Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

More people have applied for a gun license in the past month than in the prior decade. Should we be worried?

This is a segment from The “Our Tragedy & Theirs” Edition.

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And now it’s time for our second discussion.

So Linda, until lately there were six civilian firearms to go around for every hundred Israelis compared to 120 guns for every 100 Americans.

It looks like that’s changing now.

Will that make us feel safer?

Will it make us be safer?

Well, that’s a very good question.

You know, since October 7th, more than 180,000 people have applied for gun licenses.

Lately about 10,000 applications have been submitted each day before October 7th, about 850 people applied each week.

Two things explain this steep rise in the number of people who want to have handguns and the most important thing obviously is the fact that October 7th reduced many people’s confidence that they can rely on the IDF and the police to always protect them.

A second thing also important is what it takes to qualify to own a gun has been changed in an initiative of minister of national security, Itamar Ben Gvere, so that many more people than before are now eligible before minister Ben Gvere instituted the changes.

A gun license was a very difficult thing to get to be eligible.

You had to meet one of these criteria, live in a dangerous place, have a trade that might put you in danger sometimes like tour guide or farmer, or require that you have a gun like shooting instructor or veterinarian, apparently worked as a cop or a firefighter for at least a couple of years, been an IDF officer with a rank of first lieutenant or above, or a non-commissioned officer with a rank of first Sergeant or above, been firearms trained by some intelligence or security service or by the airport authority, gotten a special recommendation of the police or be a hunter with a valid hunting license.

If you’re in one of these categories, you also had to demonstrate that you speak flu in Hebrew, have a clean criminal record, attain a firearms course diploma from a private firing range, and maybe most important, bring a detailed psych analysis.

You also need a court document establishing that you meet the legal criteria for gun ownership.

After that, you had to wait at least three months, the hardship of which is well illustrated in this American instructional video.

Just give me my gun.

Sorry, the law requires a five day waiting period.

We’ve got to run a background check.

Five days, but I’m mad now.

I’d kill you if I had my gun.

Yeah, well, you don’t.

That was a big shot.

He’s so big because he’s got a lot of guns, but he didn’t have any guns.

I’d show him a thing or two.

Minister Ben Gvere’s aim was to diminish delays and frustrations of Homer Simpson’s sort.

His reform of the rules expands all the existing categories, making eligible for a gun license, for instance, anyone who was a gun bearing IDF soldier or reservist up to 20 years after his or her last day of service, expanding the areas considered gun worthily dangerous, considering volunteers in the search and rescue organizations, Zaka to be gun worthy and paramedics, adding to the list of professions considered dangerous, adding exterminators, for instance, and more Ben Gvere’s reform also did away with the Hebrew fluency requirement.

Streamline the paperwork involved in the application, canceled the need for courtroom verification of eligibility and reduced the waiting period to one month.

However, it did not diminish the requirement for a positive psych evaluation or agree to put guns in the hands of convicts.

No one knows just what the impact of Ben Gvere’s reforms will be.

Settlers were by definition eligible in the past to get guns.

So it’s not likely to lead to many more firearms over the green line, but it will lead to many more firearms overall, raising Chekhovian worries.

Aren’t some of those guns at least going to be used, not just in case of terrorist attack, but by abusive partners and people otherwise wound too tight to be counted on, not to shoot innocent people in rage, despair, or whatever else.

At the same time that handgun licenses are being processed in unprecedented numbers in cities and towns around the country, more than 700 new volunteer rapid response teams, or a kitot kononut, as they are known in Hebrew, have been set up the idea of having local small volunteer militias, weapons trained and drilled to protect a particular area has been around since the 1950s.

Such groups have been mostly set up in far flung kibbutzim, Moshe Vim villages and towns.

The kibbutzim and Moshe Vim attacked on October 7th, all had kitot kononut.

And in some cases, like at kibbutz Erez, the small armed group kept the terrorists out and saved hundreds of lives.

In most places, the kitot kononut was overrun by the much greater and better armed Hamas terrorists.

The new rapid response teams are being set up everywhere, including in many neighborhoods in the center and north of Tel Aviv, where for instance, the very talented, very right wing rapper, Hatsel, the shadow, the nom de rhyme of Yoav Eliazi joined one of the teams to the concern of many, including mayor Ron Khuda’i, who expressed his worry to the district police commander, commissioner, parrot Samar.

