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Ben-Gvir reiterates call to loosen criteria for arming citizens

“In the recent [terror] attacks, we saw how critical the response of citizens carrying weapons is. This is a critical and life-saving security issue,” said the Israeli national security minister.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir at the entrance to Ben-Gurion Airport, March 9, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir at the entrance to Ben-Gurion Airport, March 9, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Sunday reiterated his call to make it easier for civilians to obtain a license to carry firearms, describing it as one of his “overarching goals.”

Ben-Gvir said he sees no reason why Israel Defense Forces combat veterans, for example, should not be allowed to carry weapons. Currently, he noted, many soldiers “absurdly” do not meet the criteria for obtaining a license.

“In the recent [terror] attacks, we saw how critical the response of citizens carrying weapons is,” he said. “This is a critical and life-saving security issue.”

Ben-Gvir noted that in the four-plus months since the government was formed, his office had issued 12,000 firearms licenses that were held up due to what he called bureaucratic complications.

“This is an [emergency],” he said, promising to see that many more permits will now be issued.

In February, Ben-Gvir vowed to push through a fivefold increase in firearm licenses in the wake of a terrorist attack that killed seven people at a synagogue in Jerusalem.

To this end, he has directed the Firearms Licensing Department to increase the number of new permits issued from roughly 2,000 to 10,000 per month.

Israel has much more stringent gun laws than the United States, despite much of the population being familiar with firearms due to the country’s near-universal compulsory military service.

In most cases, civilians may only carry pistols, and licenses are mainly dependent on completing firearms training. Most individuals can own only a single handgun, and be in possession of a fixed limit of bullets at any given time.

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