Applications for gun permits in Israel have increased 183% compared to the same time last year, after Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan changed the permit criteria in August.
Since the eased restrictions came into effect, over 2,800 Israeli civilians have applied for a gun permit. However, the numbers are far lower than the ministry’s initial estimates of 35,000 – 40,000 requests.
Despite this, the number of Israeli civilians owning a firearm totals 145,000 not including members of the police force and the army.
In August this year, Erdan relaxed permit restrictions for civilians opening it to anyone with military training, who is medically fit and has no criminal record in addition to meeting previous criteria.
Erdan said in a statement earlier this year the eased gun restrictions will lead to a sense of ‘public security.’
“Qualified citizens carrying firearms in public contribute to the sense of security, are an important line of defence from ‘lone-wolf’ attacks, Erdan said in a statement.
Chairman of the Israel Society for Gun Culture Enhancement, Alex Zohar told Israeli news media Haaretz he doesn’t understand the ‘meager’ response thus far.
I think anyone capable of carrying a gun should do so, but apparently a large part of the public thinks otherwise. A weapon is also responsibility, which not everyone wants, Zohar said.
Those who claimed that half a million people would want guns see that not even 50,000 wanted them.
Of recent 2,809 requests, only 900 have been approved thus far.
Speaking with Haaretz, Knesset Member Aida Touma-Sliman said the easing of gun restrictions jeopardizes peoples safety and security under the pretext of self defence.
Reality has taught us the hard way that ‘civilian weapons,’ in the absence of close and constant supervision, and in the absence of strict conditions for getting a weapons permit, cost lives, Touma-Sliman told Haaretz.
Putting weapons in the hands of another half million civilians will just enable an even lighter finger on the trigger.
According to Ma’an news agency, the proposed changes would apply in particular to Israeli settlers living near Israel’s West Bank separation wall, which cuts through the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Palestinians in the occupied territories are at even more of a risk of the new regulations, as the rate of illegal settlements in the West Bank continues to rise.
Touma-Sliman explained the particular threat for Palestinians if more Israeli civilians are armed.
Arming some of the public, primarily Jews, in the name of ‘the right to self defense from terror,’ means one thing regarding the incitement and unbridled attack on the Arab public and the Palestinian people: putting weapons in the hands of people incited by the government to carry out executions anytime they feel a subjective threat.
In other words, any time they see an Arab they don’t like, Touma-Sliman added.
Source: Palestine Monitor