Public security minister eases rules for gun permits

Yitzhak Aharonovitch says the temporary move is to help heighten the public’s sense of security

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch. (Photo credit: Flash90)
Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch. (Photo credit: Flash90)

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch on Thursday approved measures to ease gun permit laws in what he said was an effort to restore a feeling of safety among the public following a series of terror attacks that have hit the country.

The temporary regulations allow security company employees to take their weapons home with them at the end of their shifts. The move, in effect for the next for the next 90 days, reverses a ban against the practice out in place last year after a number of domestic homicides were committed by security guards with guns they had taken home.

In addition, the pool of communities whose residents are eligible to receive gun permits will be expanded. Veterans of elite IDF units, reservist officers, former policemen, and former Shin Bet security service or airport security personnel will also be able to receive a license.

“The decision comes from a need to improve the feeling of safety among the population in light of the recent terror attacks,” Aharonovich said, stressing that the gun licenses will be issued judiciously, as well as being subject to the usual standards of certification.

Israel has strict gun control regulations and as a general rule only citizens who can show a real need for owning a weapon may apply for a license. Residents of West Bank settlements are usually able to apply for a handgun license for self-defense.

Aharanovich made the decision after accepting the recommendations offered on Wednesday by a team of officials from the Public Security Ministry, the police, and legal advisers. The minister convened the advisory group following Tuesday’s terrorist attack, the latest in a string of deadly incidents carried out against Israelis.

On Tuesday, two Palestinian cousins armed with meat cleavers and a pistol killed four worshipers and a policeman at a Jerusalem synagogue. Security forces shot the terrorists dead.

Earlier this month two Israelis were killed when an Arab driver, 48-year-old Ibrahim al-Akary, plowed into pedestrians at a light rail station along the seam line between East and West Jerusalem. A Border Police officer, Jedan Assad, was killed in the attack. Seventeen-year-old yeshiva student Shalom Ba’adani was critically injured and later succumbed to his wounds. Over a dozen others were also injured in the attack.

In a separate incident on November 10, 26-year-old Dalia Lemkus was run over and then stabbed to death by a Palestinian assailant while waiting at a bus stop in the West Bank. An IDF soldier was stabbed to death by a Palestinian suspect in a separate incident the same day in Tel Aviv.

On October 29 East Jerusalem resident Mu’taz Hijazi attempted to assassinate Temple Mount activist Rabbi Yehudah Glick in a shooting attack in Jerusalem. Glick, who campaigns for Jewish prayer rights on the Temple Mount, was critically injured by close-range gunshots, but is gradually recovering.

On October 22, Abdelrahman Al-Shaludi drove his car into a Jerusalem Light Rail station, killing three-month-old Israeli-American Chaya Zissel Braun and Karen Yemima Muscara, 22, of Ecuador. Seven other people were also injured. Shaludi was shot by police as he tried to flee the scene and later died of his wounds.

His family’s home was demolished Wednesday morning, in a punitive measure okayed by Israel’s leadership.

On August 4, a Palestinian man rammed a tractor into a bus, killing a pedestrian, Avraham Walz, 29.

On a number of occasions in the past, terror attacks were brought to a halt by members of the public drawing their weapons and shooting the suspected perpetrators.

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