There is a rule of Dina D'Malchuta Dina - the law of the land is valid, providing that it does not conflict directly with Torah laws.

There is a Torah law of Venishmartem lenafshotechem (Devarim 4:15), that one must do what he can to guard his own life. Certainly, when one knows that someone is about to kill him, he is allowed to defend himself and use his gun to kill the other.

Gun control laws vary widely around the world. Supposing someone is unable to obtain a gun legally in his location, would he be permitted to carry a gun illegally for self-defense purposes if he is in a Pikuach Nefesh situation (ex. he needs to travel through Pikuach-Nefesh-dangerous locations)?

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    It seems that the controlling factor here would be the precise circumstances. If we can evaluate the circumstances and determine that carrying a gun is the only way to prevent an unambiguous threat to your life, it would seem obvious that Halacha would require you to carry a gun. If that determination can't be made, then it's a much more complicated call. I suspect that there are few places in the US in which the danger is that clear. For example, in NY, carrying an unlicensed gun could get a person arrested, and jail time could get a person killed, so the danger goes both ways.
    – Isaac Moses
    Nov 17, 2015 at 17:35
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    If traveling through those dangerous neighborhoods unarmed is real Pikuach Nefesh, then it is forbidden to do so, no?
    – Double AA
    Nov 17, 2015 at 18:39
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    The more I think about it, the less I can believe that there are any places in the US where it's unambiguously pikuach nefesh to go without a gun, and where it's unambiguously not pikuach nefesh to go with one (licensed or not). As @DoubleAA said, if your commute case was serious, it would be forbidden for you to do that commute now, and your self-preservation drive wouldn't let you do it. On the flip side, if you go into a real war zone with a gun, you're still in a war zone. In fact, you may make yourself less likely to be robbed at the expense of being more likely to get shot.
    – Isaac Moses
    Nov 17, 2015 at 18:59
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    @ShmuelBrin Possibly. Though, for most people, it's better than being dead or injured. In many court cases, from what I have heard, people carrying an illegal gun who have used it in self-defense are not jailed. This is esp. true if they have no prior criminal record.
    – DanF
    Jun 20, 2017 at 2:59

1 Answer 1


The Gemara in Nedarim 28a says:

והאמר שמואל דינא דמלכותא דינא

Didn't Shmuel say "the law of the land is the law"?

It seems that the law of the land is considered law (I assume as long as it does not conflict with the practice of Torah Judaism). See also Gittin 10b.

  • Oh my! You're really trying to grab my attention on my "old" question, here! You have a deleted answer, and this one seems very similar to the deleted one. I'm not convinced that it would apply in this case in all situations, though. Re-read my 2nd paragraph, please. There is a general rule that when the local law conflicts a Torah law, one abides by Torah law. Here, it's a question of whether *Venishmartem lenafshotechem * is an actual mitzvah than can be applied based on either one's perception or if one constantly walks in (commutes) where there is a high chance of being killed.
    – DanF
    Jun 19, 2017 at 23:12
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    I see three issues at play here: One, does Dina d'malchusa even applyapplies in this scenario (it doesn't apply across the board, and it's a machlokes in the poskim as to where we do apply it)? Two, in the event that it does, does ushemartem es nafshoseichem override Dina d'malchusa? Three, in the event that it does, does it make a difference that the chiyuv can be carried out in other ways, such as carrying a knife. Just posting an answer stating there is a rule called Dina d'malchusa - a concession given in the OP - does not do this complex topic nearly enough justice.
    – DonielF
    Jun 20, 2017 at 3:42
  • @DonielF ..And, as stated, he repeated the answer that was deleted. I'm really puzzled.
    – DanF
    Jun 20, 2017 at 14:51
  • @ezra Just trying to grab your attention, here. In case you want to modify your answer. See my 1st comment as a reminder.
    – DanF
    Nov 28, 2017 at 16:36

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