Gun permit restrictions eased amid terror wave

Armed, trained citizens a ‘force multiplier’ for security forces attempting to stop terror attacks, says public security minister

A shooting range in the West Bank on April 08, 2015. (Gershon Elinson/FLASH90)
A shooting range in the West Bank on April 08, 2015. (Gershon Elinson/FLASH90)

Restrictions on gun permits are being eased, especially for former security officials, as a measure meant to help counter the wave of terror attacks, Israeli officials said.

“In light of the security situation, I have decided to make it easier to obtain a gun permit,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Tuesday.

“In recent weeks, many citizens helped the Israel Police neutralize terrorists carrying out attacks. Citizens trained in the use of firearms are a force multiplier in the struggle against terror,” he added.

Under the new policy, all IDF officers above the rank of 2nd lieutenant and non-commissioned officers from the rank of first sergeant and up can obtain a permit, even if they hold those ranks in the reserves. Parallel ranks in the police and other security services may do the same.

The decision makes private handgun ownership accessible to a broader range of ranks than previous restrictions.

Erdan also ordered gun permits be granted to graduates of certain elite units in the security services, as well as certain government security courses, including those that train the security details of ministers and government institutions.

Some municipalities where officials say the danger of terror attacks is heightened will be allowed to give out special gun licenses to residents to fill gaps in the distribution of civilian gun carriers. One example cited by officials is teachers in the ultra-Orthodox schools of Jerusalem; the ultra-Orthodox community is a target for terrorism, but few qualify for a gun permit based on a security background.

Gun carriers are also required under the new policy to fire their weapons at a licensed shooting range at least once per year.

Dozens of Palestinian terror attacks have struck Israeli towns since the beginning of the month. In many cases, residents and passersby stopped the attacks by tackling the terrorists to the ground or shooting them.

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