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Israel eases gun laws to arm 'as many citizens as possible' after terrorist attack

Former U.S. ambassador urges gun ownership. Applications for firearms licenses reportedly more than doubled in a year, with 2% of the population owning a gun in 2022.

Published: October 9, 2023 11:06pm

Israel is easing its gun laws with the goal of arming "as many citizens as possible," according to Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, as former U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Gunter is urging Israelis to take up guns in self-defense after the horrific Hamas terror attacks. 

"There's a great desire of Israelis to protect their homeland,” Gunter told Just the News. “And I think along with that will be an increased desire to have gun ownership.

”Because just like America, the country being by the people, for the people, I believe the same thing in Israel," said Gunter, a Republican Jewish Coalition board member who is running for U.S. Senate in Nevada in 2024. after serving as ambassador to Iceland.

While Israeli Defense Forces soldiers and security personnel openly carry weapons throughout Israel, it is considerably more difficult for a private citizen to obtain a weapon because Israel does not have a law comparable to America's Second Amendment.

Israeli citizens who have not completed national service or compulsory military service must be 27 years old, live or work in a location considered to be high risk and undergo various examinations.

Ben Gvir announced Sunday that any citizen who meets the requirements to carry a weapon will be able to have a telephone interview rather than an in-person interview and be approved to carry within a week.

Additionally, citizens who did not meet specific renewal requirements or purchase a firearm before their license expired will be able to carry. Furthermore, citizens may be able to receive conditional permits to purchase up to 100 bullets rather than 50, he said.  

The rules change will affect thousands of Israelis and "allow as many citizens as possible to arm themselves and protect themselves and their environment when necessary," Ben Gvir said.

Applications for firearms licenses more than doubled from 19,000 in 2021 to more than 42,000 in 2022, according to the BBC in March. About 2% of the Israeli population owned a firearm as of that time.

"You will see a greater desire of Israelis, who are very strong and brave people, to protect themselves, and embrace the principles that we see in our Second Amendment rights," Gunter said after the attacks perpetrated over the weekend in Israel by Hamas, the party that controls the Gaza Strip.

More than 900 people, including at least 11 Americans, were killed, thousands more were injured and about 100 people, including women, children and the elderly, were taken captive.

Given Israel's population of more than 9 million people, "that would be the equivalent of something like 30,000 in America, so we cannot forget the disproportionate loss of life, and the wounded in Israel, from this barbaric terrorist attack," Gunter said.

Saturday appears to have marked the bloodiest day for Jews since the Holocaust. More than 260 of the deaths occurred at a festival for peace.

Meanwhile, firearms likely saved the lives of the residents of Kibbutz Nir Am, which is located about 500 yards from the Gaza border. 

"The terrorists appear to have tried to penetrate a large chicken farm next to Nir Am, possibly mistaking its fence for the kibbutz’s fence," Nir Am's former security coordinator Ami Rabin said, according to The Times of Israel.

The kibbutz's guard detail heard gunshots early Saturday morning and took offensive positions. They then killed two of the terrorists who entered the farm and blood around the scene indicates that a third was seriously injured, Rabin said. 

A similar situation played out at Ein Habsor, a town near the Gaza Strip, after several local defenders fought a larger number of more well-armed terrorists, resident Noam Gotliv said. "What happened to us was part alertness, part miracle," Gotliv said.

Other Israeli communities suffered great casualties.

More than 100 bodies have been found in Be'eri, a kibbutz with a population of just over 1,000 people located near the Gaza border that Hamas militants seized Saturday.

Israel did not announce until Monday that it fully controlled its communities along the Gaza border, and soldiers are still uncovering the full extent of the damage.

Gunter pointed out how Nevada has a strong tradition of protecting the Second Amendment, and he thinks "gun ownership would deter people" from committing such horrific attacks. 

If a similar event were to unfold in America, he thinks the militants would have faced "a lot more resistance" due to high U.S. gun ownership rates. "When bad guys know that you're armed, they tend to go to the next house," he said. 

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