Hatsel, who was a close friend of minister Ben Gvere, has often expressed on social media his resentment of leftists, some of whom he sees as traitors.

And there are those in Tel Aviv who are disquieted, not comforted by pictures of Eliazi patrolling the city armed to the nines.

Of course, the kitot kononut are intended to comfort us and also to protect us.

And maybe overall, the site of armed patrols on the streets will have that effect.

But Allison, what should we make of the incredibly quick rise in the number of guns owned by citizens and citizens with guns patrols in the streets?

Do you think they will make us feel more secure?

Do you think they will make us more secure?

In fact, short term, it will probably make us feel more secure.

It’s hard to deny the fact that a lot of terrorist incidents in Israel have been made much more minor than they would have otherwise been because there were armed civilians in the area.

Time after time, if somebody’s tried to go to a shopping center and start, you know, shooting into a crowd in Israel, there has been someone who has, in these terms, neutralized, basically killed the terrorist only, quote unquote, after they’ve had one or two victims and it hasn’t turned into a mass killing during after some large shooting incidents in the United States.

I’ve done a lot of compare and contrast articles, though, about the fact that Israeli gun laws and gun control and requirements for carrying a weapon are much more strict and much more restrictive than in the United States.

Meaning that you don’t get, you know, mentally unbalanced, crazy people out there with guns shooting up.

So it’s it’s really it’s a dilemma.

It’s a problem.

And in the situation, the current situation that we’re in, the wartime crisis where we’re so afraid of going into what happened in 2021 in the mixed cities situation where there were, you know, uprisings in mixed Arab Jewish neighborhoods, it’s such a two sided sword, because on one hand, you know, more guns rises the likelihood that these things will happen.

But it also makes the likelihood greater that if something happens, that it can be quickly ended and confronted.

I just don’t know what to do.

I mean, just a few months ago, we were we were decrying how common it was to find guns in the Arab sector and and how the killing there was was was out of control just because weapons were everywhere and guns were everywhere.

So, you know, having more guns, it’s just not clear whether it makes things safer and more dangerous.

And I just would have to throw in the the added factor of of domestic violence is that the more guns are in the hands of more people in more households, that there are gender violence organizations who point to how that creates a spike in domestic violence incidents and that when the gun is too handy and too available that that tragedy ensues.

So that is a very good non-answer to your question.

Well, also suicide, I mean, is something that I think we need to think about that the army had made a decision up until the war started that soldiers did not walk around with their guns for the most part.


And they that soldiers would leave their guns when they went home for the weekend, even because of the issue of suicide.

I have I am I think against these things by Ben Gvere.

I think he had already wanted to do this before any of this started.


This is a long time agenda for him.

And so now he’s kind of in a way using the war to do that.

And I am nervous about it.

I think that one of the things that you as you said, Israel never had these, you know, massive shootings and and misuse of guns because the people who had guns were very well trained and knew how to use them.

But I think that overall the dangers are worse than the possible safety.

But so many lives were lost in these kibbutzim because of that decision that it was better for people not to have the guns in their homes and to be locked up in some sort of central location.

And so therefore when the terrorists came in, they weren’t able to get to the central location where the guns were in time in many cases.

And if they had had the weapons at home, the many of the tragedies would have been not eliminated, but lessened.

So I just keep going back to to to that back and forth of if we are in genuine danger now, then we maybe we genuinely do need to think about expanding the access to weapons by responsible people.

But certainly we shouldn’t throw throw off all of the all of the requirements.

And some of the Ben Gvere adjustments really seem to be specifically designed for people in settlements to to have more guns, lowering their requirements.

And they had such easy access.

I mean, if you were if you were a settler, then you by definition had access to to a gun license before.

So they actually were the ones least affected by Ben Gvere’s change.

Specifically, what I saw is that you used to have to have this sort of minimal gun training as part of your army service in order to get permission to hold it.

And now he is saying that national service is the same as as having served in the army.

It just seems to be a lot of these tweaks so that people without any army background experience holding guns are able to to carry arms.

And that sort of points to me more ultra-orthodox people being able to to carry arms.

