The massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida has again ignited the gun debate in the U.S. In this debate, Israel has been cited frequently by pro-gun enthusiasts as a potential model for the U.S. to emulate. In researching the contention that Israel is a “gun utopia,” I have discovered that in Israel:

Gun ownership is far lower than in the U.S. With a population of 310 million, there are roughly 310 million firearms here. With a population of 5.8 million, Israel has licensed about 135,000 citizens to carry firearms or about 2.3% — of these 37,500 citizens work as guards.

Citizens licensed to own personal weapons have undergone military training. Most Jewish Israelis are conscripted for mandatory military service at 18 years of age, and receive firearms training. Soldiers are issued guns only for their period of service.

Those who have completed military service may apply for a gun license at 21; others must wait until the age of 27.

Applicants must go through background checks, and need a signed bill of health from their doctor. Many requests are refused.

A majority of licenses are granted for 9mm pistols; a few for automatic rifles, which are reserved for people who need them for security roles.

Annual bullet supplies are limited to 50 per licensed individuals or 100 to security guards.

Gun deaths in Israel are about 2 homicides per 100,000; in the U.S. the figure is 4 to 5 times higher.

While in the U.S. gun ownership is considered a right, in Israel it is considered a privilege granted by the Ministry of Public Security on the basis of need.

Allan Pinkas, a former Israeli diplomat, summed it all up when he said, “We don’t worship guns, we don’t sell assault rifles to people, we don’t have a genius creation like the NRA, we don’t regard every bunch of guys as a ‘well-regulated militia,’ and we are pretty much done fighting the British.”

Al Popowits

River Forest

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