GIVAT ZEEV, West Bank — The phones have been ringing nonstop at the Gun Hill shooting range, following a week of daily knife attacks by Palestinians and a clarion call by Israeli politicians requesting that permit holders should carry their pistols on their hips to help protect the citizenry against terrorists.
“It’s a madhouse,” said Yair Yifrach, general manger of the training center and gun shop here at a Jewish settlement north of Jerusalem.
Perhaps not the best choice of words for a shooting range. “But people are going a little crazy,” Yifrach said.
Israelis are frightened by violent demonstrations and daily attacks by Palestinians, not only in the West Bank but also in the heart of Israel. On Monday, Palestinians staged three stabbing attacks against Israeli civilians and police in Jerusalem; two of the attackers were shot dead, Israeli police said. One victim was a 13-year-old boy.
Yifrach, a gun instructor, does not think it is a good idea to have a bunch of undertrained, anxious Israelis rushing to own guns. But he does suppolrt the idea — as do most Israelis — that civilians who are veterans of military service trained in responsible use of firearms are a “force mutiplier” on the streets.
“In truth, getting a gun permit in Israel is not easy — that’s what I tell people,” Yifrach said.
Israel is often portrayed as really tough on crime and tough on bad-guys, with babes in bikinis carrying Tavor assault rifles. In reality, Israel has incredibly tough gun rules for private citizens.
Civilians must have a permit to purchase a gun and those permits are not easy to obtain. Many would-be gun owners do not qualify for permits and must use very strong pepper spray as an alternative. Those having permits must practice and renew their permits every 3 years.
Even in the face of increased violence, most Israelis do not want to see less stringent gun laws. They feel it would be dangerous to have untrained Israelis running around with guns, according the article. The WaPo continues:
At the shooting range and gun store here, the shop manager pointed out how hard it is to get a permit in Israel. Laws in the United States are far more permissive — “they’re cowboys,” he said of the Americans. In the background, the pistol fire in the sound-muffled underground shooting range sounded like a hammer pounding nails: plunk! plunk! plunk!
About 260,000 Israelis have permits to carry a firearm, or about 3.5 percent of the population. Half of the permit holders are private citizens, and half work for security firms.
Israeli applicants must submit paperwork, military records and medical reports, and must justify their need to carry a weapon. Approval takes 30 days. A resident of Tel Aviv will not be given a permit, though residents of a Jewish settlement in the West Bank will be. So will retired army officers, former police officers, firefighters, ambulance technicians, special forces vets, licensed public transportation drivers and residents of militarily strategic buffer zones, as well as those who live or work in Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem — including the Old City — and the West Bank.
Meanwhile, as the violence increases, the civilians rely on the military and the police for their protection for the most part. Far from the perception NRA wants us to believe, Israel has very tough gun laws, according to The Times of Israel:
Far from the image of a heavily armed population where ordinary people have their own arsenals to repel attackers, Israel allows its people to acquire firearms only if they can prove their professions or places of residence put them in danger. The country relies on its security services, not armed citizens, to prevent terror attacks.
Silly me. I believed Wayne La Pierre.
Israel and the United States are two vastly different countries. It’s almost ridiculous to compare the two. Different sizes, different enemies, different rules, different cultures. I had no idea that Israeli citizens had such tight gun restrictions. It’s just not a place I would chose to live. (or visit)
Further reading on Israeli gun laws