Gun reforms on agenda following Beersheba shooting
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Gun reforms on agenda following Beersheba shooting

Public security minister introduces several new rules for weapons, including making school security guards leave guns at work

Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch speaks to the media at the Beersheba bank where a local gunman shot and killed four people in May. (photo credit: Dudu Greenspan/Flash90)
Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch speaks to the media at the Beersheba bank where a local gunman shot and killed four people in May. (photo credit: Dudu Greenspan/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch announced several gun reforms Tuesday, a day after a former security guard shot up a bank branch in Beersheba, killing four.

Aharonovitch said the new rules will “minimize as much as possible the number of firearms in the hands of civilians who do not need them.”

Among the reforms is a new rule requiring school security guards to leave their weapons at work, which will go into effect next school year.

The announcement comes on the heels of Monday’s shooting, in which Itamar Alon, a former security coordinator for Beersheba’s educational institutions, who had also served as a captain in the Border Police, killed four people before shooting himself at a bank in the southern town.

Aharonovitch unveiled the planned reforms at the end of meetings with security professionals and police at his office. He said his ministry would establish a committee that will perform medical tests for gun-license applicants, and that nobody will be permitted to have possession of more than one firearm at a time.

Additionally, applicants seeking to renew their gun license will be required to provide proof of need for the weapon.

Alon had a permit for the gun he used in the rampage, but had done no work that required such a permit for the past decade, Channel 2 news reported.

According to Ynet, Beersheba police revoked Alon’s firearm following a 2011 incident in which a neighbor reported Alon to authorities after he repeatedly damaged the neighbor’s air conditioner. When police responded to the call, officers found that Alon had barricaded himself inside his apartment and locked his parents in a sealed bomb-proof room.

Alon appealed the police decision to strip him of his firearm, and after a brief investigation, the police returned Alon’s pistol and ammunition.

Schools guards are not employed directly by the schools, but rather are sub-contracted. With the reforms, at the end of every shift, they will bring their weapons to the office of the security company that employs them.

Under the new changes, gun owners who are permitted to have their sidearms with them will be required to keep the weapons locked in a safe in their home.

“The issue of limiting firearms is a priority,” Aharonovitch said on Tuesday evening, “and I intend to hold weekly follow-up meetings on the subject.”

Israel extends very few gun permits to civilians — only 2.5 percent of the population can legally carry a firearm, The Times of Israel reported in December. 

The police conduct a background check for all applicants and pass the information on to the ministry’s Firearm Licensing Department, which also requires that applicants present a medical form signed by a physician. The form consists of 24 questions, ranging from a patient’s physical health to his or her history of substance abuse and psychiatric care.

Some 170,000 Israeli citizens are licensed to carry a weapon; of these, 40,000 are security guards who work in supermarkets, malls and schools.

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