Israel loosens gun control laws for war
Hamas terrorist attack from Gaza leads to Israeli government's emergency declaration to "allow as many citizens as possible to arm themselves" for self defense
Like many of you, I’ve been watching the horror of the Hamas terrorists' surprise attack on Israel from Gaza. I’ve been to Israel several times and love the people and the unique energy of the Holy Land. It is devastating to see so many Israelis killed, injured and taken hostage before they could defend themselves.
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Impact of the Attack
Israel, the tiny democracy in the Middle East with terrorists along all its borders, has more stringent gun-control laws than anywhere in the United States. There is no recognition of the right to keep and bear arms like our Second Amendment.
A mere 1.5% of Israelis have a civilian license to own a gun, even though they are all trained during mandatory military service.
But the day after the horrific terrorist attack, the government suddenly made it slightly easier for its citizens to own firearms for self-defense.
Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir announced in Hebrew an emergency declaration that will “allow as many citizens as possible to arm themselves.” It went into effect in 24 hours.
Strict gun control
You are eligible to apply only if you live or work in the settlement areas (including Gaza) or are employed in professions that use guns — like security guards, police officers or firefighters. Active duty military, military veterans of a certain rank, and special forces can also apply.
(The application is on the Firearm Licensing Department’s website.)
The license allows you to own only one handgun and, until now, 50 rounds of ammunition. You have to apply for another license for any additional guns.
Hurdles to gun ownership
When applying, an individual must provide references, proof of residency for three years and meet the minimum age requirement (based on military service and residency.) Applicants must also prove a basic knowledge of Hebrew and provide a health declaration from a doctor.
The person must pass the interview, pay a licensing fee, buy the gun, and attend 4.5 hours of training at a shooting range.
Applicants can meet all these requirements but still be denied based on criminal convictions, drug use, or certain mental health conditions.
An Israeli who no longer meets all the eligibility requirements must notify the Firearm Licensing Department and deposit their firearm and license at a police station within 72 hours.
Emergency gun rights
The details of Ben-Gvir's emergency policy are relatively small changes.
A person can now buy 100 rounds of ammo.
The laws that require proving “a need” to own and carry a gun have not changed.
However those eligible to apply for a license under the “self-defense test” can now do the required interview on the phone instead of in person. The applicant will be approved for the license within a week under the new order.
According to the minister, 4,000 citizens who applied for a conditional permit in 2023 but let the license expire before using it can now purchase a firearm. Another 1,800 people in the past six months who returned their guns to the government for not taking a training renewal course can get their weapons back.
Gun rights leader
Ben-Gvir has been pushing for more civilian gun ownership to deal with both terrorist attacks and crime since he took office at the beginning of this year. He made it easier to get permits by adding staff to process the licenses. He expanded those qualified to apply to include more veterans and medic volunteers.
"I want more weapons on the streets so that the citizens of Israel can defend themselves,” he said in January.
By early June, the Jerusalem Post reported that new licenses jumped by 280% compared to the same four-month period in 2022.
He made it easier to get permits and said in August that his policies led to an 88% increase in the amount of women receiving firearms licenses. “Women that want to defend themselves and their families is a blessed thing,” said Ben-Gvir.
Israel at war
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