Israel relaxes gun laws to increase number of armed and ready citizens in wake of terrorist attacks
In the wake of the Hamas terrorist attacks over the weekend and the war now under way, Israelis are looking to bolster their security. To this end, the Israeli government is now relaxing some of its stringent gun laws to ensure that qualifying citizens can even the odds should they again become the last line of defense.
What’s the background?
indicated in January that Israel, which has a population of just over 9 million people, had roughly 148,000 licensed gun holders, not including security forces, soldiers, policemen, and security guards. This number has apparently been on the rise on account of recent Islamist attacks.
According to the national security ministry, applications for gun licenses more than doubled in 2022, from 19,000 in 2021 to 42,236.
“I carry a weapon for the simple reason that I won’t be defenseless. I will be able to protect myself and those around me,” Hosha’aya Volman, a Jewish resident in the northern West Bank settlement of Kohav Hashahar, told the BBC.
The former minister of internal security relaxed the criteria for ownership somewhat in 2018, such that adults with combat military service with advanced infantry training can receive firearms. It also became easier for volunteers in emergency rescue organizations and residents in high-risk areas to acquire permits to carry weapons.
Nevertheless, the Algemeiner
indicated that there remain various criteria applicants must satisfy in order to qualify.
Civilians can apply only for a pistol and are unable to acquire rifles. Additionally, civilians have only been allowed to have 50 bullets in their possession at any given time. Applicants must be 27 years old unless they’ve completed a two- or three-year military service, in which case they can apply on their 20th birthday. Eligible applicants must also pass a theoretical exam, present a health declaration signed by a doctor, pay a licensing fee, attend 4.5 hours of training, and demonstrate basic knowledge of the Hebrew language.
Precedent for change
Despite the apparent difficulty of acquiring a gun in Israel, there has been ample evidence to suggest that an armed citizenry can be lifesaving.
An Islamist murdered four people and wounded two others in a ramming and stabbing attack in Beersheba on
March 22, 2022. The rampage was brought to an end by two armed civilians who blew the attacker away.
Another stabbing and car-ramming attack in the West Bank settlement of Ariel on
Nov. 15, 2022, was brought to an end by armed civilians, aided ultimately by IDF soldiers.
March 31, 2022, a civilian fatally blasted a Palestinian radical who had stabbed a 28-year-old on a bus near the West Bank settlement of Efrat.
In a comparable incident on
July 19, 2022, a Palestinian radical stabbed a 41-year-old in the head with a screwdriver. The assailant was incapacitated by a news photographer who happened to be armed.
Critics have noted that Hamas terrorists might not have been able to so easily massacre hundreds at the Supernova festival in Re’im, Israel, over the weekend were there similarly armed citizens in the crowd, reported Newsweek.
According to Israeli officials, over 900 Israelis have been killed and 2,741 have been injured by Hamas. Fifty families have been notified that their loved ones were taken hostage.
Arming ‘as many citizens as possible’
Following the recent Hamas terror attacks on Israel, Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir
indicated Sunday the country will ease its gun laws in hopes of arming “as many citizens as possible.”
In a post on X, Ben-Gvir noted how the laws, effective Monday, would be eased:
Applicants without a criminal or medical record would need only undergo a telephone interview instead of a physical interview and would receive permission to carry a gun within a week;
Anyone who received a conditional permit to buy a gun but has not yet done so this year can now buy a gun, even if that permit has expired;
Citizens who deposited their weapons having previously failed to undergo refresher training will be given their guns back; and
Citizens can now purchase and possess up to 100 bullets as opposed to 50.
These revised rules will reportedly impact thousands of Israelis.
Ben-Gvir had suggested doing something similar in January, stating, “I want more weapons on the streets, so that the citizens of Israel could defend themselves.”
Jeffrey Gunter, a former U.S. ambassador and a Republican Jewish Coalition board member,
told Just the News, “There’s a great desire of Israelis to protect their homeland. … And I think along with that will be an increased desire to have gun ownership.”
In a response to a tweet from Donald Trump Jr., which suggested the recent attacks have highlighted the importance of the Second Amendment, Gun Owners of America
wrote, “Israel JUST loosened firearm licensing, but many Israelis still don’t live in an eligible region. Others simply cannot afford to wait a week for a telephone interview or need more than the allotted 100 rounds of ammo. A good first step, but Israel needs a Second Amendment ASAP!”
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