“Hear O’ America!”

Armed civilians is a common sight in Israel. (With permission from Canva)
Armed civilians is a common sight in Israel. (With permission from Canva)

Israel is far from perfect.

I know that.
And as an American, I can easily admit that I wish some more American culturalisms would be absorbed here.
Like “Please” and the “Thank you.”
I kind of miss them.

But of course, The United States is far from perfect either.

Yesterday’s horrific massacre in an elementary school in Texas is just one of countless examples of how America seems to have missed the boat when it comes to the legalization of firearms.
When you look around here in Israel on any given day, it feels like everyone and their mother is carrying a weapon.

I remember the shock of seeing guns everywhere I looked when I visited Israel for the first time at the age of 16.

It was quite an unfamiliar site to me.
But I quickly got used to it.
And became unafraid.
Because I trusted that those carrying weapons (mostly soldiers) didn’t just buy a gun over the counter.
There was more to it than that.
There were rules.
Strict rules.
And lots of conditions to be able to acquire a gun.
Plus, there weren’t, (and there aren’t now), mass shootings like you see in the States.
Terrorism? Yes.
But, alas, that’s why people carry guns.
For self-protection.
And protection of their neighbors.
I asked my husband tonight about the laws in Israel regarding acquiring a gun.
This is what I learned. While I can’t say I understood every last detail, I know what I comprehended was pretty close to as accurate as possible:

Some of the basic rules and conditions

1. You have to be a citizen or permanent resident of at least 3 years.
2. You must have completed your army service (typically 2.5 – 3 years in length) or your national service (minimum age 21). If you have done neither, you need to be a minimum of 27 years old as a citizen or 45 years old as a permanent resident.
3. Even if you completed the army, you need to have served as an officer or in a special unit.
4. You need a signed health form by a physician.
5. You need to pass special training to use that specific gun. (Meaning, you can’t just buy it because you feel like it.)
6. If you weren’t an officer in the army, but you still want to carry a gun, you need to live or work in a community that allows for guns, and must be approved by the security personnel of that place.
7. You can’t buy ANY gun. Only certain guns (like a handgun), and you can only purchase up to 50 bullets.
8. Fire people, police people, security personnel, and farmers can carry guns (according to the above conditions).
I could share more, but I think you get the basics.

The Simple Truth

In short, it’s not easy to acquire a gun in Israel despite what you may assume from walking down any given street.
I asked Boaz if he ever sought to get a gun.
He said he did.
But he wasn’t approved.
But he couldn’t remember why.
He DID enlist in the army.
He DID serve in an elite unit.
He IS a citizen.
He was and still is in great physical health.
And yet, he wasn’t granted permission to carry a gun.

To My American Friends and Family

For my friends who are writing to your Senators and Congresspeople, perhaps you can shed some light on some of the rules we have here in Israel, rules that seem to be working well in protecting its citizens and preventing senseless acts of insanity by people who never should have been given permission to hold a gun in their hands in the first place.
About the Author
Shira Gura developed a simple and practical approach that empowers people to get emotionally unstuck so they can be in control and feel good in any moment. She is an emotional well-being coach and author of the books, Getting unSTUCK: Five Simple Steps to Emotional Well-Being and The CLEAR Way: Five Simple Steps to be Mentally Prepared for Anything. Shira is also the host of the weekly podcast, You Can Handle Anything!
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