Photo Credit: Courtesy, 0404.co.il
Guns, cartridges and ammunition seized in raid by Israeli security personnel at Azaria on June 2, 2014.

While it appears that Israel is a country inundated with guns, private ownership is actually quite low. As Israel doesn’t have the rather idiotic “concealed carry” law, and combat soldiers take their guns home with them, it appears that Israelis are far more armed than they really are.

As I’ve written in the past, Israel’s gun law are far too restrictive and regulated when it comes to who is eligible to get a gun license and own a personal weapon, yet far too nonchalant in terms of what steps are mandatory in the process of getting your gun license, once you meet that initial eligibility criteria.

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The short version is that eligibility is based on what the government has defined as your critical need for a license (i.e. where you live, where you work or volunteer), alongside additional restrictions (i.e. age and type of army service). This prevents most Israelis from being eligible for a gun license.

It’s so restrictive that 40% of gun applicants are rejected, and under 200,000 citizens have private gun licenses. There are around 400,000 licensed firearms in Israel (not including army issued weapons).

Since I know someone is going to mention it in the comments, I’ll say it here first. Yes, Arab citizens can and do get gun licenses in Israel.

Once you have a gun license, you’re then restricted in how many guns you can own (only one), and how many bullets you may possess (only 50).

Surprisingly, for a country that requires 40 hours of driving lessons with a licensed instructor before getting a driver’s license, there’s almost no pre-license training required for getting a gun, other than one short class and then shooting 50 bullets. There’s also a background check, and getting a stamp from a doctor.

It appears the underlying philosophy is restrict access, restrict usage, restrict guns – and the thinking stopped right there.

Israel’s gun control laws are too restrictive in where they should be more liberal, and too negligent, where they should be more restrictive.

This is how I would change Israel’s gun law:

Eligibility The most obvious point, is that any Israeli civilian should be able to get a license, regardless of where they live or work. This doesn’t need an explanation. Gun ownership is a right.

Obviously, the applicants should not have a violent criminal or drug records and no major psychological problems.

Of course, just because everyone should be able to get a gun, it doesn’t mean they should be able to pick one up from a vending machine.

Training Like a car, I would require anyone who wants a gun license to go through training. If you need 40 hours of lessons to get a driver’s license, a few good hours of gun training is not too much to ask for.

For someone with a military background in a combat unit (or police, security, etc.), 10 hours of training, spread out over at least 2 days, with a mix of practical and applied training is sufficient.

Civilians without any security/combat backgrounds would require 40 hours of training.

Let’s get real, we’ve all seen too many people with licensed weapons, who simply don’t know how to handle or use them. That’s ridiculous — and dangerous.

Testing Once the training is complete, a standardized test should be given. The testing would include accuracy in shooting, taking care of the weapon, handling the weapon, etc.

The test would be given by a licensed tester who is not the instructor who taught you.

The bottom line is, I want to know that the person next to me on the street with a gun is actually minimally qualified to use it.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. With all due respect, 40 hours of training as a prerequisite fore a firearms license is patently ridiculous overage. That number seems to have been suggested with a minimum of thought (in comparison, Canadian safety-licensing courses are held over two days, at approx. 5 hours a day at the maximum).

    I understand you may wish for more training, but why would you pull a random "40 hour figure" out of thin air (or out of an irrelevant driving-course analogy) when there are perfectly-functioning examples of firearm safety courses that operate at 1/4 of that 40-hour figure?

  2. You said "Israel’s gun control laws are too restrictive in where they should be more liberal, and too negligent, where they should be more restrictive.

    This is how I would change Israel’s gun law:

    Eligibility The most obvious point, is that any Israeli civilian should be able to get a license, regardless of where they live or work. This doesn’t need an explanation. Gun ownership is a right."

    Where is it written that "gun ownership is a right" in Israel.? They don't have a 2nd Amendment as we have in the U.S. While you may have a point that the requirements for obtaining a license may be a bit too lax, it's clear to me that your sense of eligibility to apply for a license (seemingly similar to the NRA's sense) may be totally inappropriate for the State of Israel, which is doing fine with its current system (with far, far fewer gun-related murders and injuries on a per capita basis than in the U.S. The last thing we should be doing is encouraging other countries to adopt the U.S. interpretation of "the right to bear arms", and spread our "our infatuation with guns" disease elsewhere.

  3. Switzerland encourages their military members and citizens alike to carry at all times. They also have to qualify yearly on a government shooting range.They have, probably, the lowest firearms related crime rate in the world. I would suggest that the government encourage military caliber weapons and require yearly qualification in order to retain the license.

  4. I propose a 10 hour course for civilians with combat experience, so they gain sufficient experience with their handguns. One gets much less handgun experience in the IDF. But as they already have months of military training and years of combat experience they know how to handle themselves for the most part. For them the issue is getting used to a new type of weapon.

    For civilians with no combat experience, they need more than just training on how to point and shoot, and cleaning their gun.

  5. Another point I was trying to get across in the article is that while I want (most) everyone able to get a gun, I don't want it to be easy for them to get a gun – especially if they have no military experience, and as a result, no experience or record of safe gun handling and usage.

    I didn't discuss age restrictions, but I would probably also have a higher minimum for civilians without military experience.

  6. @Mark Melnicoff, are you under the mistaken impression that the Constitution creates rights, or grants rights? Because it doesn't. It recognizes and protects rights that already exist. A right is a right is a right, even if no government recognizes it.

  7. You need to load up. When the locusts cross your borders, which is coming, the IDF will be busy just trying to save itself. The rest of Israel, which is essentially unarmed, will be gutted and beheaded. I cannot put it any other way, and still get you to understand what your future holds, if you continue in this insanely liberal disarmament policy.

    Wise up, while there is still time to arm your citizens. The very existence of your nation depends upon it. And it is soon.

  8. Even though you have some inaccurate facts, the article describes the situation in Israel pretty good.
    But you, as many others, do not understand the motive of the government to put all those restrictions. When you'll investigate and find why, you will understand why tour "plan" won't work

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