In a vote held early Tuesday morning, the Knesset Plenum passed in its second and third readings a proposed amendment to the Penal Law. The bill passed by a majority of 4-0, with no opposing votes or abstentions, after all the reservations to the bill were voted down by a majority of 4-1.
The bill establishes a temporary provision under which, with the exception of special cases, a minimum sentence will be imposed of one quarter of the maximum sentence for people convicted of offenses of possession, carrying and trade of weapons.
The explanatory notes to the bill state: “Possession of illegal weapons has become an epidemic, and serves as one of the main causes of the increase in cases of murder and violent crime. In addition, the scope of the violence and the use of arms and illegal weaponry undermine the citizens’ sense of security.”
“The rising violence causes an increase in the demand for illegal weapons among offenders. These weapons reach criminal elements and organized crime groups that hold them and deal in them for criminal purposes. In addition, the high availability of illegal weapons increases the risk that they will be used to commit criminal offenses or for the purpose of terrorist attacks.”
MK Shlomo Karhi (Likud), however, called the bill window dressing, pointing out that it allows judges have the discretion to impose less than the minimum sentence. He said that if the bill is changed to remove such discretion then his party would move to support its passage now.