In response to the terrible proliferation of fatal shootings in the United States that result in part from Americans’ easy access to lethal weapons, a brief yet comprehensive 2014 resolution of the 1000+ members of Rabbinical Council of America addresses gun usage and ownership in the United States from personal, legal, cultural, and religious perspectives. Asserting the Torah’s perspective that war, weaponry, and violence are “necessary evils in our unredeemed world” as well as the Torah’s view that, contrary to some strains of American culture, such matters must be approached with appropriate gravitas even when warranted, the RCA favors restricting Americans’ easy access to weapons and ammunition and encourages all to desist from recreational activities that desensitize participants to killing, weaponry, and violence.
Formally adopted by a direct vote of the RCA membership, the full text of “2014 Resolution: Gun Violence in America” states:
WHEREAS War, killing, physical violence, and weaponry are necessary evils in our unredeemed world; and,
WHEREAS Engagement with these matters ought at all times to be conducted with gravitas commensurate with their destructive nature; and,
WHEREAS Jewish law adopts the opinion of the Sages (Mishna Shabbat 6:4) that weapons ought never be glorified or viewed as adornments even when their possession is justified, in contradistinction to certain strains of American culture; and,
WHEREAS The Rabbinical Council of America has noted with anguish and alarm some of the recent shooting deaths in schools and elsewhere in the United States (here, here, and here); and,
WHEREAS The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America expressed support for federal legislation to prevent gun violence in 2013 and as early as 1968
Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America
- Condones, when permitted by local ordinance, private American citizens owning or learning how to use weapons or to engage in violent acts for justified purposes such as self-defense, when undertaken with appropriate gravitas; and
- Favors restricting American citizens’ easy and unregulated access to weapons and ammunition; and
- Urges all to desist from and discourage recreational activities that desensitize participants to, make light of, or glorify war, killing, physical violence, and weapons; and
- Anxiously seeks the fulfillment of the prophetic vision, “They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4).