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October 14, 2015 4:59 pm

Israel Relaxes Gun Control Regulations Amid Surge in Terrorist Attacks

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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A collection of handguns. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A collection of handguns.[Illustrative] Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan approved the easing of Israel’s relatively strict gun control regulations for the public on Wednesday as a result of the current Palestinian terror wave, which has involved daily attacks against civilians, Israeli Channel 2 News reported.

“Over the past few weeks, many citizens assisted the Israel Police to neutralize terrorists in the act. Civilians well-trained in the use of weapons provide reinforcement in the struggle against terrorism,” Erdan said.

The new regulations include allowing people who have served in certain special military units, or who are currently serving in them as part of their mandatory IDF service — or in the reserves — to receive gun licenses.

In addition, all those who have passed certain courses – such as security guards employed by the Israel Airports Authority and those trained for the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) – will be allowed to bear firearms.

Meanwhile, Erdan also instructed the Firearm Licensing Department to minimize the bureaucracy involved in approving requests for permits based on a person’s address (i.e. if he or she lives in a neighborhood or settlement considered dangerous).

Former Israel Police prosecutor Nadav Blum, a Jerusalem attorney who has carried a handgun with him at all times for the past 45 years, told The Algemeiner that the ability to obtain licensing for firearms was far easier before 1996, when the 1949 law pertaining to the bearing of firearms was amended.

“The policy on Israeli civilians’ right to bear arms was more liberal before the ’90s,” he said. “It was during that period that it began to be restricted to those who had a specific reason for needing a gun, such as living in what is considered a dangerous neighborhood, in terms of proximity to Arab areas, and/or holding a job (i.e. school principal) or owning a business (i.e. jewelry store) that requires special protection.”

But, Blum added, even those licenses were only good for the period during which the danger still applied; after that, the gun owner would have to surrender the firearm and lose his license.

It is for this reason, Blum said, that really qualified people with excellent military or police history — people who could be useful to security services during times like the current surge in terror – were not at liberty to bear arms.

With the easing of restrictions, he added, there has to be some kind of examination that the people obtaining the permits actually know how to use the guns.

To an outsider, this might sound odd, as Israel has mandatory military service, during which everyone, even those with office jobs, is taught to handle a weapon — at least during basic training.

True, said Blum, “But in the army, the kids learn on long-barreled rifles, like M-16s, which are completely different from short-barreled handguns. The latter require much more training in order to become proficient in their use. It is a common misconception that because Israelis all serve in the IDF and learn how to shoot they are actually capable of using other weapons responsibly.

“Only soldiers in special commando and other elite units know how to use handguns properly, but they are a minority.

“So, just because the current restrictions are eased doesn’t mean that tomorrow, everyone who obtains a license for a firearm will necessarily know how to operate it – without lots of firing-range practice.”

According to Blum, most gun shops in Israel have indoor firing ranges and instructors. There are also outdoor municipal and private ranges. Olympic target-shooting practices are conducted at outdoor ranges, he said. But, there are very few people in Israel with hunting licenses, because most of the animals are protected as endangered species and hunting seasons are short and severely restricted.

Where the current situation is concerned, Blum cited two possible dangers of the new regulations: “One is the potential for innocent bystanders to get caught in crossfire. The other is that a firearm in the hands of someone not very experienced can be snatched away by terrorists.”

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  • Go forth Israel…protect thy people. America will go to war if Israel get nuclear attacked or over run by her enemies. American will not sit silent if Israel get destroyed. Iran better turn to common sense rather than hatred. Iran knew if they attack Israel by nuclear means…Iran will ceased to exist.

  • It’s the right thing to do. Peace can not be achieved in Israel. As a Christian man…I ‘ve seen terror being committed by Radical Muslims in my country, the Philippines. We still live in relative peace with them. In Israel it’s different…the whole region wanted you to be wiped out on earth. You have to fight every inch of the way to survive. The Christian faith is mainly based on the Jewish teachings. Our lord , Jesus Christ is a Jew and the son of God. The land of Israel has given us The Lord. Both Judaism and Christianity condemn murder as a sin, but in the Islamic teachings…it’s a path to heaven if you kill an infidel ( a human being). I do not understand why they can’t just accept peace…they lost the war because of aggression. Peace can be achieved through strength.

  • William, as long as you are faced by a religious fanatic who has been brought up from kindergarten to hate Jews, believes that to cut the throat of a three month old in the Ittamar settlement is a mitzvah not needing remorse, who will be lauded and venerated locally should he keep his date with 72 black-eyed virgins, you can have all the peace agreements in the world to no avail.

    Even the Hamas Charter spells that out when it proclaims its mission to raise the banner of Islam over every inch of Palestine.

