A plan to ease the firearm licensing process in Israel was set to be presented on Tuesday by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.
According to a ministry statement, Ben-Gvir seeks to lower waiting times for the interview section of the gun permit application process, as well as the waiting period for approval after the interview. He will instruct to speed up the process in general.
To facilitate the expedition of the process, Ben-Gvir intends to double the number of employees at his ministry's Firearms Licensing Division.
An uptick in applications
There are currently 17,373 applications waiting to be processed, according to the ministry. Of these, 6,600 are at the stage of submitting documents and 10,773 are awaiting interviews.
Previously, Yehuda Elcharar of the law firm Decker, Pex, Ofir & Co, who specializes in helping those seeking to obtain licenses, told The Jerusalem Post that there is often an uptick in applications after a wave of terrorism.
There was such a wave of terrorism in 2022, which according to the ministry's data, saw a record 42,236 new applications for private firearms.
The 17,373 applications being processed are leftovers from 2022. Last year, 10,986 licenses were issued, and another 4,404 probational licenses were approved.
217 requests expired when they were approved but the applicant didn't complete the process, and 9,256 requests were rejected.
Gun permits are accepted or rejected based on the applicants' meeting of eligibility criteria. Ben-Gvir has suggested he may ease these criteria, such as those that prioritize citizens that live in dangerous areas or beyond the green line.
After the terrorist attacks in Jerusalem over the weekend, Elcharar said that there was another increase in requests, and he had personally seen many applying for the first time.
Ben-Gvir's proposals came in direct response to the deadly Jerusalem shootings that left seven dead and five injured. On of the incidents, near the City of David, was stopped when two civilians shot the teenage gunman.
The national security minister pointed to this example as proof of concept, saying that ""I want more weapons on the streets so that the citizens of Israel can defend themselves."
There are approximately 155,168 legal private firearms in Israel, with about 147,248 approved license holders, according to the ministry. This would mean about 1.6% of Israel's population possesses a legal private firearm.