The move comes as public officials have called on citizens who are eligible to carry a firearm following the deadliest Palestinian terror attack in years.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said on Thursday he will nearly double the manpower of his ministry’s Firearms Licensing Division and boost the times it is open to applicants for interviews.
The goal is for 5,000-8,000 citizens requesting gun permits to be interviewed by the licensing division monthly.
Ben-Gvir also proposed removing the interview requirement for active Israeli security personnel — such as soldiers, police officers and other agents — who wish to privately carry a firearm.
He disclosed on Tuesday that the licensing division received 42,236 new applications for gun permits in 2022. “This is a record year compared to any previous period,” he said.
However, there is a backlog of 17,373 requests that have not been processed, including 10,773 applicants who were unable to schedule appointments for an interview. The Firearms Licensing Division was only open four hours a day and the waiting time for an appointment was six months.
Calls for eligible Israelis to carry guns have come from the Security Cabinet, Ben-Gvir and Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai after a Palestinian terrorist gunned down people outside an eastern Jerusalem synagogue on Friday night. Seven people were killed and three were injured in the deadliest attack since 2011.
Shabtai said in a police statement, “Over the years, more than once, civilians skilled in the use of licensed weapons neutralized terrorists and prevented more serious attacks when they were near the scene of an attack. Those citizens even prevented harm to civilians and the security forces more than once.”
Israeli citizens do not have a legal right to privately carry firearms and the country has strict gun control laws.
Applicants must meet minimum age requirements, have no criminal record, and provide a declaration signed by a doctor that they are physically and mentally healthy.
Applicants must also explain to the Firearms Licensing Division why they need to carry a gun. The type of gun an Israeli is permitted to carry may depend on the reason given to the authorities.
Permission is not automatic. According to Ben-Gvir, the Firearm Licensing Division rejected 9,256 requests in 2022.
Furthermore, a license allows an Israeli to carry one specific gun, and a separate permit is needed for each additional gun. Bullet sales are tightly regulated and carriers must also get government permission to sell their gun.
Licenses must be renewed every three years. This process includes a health declaration signed by a doctor, confirmation of completing a refresher training course, and a firearm check to verify the gun is in working order.
Image - Gershon Elinson/Flash90