke society, that Hashem save us from any harm or even our causing harm to others even when justifiable.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass is chairman of the Presidium of the Rabbinical Alliance of America; rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn; and Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at and

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Let me begin by answering with another question: For what purpose?

If the gun is purchased as a hobby, then such a hobby should be discouraged. Having a gun for the sake of having a gun can cause terrible accidents, reaping irreparable consequences and, in my mind, is halachically forbidden.

However, if the purpose of owning a gun is for protection, then of course it is permitted. In fact Rav Moshe Feinstein in one of his responsa deals with the question of whether a women who is living in Israel can bare a weapon for protection, in which he concludes that because the purpose of the weapon is for protection against terrorists and a potential danger to life, it is permitted.

I live in Israel and I own a gun, as do countless others in Israel. However, the purpose of carrying the gun is for protection. Indeed, before acquiring a gun in Israel, one must pass an exhaustive course, four hours long, on the responsibility of carrying a gun and its dangers. This must be renewed every few years with another refresher course. Additionally, according to Israel law a person can only have in his/her possession only fifty bullets.

I personally shudder every time I pick up my gun at the shooting range to practice, for I know that this weapon has the potential to end the life of a person. A frightening responsibility!

– Rabbi Mordechai Weiss lives in Efrat Israel and previously served as an elementary and high school principal in New Jersey and Connecticut. He was also the founder and rav of Young Israel of Margate, New Jersey. His email is


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