Israeli Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan announced new criteria Monday making hundreds of thousands of IDF infantry unit veterans eligible to receive firearms licenses.
In addition, Erdan decided officers and commanders will not be required to return their arms and weapons license after they are released from reserve duty.
“Many civilians saved lives during terror attacks and in an era of ‘lone terrorism.’ The more skilled civilians carrying weapons, the greater the chance of thwarting attacks without casualties and reducing the number of casualties,” he said.
As a result of the liberalized weapons policy, the potential for skilled firearms users in the public sphere to have licenses will increase by more than half a million people, including those who are serving in, or are veterans of the security forces and IDF, as well as volunteers for the Israel Police and emergency and rescue organizations, he said.
Erdan also enacted regulations that significantly upgrade the training process for new license applicants and holders of existing licenses.
“The new policy balances the need to protect the public who may be at risk and the need to protect the public from misuse of guns,” he stated.
Joint List MK Dov Henin slammed the policy.
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“Welcome to the war zone,” he said. “More weapons mean more violence, more accidents, and more wounded and dead. The trend should be the opposite: a reduction in the presence of weapons in the civilian space in Israel – which is too high, and certainly not an expansion of it.”
“Like many bad fads that the right in Israel imports from the right in the United States, in this case too, it is better to stop before starting. Before there will be massacres here in schools, and before there will be another intolerable increase in the murders of women in [their] homes,” Henin said.
At the other end of the political spectrum, Likud MK Amir Ohana, who founded the Knesset Caucus on Firearms Policy, welcomed the step.
“As someone who had worked since his first day in the Knesset to ease the government’s restrictions on the most basic right – the right to self-defense – I congratulate my friend Erdan, who finally, in contrast to his predecessors, is working for the benefit of the citizens and enables responsible and skilled citizens to serve as a power multiplier for the security authorities,” he said.
“The time has come for a turning point in a life-threatening policy,” Ohana said, remarking that in recent years Israelis have had to defend themselves with guitars, shopping carts, selfie sticks, pizza trays and umbrellas.
“A civilian who has no criminal and/or relevant medical record, and serves or served in reserves, should be able to defend himself and others – such a person is not the problem, but in many cases the solution. Today we took a significant step on the way toward that,” said Ohana.
Until now, among other criteria, Israelis could get a gun only if they have what was considered by the Public Security Ministry to be a good reason, such as if they work in security or law enforcement, or if they live or work in a settlement in which the state has an interest in arming some residents. In addition, former officers in the IDF and other security branches above a certain rank could get a license.
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