The surprise attack by Hamas on Israel last weekend, with scores of armed terrorists slaughtering hundreds of unarmed civilians and taking hostages, has not only led to a declaration of war on the part of Israel, but new calls to relax the nation’s gun control laws and allow more citizens to fight back in the future.
As The Reload’s Stephen Gutowski has reported, Itamar Ben-Gvir, the country’s Minister of National Security, directed Israel’s Firearms Licensing Division to “go on an emergency operation in order to allow as many citizens as possible to arm themselves,” though the actual policy changes are far more modest than one might think.
The first change is moving from an in-person interview to a phone interview for gun-carry applicants.
“Any citizen who meets the detailed tests for carrying a private firearm due to self-defense and serving the security forces and is without a criminal or medical record will be required to undergo a telephone interview instead of a physical interview and will be able to receive permission to carry a firearm within a week,” Ben-Gvir said. “(Self-defense tests: residence in an eligible settlement, rifle veterans 07 and above, officers in the rank of lieutenant and above and combatants in the rank of major and above in the IDF and the security forces, service in special units, firefighters, policemen, and workers and volunteers in the rescue forces).”
The second change allows anyone who had a permit to purchase a firearm in 2023 but didn’t do so before the license expired to buy a gun without going through the process. He estimated that would apply to 4,000 citizens.
He said another 1,800 citizens would also be allowed to retrieve a gun they were forced to give up in the last six months because the owner didn’t get “refresher training or renewal training.”
He also raised the ammunition purchase limit for “conditional permits to carry firearms” from 50 to 100.
On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, Yehuda “The Pew Pew Jew” Remer pointed to that restriction on ammunition as one of the many flawed gun control policies in place in Israel, which may very well have impeded those citizens who are armed from being able to defend themselves and their families from an onslaught of attackers. As my colleague John Petrolino detailed earlier today, one couple managed to save their children and kill seven Hamas terrorists but were ultimately murdered by Hamas inside their home. Would that tragic incident have had a different outcome if the parents had more than 100 rounds between them? It’s impossible to know for sure, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if they ran out of ammo before succumbing to the killers who had invaded not only their country, but their home.
As the Times of Israel reports, the attacks across Israel have led to a surge in interest in gun ownership, and some Israelis are pushing the government to loosen the country’s gun control laws even further than the steps taken by Ben-Gvir.
Gun control in Israel is relatively strict, and firearm licenses are generally only granted to those who can show a need for extra security in their line of work or daily life. Meaning, one of the key criteria for a private citizen to receive permission to own a gun is where they live.
That could now change, says Rabbi Raz Blizovsky, 32, of Katzrin, an activist who has been part of grassroots discussions around personal arms.
“People are changing their opinion, and now there is more awareness,” he told The Times of Israel. It doesn’t make sense, he said, that someone in Tel Aviv cannot get a pistol, but someone in the Golan can. “There are terror attacks in both places,” he stressed.
“It’s a pity this is happening the way it did,” he added, alluding to the recent devastating attack. “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.
Critics warned that the additional firearms will come with significant risks, including suicides, violence against women, road rage incidents, and murders. But to activists like Blizovsky, there are already plenty of guns on the street, as “anyone can go to the black market on Telegram,” he said.
“Who has a gun? The terrorists, and all the criminals. Who doesn’t? Law-abiding tax-payers. The government trusts criminals with guns more than their own civilians,” Yoel Israel, CEO of a digital marketing agency, told The Times of Israel. Israel is active in libertarian political circles and social media and, during past election cycles, has hosted salons in his Pardes Hannah home for small-party politicians, such as economist Gilad Alper, who has also pushed for less restrictive gun laws.
“I support the citizen and the individual over government elitists,” Israel said. “I care about human rights and people’s lives. Guns are the great equalizer. Why is my wife afraid, and I keep only a golf club near my bed? It doesn’t make sense.”
Like Rabbi Blizovsky, Remer says he’s concerned that the newfound interest in gun ownership may fade now that Israel says the border is once again secured and IDF forces are ready to go on offense, which would once again push any real gun reform efforts to the sidelines. But Remer is also worried about violence against Jews here in the United States, and says he’s heard anecdotal reports of a similar surge in interest closer to home.
“There’s a shooting range out in Davie, Florida called Nexus Shooting Center, and I’m friends with the manager there,” Remer told Bearing Arms.
“He said over the last two days they’ve sold about $15,000 worth of firearms, mainly to Jews. So I’m sure there’s an uptick everywhere. I’m sure that Jews of America… not just in the U.S. but across the world these pro-Palestinian rallies where they’re calling for the death of Jews. And this is in America. Now granted, we have freedom of speech. I get it, even though calling for someone’s death isn’t really freedom of speech, but I think there’s a lot of fear. There are a lot of people who are waking up.”
I certainly hope so, and not because I’m trying to sell more guns. As I told Remer, the world we live in is an increasingly unstable place, and we owe it to ourselves to think about and plan as best we can for an uncertain future. Part of that is being ready to serve as your own first responder, whether we’re talking about a terrorist attack, home invasion, carjacking, or armed robbery. Self-defense is a human right, and one that all of us should be taking seriously these days.
If you’re looking for ways to help the Israeli people in their time of need, Remer has a couple of suggestions: The American Friends of Magen David Adom, which is Israel’s representative to the International Red Cross, and United Hatzalah, which provides rapid emergency medical responses using a network of some 6,500 volunteers. I appreciate Yehuda Remer sharing the links to those organizations with me, and though I wish it were under better circumstances, we’ll be speaking to him again on Cam & Co in the very near future.