The government will work with all relevant public and private bodies in order to
reduce the number of privately owned firearms in the country, Public Security
Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said Tuesday, the day after Itamar Alon, a former
security guard, used his firearm to kill four people before taking his own life
in a Beersheba bank branch.
“Over the past decade the number of weapons
permits has been reduced from 300,000 to 160,000, and now we are working to
reduce the number of people holding weapons permits by 10,000 per
“We will continue to examine the possibility of making the criteria
for weapons permits stricter, in order to reduce as much as possible the number
of citizens holding weapons who don’t need them and in order to prevent another
tragedy like the one we saw yesterday in Beersheba,” Aharonovitch
The minister’s comments came during a meeting he held with
officials from the police operations branch and members of his ministry, during
which they entertained a number of options for reducing the number of privately
owned firearms and firearm permits.
These included ensuring that every
company receive a special permit approved by the police for each and every
firearm their employees take home after work, requiring those renewing weapons
permits to prove that they have a need for the weapon, and allowing those with
permits to possess only a single gun, among others.
During the meeting,
the decision was made to launch a special task force to examine the stringency
of the medical and mental tests given to people applying for
“The security reality in Israel over the past decade has created
a large number of licenses to be issued, and it is our intention to reduce this
amount through the right balance.”
In order to get a firearms license in
Israel, someone must be over 21 years old, a resident of Israel for more than
three years, and pass a mental and physical health exam, as well as background
checks by the Public Security Ministry.
According to Yaakov Amit, the
head of the Public Security Ministry’s firearms licensing department, there are
now around 170,000 privately owned firearms in Israel, far less than there were
before the Rabin assassination, after which the government launched efforts to
reduce the number of firearms licenses in the country.
Asked about how
Alon could still have a firearm when his license had expired and about the
related legal issues therein, the Justice Ministry denied any connection to the
issue and said that issues regarding gun licenses were the responsibility of the
Public Security Ministry or the police.
Pressed about the fact that the
controversy does implicate legal issues for which the ministry might have
responsibility to provide guidance or oversight, the spokesman said that the
Knesset passes laws and that the ministry is not responsible for overseeing