(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
New guidelines on gun licensing went into effect on Thursday, easing the restrictions on firearm possession across the country.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch approved the guidelines during a meeting he held on Wednesday night with officials from the Israel Police and his ministry’s branch that approves firearm permits.
The decision comes after a series of terrorist attacks in the capital and elsewhere, and the minister’s promise earlier this week that he would order an examination into whether firearm restrictions could be loosened, as a way of providing security in the face of the threat.
The guidelines will add Jerusalem and 41 other cities, towns and local councils, to the list of areas considered “high-risk” or “high-priority,” such as including West Bank settlements, where residency can make it easier to receive a permit if one meets other criteria.
In addition, security firms can now let guards take their firearms home at the end of their shifts.
Soldiers who served in certain elite combat units; any reserve officer of any rank; and firearms shooting instructors will be able to get permits.
People with older state-issued firearms can swap them for newer guns, and the police security branch commander can authorize on a case by case basis the carrying of military grade firearms.
Aharonovitch said, “The decision to ease the restriction stems from recent events and the need to strengthen the sense of security among the general population and due to the recent terrorist attacks that have struck us.
Issuing permits will be done responsibly and with scrutiny and discretion, and in keeping with the approved criteria.”
As opposed to the United States where gun ownership is a right, in Israel it is a privilege given to people who meet certain requirements.
The licenses have only been issued to those who work in security or law enforcement, or who live in settlements or other places where the state has an interest in them being armed.
As of earlier this week, criteria included that the applicant be over 21, an Israeli resident for more than three years, have passed a mental and physical health exam, background checks by the Public Security Ministry and shooting exams and courses at a licensed gun range. If given a permit, the holder is allowed to order a single firearm with a one-time supply of 50 bullets from a licensed dealer. He is required to retake the licensing exam and undergo testing at a gun range every three years. He also has to prove he has a safe at home to store the gun.