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Tipsheet

Spikes In Violence Lead Israeli Government to Loosen Restrictions on Firearm Permit Process

With the recent spike in violence, the most recent being a horrific attack on an Israeli bus station over the weekend, the government has loosened its restrictions on the process of obtaining a firearm permit. As a result, many Israelis are taking firearms training for the permit process. Yair Yifrach, a gun shop owner, told the Guardian “there is a huge interest among people” in obtaining a permit for self-defense, and that the interest is “from all parts of the population.”

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According to the Law Library of Congress, there is no explicit right to bear arms in Israel. There’s also what appears to be a heavily regulated process for obtaining handgun permits for private use:

Issuing a firearms license for private use to other persons requires proof of the existence of a cause that justifies the license. In addition to specific training and mental health requirements, applicants must prove that possession of a firearm is needed based on the location of their residence or employment, the type of occupation they are engaged in, or service in elite Israel Defense Force (IDF) reserve units.

Military firearms are issued to IDF soldiers. As a general rule, a soldier does not take his gun on home leave. Exceptions to this rule apply to soldiers who serve in combat units, those who serve in the West Bank or other specified areas, or who have obtained special authorization from high-ranking military officers based on their officer rank or for reasons of personal safety associated with their home or service location.

Ease in firearm restrictions was also issued in 2014, when two Palestinians killed three American-Israeli rabbis, a British-Israeli rabbi, and a police officer in what became the worst attack on Israelis in six years, according to the Wall Street Journal. Then-Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovich said he would ease restrictions on private security and off-duty servicemen in the wake of this attack.

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Last week, his successor, Gilad Erdan, Aharonovich has retired from politics in 2015, stated he would also ease permit restrictions for firearms (via Haaretz):

Following the wave of terror attacks across the country, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has directed that obtaining permits to carry firearms be made easier. “In light of the security situation I’ve decided to make it easier to obtain a permit for owning a weapon,” he said Wednesday [October 14].

“In recent weeks many civilians have assisted the police in stopping terrorists who were carrying out attacks. Civilians who are skilled at using firearms are a multiplier force in our struggle against terrorists, so I’ve taken steps to make obtaining guns easier for now.”

Under the new guidelines, officers with the rank of first lieutenant or higher and NCOs with the rank of master sergeant or higher who are serving in the army as conscripted or reserve soldiers will be entitled to obtain weapons, as will former or current members of special units serving in regular or reserve units. The guidelines also apply to civilians who have taken courses as security guards at the Israel Airports Authority, the Shin Bet security service or any institution approved by Israel Police.

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