An Israeli border policeman aims his weapon at Palestinians during clashes in Hebron.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Wednesday approved a number of measures to ease the requirements for firearm permits, as Israel copes with a wave of “lone wolf” terrorism.
“In recent weeks many citizens have helped the Israel Police subdue terrorists who carried out attacks,” he said.
“Citizens with firearms training are a multiplying force for the police in their fight against terrorism and therefore I will take measures to ease the restrictions at this time.”
The measures are to allow local authorities in “high priority” areas to give approval to carry weapons in certain instances, as opposed to previously when only the firearms licensing branch of the Public Security Ministry could do so.
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The ministry on Wednesday used the example of allowing the Jerusalem Municipality to give permits to school teachers in the ultra-Orthodox sector, which it referred to as one of the most vulnerable communities.
The regulations plan to make officers with the rank of lieutenant or higher and non-commissioned officers with the rank of staff-sergeant or higher eligible for firearms permits. Previously an officer had to have the rank of captain or above. The regulations remove the requirement that the applicant serve in the rank for at least two years before applying.
The ministry said that people who have served in certain special units in the IDF and security services will be eligible, though they did not specify which ones. In addition, people who have passed the Shin Bet’s (Israel Security Agency) security guards course and those who have completed the Airports Authority security guard course can be eligible for a permit. They also said people who had graduated security guard courses approved and led by the Israel Police could be eligible.
The ministry said they want to take steps to increase the readiness of permit holders, saying that Erdan had instructed ministry officials to find ways to encourage permit holders to train at a shooting range at least once a year, instead of only every three years as current regulations require.
This isn’t the first time terrorism lead to changes in firearms policy in Israel. Last November, following a series of terrorist attacks, new regulations were put into effect.
This included adding Jerusalem and 41 other cities, towns and local councils, to the list of “high risk” or “high priority” areas where residents can receive a permit easier.
The regulations stipulated that security firms can let guards take their firearms home at the end of their shifts and allowed for people to receive military grade firearms on a case by case basis, among other changes.
In Israel firearms licenses are typically only given if one can prove they have reason to carry a gun – for instance if they work in security or law enforcement or live in a dangerous area like the West Bank. They must also be over 21 years old, a resident of Israel for over three years, and pass a mental and physical exam, a shooting test and background checks by the Public Security Ministry. They are then allowed to order a gun through a gun store with approval of the ministry and given a one-time supply of 50 bullets to take home.