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Ben Gvir seeks to ease civilian gun regulations for combat reservists, firefighters and former police

The new regulations must be approved by the Knesset National Security Committee

Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir at the Israel Police Independence Day ceremony at the National Headquarters of the Israel Police in Jerusalem, Apr. 20, 2023. (Photo: Oren Ben Hakoon/Flash90)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir on Sunday said that recently released soldiers and police officers, as well as firefighters, should be exempt from gun license interviews.

"There is no reason why armor and combat engineering fighters, who are part of the IDF's frontline force on the battlefield, should not be allowed to carry weapons, as well as a lot of other IDF fighters who, until today, absurdly did not meet the criteria," said Ben Gvir.

Ben Gvir promised to ease the process of obtaining a gun permit following a Jerusalem car-ramming attack last Monday, where the terrorist was killed by an armed civilian.

"Time and time again we see in many terror attacks the great significance of personal weapon carriers in the vicinity, and we will make every effort to accelerate the process of obtaining a gun license for people who meet the criteria," Ben Gvir said.

Ben Gvir's announcement was not without criticism, however. The Women’s Lobby on Sunday said that Ben Gvir’s proposal would endanger many women and children.

"From 2019-2021, nine women were murdered in Israel by men who had a gun license,” said Women's Lobby Director Hadas Danieli Yelin.

She continued, "The easing of weapon ownership threatens thousands of women and children who live under domestic violence. The solution to the problems and security problems is to strengthen the security forces and especially the Israel Police, and not to flood the country with more and more weapons."

Hagit Pe’er, head of the Na’amat women’s movement, also warned against easing restrictions.

“Women living in terror of violent partners will sleep even less when a gun is placed under their husband’s pillow. This really isn’t the solution to the wave of violence that is washing over Israel’s streets; it’s the opposite,” she stated.

National Unity Knesset Member Sharren Haskel said on Sunday evening that the Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs rejected a bill she submitted that would ease the criteria for obtaining a firearm permit.

There has been a significant increase in demand for personal gun licenses over the last year as terror attacks escalated. Out of approximately 42,000 applications submitted in 2022, only some 11,000 (or 26%) were approved.

In February, Ben Gvir eased the restrictions by removing the interview requirement for current members of the Israel's security forces. He also introduced a plan to double the number of employees in his ministry's licensing division and to increase working hours.

The ease in restrictions followed a terrorist shooting attack in the City of David in January, in which an armed reservist shot the perpetrator. At the time, Netanyahu also suggested arming emergency responders.

In the previous government under Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid, the leaders worked to ease gun-control restrictions. In March 2022, after a new wave of violence began, then-Prime Minister Bennett called on more Israelis to carry personal weapons.

“What is expected of you, citizens of Israel?” Bennett asked in a video message. “Alertness and responsibility. Keep your eyes open. Whoever has a license to carry a weapon, this is the time to carry it.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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