ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 144

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Ben Gvir: More than 260,000 people have applied for a gun license since October 7

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a former political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, in the Knesset, Jerusalem on September 19, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, in the Knesset, Jerusalem on September 19, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir says more than 260,000 new requests for a firearm have been submitted to his ministry since the October 7 outbreak of Israel’s war with Hamas.

The requests are in line with Ben Gvir’s successful push to ease eligibility requirements for applying for a firearm license, which his ministry says has increased the potential permitted pool by “tens of thousands.”

“When the war started, we knew that we were right when we said that every place that has a weapon can save a life,” Ben Gvir says at the outset of his Otzma Yehudit faction meeting in the Knesset.

“My policy within the office was to permit as many people as possible to get a weapon,” Ben Gvir continues, saying that “in a short period of time, we were giving up to 3,000 approvals a day,” up from about a hundred a day, pre-war.

In order to do this, Ben Gvir enabled National Service volunteers to process firearms licenses, despite their not being qualified to do so. The minister defended this move against attacks from the State Control Committee, which last week demanded that he stop the practice.

“I will add more volunteers, more people in National Service, because a weapon saves lives,” Ben Gvir says. He told the State Control Committee to “be embarrassed” about its objections and accused them of “harming women,” who form the National Service volunteer base.

Earlier today, the head of the ministry’s Firearms Licensing Division resigned.

Ben Gvir claims that Yisrael Avisar had previously told him that he had “received many threats” from “leftists,” and complained to Ben Gvir that “it’s hard” for him with “all of these attacks from the left.”

Ben Gvir also waves away any connection between his push to loosen open-fire rules and the tragic killing of Yuval Castleman, who was shot by an off-duty soldier shortly after stopping last Thursday’s Jerusalem terror attack.

“There is no connection. I think we need to eliminate terrorists, and on the other hand we’re talking about a tragic occurrence,” Ben Gvir answers reporter questions about the event. He adds that “it’s just the opposite,” in that Castleman saved lives with a gun permitted by the National Security Ministry, and that “the desire to kill terrorists in the field is all of our goal.”

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