    When I made Aliyah in 1954 I was given a Stengun for my first night’s work in a kibbutz field. In 1958, when drilling for oil at Heletz our six-man crew had 12 soldiers mounting 2 machineguns guarding us. So what is new?

    I regret saying so but believe that under today’s circumstances one should shoot first and question later.

    Shooting instructor for the Rhodesian army.

  • HaroldT

    In South Africa, because of high jacking, we fitted clingsheild to our car windows and we had 2 large cylinders of pepper spray in the car trunk to surround the car with spray if threatened, 10 years ago.
    How come this is not standard in Israel??

  • Noel Eliscu

    How do you keep the guns away from the animals? I am all for a person walking around with a gun but the Arabs are going to say every time they got shot it was the other persons fault. One statement if you shoot, shoot to kill not injure. The courts all over are too liberal.

  • DockyWocky

    I wonder if this means Obama and the radical Democrats will relax their demands for gun control should the islamic whackos begin actively terrorizing us Yankee infidel dogs right here in the former US of A?

    I know there is no concept of self-protection in any of the big shot Democrats, because they are all protected 24/7/365 by their heavily armed private, and taxpayer provided body guards.

  • In Texas, anyone with a clean criminal record can take a two-day training course and receive a license to carry a concealed handgun. There are very few places that I cannot carry my concealed handgun. Schools here continue to be “gun-free zones.” Gun-free zones are where almost all of the mass murders have taken place.

    Brandishing a firearm is illegal of course. Those who prefer to remain defenseless continue to have the right to remain defenseless.

    The law that created concealed carry in Texas requires that crime statistics involving those with concealed carry licensees be kept and be available to the public. As it turns out, concealed carry licensees have a far lower rate of violent crime than average citizens.

    As of January 1, 2016, our citizens with concealed carry licenses will be permitted to carry a handgun in either a belt holster or a shoulder holster not concealed. I suspect that most licensees will prefer to keep their handguns concealed. I supported the open carry legislation to eliminate the legal problems I might face if I accidentally expose my handgun.

    The carrying of long guns has always been permitted in most of our states. And the open carrying of handguns is now permitted in most of our states. In some states without a licensing requirements. In fact, Texas is somewhat unusual in that open carrying of a handgun requires a license.

    I was not aware that Israel required most of her citizens to be defenseless.

    • Rob Virgo

      Do not ever give up your right to bear arms In Australia we have draconian laws preventing even expolice oficers from owning or carrying a hand gun . Getting a firearms licence to own even a .22 small bore rifle is an exercise in beauracratic run around and can take up to a month. We are not even allowed to carry a knife or a cklub if it is carried for self defence or irt the authorities BELIEVE it could be used as a weapon . Owning a protective vest is an offence punishable by a heafty fine or prison. Yet ourt law enforcement officers are more heavily armed than ever before. They now carry batons, pepperspray, handguns, shotguns, protective vests and tasers. and that is just ordinary patrol officers not swat teams, theya re armed even better. Do not give up your right to bear arms. Ours were taken away centureis ago and have never been relaxzed. As a result gun crime is up as only criminals have access to them

  • I strongly agree with the policy of training and arming the civilian population

  • Atilla

    The obvious solution is to let anyone who wants a gun to go through a firearms training course and after, give them a permanent gun license.

    As long as the muslim vermin are on or close to Israeli soil, the problem will always be there.

  • Richard Wahl

    I’m glad the government of Israel is finely doing things to protect its people. Arming certain trained civilians is the right thing to do. An they are doing it right requiring training, background checks, and former special military training.

  • Mickey Oberman

    As a Canadian I have always been opposed to civilians carrying guns. But dire circumstances such as now are occurring in Israel have now made such a measure a necessity.
    I hope it helps quell the Muslim violence.

    Best wishes,

  • manley kiefer

    Generally, the gun culture was not a Jewish thing. I think it must change.

  • jeremy

    One of the best things done in all of human history.

    In medeival Europe it was illegal for Jews to carry a sword. According to the laws of Dhimmi, written down in the early 8th Century, Jews and certain non-connected Christians could not own any weapon, and could not leave their houses with a cooking knife. Besides not being permitted to testify against a Muslim, while Muslims could testify against a Jew (Pallywood is not even close to new, excuse me it was and is THE universal law of Islam and until recently Christinity, rather than being new.)

    This law is historically going in the correct direction. Especially in the Middle East, where Islam has always been militarized. Muslims are the purest Replacement Theology, an idea they took from Christians, so watch similar things come from Islam and they will claim to have done it first.While in fact in the Mideast, who gets weapons was based on their position in the colonizing Jihadic Ummah, never for human defense. (Their using of the “refugee” Ummah show how much antisemites and Muslim power care about human lives.)

