Home Top Stories Israelis pressure government to loosen restrictive gun laws amid Hamas war: It’s a ‘pity’ it came to this

Israelis pressure government to loosen restrictive gun laws amid Hamas war: It’s a ‘pity’ it came to this

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Israelis pressure government to loosen restrictive gun laws amid Hamas war: It’s a ‘pity’ it came to this

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Israeli citizens are urging the government to loosen the country’s restrictive gun laws in the harrowing aftermath of Hamas’ terror attack that massacred more than 1,200 Israelis and ignited a war in the region.

Israeli residents are signing petitions pressuring the government to allow them to take up personal arms as Israel prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza, the Times of Israel reported.

Firearm licensing in Israel is a point of contention in the country and has been regarded as excessively stringent for civilians, but activists say the events that transpired in the last week and the traumatic images of Hamas terrorists brutally murdering Israeli civilians in their homes, should be cause to immediately loosen restrictions.

“People are changing their opinion, and now there is more awareness,” Rabbi Raz Blizovsky, 32, of Katzrin told The Times of Israel. 

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body bags israeli soldiers

Israeli soldiers remove the bodies of civilians, who were killed days earlier in an attack by Hamas terrorists on this kibbutz near the border with Gaza, on October 10, 2023 in Kfar Aza, Israel.  ((Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images))

Firearm licenses for private citizens in Israel are typically only granted to individuals who can prove a need for extra security in their line of work or daily life. One of the key qualifications for a private citizen to obtain a license to own a gun depends on where they live, the Times of Israel explained.

Blizovsky takes issue with that logic. He said he can’t understand why someone in Tel Aviv legally cannot get a pistol, but someone in the Golan can. 

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“There are terror attacks in both places,” he told the outlet, adding that it’s a “pity” that it took a devastating terror attack to wake up the country to the importance of personal protection for private citizens.

“I have been involved with groups that have been talking about this issue for years. During calm times, people don’t do anything,” he said.

Hours after Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel on Saturday, Blizovsky started several messaging groups for Israelis in support of loosening restrictions for personal firearms. An online petition he created garnered 8,000 signatures in 24 hours, the outlet reported. A separate online petition, which calls on the Israeli government to grant “a permit to carry a private weapon for anyone who has served in the IDF and has no criminal record,” has gathered close to 22,000 digital signatures in three days.

Soldiers holding a body bag

Israeli soldiers remove the body of a compatriot, killed during an attack by the Hamas, in Kfar Aza, south of Israel bordering Gaza Strip, on October 10, 2023.  (JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Blizovsky believes the atrocities committed by Hamas could have been avoided if more Israeli civilians had firearms, he told the outlet. In the past several days, people from all over the country have reached out to him inquiring about the best way to obtain a license for personal protection, he said.

“The main criterion should be, does that person have a criminal background?” Blizovsky argued. “It’s easy to give a weapon to someone who was trained in the IDF, but then if he is called to reserve duty, what does that help his family or community?”

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has long championed loosening Israel’s gun laws. He told reporters earlier this year, “When civilians have guns, they can defend themselves.” 

On Sunday, Ben Gvir posted on X, formerly Twitter, that he directed the Firearms Licensing Division to “go on an emergency operation, in order to allow as many citizens as possible to arm themselves.”

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Parts of his plan to speed up gun permits include a phone interview instead of a physical interview for applicants who meet the criteria for carrying a private firearm and who don’t have a criminal or medical record. If approved, they will be able to receive permission to carry a firearm within a week, he wrote in a post that has been translated into English.

Ben Gvir also said that citizens who had received a conditional permit to buy a firearm but did not do so will be able to purchase a firearm now without the need to submit another application if theirs has expired.

“The exemption will apply to about 4000 citizens,” he wrote.

1,800 others who were forced to return their guns to the government in the past six months for not taking a training renewal course can get their weapons back, he added.

In the comment section on X, some users criticized Ben Gvir’s plan as “too little too late.”

Strike on Ashkelon, Israel causes car fire

Israeli firefighters extinguish fire at a site struck by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in Ashkelon, Israel, on Monday. (AP/Tsafrir Abayov)

Currently, only roughly 2% of the Israeli population owns guns. That compares to about 30% of the population owning a gun in the U.S., BBC reported.

In January, Israel announced it would speed up gun applications in response to a shooting in East Jerusalem that left seven people dead.

“Firearm licensing will be expedited and expanded in order to enable thousands of additional citizens to carry weapons,” read a statement on the Facebook page of the Prime Minister of Israel at the time.

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