To Arm, Or Not To Arm

With the recent spate of savage attacks against Israeli civilians, especially by “lone wolves” carrying knives, axes and meat cleavers, it has become known the the Israeli Ministry of Interior is relaxing the restrictions on gun ownership.

Of course, unlike America where the right to bear arms is Constitutionally guaranteed (well, sometimes……..) ownership of firearms is a privilege in Israel that must be applied for under strict governmental requirements.

Of course, military issued weaponry is, by definition, not personal in the legal sense. For their usage is controlled by higher authority, such as officers in the field, or in training, or in actual combat operations. Police and security personnel, are also under guidelines provided through the courts and the suzerainty of their agencies,. Even the utility of a various assortment of ammunition is circumspect and every instance of their employment falls under the strictest investigation.

In order for an Israeli civilian to obtain a licensed handgun, the present rule are as follow firearms store and can only purchase 50 bullets per years: One must be an Israeli citizen, at least 21 years of age, live in the country for a minimum of 3 years, pass both a psychological and physical examination, under go a thorough police investigation and take and pass a required course in gun safety and the laws concerning the use of a personal weapon. Furthermore, one must live in an area where the use of such weaponry is deemed possible, presently only residents of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria are eligible  for this privilege. If a license is issued, one may purchase a handgun from a registered firearms dealer and may only purchase 50 rounds of ammunition per year.  Of course, those who are already members of the Civil Guard (Mishmar Ezrachi) in all parts of the nation possess licensed firearms, mainly carbine rifles for community protection in their own kibbutzim, moshavim and other locales.

So, the restrictions on the availability and requirements for the licensing of personal weapons, as yet to be determined, is seen as a result of the vicious attacks upon our citizens in the streets and on the roads.  The question is if that is a good solution to this security problem. There are debates on both sides of this issue and my personal opinion is that both sides have merit.

However, the arming of untrained civilians can have disastrous effects and lead to the deaths of innocent people. Sure, one has the right to personal self defense but the circumstances must be evaluated. For example. a motorist whose car is under attack by rock throwing barbarians might shoot and kill someone uninvolved in the attack. Furthermore, it is also possible that by employing a  firearm in this manner might bring far more lethal force against oneself, involving firearms.

Arguably, the other side of the issue remains that if those who throw stones at a passing vehicle, are likely to be shot and killed, might halt these type of assaults. Also, if a person attempting to stab an individual knows that there is a excellent probability that he is likely to be shot dead, might cause these perverse fiends from instigating such acts upon the public.

As I wrote, there are equally profound reasons supporting each side of issue. However, as much as I personally agree with the relaxation of the restrictions for gun ownership, I strongly believe in the power of the government, IF IT SO WISHES, to put a harsh and painful price upon those who assault peaceful civilians anywhere in our country would be a far greater deterrent to acts of terror.

It is not enough to blow up the home of the terrorist and his family-it would be far wiser to seize the property and all assets of those who aid, abet, shelter, encourage and instigate such venomous activities and hand them over to the victims’ and their families to use in any way they see fit. Sell the home, seize the property for personal use, seize any financial sources like bank accounts and then, have the government revoke the citizenship and/or residence permits of all those connected with the attack. Deport all those involved immediately to wherever the government decides. But they must leave all areas under Israeli control.

Terrorists who are captured in the act of murder/mayhem, must be handed over to the military courts and sentenced to death by hanging without benefit of trial. Being captured in arms is enough to warrant immediate execution. Terrorists are not soldiers, they are not the army of a nation-state and are not under the protection accorded to prisoners of war under Article Four of the Geneva Convention of 1949.It is unconscionable for Israeli citizens, the victims of these horrific attacks, to pay taxes to house, feed, give medical care and privileges to those who have so ruthlessly murdered our own citizens, Murder by terror is not a criminal act, it is an act of war-a continuation of the Arab war against the Jewish people in the land of Israel that pre-dates the founding of the state.

This would not be a palliative to the problem-only the harshest and most severe punishments must be meted out to those who take knives and meat cleavers to butcher men at prayer, or run down infants on a train platform, will suffice. Yes, the “civilized” world will raise an uproar, but we must first, as our prime minister has vowed, “Protect and defend the citizens of Israel.” A nation’s first responsibility is the security and safety of its citizens. All else is secondary.

Macchiavelli once wrote “To be unarmed, causes one to be despised.” That holds for citizens, but much more, for nations. Those countries that refuse to defend its people as individuals, won’t, for long, maintain the deterrence to protect its national existence.


About the Author
Irwin was born in New York City and is now retired. He lives in Maaleh Adumim since making aliyah 7 years ago.