Rav Avigdor Miller on Carrying a Handgun

Q: When a person works in a dangerous neighborhood, is it advisable to apply for a license for a gun?

A: Now that’s a question that’s not so easy to answer because many times you can get by with a substitute for a gun. Like what you say in Elokai Netzor: ונפשי כעפר לכל תהיה – And my soul should be like dust to everybody. If somebody, a goy, is fresh and insults you, become an anav. It pays to be an anav – you’ll live longer if you’re an anav.

But when you have a gun in your pocket, you might forget yourself and answer back something rash. And then, it’s not so certain that he doesn’t have a gun. And he might know how to use it better than you.

I was once walking in the street and I visited a friend of mine and he saw that I carried a stick, a heavy stick, on me. It was many years ago, about thirty years ago and it was a dangerous neighborhood so I was holding a stick. And this friend told me, “Don’t do that! It’s dangerous to carry a stick.”

It’s dangerous to carry a stick, because first of all they could take the stick away and hit you with it. That’s number one. Secondly, with a stick, you become reckless. Without a stick, you’ll stay home. You’re safer off. And it’s better always to avoid trouble.

I told you this many times. The Chinese say, “Who is a hero? The one who knows how to run away.” That’s a hero – if you know how to run away you’re the hero.

So therefore, I won’t answer the question. It’s always better to avoid any possibility of danger, but carrying a gun sometimes makes you reckless and you go into places where ordinarily you wouldn’t go.
Tape # 714

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  1. How true. Save the gun to protect yourself from a home invasion, or from a theoretical dictatorial regime decades from now. If a situation is dangerous enough to require a gun, you shouldn’t be in it.

  2. what year was this question asked? I am not advocating that we should carry a gun, but then again when Rav Miller ZTL was alive I do not recall the crazy environment that we find ourselves in now. Also, my understanding is that in NJ you can have one in your home for self defense with a permit. To have it on the street needs a special concealed carry permit. to which of these two permits is the article addressing itself? As with all things a person should ask his Rav or Rosh Yeshiva.

  3. hes talking about a carry permit, and he said he doesn’t want to answer, as every situation is different, but warned of the potential risks

  4. I don’t think R Miller Zt’l would have given the same answer in today’s crazy world.
    In those days there were less guns altogether even in the criminal world. Best to ask your personal Rav. Besides you can’t get a carry permit in the State of NJ anyway….

  5. If you pull out a gun, you better be ready to use it. And if you use, it better be justified, particularly in NJ. That is the biggest concern. I would not care if the other guy had a gun. If he is dead, who cares?

    A big difference between now and then is that many states allow you to carry a concealed weapon today without a permit or anything. Gun laws are much more liberal today. In the old days, if you had a gun in you car, you had to keep it on you dashboard or back windshield. Now you can carry it in your pocket without registering or anything in many state.

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