There have been increasing calls in recent weeks to restrict gun ownership, particularly in light of recent domestic murders committed by off-duty security guards. The murder of four people in a Be’er Sheva bank this week spurred further calls for increased gun control.
That would be a mistake, says former chief of IDF Internal Security Gershon Eckstein.
“I don’t recommend getting worked up and coming up with all kinds of proposals to reduce gun ownership and collect weapons in the wake of the horrific murder at Bank Hapoalim in Be’er Sheva,” he said.
“Just three years ago, the streets of our cities were plagued by terrorism, and more than a few terrorist attacks were stopped by an immediate response from citizens with personal weapons,” he noted. Armed citizens stopped terrorists in multiple tractor attacks in Jerusalem and during the shooting at Merkaz Harav Yeshiva. Guns have also been credited in ending attacks on motorists by Arab or Bedouin gangs.
“We are still not free of terrorism, and it could return to our streets,” Eckstein warned. “A terrorist attack that is not met with an immediate response could continue, and leave many victims. The police cannot be everywhere at once.”
Weapons could also be used to stop attacks like that in Be’er Sheva, he said. “Imagine if the murderer had been mentally stable, and if one of the other customers waiting at the bank had started to murder civilians,” he said. “The first thing he would have done would have been to neutralize the murderer using his weapon, and that would have saved lives.”
“The personal weapons owned by the Israeli public are the final line of defense and of immediate response, and need to be used to save lives,” he concluded.