  • It was about time that they allowed israeli civilians to “pack a gun” amidst this sick attitude of some Palestinians to go on a rampage of attacks. They are entitled to self defense.

  • George Jones

    It’s unfortunate that citizens of Israel are not free to maintain a firearm for their self defense and the defense of their families. While there certainly could be mishaps one has to ask which is worse being carved up, run over or shot by a Muslim or running a risk that you were shot by a fellow Jewish patriot. I would have err on the side of self defense!

  • Am not at all shocked by the silly nature of this article. Israel is, against its will, involved in a religious war mounted by Arab Muslims. It’s JIHAD plain and simple, yet the author is using the most ridiculous and nonsensical arguments in an attempt, it appears, to keep Israel’s restrictive weapon policy intact.

    Trust me, the only way to stop bad men with knives, guns, clubs and the like is good men with firearms. Using a handgun proficiently is NOT that difficult, that characterization is bizarre and signifies the author has not idea what he/she is talking about.

    Shalom, never surrender, destroy the jihadists and be done with the idiocy of this manner of journalism. How many of you need to be murdered by the Arab Intifada before you get the picture?

    Comments offered with all due respect…

  • SHmuel HaLevi

    Why we cannot access the comments?

  • Stephen Fogg

    Mr. Blum’s comments that a lot of firing range practice is necessary to use a handgun is open to question. The amount of training would depend on the role that the person carrying the gun intends to assume. To be a police or security officer requires considerable training and constant refreshing of the firearms skill set. To defend oneself successfully against an aggressor attacking at close range requires much less formal instruction beyond basic familiarity with the defensive weapon. In fact, proper mindset may be at least as important as the gun or knife, as Colonel Jeff Cooper outlined in his 1970s book “Principles of Personal Defense.”

  • John Cohen

    A very timely and good article Ruthie. Your finger is always on the pulse.Firearms in the hands of the inexperienced can be a real danger rather than a help. As you quite rightly pointed out the handling of hand guns is a completely different story to rifles. Personally I believe that one way of making the holding of firearms safer is to have more frequent compulsory practice at a recognized range. At present, one only has to be tested every time a licence is renewed, once in five years, and this is not enough.

    • dum and fat

      onev fonr gems??? rotflmao i can’t sleep very well because i’m super fat

  • SHmuel HaLevi

    Temporary and reversible regulations are irrelevant. And the pretend relaxation are risible.
    We must demand the adoption of a Law paralleling the US Constitution Second Amendment.
    The Muslims have accumulated bought, stolen military grade weaponry in their villages in huge quantities. Those must be found at all costs and taken from the enemy.
    No licenses given to Muslims that do not serve in the idf.
    Mr. Erdan is way under powered for that post.
    Internal Security must be held by experienced and proven hard nosed fighters.

  • Every Israeli could have a Gun and you still won’t have Peace.
    Accepting the Arab Peace of 2003 will accomplish what 48 Years of Occupation could not, that is Bring Long term Peace and Security.

    If Not change your Name to Masada !

    • Yes William, the 2003 ‘Peace’ ultimatum would bring peace…the peace of the cemetery, which is exactly why the Arabs like it so much.

      By the way, whose country is Israel occupying? Now,Judea and Samaria used to belong to the Ottomans as part of the villayat of Palestine, but they ceded it to the victorious allies after WWI.

      According to the League of Nations mandate and the subsequent 1923 San Remo Accord between the League and Britain that gave 79% of the Palestine mandate to the Arabs for their state of Jordan, everything west of the Jordan River was supposed to be part of the Jewish state.

      In 1948 Jordan invaded Judea and Samaria and ethnically cleansed all the Jews living there, but even the UN never recognized Judea and Samaria as part of Jordan.

      In 1967, Jordan attacked Israel again and lost control of that territory. Since then, Jordan has withdrawn all claims to it. And of course, ‘Palestine’ has never been a country and officially owns no territory.

      So how is Israel ‘occupying’ anything? According to international law, it’s rightfully theirs anyway!

      Check your Israel bashing privilege, please.

    • Joes

      I don’t think peace is on most Israelis’s minds. They just want to defend against being hacked to pieces, perhaps by some sweet and innocent 13 yr old.

    • Ivana Talya Tufakov

      Willie boy, can’t tell whether you are naive or a fool or a naive fool. Whichever, your “plan” has already been discredited by events on the ground.

      The answer is to get rid of all the Allahu Akbaroaches by spraying them with DDT if the don’t leave voluntarily. Pesticide is not a crime against humanity. It is an act of purification.