Israel Loosens Gun Laws; Hundreds of Thousands More Now Eligible for Licenses

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

While tightening gun control laws is an issue in many Western countries, Israel on Tuesday is enacting a new relaxation of gun laws. A plan proposed by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan that goes into effect Tuesday will allow an additional half million Israelis to legally acquire firearms, and to apply for a firearms license.

Until now, individuals who wanted a personal protection weapon had to prove that they were in need of one in order to protect their families, their businesses, or themselves. Many residents of Yehudah and Shomron, for example, have been granted such licenses. Under the new rules, hundreds of thousands of IDF veterans who served in combat units will now be eligible to request a license; unless there is a reason not to do so, a license will be granted. IDF officers who leave the army, as well as army combat unit veterans who live in Yehudah and Shomron, will receive an automatic license to continue to carry their personal weapons.

Erdan said that experience has shown that when a terrorist attack takes place, it is usually armed citizens who react in the first seconds, and they are able to put an end to the attack far more quickly than police could. Disagreeing with him was Meretz head Tamar Zandberg, who said that instead of expanding the possibility of holding weapons, the government should be limiting it, lest Israel end up like the U.S., where, she claimed, mass shootings are common due to the large number of weapons available.