Maybe maybe ultra-orthodox.

Not so much.

I think settlers had had complete access before and they have pretty much the same access now, but probably ultra-orthodox.

Settlers, settlers who served in the army who have trained in weapons with some experience, I think that there was sort of those double layers of of requirement for them to be able to to carry arms.

And now it just seems like some of the the barriers to it are being knocked down by by Ben Gvere.

And he kind of I mean, I’m sure it’s maybe I’m exaggerating, but kind of looks like he wants to hand them out to anyone who’s who’s Jewish.

I think that that you were right about that the ultra-orthodox is like the population that’s that is really most affected by this.

I don’t know how interested they are in in having guns or not, because again, I like if you wander around Cura at Arba or something, everyone is packing heat.

Like basically there are very as a settler living living over the green line, you could you could if you took the course in a private place, even if you hadn’t been in the army, you could get a gun before Ben Gvere.

There was not much for Ben Gvere to change there.

There was not much liberalizing to be done for settlers.

But maybe this opens it up to more women because they’re saying you only need national service and you don’t need army training.

So maybe it means that more religious women are going to have easier access to guns.

That could well be.

I am such I like in this particular context, I find myself to be such an American in that my or such a liberal American.

My first reaction is, oh my God, this has got to be bad to have more guns.

But then my second reaction is if I had little kids and I was living anywhere near the edge of near any edge of the country, I would totally want to have a gun after this after seeing October 7th.

I would, the image of having, of being overrun and having my kids endangered by terrorists and me being able to do nothing is so horrifying that I completely, fully understand it where, and for the first time in my life, I never felt any impulse about wanting to have a gun.

And now I do get why people, why people want it, but, and how it could make them feel as though at least maybe I can help in that particular situation.

Channeling my inner right winger, I have to say, but near the edge of the country, there’s also people who live in the South, who live near Bedouin towns, who live near, you know, and as much as I’m a coexistence person, they also feel nervous and they don’t necessarily live near a border.

Here, here.

So, so I, so I sort of, I sort of get it.

Um, but at the same time, like at the same time, it does seem like having more and more guns out there, um, will definitely translate to husbands shooting their wives, I just think it’s going to end people killing themselves.

I just think it’s, it’s inevitable.

By the way, it’s worth pointing out that the, the 180,000 applications for gun licenses will not by any means translate to 180,000 new guns because each gun, there was a really, really interesting article in the Deota a few days ago that showed how each new gun, if you want, you factor in the cost of the gun and the cost of the license, it costs more than 5,000 check-alls.

So that it’s, which is either 1500, 1300 dollars or something, or you know, 1250 pounds British, it’s, which is a lot of money.

Not everyone who, who the application is free, not everyone who applies is going to, when it comes down to it, actually pony up all that money.

You could buy, you know, you could buy a crummy car for that amount of money.

They’re not, they’re, they’re not going to do it.

But Linda, you started to say.

I started to say that I think maybe we need to make a distinction between the Kitotkon and Noot, these, uh, you know, uh, you know, uh, local groups of defense and individuals and that maybe the Kitotkon and Noot, which you would hope will have to have more training, uh, maybe they do need to have guns, but that this idea of random guns in, in people’s houses and given the domestic violence situation and given even the rage, I mean, the anger that, you know, up until a month ago, Israelis had towards each other, let alone, you know, um, up until the war started, you know, now it’s all sort of Kumbaya and everybody getting along, but you know, there were fights.

Remember Ben Grier drew his gun at a parking over a parking space.

Remember that he didn’t shoot it, but he, so I just think that, you know, the more instances you have, if you have even, you know, thousands of people with guns, somebody’s eventually, their people are going to use them.

And not to mention the racism, not to mention what it feels like to be a Palestinian walking the streets and everyone has, everyone has a gun.

And some of those people, some of those people are the people who in the soccer games are yelling death to errors.

I think it’s a bad idea.

I think I’m coming down on the side of a bad idea.


And we don’t know about the criminals and the get, you know, we’ve, we’ve, we’ve worked so hard to reduce the number of guns around with criminal gangs and criminal violence.

And so this is just going to sort of like set that back because there’s no way we can guarantee that everyone who’s going to get those guns are going to be law abiding citizens.

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