Montana Politics

On Israel and Gun Control: Facts Are Troubling Things

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I can’t resist one last post on the subject. A number of the poorly-informed commenters on the other stories have noted that Israel has an ideal policy regarding guns. They may be right, but not about any of the facts.

From the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday:

“There is an essential difference between the two. In America the right to bear arms is written in the law, here it’s the opposite… only those who have a license can bear arms and not everyone can get a license.”

Amit said gun licenses are only given out to those who have a reason because they work in security or law enforcement, or those who live in settlements “where the state has an interest in them being armed.”

Anyone who fits the requirements, is over age 21 and an Israeli resident for more than three years, must go through a mental and physical health exam, Amit said, then pass shooting exams and courses at a licensed gun range, as well as background checks by the Public Security Ministry.

But surely those Israeli citizens can buy all the ammo they desire, right? Not so much:

Once they order their firearm from a gun store, they are allowed to take it home with a one-time supply of 50 bullets, which Amit said they cannot renew.

But many Israelis are armed, right? Again, not so:

Amit said that since 1996, not long after the Rabin assassination, there has been a continuous reduction in the amount of weapons in public hands due larger to stricter regulations. He estimated there are about 170,000 privately-owned firearms in Israel, or enough for around one out of every 50 Israelis, far less per capita than the US, where there are an estimated more than 300 million privately owned guns for a population of a little more than 300 million.

Finally, a comparison. In Israel, a country riven by violence for generations, the firearm death rate is 1.86 per 100,000 citizens. In the United States, with vastly more armed citizens and brutal low-level warfare, the number is 10.2 per 100,000 population.

I think my commenters have hit on something. Let’s adopt Israeli gun policy—and now.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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  • In Russia, the number of murders per 100,000 people was 15.1 in 2009, and in the United States, the number of murders per 100,000 people was only 4.96. Meanwhile, Russia ranks 68th in rate of fireams in civilian hands, with 8.9 firearms per 100 people, while the U.S. ranks first with 88.8 per 100 people. (Sources: gunpolicy.org.)

    Result: Far more guns, far less homicide.

  • Adios, Don. Thanks for letting me visit your little Progressive blog for awhile. It is indeed a stange universe you live in. But best of luck to you.

  • I find it interesting that Quentin left a very general link for his source. I just spent about 10 minutes at gunpolicy.org and, after several attempts with the search engine, was unable to find the facts and figures he cites. A specific web-page would have been nice. It adds credibility to an argument when one doesn’t have to sift an entire website to validate data.

  • Excellent article from the Jerusalem post, Don. Thank you.
    It’s astonishing — or maybe not so astonishing — that Israel, a country that is less nation and more armed camp, has stricter gun regulations than we do. Maybe it’s because of this fortress mentality that Israelis view their gun laws as measures that keep them safe rather than infringements on their individual freedom. I was particularly impressed by that fact that all potential gun-owners are required to meet physical and mental health criteria. Given current events, this policy sounds quite appealing.

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