Guns in Israel

Some people have the idea that in Israel, gun laws are very liberal.  In fact, the very opposite is true.

There are strict requirements to gun acquisition and ownership.  Gun ownership in Israel is a privilege, not a right.

Guns per Capita The United States has one firearm per capita, the highest in the world.   Israel comes in 81st with 0.073 firearms per capita.  Licensed firearm owners are permitted no more than one gun.  There has been one mass shooting in the country’s history.

Licensing To begin with, applicants for a gun owner’s license have to establish a legitimate reason for owning a gun, for example: self defense.

Firearm applicants must pass background checks for criminal records, physical and mental health.  A petitioner may be required by licensing personnel to undergo further tests by doctors and psychologists.

Once accepted, the applicant is sent to a rigorous training course for a recommended weapon. The course includes firearm safety and the law; applicants are tested in both theory and practice.  Gun owners must renew and re qualify for their permits every three years and immediately report any change of eligibility status to the Israeli federal government.

Forty percent of gun permit applicants are rejected.

Licensing Records Israeli authorities keep records.  The Licensing Board regularly updates its information on all license holders from other Ministry departments.  An eye surgery or change of job could find the licensee being contacting for a chat.  A licensed gun owner who has been served with a restraining order will have their license revoked automatically until all legal matters are resolved.

Firearm Marking The Interior Ministry marks all licensed guns so that the bullets they fire can be traced through the national registry.

Ammunition Licensed firearm owners in Israel are permitted to possess a limited quantity of ammunition – 50 bullets.

Unloaded Guns are not kept loaded In Israel; no One in the Chamber. This includes the automatic weapons carried by soldiers.

Open Carry or concealed is permitted if you are a licensed gun owner, your choice.

Gun Sales The private sale or transfer of guns is prohibited.

Assault weapons are illegal Shotgun and rifle ownership is limited to veterinarians, nature preserve employees and licensed hunters. These weapons may only be used for animal control.  Obviously, assault weapons are carried by military personnel.

Active Duty Soldiers So while the number of civilians with guns  in Israel is low, it’s not as if no one is armed, as obviously soldiers carry weapons.

Active duty combat soldiers on leave are often required to take their weapons home with them. Soldiers who do not own gun safes large enough to store their assault rifles are required to take them everywhere they go. This is why you see photos of female soldiers in bikinis at the beach, sporting an M16.

Interesting note: the Israeli government has restricted firearm access to enlisted soldiers when off-duty on weekends as part of a successful suicide prevention program.  Firearm suicide was cut by 50% as a result.  Eighty percent of the suicide reduction seems to have been the result of gun restrictions, rather than counseling.

School Security In Israel every school is guarded by an armed officer posted at a secure entrance to the school.  Here is an interesting video about School Security in Israel:

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