As Israel struggles to respond to the deadliest attack against that country since the Yom Kippur War, the Israeli government is engaging in a quintessentially “too little, too late” action by temporarily modifying its draconian gun control laws.
Out of the many horrific scenes that emerged over the weekend, there were, in my view, a couple that beggared the imagination.
In this one, the participants of a “peace music festival” were hunted like wild game by a handful of Hamas murderers. At least 260 participants were gunned down (see True Savagery: Hamas Terrorists Murdered Over 250 at Music Festival Near Gaza).
The women seemed to be singled out for rape, murder, and kidnapping.
One of the most poignant scenes was this kidnapped family.
There was story after story of Hamas criminals going door to door to slaughter unarmed Israelis. There is video of two or three armed Hamas thugs herding several Israelis away to whatever fate awaits them. The attack on Israel was carried out over a large geographical area and involved relatively few; most estimates are around 1,000 gunmen. One of the reasons Hamas was able to execute such a broad attack with so few fighters was that it knew it would face no resistance from homeowners because Israel had disarmed its citizens.
Despite its tradition of conscription and service in the Israeli Defence Forces as a rite of passage to adulthood and citizenship, it is nearly impossible for an Israeli citizen to own a firearm.
In other words, what are the accepted reasons for carrying a gun in Israel? The desire to a obtain a weapon for self-defense is not considered sufficient reason for obtaining a private firearms permit. In order to obtain the license, one must meet one of several criteria specified in the procedures. The criteria include those who live or work beyond the Green Line (the West Bank area or one of the few “communities entitled to weapons” within the Green Line), serve in the security forces (or the police, the Shin Bet, airport security, etc.) or who needs to carry a weapon in their line of work (a security guard, a tour guide, a certified farmer, an explosives carrier, a shooting instructor).
Most private weapons holders are entitled to carry a pistol and 50 bullets. Hunters, rodent exterminators, athletes in the field of shooting and veterinarians working in the field are entitled to receive a type of rifle appropriate to their profession, subject to the recommendation of the relevant authority.
Belatedly, the Israeli government has relaxed its gun control regime.
Today I directed the Firearms Licensing Division to go on an emergency operation, in order to allow as many citizens as possible to arm themselves.
The plan will take effect within 24 hours, below are its main points:
1. Any citizen who meets the detailed tests for carrying a private firearm due to self-defense and serving the security forces, and is without a criminal or medical record, will be required to undergo a telephone interview instead of a physical interview, and will be able to receive permission to carry a firearm within a week. (Self-defense tests: residence in an eligible settlement, rifle veterans 07 and above, officers in the rank of lieutenant and above and combatants in the rank of major and above in the IDF and the security forces, service in special units, firefighters, policemen, and workers and volunteers in the rescue forces).
2. Any citizen who received a conditional permit to purchase a firearm and did not purchase a firearm during the year 2023 and the conditional license has expired, will be able to purchase a firearm now without the need to submit another application. The exemption will apply to about 4000 citizens.
3. Any citizen who deposited his weapon in the last six months due to failure to perform refresher training or renewal training, will be able to receive his weapon back. The exemption will apply to about 1800 citizens.
4. In addition, starting next Tuesday, conditional permits to carry firearms will be issued with a permit allowing the purchase of up to 100 bullets instead of 50 today.
All this in addition to the criteria change that should happen soon.
I thank the members of the Firearms Licensing Division, the Civil Response Department of the Israel Police and the employees of the Ministry of Health for the very important commitment that will allow as many citizens as possible to arm themselves and protect themselves and their environment when necessary.
Even the weekend’s horror is insufficient to allow Israeli citizens to own firearms in the numbers and types needed to protect themselves. A temporary modification of firearms ownership regulations two days after a major attack on Israel does nothing to increase security. The only people left to buy a weapon are those who were not attacked on Day One and won’t be attacked now.
As the old saying goes, when every second counts, the police are minutes away…or, in this case, the army is days away.
Hopefully, this will be a wake-up call for the Netanyahu government. While disarming the populace is great virtue signaling for the World Economic Forum elites, it doesn’t work out well for the people when they are under attack.