Minister Gilad Erdan of Public Safety is finalizing a plan to relax the requirements for possession of a rifle, making hundreds of thousands of extra citizens eligible for carrying a firearm.
According to the plan, reported in Haaretz last month, every citizen with what is known as level 7 Rifleman training, as is the case with most infantry units in Israel, can apply for a gun license.
"Skilled civilians with a public gun contribute to a sense of security, act as an important line of defense against attacks from the lone wolf terror and … thus increase public security," said Erdan Monday. The new policy, he said, "establishes a balance between the need to defend the public at risk and the need to protect the public against the misuse of a firearm."
There are currently around 145,000 holders of gun licenses in Israel. This number does not include people who have firearms because their work requires it, and not including soldiers and police. Gun licenses must be renewed every three years.
The plan now being completed by the Ministry of Public Security would allow almost everyone who has carried out combat service in the Israeli army to apply for a permit. The ministry is of the opinion that of the hundreds of thousands of people who meet this requirement, approximately 35,000 to 40,000 people actually apply, increasing the number of license holders to about 200,000.
At this moment someone must be at least 21 years old and in good health to apply for a permit. Other conditions are staying in a settlement on the West Bank, a border area or an area near the separation wall. Since taking office, Erdan has enthusiastically supported the increase in the number of persons in possession of a private legal firearm, in the light of the wave of terror and the number of armed civilians who have succeeded in thwarting attacks.
In 2016, at the initiative of Erdan, officers with the rank of lieutenant and higher who are still in the reserves should be added to the list of people who could apply for a gun license, along with veterans of elite military units, farmers, guides and first aid personnel. . Then thousands of other people received licenses to possess a firearm.
Social action groups are opposed to Erdan's plan to put more firearms into private hands, for fear they can be used for other purposes. An umbrella group that itself & # 39; Gun on the Kitchen Table & # 39; mentions, which calls for more restrictions on gun ownership, has pleaded two murders committed by security guards with licensed firearms this past year, as well as the case of Nashat Milhem, who had committed a terror. attack on Dizengoff Street in 2016 with a submachine gun that his father legally owned.
"Until a few years ago, the trend was to limit the presence of weapons in public places as a means to prevent unnecessary casualties, but since Erdan has been in office, we see exactly the opposite," lawyer Debbie Gild-Hayo of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said. Weapons endanger the public, Gild-Hayo added, because they can be used against family members, particularly the murder of women, and for suicide and various crimes, along with accidental discharges and other accidents.
"As if that was not enough, MKs at meetings of the Knesset Interior Committee fought for moderate training requirements, claiming that they are a burden for people who own weapons, and it appears that our elected officials have forgotten to ensure the well-being of the public and to strike a good balance between security needs and the protection of civilians against the danger of numerous deadly weapons in the public sphere, "said Gild-Hayo.