Should Jews Sell Guns?

Selling the tools of violence to people prone to violence violates the biblical prohibition of "setting a stumbling block before the blind."

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Jewish law recognizes that indiscriminate sale of weapons cannot fail to endanger the public. The daily newspaper confirms this deep-seated distrust far more often than is necessary. As the bearers of an ageless moral code, Jews ought to be in the vanguard of those seeking to impress upon our legislators that handguns are indeed “stumbling blocks” which must not fall into the hands of the “blind.” Criminals do commit crimes, and it is precisely because “morally blind” criminals are disposed to crime that Judaism teaches that it is forbidden to provide them with the tools of their trade.

Yes, Mr. Goldstein, flies do not cause garbage, but garbage does attract flies. Guns may or may not cause crime, but crimes of violence cannot be committed without tools of violence. Self-restraint in the sale of weapons is a small enough price to pay for even marginal enhancement of public safety.

Sincerely yours,

J. David Bleich

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Rabbi J. David Bleich

Rabbi J. David Bleich is Rosh Yeshivah and Rosh Kollel Lehora'ah at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and Tenzer Professor of Law at Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University.