IDF reservists, recently released soldiers and firefighters should be exempt from firearm license interviews to help combat terrorism, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said on Sunday.
The new regulations would need to be brought before the Knesset National Security Committee for approval.
"There is no reason why armor and combat engineering fighters, who are part of the IDF's frontline force on the battlefield, should not be allowed to carry weapons," said Ben-Gvir. "As well as a lot of other IDF fighters who, until today, absurdly did not meet the criteria."
Prior to an interview, Israeli citizens who apply for gun licenses are judged for applicability based on a series of criteria, which include location of residence, profession and military service. Being in a special unit, officer, NCO or having a 07 combat ranking makes one more likely to be approved -- But these criteria can exclude combat soldiers, like some combat engineers, who only go through 05 combat training.
Ben-Gvir said that allowing these soldiers to obtain firearms was a critical and life-saving issue.
“In many terrorist attacks that have taken place in recent months, we have seen how important and critical the reaction is of citizens who carry weapons," said Ben-Gvir.
The national security minister had promised to ease the process for gun permits after a Jerusalem car-ramming attack last Monday. The terrorist had been shot and killed by an armed civilian. Ben-Gvir called the man to congratulate him for saving lives.
However, the Women's Lobby warned on Sunday that many women and children would be put in danger by the plan.
"From 2019-2021, 9 women were murdered in Israel by men who had a gun license," said Women's Lobby director Hadas Danieli Yelin. "The easing of weapon ownership threatens thousands of women and children who live under domestic violence. The solution to the problems and security problems is to strengthen the security forces and especially the Israel Police, and not to flood the country with more and more weapons."
National Unity MK Sharren Haskel said on Sunday evening that the Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs had rejected her own bill on easing criteria for firearm permits.
Easing firearm ownership regulations
Ben-Gvir had previously eased regulations for firearm ownership in February. The interviews for current security force members were removed. To counter a backlog in applications, Ben-Gvir had announced that he would double the employees of his ministry’s licensing division and increase its operating hours. He set the goal of 5,000 to 8,000 interviews per month.
"We have already released 12,000 firearm licenses that were stuck due to bureaucratic complications, and after the criteria are made accessible, God willing, many more citizens will be able to obtain a firearm license, without bureaucratic difficulties and in a much more efficient way than before," said Ben-Gvir.
Ben-Gvir's February proposal had also come in response to a terrorist attack. He had cited a January 28 City of David shooting attack in which one of the civilian victims had managed to shoot the terrorist.