by David Safier
In my column in the Explorer, I decided to take a different tack in discussing gun regulations. Rather than diving into the debate head on, I wrote about the way Israel regulates personal gun ownership. Israel's gun policies surprised me when I read about them recently. Gun regulations are strict, gun ownership is very limited and even if you own a gun, you can't buy much ammunition.
Israelis can only get a gun license if they reached a reasonably high rank in the military or they can demonstrate the need to own a firearm. If they’re in a business where they have reason to fear being harmed – full time jewelry dealers, people who deal in large quantities of cash or valuables and licensed drivers of public transportation are common examples – they can own one. So can people who live in truly dangerous areas. Licensed hunters can own guns as well. Some Israelis can have guns as souvenirs or if they’re handed down from family members, but only with proper documentation and not in quantity.
Demonstrating the need for a gun is just the beginning of the process. People who want to own a firearm have to go through extensive background checks to make sure they don’t have criminal records and they’re in good physical and mental health. That includes a personal interview to make sure there are no obvious red flags that might indicate a firearm in that person’s hands would be a danger to others. If all the checks go well, the prospective owner next has to pass a weapons training course before a gun license is issued. Then every three years, the owner has to re-qualify for the license.
You won’t see gun arsenals in Israeli homes, or even multiple weapons. In most cases, a license is only good for one firearm, usually a pistol. And when it comes to ammunition, gun owners can only buy 50 rounds a year. It’s no wonder the horrific mass shootings we’ve experienced in recent weeks are nearly unheard of in Israel.
Israel is a democratic country where its citizens have good reason to fear violent attack, yet unlike the U.S., it doesn't make it easy for its citizens to own or carry weapons. You can't make a straight line comparison between the two countries, but it's food for thought in our ongoing debate.
I'M ON THE BUCKMASTER SHOW TODAY: Today (Wednesday), I'll be doing the Blogger Beat segment on the Buckmaster Show. The program starts at 12, and I'll be on sometime around 12:30. It's on KVOI (1030 AM).